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Keeping you informed and inspired. VOLUME 2 • ISSUE 12

December 2019

SITDOWN WITH SUCCESS

Bill Roark: Key to Company’s Success is the Employees COVER STORY

It’s easy to see why employees on Torch’s campus, that is home to Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC, are so happy. By Sara Alavi - Page 3

SPORTS / RECREATION

A New Game Plan Breathes New Life into Joe Davis Stadium

The stadium, which sits just off South Memorial Parkway that was built to bring professional minor league baseball to Huntsville in the mid-1980s, was spared demolition when the city council approved a renovation of the site. By Mike Easterling - Page 17

ADDITIONAL STORIES • McLain’s Ground-Breaking Constellation Project Beginning to Take Shape By Bud McLauglin • Page 7

• Kutta and Sierra Nevada Creating ‘Melting Technology Pot and Integration Model’ By Kimberly Ballard • Page 9

• HudsonAlpha, CFD Research Partnership Aims to Find New Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer By Staff Reports • Page 14

• Annual BIG Marketing and PR Event Features Key Marketing Insights By Lori J. Connors • Page 21

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HUNTSVILLE

BUSINESS JOURNAL Vol 2, Issue 12 December 2019 600 Boulevard South Suite 104 Huntsville, AL 35802


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

‘Tis the Season to Think of Those Less Fortunate ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, Not a creature was stirring because …

Subsidiary of EVENT Publishing Publisher/President .................................... Todd Stephenson Editor .............................................................. Bud McLaughlin Writers.............................................................Kimberly Ballard Lori J. Connors Sara Covington Mike Easterling Graphic Design ..................................................Justina Simon Website.................................................................... Jim Gharib Photographers.......................................................Steve Babin Kimberly Ballard Eric Schultz Justina Simon Director of Sales ......................................Carolyn Stephenson Account Executives...................................................Lee Nast Amanda Peach Michelle Epling Distribution..........................................................Glenda Mace Huntsville Business Journal is published monthly by EVENT Publishing,

The emptiness above is intended. Just imagine if this is what you woke up to Christmas morning; or any morning. At this time of year when we count our blessings, step up and be a blessing to someone less fortunate.

Let there be peace on Earth and goodwill to all. Merry Christmas.

(Bud McLaughlin is editor of the Huntsville Business Journal. He joins Fred Holland every Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. on WTKI-FM 105.3 and 1450 AM for “Boots in the Dirt,” a look at local business.)

PO Box 14219, Huntsville, AL 35815. For advertising information call 256.533.8078, e-mail todd@eventhuntsville.com, or visit us on the web at www.huntsvillebusinessjournal.com For editorial information contact editor@huntsvillebusinessjournal.com ALL CONTENTS ©2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION OR USE IN WHOLE OR IN PART OF THE CONTENTS WITHOUT THE PRIOR WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER IS PROHIBITED.  HUNTSVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL IS A REGISTERED TRADEMARK OF EVENT PUBLISHING.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  UNSOLICITED PHOTOGRAPHS OR ARTICLES ARE SUBMITTED AT THE RISK OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER OR AUTHOR. EVENT PUBLISHING ASSUMES NO LIABILITY FOR THE RETURN OF ANY UNSOLICITED MATERIALS AND MAY USE THEM AT ITS DISCRETION.


December 2019

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SITDOWN WITH SUCCESS

Bill Roark: Key to Company’s Success is the Employees It’s easy to see why employees on Torch’s campus, that is home to Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC, are so happy. We sat down and spoke with Bill Roark, Torch’s co-founder and Freedom Real Estate’s CEO, and it was clear to see that employees are a top priority of the 100 percent employee-owned companies. And it is because of the employees and management’s vision and direction that Torch Technologies was one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, and on multiple selections on the Inc. 5000 list recognizing the Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S. How did you get started in the business? Torch Technologies was founded in 2002 and I stepped down as CEO from Torch at the end of 2018. Torch and Freedom are sister companies and under the umbrella of Starfish Holdings for which I am Chairman of the Board. Freedom Real Estate was started, mostly in the beginning to be an alternative investment for the profits Torch Technologies was making. It was a way to diversify a little bit and it’s been very successful. What obstacles did you face/ how did you overcome them? Early challenges were cash flow. The company grew very quickly and started to hire people. We had

to have cash to pay them. We initially used my home equity line of credit, but as the company continued to grow, we took on some angel investors. We were fortunate to get good investors who were supportive of the company and were not invasive into the operations. How are you able to keep your business relevant? We are constantly updating and changing things to respond to a changing market. Every year we assess exactly where the company is. We also look at where we want to be two years from now. We then develop a detailed plan to make the changes to make that happen. To what do you attribute your success? Early on, I reached out to a lot of folks I had worked with in the past that I knew who were good

