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JUNE 9, 2017 | VOL. 6 ISSUE 23

100-YEAR SPREAD From a homemade mayonnaise recipe to a regional powerhouse, the Duke brand has been an Upstate tradition since 1917

ALSO INSIDE Andrew Smart, CEO of Duke Brands, and his mother, Cheryl Smart, retired president of Duke Sandwich Company. Photo by Will Crooks.





ASSUREDPARTNERS NL SOUTH CAROLINA EMPLOYEE BENEFITS TEAM AssuredPartners NL is all about challenging the status quo. AssuredPartners NL planted the flag in South Carolina in 2012 and since has As employee benefits advisors, they take a data-driven, tactical approach grown to eight offices with approximately 150 employees, and has been recognized to renewal planning and negotiations versus the as the fastest-growing insurance operation in the state. Taylor says traditional methods practiced by many brokers that seem the rapid growth can be attributed to attracting well-established Our transparent to have lost their effect. and respected agencies throughout the state with solid foundations approach removes most “Businesses are paying more than they have ever paid and an entrepreneurial spirit that can do nothing but grow. of the unknown and The investment in human capital allows AssuredPartners NL to before for health coverage, and the unknown seems to be brings credibility to deliver a high-quality finished product to their clients that sets them the key behind employers’ frustrations,” said Mack Ward, the process. apart from others in the industry. an employee benefits advisor and broker for 16 years. Founded in 1991, AssuredPartners NL specializes in commercial “Our transparent approach removes most of the unknown property and casualty insurance, employee benefits, risk and brings credibility to the process.” AssuredPartners NL represents local businesses to maximize health coverage management and individual insurance coverage. With more than 500 licensed and minimize costs. They typically work with employers with as few as 50 agents and more than 850 employees in 35 offices, Assured Partners NL offers the STANDARDS COLORSservice of a local, independent office. employees up to 3,500 employees, acting as advocate and advisor and helping to resources of a large&fiGUIDELINES: rm and the personal navigate the increasingly complex world of employer healthcare and benefits. Contact one of three local offices to find out what their expertise can do for you. Mack a Wofford College graduate, began in the business by joining AssuredPartners NL (AssureSouth) in 2001. Steve Epps Jr., a Greenville native and avid Clemson alumni, also has a long career in benefits and is serving as employee benefits advisor. Managing Partner Jon Taylor joined the AssuredPartners NL Kentucky operation in 2003. He spent three years with 1306 South Church St., Greenville AssuredPartners NL in Nashville before relocating to South Carolina in 2013 291 South Pine St., Spartanburg with his family. Jon is a recipient of several awards – the most notable being The logo colors are important to portraying a uniform look and style. Do not stray from the guidelines recognized as a top employee benefits consultant in 2011 by Risk & Insurance magazine.

shown. Do not allow colors to be picked “by eye” or give vendors instructions as “make it blue and 1007 Crestview Rd., Anderson grey.” Use Pantone color identification numbers or color equivalents as listed below: | 800.277.6724 PRINT SPECS


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VOLUME 6, ISSUE 23 Featured this issue: Hitachi’s life after TV tubes............................................................................................4 Betsy Neely Sikma keeps her eye on Spartanburg’s economic future..........12 Recap: Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel........................................18

The demolition of the former Greenville News building on Main and Broad streets downtown has begun. While the newspaper’s staff has already moved to a new office building next door, a multiuse development will be built on the site once the rubble is cleared. Photo by Will Crooks.

WORTH REPEATING “Any place worth living has problems worth fixing.” Page 12

“A man came into the store to rob her, and she looked him in the eye … and said, ‘What would your mother think of what you’re doing right now?’” Page 14

“Not everyone could — or wanted to — afford locally made leather goods or handmade bow ties or small-batch coffee beans or artisan soaps or soy-based candles.” Page 22


On not messing it up “If we don’t mess it up, if we don’t tax the people too much, if we don’t put regulations in the way to inhibit innovation and investment, then South Carolina is going to lead the country.” S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster at this week’s opening of BMW supplier Tower International’s Fountain Inn facility.






The team that spun off from Hitachi’s product development team to form the Systems Products Division includes (from left) Kyoko Roberts, marketing director; Keith Brown, senior director; Larry Weidman; and L. Thomas Heiser, general manager. Photo by Will Crooks


Life After TV Tubes Group that spun off from Hitachi plant sees a bright future RUDOLPH BELL | STAFF Most people don’t know it, but Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate, still designs and makes electronic products in Greenville — a decade after shuttering its former television tube plant on Mauldin Road. What’s left of the former plant’s product development team has continued designing — and manufacturing — in a building along Fairforest Way, albeit on a much smaller scale. The group, now known as the Systems Products Division of Hitachi High-Technologies America Inc., employs about 18 people, most of them engineers, said L. Thomas 4

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Heiser, its Atlanta-based general manager. Even before the television tube plant wrapped up operations, the group was producing a computerized liquid crystal display (LCD) screen for use in gambling machines such as slot machines. The display enables the machines to keep track of different players and offer rewards for repeat business. The Systems Products Division also produced LCD screens for embedding into the back of airplane seats. Passengers of Continental Airlines used the screens to watch in-flight movies. These days, Heiser sees big potential in a new offering that involves the so-called internet of things technology.

It’s a system that helps restaurants monitor the temperature of kitchen equipment such as ovens, allowing them to better comply with federal laws governing food safety. The system stores temperature data collected by sensors, analyzes it, and sends a warning if temperatures move outside of desired parameters. The Systems Products Division is focused on marketing the system to restaurants, but Heiser said the trucking and hospital industries would also find it useful. “It’s a small business, but it’s got a huge future,” he said. The Systems Products Division is also planning to market a new product related to nanotechnology, but Heiser said he wasn’t at liberty

to share details about that. He’s aiming for the group to quadruple its revenue in four years. “The future looks bright once again for a company that many thought was long gone and in the rear-view mirror,” Heiser said. “We are still here alive and kicking and waiting for our next days in the sun.” Hitachi opened the former television tube plant in 1991. A decade later it employed more than 1,300 people. The operation wound down after Hitachi announced in 2006 that it would no longer make television tubes in Greenville. Since then, a portion of the former factory building has been occupied by Confluence Outdoor, a maker of kayaks and canoes.



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White Duck Taco Shop nears completion ARIEL TURNER | STAFF We hear the question several times a week: When is White Duck Taco Shop opening? We get it. We’ve been waiting since the fall, too. And the good news is, it’s soon. The taco shop’s ability to open hinges on two very important projects: the refinishing of the Hampton Station parking lot and the completion of the common restrooms. Both are nearly done, as is construction in the restaurant. In March, co-owners of the White Duck Greenville franchise, Richard King and Dan Singletary, began work on the site after originally planning to open in February. They hope to be open within the next two weeks and are currently hiring all positions. The interior of the space next to Birds Fly South Ale Project is a mix of old and new, vintage and modern, with the exposed steel cotton mill beams playing a prominent role. King, who previously owned a construction company, sourced the top of the front counter from an ambrosia maple tree on his property in Asheville. The same wood was used to create a tabletop extending from an old cotton baler on the wall shared

with Birds Fly South. The green wall leading to the restrooms is intended to be an interactive feature on which guests are asked to sign their names in white permanent marker on the wall. The effect will eventually be a thick white border running the length of the wall. The chalkboard menu hangs between the counter and the open kitchen. The menu items will be the same as the other White Duck locations in Asheville, Charleston, Columbia, and Johnson City, Tenn. Those include a variety of tacos such as banh mi tofu, black bean, Bangkok shrimp, lump crab, Korean beef bulgogi, duck with mole, lamb gyro, and Thai peanut chicken, among others, as well as fresh sides and desserts. King says they have an agreement with their brewery neighbors to sell only Birds Fly South beer on tap, and the brewery will no longer have a regular schedule of food trucks once the taco shop is open. Inside, there will be seating for 60–70 with an additional 40–50 on the outside patio. The common beer garden area and open lawn will be available as additional seating, making it an environment where people will want to stay awhile, King says. 6.9.2017


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With Blue Moon Speciality Foods’ relocation, Chris Walker and his daughter, Molly Walker Cashman, hope to expand the company’s retail offering. Photos by Will Crooks


Starting Fresh

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RGB RGB RGB R=128 R=147 HEX R=117future HEX Foods seeding Blue Moon Specialty G=207 G=204 #93cc42 G=170 #75aadb growth in downtown Spartanburg B=213 B=66 B=219 ness again this year, he said. He has even hired about a dozen new employees during the past year. RGB RGB loves Chris “Wishbone” Walker In order to meet that growth, Walker RGB R=0 HEX R=11 growth. has purchased HEX R=0 a nearly 4,000-squareG=132 #0b7d18 G=125 In his home garden, the 66-year-old foot building #004779 G=71at 130 S. Church St. in B=161 Spartanburg chef turnedB=24 entrepreneur downtown. B=121 sows the seeds that yield many of the The 50-year-old building sits on fresh ingredients for the sauces, seaabout a 1/3-acre lot at the southwest sonings, and other offerings that are corner of the intersection of South sold by his company Blue Moon SpeChurch and Broad streets. cialty Foods. It was previously occupied by A “Our roots are deep here,” Walker Arrangement Florist, which relocated said. “They go all the way back to the to 231 E. Kennedy St. earlier this year. early 1900s, when my grandfather, Walker said he plans to move his William Prentiss Walker, won a contest business from its existing location in a and a $50 check for giving the city its strip center at 351 E. Kennedy St. into nickname, ‘Hub City.’” the South Church Street building. Walker said Blue Moon’s sales grew A renovation of the building will 300 percent from 2015 to 2016. The begin soon, bringing with it a commercompany is on track to triple its busicial kitchen, a new roof, two lunch counters, and other upgrades. It will also include ANNOUNCING the removal of some old THREE DAILY NONSTOP FLIGHTS TO cedar shake siding from STARTING JULY 5, 2017 the facility’s windows that will allow more natural light to come into the TREVOR ANDERSON | STAFF

