Page 1


ASI is Protecting Businesses and Homeowners One At a Time Randy Clay has a number of goals for American Sentry Insurance: grow the agency by 20% next year, retain more than 94% of customers, transition a traditionally file laden industry to a paperless environment, create a culture of referral driven business. But American Sentry’s primary goal is built into their mission statement. “To provide expert advice that enables our clients to protect their families, their homes and their businesses.” Clay thinks he has the staff, resources and business model to do that better than anyone in Faulkner County. American Sentry Insurance (ASI) is an independent, multi-line agency that offers a broad range of commercial and personal lines policy coverage’s. Launched in August of 2010, ASI assumed an existing book of independent insurance business. ASI has 10 employees. Clay has been president of the agency since its launch and has over 15 years experience in the insurance industry. Together, with a team of eight agents, ASI offers decades of hands on experience customizing insurance products for their clients. “ASI is built on the principles quality insurance products and reliable client service,” says Clay. “We have agents dedicated to focusing on specialties like bonding, fleet coverage and general liability for contractors. We have agents who focus on personal coverage and life. All of this gives the client individual service and tailored coverage.” Because ASI is independent, they offer specialized products from over 50 insurance carriers. Clay said that bidding out individual policies to so many carriers lets ASI present preferred options on coverages and price. This service is particularly valuable to any business or individual that falls “outside the norms” of traditional coverages offered by many other firms. Clay says that specialized protection has allowed ASI to build a successful niche serving small artisan contractors with specialty trades. “If you’re an electrician, we will build a policy tailored for you. If you’re a plumber, we will build a 2 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

policy tailored for you. They may both need general liability but we will build custom coverages into the policies to guarantee better insurance protection to fit the contractors individual needs.” The built to fit protection doesn’t stop with commercial clients. ASI has prepared policies that include “floaters” for a variety of personal insurance needs that are outside the norm. Clay says that many off the shelf policies don’t offer the protection many policy holders assume they have. Guns may be covered at home but not in the field. Jewelry, antiques, art and high value homes may need unique policies to recover their true value in the event of a loss. “I had a client who purchased an antique mantle from the 1800’s at an estate sale. They scheduled and established its value upon placing cov-

erage with us. They did, in fact, have a house fire and were able to recover the true full value of the item. Without that coverage they would only have received what they paid for the mantle. In this case, it made a big difference.” Clay says that scheduling unique items guarantee that clients are compensated properly in the event of a loss. “When we meet with a client we conduct a complete evaluation of their insurance needs by the use of a questionnaire process and point out places where many people miss out on needed coverage. Irreplaceable items, exceeding the standard value of contents, using property and equipment away from your home; they are all events that need unique attention. Our agents do that.” Clay is confident that ASI’s agents

and products represent the agency well externally. Something that isn’t as visible is an effort to continuously improve ASI from within. “The next phase for our operation is to go paperless. It’s something that will allow us to serve our clients more quickly and efficiently, thereby, being able to meet and/or exceed their expectations for quality service.” In a business that relies on literally dozens of filing cabinets to manage documents, this is no small task. Clay hopes that the transition is complete this time next year. Technology will continue to play a larger role in ASI’s service. Currently, they accept rate requests through their website (www.AmericanSentryIns. com). They take the requests and return a quote in whatever medium you See ASI, Page 3

Conway Economy at a Glance Unemployment Rate December 2010 US ....................................9.4% Arkansas............................7.9% Faulkner County .............. 6.8% Conway..............................5.8% Labor Force December 2010 Conway Employed........................25,462 Unemployed.....................1,578 Total................................27,040 Faulkner County* Employed........................51,100 Unemployed.....................3,750 Total................................54,850 *Includes Conway Annual Sales Tax Collections Conway* 2010......................$21,868,102 2009......................$20,825,010 Percent Change 5.1% *Tax Rate 1.75 Faulkner County* October 2010........................$7,834,226 2009........................$7,731,691 Percent Change 1.3% Restaurant Sales* December 2010 .................... $12,466,085 2009......................$11,111,876 Percent Change 12.2% Annual Sales 2010....................$140,014,531 2009 ...................$130,911,970 Percent Change 7% *Includes mixed drink sales Hotel Sales December 2010........................$1,031,916 2009 ...................... $1,009,183 Percent Change 2.3% Annual Sales 2010......................$17,590,242 2009..................... $16,404,114 Percent Change 7.2% Building Permits Single Family Residents January 2011 .......................... 6 permits 2010 ....................... 28 permits Percent Change -78.6% Total for the Year 2010 ..................... 223 Permits 2009 ..................... 259 Permits Percent Change -13.9%