and those people knew others who were good. We generally get people who fit our culture that want to be here; that want to be doing what we are doing. The people and the culture are really what have driven us. One of the key things is that everyone has a stake in the outcome. Everybody is an owner. If the company does well, then they do well. There’s motivation for them to have the company do well. When the employees are the owners, they benefit from the success of the company. What is important to your company culture? Being good stewards of the community. That has been with us since the early days. We try to always give something back to the community and grow that as we grow. Some of the big projects that the company will take on are decided on the executive level, but we have created a community within the company that decides how to spend the company money. Any employee can volunteer

By Sara Alavi / Photos by Steve Babin

and help with Torch Helps, the employees decide which community charities are selected. Several years ago, we considered leaving south Huntsville, but the mayor encouraged us to stay and asked us to help revitalize South Huntsville, so we did. We started buying buildings such as the Freedom Center and Office Park south. We have spent close to $20 million revitalizing old buildings in southeast Huntsville and bringing them back to a premium where people would want to be in them again. What advice do you have for future entrepreneurs? Learn as much as you can about the business area you want to go into. If you want to start a business in engineering, you will need to

get a college degree, a few years of experience and get some customer relationships such that you have the influence to be able to bring the contracts to the company that you start and the experience to justify bringing in those contracts. It’s important to build relationships with both companies that can help you and with government personnel that would be willing to provide the funding. Also, for decades, we had that belief that everyone needs to go to college to be able to do business. I don’t think that’s as true anymore. There are lots of good trades out there and there’s a shortage of people to work those skilled trade jobs. w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

ENTERTAINMENT

Welcome to Mars: VBC’s New Out of This World Music Hall

By Lori J. Connors

Welcome to Huntsville, Rocket City USA and home to all things related to space. What better way to ring in the New Year than with a grand opening of a music venue with a name to match? Introducing the Von Braun Center’s newest gem: Mars Music Hall. It’s been just a little over a year since the August 2018 groundbreaking and progress has been right on target. Held at the VBC’s Propst Arena, the special name reveal event had a tie in with the season’s introduction of the Havoc hockey team. “We’re getting really close to opening,” said VBC Executive Director Steve Maples. “It’s an exciting time to be in Huntsville. “The City of Huntsville is developing at a rapid pace and is constantly attracting out-of-market visitors and enhancing the quality of life for local residents. Adding this size and type of music venue to the heart of the city is an important step in continuing that growth.” Along with meeting the team and viewing a demonstration of

the newly installed LED lights; the crowd was shown a video presentation and sampling of the 2020 concert lineup. The video featured updated renderings from the architectural firm, Matheny Goldmon, of Rhythm on Monroe – a full-service restaurant and rooftop bar connected to Mars will open in spring 2020. “Rhythm will be the perfect spot for a pre-show dinner, aftershow cocktails, or just a great dining spot without attending an event,” said Maples. Opening day is Jan. 3 and Mars Music Hall will open its doors with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The event is predicted to be a sell-out. With a 1,575-person capacity – this intimate setting will offer great acoustics for a variety of events ranging from concerts to comedy acts and everything in between. “I’m excited about this music hall,” said Maples. “Huntsville needs this music hall. The venue is so cool and has an intimate feeling. “Nashville is excited about the music hall and is sending us a lot of bands.” w

Pictured: Samantha Nielsen and VBC Executive Director, Steve Maples (photo by Steve Babin)

Pictured: VBC Executive Director, Steve Maples (photo by Steve Babin)

Pictured above and below: Artist rendering of MARS Music Hall and Rhythm on Monroe


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ENTERTAINMENT

Amphitheater at MidCity is in Tune with City’s Big Picture The local entertainment scene is adding another option. An amphitheater is in the planning stages and has been given the green light by the City Council. The closest thing the city had to an outdoor concert venue was Joe Davis Stadium, a baseball park, or Big Spring Park, which was limited to small crowds. Now comes an as-yet-to-benamed 8,500 venue to be built at MidCity in a partnership with Huntsville Venue Group Amphitheatre (HVG). While building sites and adding facilities and updating other buildings is going on at an accelerated rate in Huntsville, City Administrator John Hamilton said he doesn’t believe the city’s growth is too fast. “No,’’ he said. “We are very confident in our assessment of current and soon-to-manifest demand for athletic and recreational venues.’’ The city is renovating Joe Davis Stadium and the Von Braun Center and adding numerous hotels among many ongoing projects, but adding an amphitheater was at the top of city officials’ to-do list. According to a press release from the city, “The desire for a world-class performance venue