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Blue Moon’s range of products includes almost 100 items, such as sauces and seasonings. Photos by Will Crooks

space. Walker hopes to open the new space this fall. He anticipates the location will be popular with downtown patrons who want to stop in for a bite, grab something to eat at home, or purchase gifts for friends and family members. Walker said the site has something that not a lot of other downtown buildings have: parking. “We are so excited,” he said. “We’ve really outgrown our existing space. We have lots of new ideas, new items, new flavors, new dishes, and many ways for us to be creative and serve the people of this community. We’re really happy to be a part of the growth in downtown.” Walker’s career in food began after high school in 1969, when he was hired to cook for backpackers on guided trips in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. He cooked in kitchens across the country before moving back to Spartanburg and marrying his wife, Mary Pat Walker, in 1976. Chris Walker quickly became a fixture in the local restaurant industry. In the 1980s, he transitioned from the kitchen to food sales. In 2006 he decided to sell some of his sauces and seasonings at the Hub City Farmers

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Market. He was one of the market’s first vendors. Walker’s daughter, Molly Walker Cashman, who stepped out of corporate marketing nearly one year ago to help her dad grow the business, said the new location will enable the company to expand its retail offering. She said Blue Moon’s range of products includes almost 100 items, such as seasonings, sauces, dips, dressings, spreads, salsa, pimento cheese, compound butters, quiches, pies, casseroles, sides, beverages, meal kits, and special gift packages. Cashman said the company’s wholesale business has grown to about 30 locations across South Carolina. Blue Moon has also tapped into a market with several institutional partners that have regional reach, including The Salty Dog Inc., Fatz Café, and Wofford College. The company’s online and events business has continued to grow, but Walker said he sees a lot of potential for growth in direct consumer sales. Andrew Babb and Dan Dunn with NAI Earle Furman brokered the deal for Blue Moon’s new building.

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Pokenori’s main counter is a concrete top with a stone tile façade, and the light fixtures were imported from Taiwan. Photo by Will Crooks

Spartanburg eatery Pokenori will blend Hawaiian cuisine with sushi TREVOR ANDERSON | STAFF Nicole Sophabmixay and her nephew, Benny Chen, expect to open Pokenori, a restaurant serving poke — a blend of Hawaiian cuisine with sushi — in the 2,700-square-foot space at 119 N. Church St. next to Growler Haus, in the coming weeks. Pokenori’s menu features eight signature dishes for $8.95. The options include the Pokenori Classic: ahi tuna, romaine lettuce, sweet onion, cucumber, sesame NC



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seeds, and fresh ponzu sauce; and Umami Poke: salmon, romaine lettuce, mango, carrot, cucumber, masago (roe), and spicy ginger. Tofu and chicken options are available for customers who might not be in the mood for sushi. Diners can also choose a poke burrito, poke bowl, or poke salad for $7 and customize it with a selection of eight proteins, such as tuna, shrimp, or chicken, for an additional $1.95 each. The eatery will occupy space in the historic Palmetto Building across from Morgan Square. The restaurant’s interior blends modern and industrial-chic Denny's styles with the historic character of the Plaza building. Sophabmixay and Chen said the eatery’s light fixtures were imported from a variety of different vendors in Taiwan. The restaurant also features a blend of custom-made furniture, including a family-style dining table lined with stools made by Kevin Belue of Spartanburg-based K Riley The space’s statement wall features permanent chalk art Designs. Pokenori’s main counter is comprised of a that has been sealed. Photo by Will Crooks concrete top with a stacked stone tile façade. The so it can’t be erased. floor is a mix of poured concrete and brick. The owners have accentuated some of the building’s The restaurant has an accent wall beside the main historic charm by incorporating exposed brick, kitchen area featuring chalk art that has been sealed wooden beams, and coffered tin ceiling panels. St berty S Li

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The restaurant’s custom furnishings include a family-style dining table and stools from Kevin Belue of Spartanburg’s K Riley Designs. Photo by Will Crooks



Iberiabank finds a new home in downtown Greenville Iberiabank has picked a new office building in downtown Greenville as the location of its first permanent branch in South Carolina. The regional bank from Louisiana said it expects to open the branch and its South Carolina headquarters in 5,000 square feet of office space on the ground floor of 110 E. Court St. in December. It will be the bank’s sole footprint in South Carolina for the time being and the “jumping off point” for a larger presence over time, said Sam Erwin, South Carolina president.

for any firm aiming to do business in the Upstate. Iberiabank’s Greenville operation has been located in temporary offices at 105 N. Spring St. since April, when federal regulators gave it permission to open a branch in South Carolina, Erwin said. —Rudolph Bell

GrandSouth Bank set sights on Charleston branch

Erwin said available space on the ground floor, combined with ample parking, made the location a good fit. Existing tenants in the five-story office building include the Cherry Bekaert accounting firm, the Parker Poe law firm, the EP+Co marketing agency, and the Avenue event space. Iberiabank will open its first S.C. branch in this building on Court Street in downtown Greenville. Photo by Will Crooks


Erwin, former chief executive officer of The Palmetto Bank, said launching in downtown Greenville is the “right call”

After expanding into Columbia and Orangeburg last year, GrandSouth Bank continues their growth by moving into the Charleston market. To facilitate this expansion, GrandSouth is adding two team members to the company: Rob Phillips, the new Charleston market executive, and Alan Uram, the new senior commercial lender and senior vice president. Phillips, who holds a degree in finance from the University of South Carolina, brings with him 37 years of banking experience with

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companies such as C&S, Anchor Bank, and NBSC. Uram, who holds a business administration undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston and an MBA from The Citadel, has 15 years of banking experience with Carolina First and NBSC. —Staff Report


Instacart brings grocery delivery service to Greenville Parents, last-minute shoppers, and anyone else who dreads or simply doesn’t have time for regular trips to the grocery store now have another delivery service option, Instacart. The online site and app launched June 1 across the Upstate, offering deliveries from Whole Foods, Costco, Publix, and Petco to residents in Greenville, Taylors, Simpsonville, Easley, and Greer. Instacart says they can get groceries to users’ doorsteps in as little as an hour, or deliveries can be scheduled in advance for a specific date and time. Pricing options include a premium Instacart-Express membership that offers free delivery. Pricing is renewed annually at $149. Non-membership offers the same features, but the prices range from $5.99–$7.99 per delivery depending on order size. The full listing of availability is available available at, or download the app for mobile access. —Jonas Mullins

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Upstate Lidl grocery openings set

items, and an array of household products. —Cindy Landrum

Lidl stores will open in Greenville and Spartanburg June 15. The two stores, at 2037 Wade Hampton Blvd. in Greenville and 8180 Warren H. Abernathy Highway in Spartanburg, are the Germany-based global discount supermarket chain’s first in South Carolina. The stores’ four-day grand openings will begin with 7:40 a.m. ribbon cuttings. The first 100 customers at each of the stores will receive a wooden coin for a chance to win up to $100 in Lidl gift cards. The two stores are among the nine Lidl plans to open in the U.S. June 15. The chain plans to open 20 U.S. stores this summer. Lidl operates more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries throughout Europe. It offers fresh produce, meat, bakery


Denny’s Corp. launches new digital ordering platform, ‘Denny’s on Demand’ Denny’s Corp. has joined the ranks of restaurants using technology to boost sales. Last week, the Spartanburg-based family-dining chain launched a new 24-7 online ordering platform, “Denny’s on Demand,” developed in partnership with the digital ordering solutions firm Olo. Denny’s said the platform — which is currently available through its website, revamped mobile app, and Twitter page — enables customers to place and pay for their takeout or delivery order, where available, via Olo’s Dispatch delivery network. Diners can also customize their pickup or delivery time, track their order, and view their order history through the platform, the company said. —Trevor Anderson



The Abernathy hotel opens in Clemson One block from Death Valley, the 41room Abernathy hotel opened June 1 at 157 Old Greenville Highway in Clemson. “You’re not going to find another hotel experience like this in Clemson,” said Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney. “If you want to stay in the heart of Clemson, this is it. This is the place.” Named after the late mayor, university professor, and public servant Larry Abernathy, The Abernathy will use local programs to connect guests with the Clemson community through activities ranging from performances by local musicians to sponsored book clubs and author readings. To further the spirit of Clemson, employees wear orange handkerchiefs, and Clemson blue cheese will be featured on charcuterie boards. “From our personalized service and product offerings to the Clemson memorabilia found throughout the hotel, we want every guest to gain the full Clemson experience during their stay here,” said Gary Cohen, general manager.

The Abernathy is named for the late mayor, university professor, and public servant, Larry Abernathy.

Tom Winkopp Realtor/Developer LLC previously appointed Charlestowne Hotels to manage operations for The Abernathy. “Whether you are enjoying a Clemsoninspired cocktail in TAPS Bar & Café, holding a meeting in the VIP hospitality suite, or simply taking in the beautiful views from the comfort of your hotel room, The Abernathy will fully embody Clemson’s distinct brand,” said Tom Winkopp, owner of Tom Winkopp Realtor/Developer LLC. “We are expecting this hotel to really make a splash, attracting both new and returning visitors to Clemson.” —Ariel Turner

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‘We Have Great Soil Here’ Betsy Neely Sikma brings a family tradition of entrepreneurship — and great faith in the city’s future — to her new role with Spartanburg’s Economic Futures Group WORDS BY TREVOR ANDERSON | PHOTO BY WILL CROOKS


UBJ | 6.9.2017



rowing up with four older brothers, Betsy Neely Sikma had to be tough. But she also learned the importance of self-expression, as well as how to communicate and connect with people on a deeply personal level. And it’s precisely those leadership qualities that Sikma, 35, hopes to put to work for entrepreneurs in her hometown of Spartanburg. “Spartanburg is big enough not to be a small town, but still not too big for people to make a strong impact,” Sikma said. “I’ve lived a lot of places and loved everywhere I’ve lived. Spartanburg’s just got soul. People here care about their community in a way that you don’t see many places.” On Tuesday, May 30, the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce announced it hired Sikma to serve as director of entrepreneurial development for its Economic Futures Group (EFG), Spartanburg County’s economic development organization. Sikma will start on June 12. She will be responsible for marshaling the small-business and entrepreneurial programming for the EFG, and leading the Spartanburg Angel Network, which was launched in 2015 to provide funding and support for local startups. Sikma will fill the role vacated by Meagan Reithmeier, another Spartanburg native who was chosen earlier this year to serve as executive vice president of OneSpartanburg, the county’s new community and economic development strategy. The OneSpartanburg plan identified the need for improving the county’s entrepreneurial climate to help complement the success it has had in attracting new industry and the expansion of existing businesses. “This is a key position, and Betsy will be a tremendous addition to our team,” said Ethan Burroughs, EFG’s chairman, in a statement. “We have made significant progress in Spartanburg toward developing an environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive, but with her experience and expertise, Betsy will take these efforts to the next level.”