Average Construction Cost* January 2011.......................... $328,333 2010...........................$131,518 Percent Change 149.6% *Not including land or lot improvements Average Square Footage January* 2011 ..........................3,409 2010 ..........................2,116 Percent Change 61.1% *Total under Roof Lottery Sales Faulkner County January....................$1,404,002 Annual*..................$17,237,414 Annual Per Capita .......$161.36 Total State January . ...............$39,663,372 Annual*................$459,392,706 Annual Per Capita........$160.89 *February 1, 2010, – January 31, 2011 Natural Gas Service Tax Distribution for 2010 Faulkner County.........$171,543 Conway.......................$221,255 Wellhead Price per MCF* January 2011 ................................$4.08 2010 ................................$5.14 2009.................................$5.15 2008.................................$6.99 Yearly Average 2010.................................. $4.16 2009.................................. $3.71 2008.................................. $8.07 2007.................................. $6.37 2006.................................. $6.40 2005.................................. $7.33 2004.................................. $5.46 2003.................................. $4.88 2002.................................. $2.95 *1000 cubic feet Number of Wells* Faulkner County..................251 Total in Field . ..................3,229 *As of February 17, 2011

Information provided by

Need a Hotel Room? 1,332 available in Conway BY ROGER LEWIS

Does the number 1,332 surprise you? When you hear there are 21 hotels in Conway with an average of 60 rooms per hotel, that number is believable. The range* is from 19 rooms at Stacy Hotel to 102 at Howard Johnson’s and 103 at Hilton Garden Inn. Four hotels that have opened since January 2008 are the Country Inn, Fairfield Inn, LaQuinta Inn and Microtel. Another hotel, a new Holiday Inn Express with 87 rooms is under construction. (The current Holiday Inn Express will be renamed.) A new Holiday Inn with 120 rooms is planned to open in 2012 and will be located on Amity Road on the knoll where the Ward Bus Sales was located. By 2012 there will be 23 hotels with 1,538 rooms available. The Hilton Garden Inn claims to be the only full service hotel in Conway that includes a restaurant, room service and meeting rooms. Howard Johnson is the only other hotel with a restaurant but does not offer room service. The quoted rates for hotel rooms range from $34-$139 per night, with an average of $70. The seven hotels with rates averaging less than $55 per night are American Best Value Inn, Budget Inn, Continental Motel, Economy Inn, Kings Inn, Motel 6 and Stacy Motel. The Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Express rates range between

$90-$139 per night. The remaining 10 hotels range from $55-$89 per night. Hotel sales recovered during 2010 from a downtown in 2009. A hotel trade journal proclaims 2009 the worst year in hotel occupancy rates since the great depression. Conway hotel sales in 2009 were down $1.1 million or 6.7% from 2008. The 2010 sales were $17.6 million, up 7.2% over 2009 and just slightly above 2008 sales of $17.5 million. Hotels operating for all of 2008 had a $3.8 million decline in sales for 2010. That business went to the four new hotels making 2008 and 2010 sales about equal. As hotels continue to be built in Conway, it’s a matter of cutting the revenue pie into more pieces and shifting revenue from existing hotels to new ones. Several factors make Conway a good climate for hotels. A central location in the state along Interstate 40 and the junction with Highway 65 north is one factor. Having three colleges in Conway significantly impacts the hotel industry. Many regional conferences, competitions and special events are held at the colleges requiring overnight lodging. Baseball, softball and soccer fields owned by the city and colleges serve for regional competition and playoffs. The impact of the natural gas exploration industry, with needs for temporary housing of workers and representatives serving the industry, has been significant. Together, these factors have increased the demand for lodging in Conway and have encouraged new

ASI, from Page 2 choose. The next progression would be a fully automated application process that provides instant rate quotes. Products that are uniquely competitive. Service that is personalized. Internal procedures that streamline delivery. These are all ways that Clay plans to grow ASI. However, he has plans for another critical partner in ASI’s success. “We want to be tied to this community. We are going to be visibly supporting worthy causes.” ASI recently announced a referral program that will pay dividends to area non-profits. This year the beneficiary