was identified as a priority in Huntsville’s Big Picture Master Plan and in the City’s recent music audit. Research further revealed a thriving music economy in Huntsville, giving the City impetus to move forward with a music initiative to expand music offerings and education. “The outdoor amphitheater, however, is not just about music performance. The City envisioned a facility that would accommodate year-round community events and activities. Leaders visited similar facilities across the country and focused particularly on facilities where regular, civic programming is added to the mix of large format concerts.’’ Hamilton said city administrators believe the amphitheater will be a boon for the community. “This is the concept that most excited us and one we believed would have the greatest benefit to our community,” Hamilton said. “In addition to sold-out country, rock, or R&B concerts, we expect multistage festivals, farmers’ markets, art festivals,

By Mike Easterling

Artist’s rendering

and free holiday celebrations.” HVG is a regional office for Venue Group, which is led by Ben Lovett of the Grammy-winning group Mumford and Sons. Ryan Murphy, former manager of the St. Augustine Amphitheater, will serve as HVG’s president and onsite manager. In the city’s press release, Lovett was quoted as saying, “It is an inspiring thing to witness a facility that can be developed as a world-class destination for touring artists and fans and one

that truly transforms a community. “Whether its hosting large community markets, art festivals or engaging in local nonprofit events, facilities such as these should be more than your average event space and be truly accessible to all of those who live in the community it represents. I am absolutely honored to be working with such an incredible team to bring this vision and reality to the great city of Huntsville.” w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

EDUCATION

Business Community Raises $180,000 For Local Teachers Nothing inspires a business community like a clear-cut mission and a high return on investment. In a celebration at Burritt on the Mountain, the Huntsville Committee of 100 and more than 200 regional business owners, elected officials, local school boards and superintendents, and state representatives, celebrated raising over $180,000 to fund new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) within the Huntsville City, Madison City, and Madison County school systems. Believing there is a direct link between quality education and a skilled workforce, it was just six months ago that the Huntsville Committee of 100 uncovered statistics showing that for every $1

invested in National Board Certified Teachers there is a $31 return on that investment. “Research shows that National Board Certification for teachers is the key to driving aca-

demic achievement in our local schools,” said Committee of 100 CEO John Allen. “The Committee’s philanthropic arm, the Creative Cities Fund, teamed up the Schools Foundation to fund certification for 100 teachers from the three local school systems, and tonight we applaud that achievement.” The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards reports that this initiative is the first and largest effort nationwide by the business community to fund National Board-Certified teachers in public schools. On average, students taught by

By Kimberly Ballard / Photos Steve Babin

National Board Certified Teachers show gains of one to two months of learning over students in other classrooms. Alabama State Superintendent, Dr. Eric Mackey honored the efforts by video feed while the Huntsville Youth Orchestra entertained guests and Madison County High School culinary students prepared the cuisine. “This is just the beginning,” said Stephanie Lowe, director of engagement with the Huntsville Committee of 100. “While driving to hit the $200,000 goal, both organizations will continue conversations to make this a focus across our state, as achievement in education continues to be a priority in all parts of Alabama.” The Creative Cities Fund focuses on smart, creative ideas that stimulate economic growth. Over the last five years, they have funded many initiatives including Launch 2035 regional visioning; land use planning such as the Singing River Trail; Downtown Huntsville BlueBikes; and peer-to-peer counseling in local high schools. The NBCT Campaign is the fund’s largest campaign to date. w

Pictured L to R: Linda Akenhead, Leah Gradi, John Allen, Elizabeth Fleming, Stephanie Lowe


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DEVELOPMENT

McLain’s Ground-Breaking Constellation Project Beginning to Take Shape It took more than a decade’s worth of sweat and tears for Scott McLain, but he’s finally able to harvest the fruits of his labor with Constellation. The multi-use development will be breaking ground next month on an apartment complex and that’s just the first of several projects planned at the Clinton Avenue-South Memorial Parkway site. “We’re off to the races,” McLain said. “We’ll be moving dirt for another month and then pour concrete for the apartments in early December.” McLain said Constellation will include a 219-unit upscale apartment building, another hotel to complement the Spring Hill Suites; 70,000 square feet for restaurants; 25,000 square feet of retail space; 20,000 square feet of small office space and two parking decks. There will also be a 200,000 square-foot office tower that, McLain said, will “only be limited by physics and economics.” McLain said he’s recruiting restaurants and retailers that will be new to Huntsville to help make Constellation a destination site. McLain’s vision began in 2007 when the Heart of Huntsville shopping mall was razed and he had a concept of a multi-use development. Blending retail with dining with hotels was not widely known at the time. The shopping mall with everything under one roof was slowly being phased out for the likes of