Sikma grew up on Spartanburg’s east side, the youngest child of the local pastor and writer Kirk Neely and his wife, Clare Neely. After graduating from Spartanburg High School, Sikma attended Furman University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion in 2004. In 2006, she moved to Nashville, Tenn., to attend the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University. It was there she met her future husband, Jason Sikma, originally of Illinois. Sikma earned her Master of Theological Studies degree in 2009. The following year, she became director of development for the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, based in Nashville. In 2011, she accepted a position as director of


Director of Economic Development, Spartanburg Economic Futures Group AGE: 35 EDUCATION: BA in religion, Furman University; Master of Theological Studies, Vanderbilt University; Master of Divinity, Theology, Vanderbilt Divinity School EXPERIENCE 2012-PRESENT: VP, Strategic Marketing and Development, Accion Chicago 2009-PRESENT: Photographer, Betsy Sikma Photography 2011-2012: Director of Communications and Development, Protestants for the Common Good, Chicago 2010-2011: Director of Development, United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, Nashville FAMILY: Husband, Jason; daughters, Wren and Rowan

communications and development for Protestants for the Common Good and relocated to Chicago. A year later, she was having a discussion with a friend who worked for Accion, a global nonprofit that supports primarily low-income entrepreneurs with microfinance services, investment initiatives, education, and training. Sikma’s friend asked her to meet with the CEO, as the organization was looking to expand in the Chicago area. “This may have been a little rude, but I sat down at the table and said to him, ‘Tell me why I should come to work here,’” she said. “I talked with him and I was sold. I realized that economic development through entrepreneurship was key to community revitalization. It’s all about creating economic mobility.” In 2012, she became director of development and communications for Accion Chicago. At Accion, Sikma helped start a food and beverage incubator in East Garfield Park on the west side of Chicago.


She and Jason, who went back to school to earn his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at Loyola University, married in 2013. The couple welcomed their first daughter, Wren. In 2015, they had a second daughter, Rowan. Sikma said that shortly after Rowan was born, she took the family on a trip to Spartanburg and was


awestruck by the revitalization in her hometown, particularly in the downtown area. The couple decided to move to the Upstate. Jason serves as the clinical operations manager at the Greenville Free Medical Clinic, while Betsy has continued to maintain a thriving photography business she started on the side in 2009. Betsy said the couple has been living in Taylors, but will soon relocate to Spartanburg’s Duncan Park neighborhood. She said former Spartanburg Mayor and chairman of the Northside Development Group Bill Barnet recently introduced her to Allen Smith, president and CEO of the Spartanburg Chamber. “It’s a crazy change — not a path I would have ever thought my life would take,” Sikma said. “But I couldn’t be more excited about it.”


Sikma said she believes “everyone has a little entrepreneurism in their blood.” She looks at her parents and brothers as her inspiration. Her brothers include the late Erik Neely, a journalist who died in 2000; Kirk McNeil, the owner of an award-winning community bar and restaurant in Concord, N.H.; Scott Neely, co-founder of the nonprofit Speaking Down Barriers; and Kris Neely, a renowned local artist and owner of art gallery Wet Paint Syndrome. Kam Neely is Sikma’s cousin, and owner and operator of the family’s business, Neely’s Windows Doors and More, which started as a lumber company in 1923. “Certainly there are a lot of challenges yet to overcome [in Spartanburg],” Sikma said. “My brother Erik once said that ‘any place worth living has problems worth fixing.’” Sikma said she hopes to hit the ground running. She credited past leaders in Spartanburg for helping to “lay the groundwork” for a younger generation of leaders to step up and assume the mantle of responsibility and growth. She said she is still refining some ideas for her new role, but one of the things she’d like to work out is a network of mentors made up of entrepreneurs who have been able to successfully establish their businesses. “No one can tell you better than the person who has been through it,” she said. Sikma said she’d also like to identify a more diverse range of leaders in the community. “I think we have great soil here,” she said. “Economic development doesn’t happen overnight. Every city in the world is playing the long game. We are trying to grow from within. There’s no formula, no algorithm for solving these problems. It’s about giving people the tools they need. … What we’re trying to do is cultivate the soil, and build a springboard for something that’s going to last.”







DUKE’S CENTURY The business Eugenia Duke started 100 years ago by selling sandwiches to soldiers has become a regional food empire WORDS BY MELINDA YOUNG

The story of Eugenia Duke reads like a tall tale, one that began as a humble sandwich-making business in an apartment kitchen in 1917 and later gave rise to two business legends. One is a regional brand, Duke’s mayonnaise, a condiment that has the kind of brand loyalty of which Grey Poupon can only dream. The other, Duke Sandwich Company, is a wholesale and retail sandwich enterprise that is a local landmark. Customers have been returning daily for their favorite sandwich spread, sometimes for decades. But that’s getting ahead of the story. As legend has it, on a single day many years ago Eugenia Duke made 10,000 sandwiches — chicken salad, pimento cheese, and egg salad. She sold them for 10 cents each to soldiers at northern Greenville County’s Camp Sevier and to others in town, earning two cents per sandwich. The profit, the tale goes, helped her buy her first delivery truck. Duke’s great-granddaughter Laura McGinnis doubts this often-told tale. “Realistically, unless she had an army of people working for her, she could not have generated 10,000 sandwiches in a day,” says McGinnis, a resident of Charlotte, N.C. In 1923, Eugenia Duke opened a mayonnaise bottling production in an old coach factory building by the Reedy River in downtown Greenville. During this time, she also continued to sell her sandwiches through drugstores, the Ottaray Hotel’s Duke Tea Room, and textile mill “dope” wagons (named for the common nickname for a bottle of Coca-Cola, a “dope”). There is something else that is remarkable about Eugenia Duke’s story. She started the business by herself, eventually getting help from her husband, an electrician. Despite the fact she sold her recipes and name brand in 1929 and relocated to California to join her married daughter’s family, her place in the company’s history has not been lost over the years.


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Although Eugenia Duke sold her recipes and name brand in 1929 before relocating to California, her place in Duke’s lore hasn’t been forgotten. Photo provided by Duke Brands.

FAMILY FOODS Eugenia Duke easily could have been forgotten. As Bill Donohue learned when he was researching Duke’s story through ancestry and historical archives, newspaper reports in the early 20th century obscured her role in the company. “What was interesting was how much society and other people in media at that time and place gave credit to her husband,” says Donohue, director of marketing for Duke Brands. Duke sold her booming mayonnaise bottling business to C.F. Sauer of Richmond, Va. C.F. Sauer still has a Duke’s mayo plant in Greenville County. It produces 2.3 million cases of Duke’s mayo per month. She sold her sandwich spread recipes, along with the Duke name, to her bookkeeper, Alan Hart, who — from 1929 to 1964 — operated Duke Sandwich Company as a wholesale supplier of sandwiches to

drugstores, restaurants, textile mills, and other places around Greenville. When Hart was ready to retire from the business, he looked for someone who had good business sense and could keep it running. And since he had worked at the beginning of his career with a female boss, he recognized talent in another woman he knew: Estaleen Smart, who was married to his brother-in-law, jeweler Loran Smart. “Alan always appreciated that Estaleen had a very good business sense,” says Estaleen’s daughter-inlaw, Cheryl Smart, who retired in December 2016 as president of Duke Sandwich Company. Estaleen saw potential in Duke’s and pushed her husband to go from cutting diamonds to making sandwiches, says Andrew Smart, chief executive officer of Duke Brands, which is the newly developed parent company of Duke Foods and Duke Sandwich Company. Smart is the grandson of Estaleen and Loran Smart and son of Cheryl and Richard Smart, successive owners of the family business.



Eugenia Duke sold her chicken salad, pimento cheese, and egg salad sandwiches for 10 cents each to soldiers at northern Greenville County’s Camp Sevier and others in town. Her profit was two cents per sandwich sold. Photo provided by Duke Brands.

“My father [Richard Smart] told me they grew up poor, but my grandmother was driven to be a businesswoman,” Andrew Smart says. “I think my grandfather would have been happy staying in the jewelry business.” The couple quickly divided up the business to suit each of their personalities. Loran was a front-of-the-house person, and Estaleen ran the books and helped in the kitchen. “He worked the operational side, out front, while she ran the back of the house,” Andrew Smart says. “She was the more mathematical mind.” Richard Smart, who died in 2002, would tell his son that Estaleen was the brains behind the company and the one who helped it grow in the 1960s and 1970s. Her husband had other skills. Loran Smart “could build anything,” Smart says. For instance, he adapted machinery to mechanize wrapping sandwiches, setting up the company for expansion. “But he’d give everything away, too. So businesswise, he wasn’t the greatest businessman, and she was a great businesswoman, although she wasn’t formally educated,” Smart says. There also are family stories about how formidable grandma Estaleen could be. “She was a very strong woman,” Andrew Smart says. “There was a time when a man came into the store to rob her, and she looked him in the eye, staring him down, and said, ‘What would your mother think of what you’re doing right now?’” The legend has it that the would-be robber lowered his head in shame. Estaleen gave him a sandwich, and he left.