hotel construction. The hotel sales data is derived from the 2% Advertising and Promotion Tax (A&P) that is collected on hotel rooms. However, the $17.6 million in sales is slightly understated. If a room is rented for more than 30 days, the room is classified as a residence and the 2% A&P tax is not applicable. Companies associated with the gas industry have long term rental contracts with some of the hotels; one of the upper scale Conway hotels has 15 rooms under contract. Just from an informal survey, it is conservatively estimated that $500,000 could be added to the $17.6 million sales when long term residency is included. Based on 2010 hotel sales revenues, the best months are March through June, with June being the highest. July through October are also good months, but November through February are the worst, with December being the lowest. There are times that occupancy rate in Conway is at or near 100%, particularly during the peak season when there are special events in Conway. The overall annual occupancy rate is in the 55-65 percent range. While for some weekdays the occupancy may be near 100%, there are days like Sunday evening when the occupancy rate falls below 50%. The conclusion is that the hotel business in Conway is a healthy, growing industry, and it is essential to the tourism business segment of our economy. *The three rooms at Ward Mansion Bed and Breakfast are not included in the total.

is the Faulkner County Boys and Girls Club. “The Boys and Girls Club was chosen by our employees. Every time someone refers a client to us, we will set aside $5 and it will be paid to the Boys and Girls Club at the end of the year. I anticipate this year’s total to be several thousand dollars.” ASI is investing in their community. They’re investing in their operations. They invest time and attention to developing customized policies for their clients. To find out how ASI can help you protect your business or home visit or call 501.513.2195. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 3


TOP 5 RESIDENTIAL home sales in faulkner county DECEMBER 2010

Tyle r


1530 Amelia Drive Gatlin Park


er S

Hendrix College



Centennial Valley Golf Club

1020 64Reynolds Ave.

Conway $320,000, Built in 1996 4 bed, 3 and 1/2 bath Orchard Park 3,355 square feet ($99.85/sq. ft.)


Donaghey Ave

Salem Rd

1210 Kirkland Ave.

2550 Orchard Park



n Pri

Oak St


Laurel Park

Caldwell St


Conway Country Club


Central Baptist College

1020 Reynolds Avenue Oak Grov

Highway 60 W

S Salem Rd


University Of Central Arkansas


arkri SH

Dave Ward Dr 286


Conway $309,649, Built in 2010 3 bed, 3 bath The Village at Hendrix 2,058 square feet ($150.46/sq. ft.)

St 3

1210 Kirkland Ave.

1315 Andy Drive

Conway $220,000, Built in 2008 4 bed, 2 bath Chestnut Meadows 2,115 square feet ($103.97/sq. ft.)


1315 Andy Drive Conway $190,000, Built in 1993 4 bed, 2 and 1/2 bath Catherine Place 2,211 square feet ($90.41/sq. ft.) Tupelo Bayou Site One Reservoir

1530 Amelia Drive Conway $185,000, Built in 1995 4 bed, 2 bath St. John’s Phase I 2,227 square feet ($85.27/sq. ft.)

Carter Lake

2550 Orchard Park

Seminar promises to help small businesses execute People today have more distractions and competition for their time than perhaps any time in history. Execution has become one of the most relevant business issues today. Why is it that some organizations have the ability to execute and deliver strategies that produce world-class results while others fall short? The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Lunch and Learn on March 21st that will help small businesses

create a culture of execution. According to Ram Charan, co-author of Execution: the Discipline of Getting Things Done, “seventy percent of strategic failures are due to poor execution…’s rarely for lack of smarts or vision”. During this Lunch & Learn, you will hear methods designed to help you achieve consistent execution of critical goals, increase morale while significantly increasing accountability, develop your next generation of leaders and enable others at all levels to create transparency, accountability and

true employee engagement. With the onset of Dr Stephen R. Covey’s business classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, FranklinCovey has grown to become a global leader in effectiveness training, productivity tools, strategy execution, and assessment services for organizations and individuals. FranklinCovey helps companies succeed by unleashing the power of their work forces to focus and execute on top business priorities. Clients include 90 percent of the Fortune 100, more

than 75 percent of the Fortune 500, and thousands of small and mid-sized companies, as well as numerous government entities and educational institutions. The event will take place at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce at 900 Oak Street. It will begin at 11:30 am and last until 1:00 pm. Cost is $15 for Chamber members and $25 for nonmembers. Seating is limited to the first 40 participants. Register by calling Whitney Farris at 501.327.7788 or email FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 5


Killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg


t’s no secret our opinion is that the benefits associated with the exploration of the Fayetteville Shale far outweigh the costs. The jobs, the wages, the community investment, the positive impact on income, sales, ad valorem and severance tax collections convinced us long ago that this endeavor was worth the trouble. The natural gas industry’s timely and significant investment is why Faulkner County, our neighbors and the rest of Arkansas weathered this recession as well as we did. We don’t wish to belabor that point in this space. However, we do feel the need to offer a rebuttal to a number of faulty assumptions or outright falsehoods

that are derailing productive conversation about the future of the natural gas industry in Arkansas. Currently, there are a number of proposals from public figures and elected officials promising to solve a myriad of state problems with taxes and regulation of the natural gas industry. Their goals may appear admirable, but their plan is wrongheaded and founded on some bad information. Myth #1 Arkansas doesn’t have to compete for natural gas jobs. Since the discovery of the Fayetteville Shale 6 years ago, there have been multiple significant discoveries of natural gas in similar formations. The Marcellus Shale Play in Pennsylvania, the Haynesville

in Louisiana and the Barnett and Eagle Ford in Texas are all competing daily for drilling capital, equipment and labor that could be put to work in Arkansas. Companies have and will continue to assign their resources to the most profitable region. Arkansas cannot blindly impact the industry with clumsy regulation or exacting tax policy and expect the jobs and investment to stay. Myth #2 Arkansas has a severance tax rate that is much lower than other states. The policies on severance tax collection around the country are as different as the states that wrote them. When you compare the real amount of money paid in severance tax on natural gas and adjust

for the many and varied exemptions from state to state, Arkansas’s natural gas is taxed fairly and equitably. Texas has a higher nominal rate but much more aggressive exemptions. Louisiana has a dynamic rate that changes with price. Pennsylvania doesn’t have a severance tax on gas at all. What matters is what you actually pay and Arkansas companies and oil companies pay enough. Myth #3 Natural gas exploration in the Fayetteville Shale is hurting the environment and is poorly regulated. Arkansas is a newcomer to the energy industry. No one debates that the learning curve was steep and at times painful. However, the fact is this: drilling operations in the

Fayetteville Shale are regulated by no less than 10 state and federal agencies, nine broad federal statutes and countless state level laws and regulations. The business of gathering natural gas is still new to Arkansas. However, in 5 years our state agencies, county governments and citizens have learned how to live with and prosper with this industry. We have made great strides. Almost all of this progress is due to the efforts of people who live and work in the Fayetteville Shale. But not a single one of those individuals so determined to “fix” these problems on our behalf is from the Fayetteville Shale. That alone should tell you all you need to know.

Conway 2.0 – PATHAGILITY Pathagility is a 4-year-old technology company that provides a software platform service to pathology labs. Their service help physicians implement the transition to electronic medical record keeping. Pathagility co-founder and president, Mark McCuin gives us a look inside the company. What is Pathagility? Pathagility is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and integration platform for pathology laboratories and their healthcare partners. Many people are familiar with the movement of physicians to electronic medical records (EMR), but may not realize that 70% of the patient data in the EMR originates in the lab. Pathagility streamlines the workflow of generating lab reports and communicating that information efficiently to their referring physicians — which ultimately improves patient care. Our customers don’t have the capital expenditures associated with traditional software packages (server hardware, disaster recovery infrastructure, etc.). They pay a monthly subscription for Pathagility and are always on the latest version of the software without the hassle of costly system upgrades. The SaaS model has been very popular in other vertical markets and is just now finding its way into the healthcare industry. How many employees do you have? Pathagility has three full time employees currently. We also manage some outsourcing ar6 | FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL

rangements as needed.

How long have you been in business? Pathagility was founded in 2007 by Dr. Patrick Walker, Kyle Harrell, Kristian Andersen and myself. We brought on our first production client in early 2008. What prompted you to launch Pathagility? Pathagility materialized through a variety of relationships. Let me emphasize that I couldn’t have been more fortunate in meeting my current partners in Pathagility. Kristian Andersen connected Kyle Harrell and me after their initial creative discussions on the potential of a product offering to pathology groups. Through his experience with AmeriPath (now Quest Diagnostics), Kyle saw the need for software and connectivity services for community and hospital based pathology labs so that they could compete against the mega labs (Quest and LabCorp.) Kyle and I had complementary backgrounds — he had sales and customer service experience in the laboratory market, and I had experience in operations and managing software initiatives. We were both looking for an opportunity to build a startup. Kristian had experience in product design and working with startups, and he connected the dots. Shortly after vetting our initial thoughts, the three of us were introduced to Dr. Pat Walker who is the Medical Director of NephroPath in Little Rock. Dr. Walker had an interest in what we were doing and by investing with us, he provided critical leadership from the perspective only a pathologist with his level of