“galleria-type” shopping centers. Along the way, he found and lost investors in the project while coordinating challenging situations. But, as in life, good things come to those who wait. And a good thing is coming. “It’s in part a public-private partnership that we’re happy to facilitate for our community,” McLain said. McLain has a “committed team” that includes a Chicago investment company and $3 million from the city. The city’s investment includes access to parking and upgrades at the intersection. At the confluence of I-565, Memorial Parkway and Clinton Avenue, the site has the largest traffic count in Huntsville and will, in essence, be the gateway to downtown Huntsville. Or, in another vein, “the hood ornament to Downtown,” McLain said. Another part of the “ornament” will be a planned elevated pedestrian bridge by the city. The plans call for it to span the Parkway and provide a connection for downtown, the Von Braun Center and the Lowe Mill area.

Artist’s rendering

By Bud McLaughlin

Artist’s rendering

With Constellation, the stars are aligning to help a growing Huntsville

meet the demands and the challenges of the future. w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

FOOD / DRINK

Flight Plan has Landed with Tapas, Specialty Beer and Wines While on business trips working in pharmaceutical management, Belinda Taylor always enjoyed the wine bars in the cities she visited. When Taylor’s Huntsville company shut down, and not wanting to relocate after working previously in four other states, she and husband Jim decided to stay in the Rocket City. Belinda had a long desire to open her own business and figured Huntsville was perfect. “When you’re in pharmaceutical management you travel a lot,’’ she said. “There are meetings all over the world. Jim and I would travel to Chicago or Atlanta or San Francisco, and they had these restaurants and wine bars that did this concept where you got to taste different wines. “Huntsville didn’t have exactly what I was seeing in other major cities. So, I thought this would be great to bring here.’’ Thus was born one of Huntsville’s newest restaurants/bars: Flight Plan. It opened Nov. 20 in the former Maddio’s location off Carl T. Jones in the Valley Bend shopping complex. Flight Plan specializes in tapas, specialty beer and wines. The feature is wine flights. There are 10 flights to choose from with each one consisting of four glasses with different wines within a common theme, like the type of grape or category of taste. The wines offered in each flight are also available to purchase by the bottle. An example of one is “Synergy’’ consisting of white blends Hamilton Russell Ashbourne (South Africa), Antonio Lopes Ribeiro (Portugal), Domaine Lafage Miraflors Blanc (France), and Brooks Amycas (Oregon). Belinda said she’ll change flights about every two months. The Taylors are both from San Antonio where they earned college degrees at the University of TexasSan Antonio. She began her career as an organic synthetic chemist doing cancer research. He was in the criminal justice field, then taught 22

Pictured above from L to R: Owners Belinda & Jim Taylor, kitchen manager - Jason Bean

By Mike Easterling / Photos by Eric Schultz

years before taking a security position at the Space and Rocket Center after moving to Huntsville. When Belinda’s company folded in 2018 she talked Jim into leaving his job to open a restaurant. “It’s been my dream for a long time,’’ she said. “Jim just came along for the ride.’’ Jim, however, offers more than just support. While Belinda handles the wine list, he is in charge of the beer and is also head chef. “I came up with the name,’’ he said. “The wine flights, and this being the Rocket City, it seemed perfect.’’ Maine native Jason Bean, who most recently worked in Tuscaloosa, was hired as kitchen manager and has proved invaluable as the Taylors enter new territory. “Jason is strong,’’ Jim said. “He’s been busting his tail. He’s fantastic.’’ The beer and wine menu is paired with tapas, a food concept that originated in the Andalusian region of Spain. One of the unique food items is Fried Deviled Eggs topped with bacon and caviar. “It’s delicious,’’ Belinda said. Beer flights are also offered with three-ounce pours from four beers such as the tropical-leaning Stone Ghost Hammer IPA. Wine cocktails feature sake instead of vodka or gin. Desserts are provided by Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro located on Whitesburg Drive. Owner Angela Ramirez created a Smoked Cheesecake for Flight Plan, where Belinda said bartenders are tabbed “wine and beer ambassadors.’’ Belinda Taylor stressed the wine options were priced for those trying to stay on budget (keg wines) to those seeking higher-priced bottles from around the world. “We’ve got a price point for everyone,’’ she said. Reservations are accepted. A Frequent Flyer rewards program is offered. For more information visit www.flightplan.com. w