‘A HARD DAY’S WORK’ Duke Sandwich Company remained faithful to Eugenia Duke’s original sandwich spreads, but Estaleen Smart had a few of her own favorite recipes to add to the menu. Her cream cheese pineapple and pecan sandwich and her ham, pepper, and onion spread still are customer favorites. Growing up in the Augusta Road area of Greenville, Cheryl Smart loved Duke’s pimento cheese and deviled egg sandwiches. As a teenager, she’d pick one up at Campbell’s Pharmacy after the bell rang at Greenville High School. “I never imagined I’d be making the sandwiches one day,” she says. The realization that she’d be part of an all-consuming family enterprise first struck Cheryl soon after she married Richard Smart and he left his career to work for the company, helping out his aging parents. “In December 1973, I was working at Greenville Tech, and we were closed for two weeks for Christmas, so Richard recruited me to come out there and help them make sandwiches,” Cheryl Smart recalls. “That is the busiest season for sandwich making, and by Christmas Eve, I was in bed, sick with a fever from fatigue because

I had stood on my feet for 10 days from early in the morning until night.” Together, Cheryl and Richard Smart expanded the business to several restaurants, with its main site on Poinsett Highway near what later became Cherrydale. “My dad stayed at the Poinsett store,” Andrew Smart says. “He was smart like his mother, businesswise, but he had a big heart and wanted to give away sandwiches, too.” Staff and customers were very loyal to Richard Smart. “Richard made work fun,” says Jerane Mote, who began working for Duke Sandwich Co. in 1986 and now is the director of training for Duke Foods in Easley. “People loved him,” Mote says. “Richard Smart appreciated a hard day’s work, and still is instilled in this company.” When Mote started working for Duke’s, she delivered sandwiches to local drugstores and took Richard Smart’s two sons, Andrew and Eric, to school. Andrew became her boss a couple of decades later, when he promoted her to running the production floor. Then, in 2017, Andrew Smart asked Mote to head the training department.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT, CUSTOMER LOYALTY Customers’ loyalty to Duke Sandwich Company was tested in September 1996 when local health department officials discovered that dozens of people had become ill with salmonella poisoning. They each had eaten a Duke sandwich. “I remember it like it was yesterday. Twenty-one years ago. It was Sept. 13, 1996,” says Andrew Smart. “I was a senior in high school and had just finished playing one of my best football games.” By the end of September, there were more than 130 confirmed salmonella cases, and an elderly woman, hospitalized with heart disease, died after eating a sandwich a caregiver brought to her hospital bed, according to a Sept. 27, 1996, article in the Greenville News. “We’re a different company today than from back then,” he says. “For my dad, this was a true test moment — not just a business. This was our community. These were people we knew, friends and family. It couldn’t have been more personal.” The elder Smart visited customers who were sick. He wrote them letters and welcomed anyone who wanted to talk with him about it. An investigation discovered the cause was infected eggs used in the homemade mayonnaise. News reports at the time reassured the public that the contaminated food had been destroyed, all equipment was sterilized, and that the contaminated mayonnaise was not from C.F. Sauer’s Duke’s mayonnaise plant.






Duke Sandwich Company had been making mayonnaise the same way for 80 years. What changed was that the egg supplier had changed its operations to produce eggs more quickly. This created an environment in which salmonella could mutate in at least one egg, which contaminated an entire batch of mayonnaise. Once the salmonella outbreak occurred, Richard Smart switched to processed mayo, Andrew Smart says. “My father didn’t run from this. He faced it. That was his character. It was his toughest moment, and we saw people rallying around him,” he says. “I remember so many attorneys who would not take cases against him.” Customers also remained loyal. “There was the initial shock, and then the business just came back,” he says.

SPREADING THE TRADITION After Richard Smart died in 2002, Cheryl Smart took over the sandwich company’s operations, serving as president until the end of 2016. Her sons both helped out early on, but Andrew was the one who stayed. In 2006, he started Duke Food Productions — now known as Duke Foods — to provide grocery private labeling and grow the Duke brand. “We saw that grocery and food service was where the focus needed to be,” Smart says. “Today, we’ve become one of the premier food manufactur-

ers in the Southeast.” The company produces private label products for companies that have very popular recipes, but have outgrown their own manufacturing capacity. One example is Palmetto Cheese, created by Pawley’s Island Specialty Foods. Duke Foods produces the pimento cheese spread in its 80,000-square-foot Easley facility, and it is sold in more than 75,000 locations in 38 states. This year, Smart formed Duke Brands and opened headquarters offices in downtown Greenville, overlooking Falls Park on the Reedy. In all, Duke Brands’ businesses have about 250 employees. One hundred years since Greenvillians first tasted Duke’s mayonnaise and sandwiches, the brands Eugenia Duke started are thriving. The sandwiches, which she sold for a dime each, still are a bargain at $2 to $2.50. The mayonnaise recipe has stayed exactly the same with a tangy taste. Eugenia Duke had left out sugar, which was scarce in the war years. This decision was fortuitous, as her same mayonnaise recipe a century later is lauded by chefs and customers for being sugar-free. After Eugenia and her husband, Harry, moved to California, she started over, forming the Duchess Sandwich Company. They followed their daughter Martha — their only surviving child — who in Greenville had been called “the sandwich queen,” says Martha’s

In 2006, Andrew Smart started Duke Food Productions, now Duke Foods, to provide private grocery labeling and grow the Duke brand. He is now CEO of Duke Brands, the newly developed parent company of Duke Foods and Duke Sandwich Company. Photo by Will Crooks 16

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Richard Smart took over Duke Sandwich Company in 1978, following in the footsteps of parents Loran and Estaleen. Smart grew the brand by adding restaurant locations to what had been a wholesale business.

granddaughter (and Eugenia’s great-granddaughter), Laura McGinnis. “All of my mom’s friends went to school with a bagged lunch, and my mom was always embarrassed because each day a Duchess Sandwich Company truck would drive into the town center and deliver her lunch to her,” McGinnis says. “So her grandmother had a presence in her life.”

THE CULT OF DUKE’S Why are chefs and customers so fiercely loyal to this Southern spread? Read more in this week’s Greenville Journal.

Cheryl Smart served as the president of Duke Sandwich Company from 2002 until her retirement in December 2016. Photo by Will Crooks

100 Years Spread Out


Oct. 20, 1881: Eugenia Slade

Thomas was born in Columbus, Ga., the youngest of 10 children, to Grigsby Eskridge Thomas and Martha Bog Slade.

1900: Eugenia married Harry C. Duke, an electrician. 1901: Martha Duke was born. Around 1911: The Dukes

moved to Greenville, where Harry worked for Southern Power Co.

August 1917: Eugenia began making pimento cheese, egg salad, and chicken salad sandwiches for sale at 10 cents each to Camp Sevier, north of Greenville. Her only child, Martha, helped. 1918: Eugenia invested in a delivery truck. Her business expanded by selling sandwiches to drugstores, downtown canteens and stores, and textile mills. 1920s: Eugenia and Harry

owned the Ottaray Hotel’s Duke Tea Room in downtown Greenville.

1923: At the suggestion of C.B. Boyd, Eugenia’s top salesman, she began bottling mayonnaise, using oil, egg yolks, and cider vinegar. They opened production in an old Coach Factory building next to the Reedy River.

1930-31: Eugenia opened a new business, the Duchess Sandwich Co., selling to cafes, drugstores, and a shipyard. 1964: Hart sold Duke Sandwich

Company to Loran and Estaleen Smart. Loran was Hart’s brother-in-law. Loran developed a machine to automatically wrap each sandwich.

1968: Eugenia Duke died in California. 1978: Loran and Estaleen’s son, Richard Smart, took over the business. He transformed it by adding several restaurant locations to what had been a wholesale business.


1980s: C.F. Sauer expanded and improved its Greenville County Duke’s mayonnaise plant.

2002: Richard Smart died and his wife, Cheryl Smart, became president of Duke Sandwich Company, handling three Upstate locations. 2003: C.F. Sauer introduced the Duke’s mayonnaise squeeze bottle. 2006: Cheryl and Richard’s son Andrew Smart opened a sandwich spread manufacturing plant in Simpsonville. Also, C.F. Sauer switched Duke’s mayonnaise from glass to plastic jars. 2012: Duke Sandwich Productions purchased an Easley facility to increase manufacturing eightfold, expanding the company’s production for grocery chains and restaurants nationwide. 2016: Cheryl Smart retired from Duke Sandwich Company. 2017: Duke Brands is founded as a family-owned and -operated private holding company that includes Duke Foods and Duke Sandwich Company. Headquarters were established in downtown Greenville, overlooking Falls Park on the Reedy.

1929: Eugenia Duke sold her mayonnaise business to Virginia-based C.F. Sauer Co. and her sandwich spread recipes to her bookkeeper, Alan Hart. She moved to California, following Martha, who had married a soldier from Los Angeles. Photo by Will Crooks








June Design Review Board Urban Panel

During the City of Greenville Design Review Board Urban Panel’s June meeting, the board reviewed a variety of applications, including proposed developments and renovations in the West End, an ATM installation downtown, and a tax assessment for the Westone project on Stone Avenue.

MARKLEY PLACE Markley Place, a condominium project approved two years ago by the DRB but not yet begun, was reintroduced at the May meeting with changes. Additional changes were suggested, and the revised version was presented at the June meeting. The application by Johnston Design Group for a certificate of appropriateness for demolition of an existing building and construction of a five-story residential condo at 110 N. Markley St. was approved. Scott Johnston presented the changes, which include a metal roof over the inset patios, more brick incorporated in the design, and different proportions on three sections to suggest three building masses. The stair tower was raised four feet to give more prominence to that entrance.

BANK OF TRAVELERS REST ATM The DRB approved with conditions an application by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture for a certificate of appropriateness for a Bank of Travelers Rest ATM in the parking lot at 13 N. Irvine St. across the street from the bank’s branch at 217 E. Washington St. The proposed surround and roof for the ATM is metal. The panel, however, recommended brick be used to coordinate with the branch’s gray brick exterior and for long-term maintenance. The applicant will make the recommended changes and have them approved by staff before proceeding.