Mark McCuin

experience could provide. Where would you like to see Pathagility in five years? Frankly, I have a hard time getting my mind around See 2.0, Page 7

Chamber delegation champions local issues in DC A group of area business leaders and elected officials delivered a local agenda to the nation’s capital this month during the Conway Area Chamber’s annual visit to Washington DC. Conway Chamber of Commerce and Conway Development Corporation board members as well as Mayor Tab Townsell, County Judge Preston Scroggin and Quorum Court member Steve Goode met with Faulkner County’s federal delegation and staff. Senior Vice President of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Jamie Gates,

Lollie Road has been relocated to prepare for construction of the new airport. The first phase of runway construction will begin this spring.

said that this year’s trip was especially timely. “Faulkner County got a new US Senator

2.0, from Page 6 where we are going to be in six months. I’m hopeful we will be as focused on providing the high level of customer satisfaction, software value and delivery efficiency that we strive to now. In the future, I hope we still have this startup mentality and energy. At the moment, we’re developing strategic relationships that will expand our market reach and revenue potential. For the tech startup community to continue to mature and flourish, we need some winners. We hope to be one of those. What have been some positive and negative surprises during your start up? It’s been an unbelievable professional and personal growth experience. Not sure there is any way to simulate what happens in a startup. From a personal perspective, this journey has been enlightening and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. From a business perspective, it is very cool to turn on that new client, sign that first contract and have customers scattered across the country validate all of the sweat that is poured into the startup. That said, startups are hard — harder than I expected. It is easy to romanticize startups when the one’s you read about seem to be overnight successes. That is not reality for 99% of startups. The roller coaster ride is stressful for everyone on the team — and their families for that matter. Perseverance is necessary. Startups provide a unique opportunity to strengthen your personal foundation (faith, family, etc.), because you will be tested.

and Representative in November. Equally important are dozens of new staff members.

It’s our job to get everyone up to speed and informed about the projects and proposals affecting our local economy. The sooner we can establish working relationships the better.” The trip included office visits with senators and representative, a reception with staff and a “Chief’s Dinner” with congressional chiefs of staff and DC representatives of Conway companies. The group’s message was a four point agenda that focused on: accelerated funding for airport relocation, surface transportation projects for the western loop and highway 25, advocacy for the natural gas industry and business friendly tax policies. “Many of these

projects have been years in the making” said Gates. “In some cases, like the western loop, we need to sustain our progress. With the airport, we need renewed effort. With the policy issues, we just have to speak up for ourselves.” Gates said that Conway and Faulkner County have been successful in recent years because of “partnership that stands out.” “We try to work out our issues at home and take a coordinated message to DC. When city government, county government and the business community can all sit in front of a member of congress and ask for help on the same issues its powerful.”

Fords, awards, announcements highlight event The Faulkner County business community’s biggest night is just around the corner. Over 900 business owners, employees and area leaders will gather at UCA on Thursday March 10th to celebrate the growth of their local economy. Joe and Scott Ford will be the featured speakers in a conversation with KTHV’s Melissa Dunbar-Gates. The father and son will talk about their experience growing Alltel into one of the country’s largest telecom companies and will give insight about their newest business ventures. Chamber President Brad Lacy says the event is an opportunity to recognize “all of the good things going on in Faulkner County. ... Annual meeting is a huge event for our organization obviously, but I think it’s evolved into a night that leaves people feeling energized and ready to take on Conway’s next challenges.” Attendees receive an annual report of economic and community activities to take home and are invited to an after party at Agora Conference Center hosted by Conway Young Professionals. Much of the night will be spent highlighting local economic accomplishments from 2010 and recognizing outstanding businesses, organization and individuals who have contributed to Faulkner County’s economic success.

However, the night is more than just a look back. Annual meeting attendees are also the first to hear about some of the exciting things planned for 2011. The Toad Suck Daze t-shirt design and headlining entertainment will be announced. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Toad Suck Daze and Lacy says that some exciting partnerships and opportunities will be made public.

Individual tickets, tables and sponsorships are still available but Lacy says that if you want to attend you better move fast. “The last few years this event has sold out. It will sell out this year. It’s a credit to the strength of our membership and our community’s desire to congregate and recognize how blessed we’ve been.” Individual tickets start at $75. For more information call the Chamber at 501.327.7788. FAULKNER COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL | 7

2011-02 Faulkner County Business Journal  

February 2011 Faulkner County Business Journal – American Sentry Insurance protects businesses and homeowners one at a time