SOUTH CAROLINA CHILDREN’S THEATRE The DRB overwhelmingly approved an application by Craig Gaulden Davis for a certificate of appropriateness for the new building and site design by the South Carolina Children’s Theatre at 18


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The proposed new building for the South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Rendering by Craig Gaulden Davis.

153 Augusta St. The project was reviewed informally in May with a few changes suggested, such as making the south approach more visually enticing. The revised version includes a large area for public art on the façade and an updated landscape plan. “It’s a masterful design,” said panel member Mitch Lehde. “Sometimes we get hung up on a stogy building, and we could easily forget the function of the building.”

656 S. MAIN ST. An application for a certificate of appropriateness by McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture was approved with conditions for renovations to the existing north and south façades on the building at 656 S. Main St. The applicant plans to update the front and rear of the former J.C. Furniture Company, built in 1919, between the Army Navy Store and the Terrace restaurant. Rob Couch, representing MPS, said that the current stone façade is not original to the building, nor are the glass block windows, which were installed in 1946. Both will be removed, with glass blocks used in the transom running above the doorway and front windows. The holes left by the glass removal will be fitted with new windows. The original brick will be painted white to maintain the original character. The bricked-over windows in the back of the building will be restored as well.

The plans call for showcase windows on the front that extend all the way to the sidewalk level. The panel suggested raising them to allow for a minimum 10-inch footer in keeping with neighboring businesses. “God help me wanting to be consistent with the Army Navy store,” said panelist Barry Nocks. The board recommended that the proposed stained cedarwood surround around the entrance be replaced with either painted wood or tile. The applicant will make the proposed changes and have the revised plans approved by staff and two members of the DRB.

WESTONE The DRB reviewed and tabled an application for preliminary certification for a special tax assessment for the building at 109 W. Stone Ave., previously known as the Star Cleaners & Dryers building that was home to the Battery and Electric Company most recently. The development at 109 W. Stone Ave. known as Westone will house a brewery, restaurant, and the second Coffee Underground location, among other retail outlets. The tax assessment based on the historic nature of the building would allow the developers, Pete Brett and Michael Fletcher, to pass along a lower triple-net lease rate to tenants. The DRB does not grant the tax assessment, but their recommendation that it be granted is necessary.

DRB panel members discussed with Fletcher whether the remaining approximately six original walls and additional architectural features would qualify the entire site as historic. Panel member Danielle Fontaine said approval for a property that isn’t entirely historic could open the door to a wide interpretation for future projects. “I’m wondering how far we stretch this and what kind of precedent we’re setting,” she said. Nocks echoed his colleague’s concerns. “I really want to approve this, but I’m not quite sure how we can,” he said. Tod Malo offered a different opinion. “What’s in the best interest of the community seems to be the tiebreaker to me,” he said, citing the seven proposed tenants that would be bringing in revenue. A decision couldn’t be reached from the two-dimensional renderings, and it was decided that two members of the DRB would visit the site to determine whether enough of the existing structure is historic to qualify for the tax assessment.

INFORMAL REVIEW A project approved by the DRB in March 2016 will be resubmitted with changes for formal review at the August DRB meeting. The Homewood Suites by Hilton project at 942 S. Main St. is being developed by Cary, N.C.-based Parks Hospitality Group on the former Elgin-Williamson Collision Repair property across from Fluor Field. The current version reflects a change in materials from the previously approved design. The amount of red brick on the top two floors will be reduced and the limestone will be changed to brick on bottom two floors. The proposed rooftop bar from the original plan has been eliminated, and the parking garage is now smaller. Shaunak Patel of Parks Hospitality Group cited the high cost of the project as the reason for the design changes. No significant changes were suggested by the panel.


New owner of Cherokee Valley Golf Club plans winery, music

Rendering provided by Craig Gaulden Davis


Matt Jennings bought the Cherokee Valley Golf Club in April. Photo by Will Crooks

RUDOLPH BELL | STAFF Grapevines may soon join azaleas and tall pines along the fairways of the Cherokee Valley Golf Club in the northern Greenville County community of Tigerville. Matt Jennings, the resort’s new owner/operator, said a winery is one of the improvements he’s thinking about making. Jennings bought the plush mountain property in April with help from his uncle, a luxury homebuilder in New York City. For $900,000, they and their wives acquired an 18-hole golf course with a panoramic view of Glassy Mountain. In addition to adding a winery, Jennings said he’s thinking about organizing musical concerts in hopes of making the club more attractive as a regional destination. He wants Cherokee Valley to fit in with other outdoor activity in the area — hiking, kayaking, cycling. “We have quite a few cyclists to come through this area, so if they knew we were here, they might make us a pit stop,” Jennings said. The 158-acre property came with a clubhouse and “amenity center” that includes a pool, tennis courts, fitness equipment, and saunas. There’s also a golf instruction facility


that doubles as headquarters for the golf teams at nearby North Greenville University. The golf course, designed by P.B. Dye, is open to the public. About 240 people pay between $50 and $285 a month to be members of the club, Jennings said. He and his uncle have no stake in ongoing residential development around the golf course. Jennings said he has already increased the golf superintendent’s budget for fertilizer and chemicals and is working on expanding tees, the starting points for each hole. He also plans a major renovation of the clubhouse in hopes of accommodating weddings and corporate events. The 35-year-old welder’s son grew up in Fresno, Calif., and Vermilion, Ohio, and was 19 years old when he began dreaming of owning his own golf course. Before buying Cherokee Valley, Jennings worked at three golf clubs along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio and was part owner of one for a decade. He is credentialed by the PGA as a golf club manager and has a certificate in turfgrass management from Ohio State University. He’s married to Renee Jennings, his high school sweetheart. They have two daughters — Ella, 6, and Rachel, 2 — and a border collie named Sophia. Jennings said he and his uncle, Ted Levine, looked at golf courses for sale in

Another piece of the AC Hotel by Marriot in downtown Spartanburg has been revealed. Upstate restaurateur Rick Erwin, who recently opened The Standard at Drayton Mill in Spartanburg, is opening his next restaurant on the 10th floor of the highly anticipated hotel at the corner of West Main Street and Daniel Morgan Avenue. Level 10, a high-end concept modeled after Good Food on Montford in Charlotte, plans to open this fall with chef Brian Lindsay at the helm. Erwin says after dining at Good Food, which features a small menu of seasonally driven small plates, he knew he wanted to open a similar concept. “It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had,” Erwin says. Lindsay says the menu will be similar in format to Good Food, offering tasting-style portions of fresh pastas, seafood, and maybe one steak dish. “It’s completely different from the other locations,” Lindsay says. “It’s not meat-centric.” Lindsay recently developed The Standard’s menu and floats between all of Rick Erwin’s restaurants. He will train a new chef, who will likely be hired from outside the company, to eventually take over for him at Level 10, he says. The restaurant will create about 50 additional positions. The approximately 5,500-square-foot restaurant, designed by Ed Zeigler and Charles Gunning with Craig Gaulden Davis, features a central bar, three sides of which are indoors with the fourth outdoors. A glass garage door will open to the outdoor bar and create an awning over the seating area. Dining areas on either side of the bar include a private dining room that opens onto an outdoor patio with a fire pit. Two other outdoor dining areas are also available. Each of the three outdoor dining areas are located on the corners of the building and will include both tables and couches. “The bar is definitely the center point,” says Mark McCalmont, who is the current general manager at The Standard and will move over to Level 10 as GM. ­—Ariel Turner North Carolina, Florida, and Arizona before buying Cherokee Valley. The seller was Brown Golf Management, a golf course management company based in Bluffton on the South Carolina coast. Jennings is quick to point out that Cherokee Valley is now a “privately owned family operation.” “It’s not a big management company coming in trying to flip it,” he said. “We’re in it for the long haul.” Robbie Edwards, head golf coach at North Greenville University, said Jennings arranged to meet the university’s

athletic director and other members of the athletics staff on campus soon after he arrived. He described Jennings as young, ambitious, and business-oriented. “The golf course has a lot of potential,” Edwards said. “It just needs someone with a good vision who wants to make it happen, and that’s what I see in Matt.” Carol Sherman, a Cherokee Valley resident and real estate agent who mans a sales office on the property, said Jennings’ background is a good fit. “His wife and two girls and pup have been adopted as one of us,” she said.






‘If you ain’t first, you’re last’: The GVLtoday story Growing a digital-first publication from the ground up

By MARY WILLSON Engagement Editor, GVLtoday


Endeavor’s Collaborators & Cocktails

Ryan Johnston, Ryan Heafy, and Mary Willson described the challenges of launching 6AM, a digital content brand.



70+ creative professionals


“This is a wake-up call”

If you’re one of the 22,000 GVLtoday readers, you might already know this story. The daily newsletter is a whole day’s news, events, and goings-on, plus a piece of original content. Every. Single. Weekday. Last year, Ryan Johnston, UBJ publisher, was looking for a way to elevate the voice of the publication. He knew they were getting valuable scoops and impressive leads, but that the digital read of the publication was lacking. “They way traditional media is produced has changed, the way that it is consumed has changed, and the way it is bought has also changed,” Johnston said. Enter: 6AM, the brand that encompasses GVLtoday, COLAtoday, and CHStoday. The thought is simple: Aggregate, curate, condense, and deliver need-to-know local news, conversations, events, and hot topics, via a daily email, online, and across social media channels.

Hyper-localization The other piece of the pie? Localization. In order to maximize audience participation, the public is the publisher. 6AM is redefining how communities engage, communicate, connect, and experience our city. “The highest level of engagement, we believed, was on a local level,” Johnston said. 20

UBJ | 6.9.2017

By using the respected brand of Community Journals, he was able to produce a new, innovative way to reach Greenville: straight in their inboxes. The actual implementation, though, wasn’t as simple. But, as Johnston explained last Wednesday at the Collaborators & Cocktails event at Endeavor, in a “Ricky Bobby” quote, no less: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

From concept to implementation This is where Ryan Heafy, director and COO of 6AM, enters the picture. Johnston and Heafy met in Leadership Greenville and shared a passion for media and an entrepreneurial spirit. Heafy’s background is in manufacturing and scalability (read: engineer), aka exactly what GVLtoday needed to get off the ground. From Gantt project-management charts and manually growing social media followings to creating a team and planning the design, the first few months were building the seeds for a July 2016 launch. Heafy is the first one to tell you that he is not a publisher, and had to learn on the fly. Even today, he reviews about 50 emails from other organizations doing similar initiatives each day. The product development cycle was the most important lesson to learn here in Greenville before launching 6AM’s second site, COLAtoday. First, form a team. Then decide who is going to write a smart newsletter every day, run social media, manage partner relationships, and more. From there, get social media up and running, launch the email, and roll out the website. For Greenville, this whole cycle was about eight months. In Columbia, it was just about four months. One major challenge between the two markets has been creating relationships. In Greenville,

advertising partners were easier to acquire because of Community Journals’ strong relationship with the community. With COLAtoday, the relationships took longer to build, which has turned out to be a valuable lesson as the Charleston market launch is right around the corner.

Creative content from our community Since our launch day, growing our readership has been a lesson in listening to our audience. Every day, our staff answers dozens of emails from the community. As I said two weeks ago (and it’s so true), our community drives our content. You ask us what the best fried chicken is? Let us poll you. What does affordable housing mean? We will ask the experts for you. What restaurants would you like to see in downtown? We will tally them up. “There are enough think pieces out there about what you should think, what you should do. We want to be part of, ‘How can I have my voice be heard? My voice matters.’” I said that two weeks ago. And I still believe it. Regularly, questions we ask on social media directly create the content for our main article on GVLtoday. Before joining GVLtoday, I worked at daily papers. And the content I was creating was different than the content I was consuming. This is where our mission comes in: Create smart, witty, and quick content. And thanks to our readers, it’s possible. Every. Single. Day.



Share Your Connections with Your Employees Your willingness to introduce your employees to those in your personal network can translate into an indirect but formidable ROI By MARCELO TORRICOS Associate, Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey LLC

When I relocated to the Upstate from Atlanta, it was immediately clear to me what a close-knit community this is. Even in the midst of exploding growth and business, the Upstate is still a place where everyone seemingly knows everyone yet still manages to be uniquely inviting to transplants like me. I was lucky enough to have my stepfather from Spartanburg introduce me to his contacts in the Upstate when I moved here. Having someone to help me plug into the system was vital for my transition and my career. Now having established myself in the area, I increasingly see how we can all benefit from sharing and growing our professional connections. In the past few months, I have received several calls from local business owners, and clients of mine, calling on behalf of their immigrant employees facing various legal issues in their personal lives that could affect their ability to stay in the country. These employers’ attention to and care for their employees’ well-being struck me as an invaluable asset. Business owners all provide various traditional benefits to their employees (e.g., health care and 401k plans). One low-cost, high-impact benefit, however, seems not yet tapped into on a large scale. If you’re a business owner, your willingness to introduce your employees to those in your personal network who can help them establish stability and connections in their community, as well as cultivate trust and stronger work ethic in your business, can translate into an indirect but formidable ROI for you and for them in the long run. I have personally seen many clients I have helped over the years return to connect their employees with me for legal advice or representation. It takes little effort on their part, other than an introductory phone call, but

can have a significant, positive effect for their employees. After speaking with the owners, I know how much they value their team members. Making the connection to me, for example, lessens the employees’ distractions or worrying with legal matters. At the very least, productivity is increased for the employer. Industries that attract immigrant workers can especially benefit from networking business contacts with employees, where high turnover rates prevail. These employees typically move around frequently in order to get the best work and often lack a stable, personal community. It can be difficult to retain quality employees in this environment with cultural, language, and often trust barriers. When I was able to connect with employees from these industries, I helped take care of some of the personal issues in their lives causing stress and concern, thereby allowing them to be more present and committed on the job. It is a simple, universal truth: A happy home life equals happier employees who perform better. By connecting employees within a business manager or owner’s personal network, they more easily and quickly plug into the Upstate community. Establishing healthy roots in the area make quality employees more likely to stay with a business long term. We all have those go-to people and businesses we trust and always turn to for help. Whether it is the plumber you have used for 10 years or your neighbor who is also your trusted attorney, you have a natural list of individuals and companies you routinely rely on and recommend. Connecting your employees with these sorts of personal contacts allows them to have a reliable entity to call on when they are also in need of that service. Stability is valuable to everyone, so when you are able to help cultivate

It is a simple, universal truth: A happy home life equals happier employees who perform better. By connecting employees within a business manager or owner’s personal network, they more easily and quickly plug into the Upstate community.

roots for your employees, that, in turn, creates a much more stable community and environment for them, as well as establishing a positive, trustworthy relationship between the two of you. The bottom line:

Actions always speak louder than words, and showing your employees that you care about their life outside of work will encourage them to be more efficient and effective workers.

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Human Labor Is the Newest Luxury By BRENT WARWICK CEO, ipsoCreative

Human labor is becoming a luxury good. That’s ironic, to say the least, given the history of how we view human labor. The march toward technology, automation, and the elimination of manufacturing imperfections has accelerated at breakneck speed over the last few decades. We have generally perceived that these advancements equal sophistication. Luxury cars are most often the first to market with features like in-dash displays, backup cameras, and auto-parking. Consumer electronics companies lead with their newest feature sets at the high end of their product offerings. And even segments of the apparel market differentiate themselves with their products that are the result of technologically advanced fabrics, cutting-edge design, and the benefits of precise manufacturing specs. All of this has led us to associate automation with precision, precision with sophistication, and ultimately sophistication with luxury. It’s not been human labor that is associated with luxury. It’s human ingenuity that is associated with luxury. It’s ingenuity that led to the technological advancements that have allowed for precision, enhanced quality, and features that were outside the realm of possibility in the handmade world. Hence the irony.

The Desire to Be Set Apart The desire to differentiate oneself is one of the deepest undercurrents of humanity, especially in Western culture. The products we make reflect that truth. Consumer companies spend enormous amounts of their time, effort, and money to develop products that differentiate their end users (or at least make those end users believe that their products will satisfy that longing for being special). And there are some interesting patterns in the types of people who strive to be seen as set apart and when they are comfortable in appearing as such:

1 Exploratory adopters desire to be unique, so they set out to find goods or services that are not known by the mainstream.

2 That is followed by the early adopters who have

learned of their predecessors’ discoveries and want to be associated with the exploratory adopters’ trendiness. It’s a desire to be the same as those who want to be different (again ironic).

3 Then come the middle-stage adopters who sit atop the bell curve of adoption trends. They are


UBJ | 6.9.2017

And so it was that the human labor behind handmade, imperfect, smallbatch, analog, locally sourced, made-to-order ethos became associated with luxury. Not everyone could — or wanted to — afford locally made leather goods or handmade bow ties or small-batch coffee beans or artisan soaps or soy-based candles.

the mainstream and with them come sizeable growth opportunities for the businesses whose products they buy.

4 Late-stage adopters are those who have the most extreme wait-and-see attitudes of them all.

Often, the exploratory adopters and the early adopters have the means (or spend beyond their means) in order to be on the leading edge. They want the products that no one else has or can’t afford. And this is where the impression of luxury comes in. New technology, new levels of quality, and new product enhancements are inessential to the masses, but deeply desirable in the realm of luxury because of their difficulty to be obtained, which ultimately contributes to one’s sense of distinction in being one of the lucky few to be set apart.

Sophistication and Luxury The correlation between sophistication and luxury has been steadily strengthening for a long time as technology continues its rapid evolution. However, Western culture reached a tipping point roughly around the turn of the last century as the proliferation of information and the white noise of the internet was open to nearly everyone in every country. Globalization had become so common that even the late adopters could access nearly any product from nearly anywhere. And that’s what started to tip the exploratory adopters in a different direction. With few uncharted waters yet to be discovered in the globalized product economy, exploratory adopters began looking locally for things made by hand rather than in a technologically enhanced, automated, manufacturing facility free from im-

perfections. However, in an industry where the supply for handmade items was low, any amount of demand pushed prices into the realm of luxury. This is especially evident among products that could easily be purchased at a retail chain store for a low commoditized price, but would sell for four or five times that at a farmers market, for instance. And so it was that the human labor behind handmade, imperfect, small-batch, analog, locally sourced, made-to-order ethos became associated with luxury. Not everyone could — or wanted to — afford locally made leather goods or handmade bow ties or small-batch coffee beans or artisan soaps or soy-based candles.

What’s the Future Look Like? Manufacturing as we once knew it will not return to what it once was. The tides have shifted, and the momentum toward ever-increasing, technologically enhanced automation continues to build. Couple that with infusions of artificial intelligence and the need for mass unskilled labor will continue to decline. However, this movement also creates opportunities. Some local markets have many handmade early adopters, and many markets are still in the exploratory adopters stage. That means there is still quite a bit of opportunity for makers, suppliers, and creators (aka human laborers) to fill the growing demand. And if you want your local community, your city, or your region to flourish, then start making. Or encourage those around you to start making. There is a new future that will be made by hands.



There’s No App for This Expanding the participation of women in IT requires a cultural change By LAURA HAIGHT President,

Technology has a diversity problem. And it extends through the entire pipeline: from education, to hiring, advancement, and retention. Women currently hold 57 percent of professional jobs but only 25 percent of technology jobs. If you’re looking around for black or Latina women, you’ll have to look a lot harder (3 percent and 1 percent, respectively). A report from the National Center of Women & Information Technology paints a picture of women in technology that would more fit the workplace of the ’80s than that of the 21st century. Perhaps most disturbing is the low participation of women in creative aspects of technology — innovation and invention, programming and development. The world is being changed by technology, and yet only a tiny percentage of the designers and developers of those changes are women. That’s disturbing. On the encouraging side: The rates of women earning degrees in technical fields like engineering and computer science are increasing. In 2014, 51 percent of MIT’s engineering degrees and 31 percent of its computer science degrees were awarded to women. But how many of those women stay in technology? The Harvard Business Review reports that at the mid-career level, defined as 10-20 years in an industry, across the engineering-technology segment, 50 percent of women leave the industry completely versus 17 percent of men. That compares to 20 percent of women leaving non-tech industries at that stage of their careers. The problem is pretty well defined, but the solutions are murkier. The problem isn’t that women aren’t capable, it seems; it’s that they aren’t even seen. When researchers at the Stanford University Center for the Advancement of Women’s Leadership asked 240 Silicon Valley CEOs to identify the most critical factors for promotion, technical competence, business results, and team leadership all paled before the single most important factor: visibility. It’s a complex problem and while there are many potential solutions, they all track back to changing cultures. SYNNEX, a global technology distribution and customer solutions company with a regional office in Greenville, is facing the challenge. The brainchild of Denna Mensch, vice president of Technology Solutions Marketing, F2F (Female-to-Female, Friend-to-Friend, Face-to-Face) is a community of women in technology careers at SYNNEX, as well

The problem isn’t that women aren’t capable; it’s that they aren’t even seen.

as its resellers and partners throughout North America. “You have to see something to know you can do it,” Mensch says. “STEM programs are part of the puzzle, but there’s a cultural change that needs to occur.” Eight years ago, Mensch hosted a lunch for female peers as part of a national conference. An expectation-shattering 75 women attended. “That was the start of F2F,” says Mensch. At first it was “nice to connect with women peers,” but over time the community has developed on the foundation of the “four pillars” of mentoring, philanthropy, networking, and education. Mentoring is a critical piece in the puzzle, according to NCWIT, and is an essential building block to the “next step” of visibility for women in IT: sponsorship. Sponsors are mentors on steroids. Sponsor

relationships are not new. A lot of us were “taken under someone’s wing” or “had a Rabbi.” Sponsorship differs from mentoring in that it is initiated at higher levels and a senior executive will choose individuals to develop and advocate for. “Advocating” is critical. In sponsor relationships, the sponsor actively promotes the work and visibility of the employee. A 2014 study by the Center for Talent Innovation found that women in IT with sponsors were 27 percent more likely to stay in the industry, 11 percent more satisfied with the pace of promotions, and 8 percent more likely to ask for high-visibility work, showing more confidence in their own abilities. Developing confidence is a key to increasing visibility on the job, and the F2F program, which now has 500 members, is an empowering community. Mensch has many inspiring stories to tell, but it is this statement that might be an eye-opener for many women — in any field. “I take and learn from people. I listen. … I ask for feedback. I have found that really works well. When people give you feedback for why you weren’t chosen for something, or why you were overlooked, if you just have a conversation about it, they’ll tell you the truth. And if you come back to them and show them that you actioned it, they are like ‘Well, this person listened to me and does have what it takes.’” Cultures don’t change without an impetus, and women have to push the needle, not just wait for the wind to blow it a notch or two down the field. 6.9.2017





Open for business 1. Bee Healthy Medical Weight Loss recently opened at 537 Haywood Road, Suite 2, in Greenville. Learn more at

The Wonder Women of Work As a child of the 70s, Wonder Woman was a powerful influence in my life. I watched the TV show each week and I had a Wonder Woman lunchbox that I carried with pride. I pretended to be Lynda Carter and dreamed about having her gold cuff bracelets, cool boots, and Lasso of Truth. This weekend, Wonder Woman premiered in theatres with great success and a new generation of young girls will be emboldened by the strength of Wonder Woman. As a young girl, my parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to be, and yet I was keenly aware that the women I knew were mostly teachers, nurses, or homemakers. I sang “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” but my teachers emphasized that boys were better than girls at math. I saw yachts at marinas and declared that one day I would own such luxuries, only to have someone ask if I planned to marry a rich man.



I needed Wonder Woman as a role model for me. She fought for justice using strength, morals, and the Lasso of Truth. She was a woman who made a difference in the world.

2. Terrace recently opened in downtown Greenville at 654 S. Main St. Learn more and see the full menu at terracerestaurants. com/locations/ greenville.

In my own career, I have seen some prejudices, and I still must call on my inner Wonder Woman occasionally to give me the strength to persevere. I am very aware of the many women who came before me and helped pave the path. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of the Wonder Women of Work from 1975 to today. • In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act was passed as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. • In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed entitling eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. • In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law giving employees a fair opportunity to pursue a remedy for paycheck discrimination. • Women have increased their presence in the work force from 30.3 million in 1970 to 72.7 million during 2006-2010.


• Approximately 60% of accountants in the U.S. are women per 2006-2010 census data while the 1970 census data shows very little participation of women as accountants. (See, girls are as good as boys at math!) • Females began outpacing males in higher education in the late 1970s and now make up more than 56% of college students. • The American Express study, The State of Women-Owned Businesses in 2016, there are 11.3 million women owned business in the U.S. employing nearly 9 million people and generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. Yet, there is still progress to be made. Women make up 57% of the labor force, yet still earn only 20% less than men. Women own 38% of new businesses, yet only 2-6% receive any venture capital funding. Women account for just 7.5% of top earners and only 3.6% of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.

3. FASTSIGNS is now located at 717 Airport Road in Greenville. Learn more at


As a female business leader and a mother of two bright daughters, I recognize the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done. I encourage everyone to identify the Wonder Women of their workplaces, celebrate their accomplishments, and continue to push for greater equality overall.

Lee Yarborough President

669 N. Academy St. Greenville, SC 29601 800–446–6567

4. The Beautiful Co. recently opened at 100 Green Ave. in Greenville. Learn more about the brand new, full-service hair salon at CONTRIBUTE: Know of a business opening soon? Email information to













Joined Community Journals as a marketing representative. Prior to joining Community Journals, Bowden was an assistant golf coach at several universities throughout the Southeast, most recently contributing to several golf clubs in Upstate. Bowden brings with him more than a decade of professional experience in building relationships.

Awarded three military honors for distinguished accomplishments performed while deployed to the Middle East with the United States Air Force. Adkinson, of Greenvillebased SCI Electronics Inc., was named Enlisted Engineer of the Year and SNCO of the Year for the 202nd EIS, his home unit. In addition, he was presented Enlisted Engineer of the Year award for the entire Engineering and Installation (EI) community.

Promoted to chief human resources officer at Elliott Davis Decosimo. In her new role, Oswald will oversee all facets of the firm’s talent development, performance management, recruiting, and benefits administration. Prior to joining Elliott Davis Decosimo, Rachael was the director of human resources for a growing pharmaceutical company.

Joined Blackstream SVN as a commercial advisor. He brings 40 years of experience in accounting, financial analysis, product management, marketing, entrepreneurship, real estate development, and brokerage. Before joining Blackstream, Chitwood served as CFO of the start-up Phoenix Contract Glass LLC, fostering its growth to become a leading glass subcontractor in South Carolina.

Hired as a marketing product manager at T&S Brass and Bronze Works. Scelsi will be responsible for managing and growing T&S’ extensive foodservice and plumbing product portfolios. Scelsi comes to T&S with 13 years of experience in new products and innovation within the plumbing industry. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Indiana University.

VIP JUDY WILSON Judy Wilson has joined the staff of the Greenville Tech Foundation, serving as director of development. She brings extensive experience in fundraising for an academic institution with 18 years at Furman University, first as director of parent programs and most recently as director of parent giving. Prior to that, Wilson served as manager of the Children’s Miracle Network for the Greenville Health System Foundation for three years. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and later completed coursework at The Citadel toward a master’s degree in business administration.

PUBLIC RELATIONS Complete Public Relations received a platinum, two golds, and an honorable mention in the 2017 Hermes Creative Awards. The platinum award was given in the Special Event category for Complete PR’s work on the Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County/Clemson football dedication last fall. The gold awards came in the Blog Writing category for the company’s own The Buzz blog as well as in the Newspaper Placement category for a story on Computer Direct Outlet in the Wall Street Journal. The honorable mention came in the Pro Bono category for the firm’s work on the 2016 Reedy Reels Film Festival.

community in Greenwood. Metcalf designs worship facilities, including work at all campuses of Compassion Church, with the most recent completion being a new campus in Statesboro, Ga. Three LS3P projects were honored with awards for design excellence at the 2017 AIA SC Design Conference. The Secret Hollow Trail Residence, designed by LS3P’s residential team Neal Prince Studio, won an Honor Award in the Robert Mills Residential Award category. Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation and the Research One building at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) both won Merit Awards.

UTILITIES A new survey of utility customers nationwide has named Piedmont Natural Gas a Top Utility Environmental Champion of 2017 for initiatives such as slashing emissions in its vehicle fleet and making its facilities more energy-efficient. Piedmont is one of 40 companies on the list released by Cogent Reports and Market Strategies International. The prestigious designation for Piedmont, which the utility also won in 2015 and 2016, was based on a study of nearly 58,000 customers among 130 of the nation’s largest residential gas and electric utility providers.

CAREER SERVICES Steve Olson has purchased Golden Career Strategies (GCS), a career transition and coaching practice that helps organizations with outplacement services, as well as assisting individual clients in creating and achieving their personal and career goals. Olson is an experienced corporate executive with sales, general management, and operations knowledge of both large companies and small businesses.



LS3P recently recognized three Greenville team members for exemplary efforts: interior designer Amie Blankenship, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C; architect Helen Byce, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, GGP; and architect Burgess Metcalf, AIA, LEED AP. Blankenship provides interior designs for a wide variety of project types, including the recent Memorial Stadium Suites renovation for Clemson University. Byce has significant specialized expertise in designs for health care, notably recent additions and renovations for Wesley Commons, a continuing care retirement

Crawford Strategy, a full-service agency committed to providing strategic and creative communications solutions to a wide variety of organizations, has promoted Anna Simmons to account executive and Jaqueline Vaughn to accounting assistant. As account executive, Simmons’ new role will include enhanced responsibility for client management, communications planning, and creative project leadership. As an accounting assistant, Vaughn’s expanded role encompasses an array of advanced accounting tasks, financial reporting, and analysis. 6.9.2017







“Go @bluemoonsc! Looking forward to seeing the new space!”

“I wish he would either come to South Carolina to get educated about companies like BMW or shut up.”


RE: MATT JENNINGS PLANS TO ADD WINERY TO CHEROKEE VALLEY GOLF CLUB “Happy to hear he would make it into more of a regional attraction — it’s such a beautiful property and lovely clubhouse! Exciting news!”

Susan Sheehan Pace “Great news! It would be nice to have a reduced rate walking option in the afternoons at the club. Caddies at this club would be on par with Tibetan Sherpa.”

Jonathon LaRoy

Greg Sisk

“Would love some Swedish restaurants or bakeries in Greenville!”

Kathleen Mussay Johnson “I think some local entrepreneur needs to open a Cincinnati chili franchise. Cheap, delicious casual dining that would be a great addition to the downtown Greenville scene!”

Sally Eastman

RE: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GREENVILLE’S SISTER CITY COMES TO VISIT FROM BELGIUM? “It was a great visit; lots of business, social, and educational connections. Great teamwork between the two cities to make this happen.”

Upstate International

RE: GAZELLE VENTURE OR LIFESTYLE BUSINESS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? “Thanks, Michael Mino. Great definitions for all aspiring entrepreneurs and small-business owners.”

Christy Ashkettle

RE: NATIVE NECESSITIES “I so agree with my German countryman! Bread, bread, bread with crust… bike lanes and public transportation!”

Kerstin Joslin-Venus


JUNE 2, 2017

TOP 5:



on inter

L ’éditi

2. Three of six County Square redevelopment proposals rejected

4. Grocery chain Sprouts may put first SC store on Woodruff Road

The layout of print meets the convenience of the Web. Flip through the digital editions of any of our print issues, and see them all in one place.


1. Spartanburg Chamber names Sikma director of entrepreneurial development for EFG

3. Greenville, Spartanburg Lidl stores will open June 15



THE NAL NATIO ISSUE INTER SEAS N OVER other OUR MA or Knox White’s panies May Greenville helping foreign com . job involves ed in the Upstate get establish

ABE LE AUSG RNATIONA ση νή έκδο Τη διεθ


*The top 5 stories from the past week ranked by shareability score


UBJ | 6.9.2017

Follow up on the Upstate’s workweek. The Inbox – our weekly rundown of the top 10 local biz stories you need to know.



5. New owner of Cherokee Valley Golf Club plans winery, music



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Greenville Women at Work: Creating a Workplace Culture in Which Women Can Advance

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The Old Cigar Building 912 S. Main St. 8:30 a.m.

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Basic Small-Business Startup

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SALES REPRESENTATIVES Jonathan Bowden, Nicole Greer, Donna Johnston, Rosie Peck, Caroline Spivey, Emily Yepes



Bo Leslie | Tammy Smith



JUNE 23 THE LEGAL ISSUE Critical information from local experts.

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

UBJ milestone

UBJ milestone jackson Marketing Group’s 25 Years 1988 Jackson Dawson opens in Greenville at Downtown Airport





Kristy Adair | Michael Allen


Anita Harley | Jane Rogers


Chairman larry Jackson, Jackson marketing Group. Photos by Greg Beckner / Staff

Jackson Marketing Group celebrates 25 years By sherry Jackson | staff |

JULY 14 THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ISSUE Tomorrow’s game-changers and disruptors.

Kristi Fortner



NEW HIRES, PROMOTIONS, AND AWARDS: UBJ welcomes expert commentary from business leaders on timely news topics related to their specialties. Guest columns run 700-800 words. Contact managing editor Jerry Salley at jsalley@communityjournals. com to submit an article for consideration. Circulation Audit by

JULY 28 THE CRE ISSUE The state of commercial real estate in the Upstate.

Got any thoughts? Care to contribute? Let us know at

1997 Jackson Dawson launches motorsports Division 1993

Solve. Serve. Grow. Those three words summarize Jackson Marketing Group’s guiding principles, and according to owner Larry Jackson, form the motivation that has kept the firm thriving for the past 25 years.

Jackson graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in video and film production and started his 41-year career in the communications industry with the U.S. Army’s Public Information Office. He served during

Vietnam, where he said he was “luckily” stationed in the middle of Texas at Fort Hood. He left the service and went to work in public affairs and motorsports at Ford Motor Company in Detroit. After a stint at Bell and Howell, where he was responsible for managing Ford’s dealer marketing and training, the entrepreneurial bug hit and he co-founded Jackson-Dawson Marketing Communications, a company specializing in dealer training and product launches for the auto industry in 1980. In 1987, Jackson wanted to move back south and thought Greenville would be a good fit. An avid pilot, he

learned of an opportunity to purchase Cornerstone Aviation, a fixed base operation (FBO) that served as a service station for the Greenville Downtown Airport, providing fuel, maintenance and storage. In fact, when he started the Greenville office of what is now Jackson Marketing Group (JMG) in 1988, the offices were housed on the second floor in an airport hangar. “Clients would get distracted by the airplanes in the hangars and we’d have to corral them to get back upstairs to the meeting,” Jackson said. Jackson sold the FBO in 1993, but says it was a great way to get to know Greenville’s fathers and leaders


2003 motorsports Division acquires an additional 26,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space


1990 Jackson Dawson

acquires therapon marketing Group and moves to Piedmont office Center on Villa.

1998 Jackson Dawson moves to task industrial Court

with a majority of them utilizing the general aviation airport as a “corporate gateway to the city.” In 1997, Jackson and his son, Darrell, launched Jackson Motorsports Group. The new division was designed to sell race tires and go to racetracks to sell and mount the tires. Darrell Jackson now serves as president of the motorsports group and Larry Jackson has two other children and a son-in-law who work there. Jackson said all his children started at the bottom and “earned their way up.” Jackson kept the Jackson-Dawson branches in Detroit and others in Los Angeles and New York until he sold his portion of that partnership in 2009 as part of his estate planning. The company now operates a small office in Charlotte, but its main headquarters are in Greenville in a large office space off Woodruff Road, complete with a vision gallery that displays local artwork and an auditorium Jackson makes available for non-profit use. The Motorsports Group is housed in an additional 26,000 square feet building just down the street, and the agency is currently looking for another 20,000 square feet. Jackson said JMG has expanded into other verticals such as financial, healthcare, manufacturing and pro-bono work, but still has a strong focus on the auto industry and transportation. It’s

also one of the few marketing companies in South Carolina to handle all aspects of a project in-house, with four suites handling video production, copywriting, media and research and web design. Clients include heavyweights such as BMW, Bob Jones University, the Peace Center, Michelin and Sage Automotive. Recent projects have included an interactive mobile application for Milliken’s arboretum and 600-acre Spartanburg campus and a marketing campaign for the 2013 Big League World Series. “In my opinion, our greatest single achievement is the longevity of our client relationships,” said Darrell Jackson. “Our first client from back in 1988 is still a client today. I can count on one hand the number of clients who have gone elsewhere in the past decade.” Larry Jackson says his Christian faith and belief in service to others, coupled with business values rooted in solving clients’ problems, have kept

2009 Jackson Dawson changes name to Jackson marketing Group when larry sells his partnership in Detroit and lA 2003

2009-2012 Jackson marketing Group named a top BtoB agency by BtoB magazine 4 years running

him going and growing his business over the years. He is passionate about giving back and outreach to non-prof non-profits. The company was recently awarded the Community Foundation Spirit Award. The company reaffirmed its commitment to serving the community last week by celebrating its 25th anniversary with a birthday party and a 25-hour Serve-A-Thon partnership with Hands on Greenville and Habitat for Humanity. JMG’s 103 full-time employees worked in shifts around the clock on October 22 and 23 to help construct a house for a deserving family. As Jackson inches towards retirement, he says he hasn’t quite figured out his succession plan yet, but sees the companies staying under the same umbrella. He wants to continue to strategically grow the business. “From the beginning, my father has taught me that this business is all about our people – both our clients and our associates,” said his son, Darrell. “We have created a focus and a culture that strives to solve problems, serve people and grow careers.” Darrell Jackson said he wants to “continue helping lead a culture where we solve, serve and grow. If we are successful, we will continue to grow towards our ultimate goal of becoming the leading integrated marketing communications brand in the Southeast.”

2011 Jackson marketing Group/Jackson motorsports Group employee base reaches 100 people

2008 2012 Jackson marketing Group recognized by Community Foundation with Creative spirit Award

pro-bono/non-proFit / Clients lients American Red Cross of Western Carolinas Metropolitan Arts Council Artisphere Big League World Series The Wilds Advance SC South Carolina Charities, Inc. Aloft Hidden Treasure Christian School

CoMMUnitY nit inVolVeMent nitY in olV inV olVe VeMent & boarD positions lArry JACkson (ChAirmAn): Bob Jones University Board chairman, The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center board member, Gospel Fellowship Association board member, Past Greenville Area Development Corporation board member, Past Chamber of Commerce Headquarters Recruiting Committee member, Past Greenville Tech Foundation board member David Jones (Vice President Client services, Chief marketing officer): Hands on Greenville board chairman mike Zeller (Vice President, Brand marketing): Artisphere Board,

Metropolitan Arts Council Board, American Red Cross Board, Greenville Tech Foundation Board, South Carolina Chamber Board

eric Jackson (Jackson motorsports Group sales specialist): Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club Advisory Board

November 1, 2013 Upstate bUsiness joUrnal 21

20 Upstate bUsiness joUrnal November 1, 2013


NOVEMBER 1, 2013

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Copyright ©2017 BY COMMUNITY JOURNALS LLC. All rights reserved. Upstate Business Journal is published weekly by Community Journals LLC. 581 Perry Ave., Greenville, South Carolina, 29611. Upstate Business Journal is a free publication. Annual subscriptions (52 issues) can be purchased for $50. Postmaster: Send address changes to Upstate Business, P581 Perry Ave., Greenville, South Carolina, 29611. Printed in the USA.

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June 9, 2017 UBJ  

Upstate Business Journal published for the Upstate of South Carolina. Designed and created by Community Journals.

June 9, 2017 UBJ  

Upstate Business Journal published for the Upstate of South Carolina. Designed and created by Community Journals.