December 2019

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AEROSPACE CONTRACTING

Kutta and Sierra Nevada Creating ‘Melting Technology Pot and Integration Model’ With the opening of its new facility, Kutta Technologies plans to implement what they and the Sierra Nevada Corp. call their first integration model here in Huntsville. When Sierra Nevada acquired Kutta Technologies in 2015, Kutta was a small avionics consulting company that develops controller software for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the United States military. As that demand grew, Sierra Nevada saw an opportunity to expand that expertise into its Integrated Missions Systems business in Huntsville. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada, Kutta has 65 employees and is growing. The new location at 4000 Market Street in the new Redstone Gateway, just steps outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 9, will help Kutta increase its presence and footprint on Redstone Arsenal. “Sierra Nevada is a very innovative company with four business groups,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of Integrated Missions Systems for Sierra Nevada. “Our space team is involved in the development of the Dreamchaser, so we are building our own spacecraft. In aviation we have our own surveillance aircraft; we have people here involved in electronic warfare; and we have people working in cyber. “All those intersect here in Huntsville … a sort of melting technology pot and integration model for Sierra Nevada that we are all really excited about.” For the past eight years, Kutta has shared space on Discovery Drive with Sierra Nevada. Owings said they have built great new friendships and great working relationships during that time. “Kutta is on a roll right now and we owe that to Tim Owings and Sierra Nevada, who have made it possible,” said Matt Savoca, executive vice president of Kutta and one of the company’s founders. “UAS is one of our biggest customers and

Ribbon cutting at the opening of the new Kutta Technologies

they along with our vendors are on Redstone Arsenal. Our software controls all of the small and large unmanned vehicles at Redstone and it has been a passion of ours to expand our unmanned aerial systems capabilities in Huntsville. “We are excited and proud to be part of the Huntsville community.” According to Owings, some more big announcements concerning Kutta and SNC are upcoming. “The next part of all this is – you have to win some work! Sometimes timing is everything, and last week we saw an announcement about two major programs we have been selected to win,” he said. “One is a very large program hatched out of the United Kingdom that we will be doing work for out of this office; but more important locally is the EMARSS-E contract with L3 Technologies.” The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS-E) contract is an aircraft integration contract to develop up to two EMARSS prototype aircraft. Owings said the initial contract award is around $30 million. “If we are going to build airplanes in our Huntsville hangar in Meridianville, we are also going to support them engineering-wise,” Owings said. “The program office for that will be run from Huntsville

so that’s a big deal towards what we are trying to achieve here. However, there is a lot of aircraft follow-on from that contract that has the po-

By Kimberly Ballard / Photo by Kimberly Ballad

tential for hundreds of millions of dollars over time as we provide more of these platforms.” The Huntsville office hosted Sierra Nevada’s quarterly technology meeting and, according to Owings, the entire Sierra Nevada senior leadership was expected to attend. Savoca and Owings also gave a shout-out to the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce who presented them with a new membership plaque. “The Chamber always does a fabulous job with these things and is supportive of everything we’ve done,” said Savoca. “The entire city and its culture have really embraced what we want to do, so ‘Thank You’.” w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

TECHNOLOGY

Booz Allen Digital Soldier Program Aims to Make Soldier ‘Unbeatable’ In a conference room at Booz Allen’s fifth-floor Bridge Street office, anyone wearing virtual reality headgear can instantly be standing in the open door of a military plane flying above a training facility on the United States base of the instructor’s choosing. A first-timer wearing the gear looks around the inside of the plane, steps to the edge of the door and is gripped by an uneasy sensation after looking down. Minutes later, the same first-timer shoots “bad guys’’ in an urban environment resembling those seen on battle footage from the Middle East, a realistic M4 that is surprisingly light providing the firepower. There’s more, and it’s all part of Booz Allen’s Digital Soldier initiative the company displayed to

media members. Company site leader and Senior Vice President Lincoln Hudson, a veteran with defense department expertise, said Vice President of Global Defense Joel Dillon and Principal of Global Defense Stephanie Boone-Shaw were on a “road show’’ of sorts. “Joel and Stephanie are demonstrating some of the capabilities Booz Allen has invested in,’’ Hudson said. “They’re demonstrating these technologies and showing everybody what Booz

Allen has to offer.’’ Simulation — which Dillon said could be a big money saver for defense — is just part of Digital Soldier. A primary talking point is “open architecture,’’ which is intended to make adding, upgrading and swapping components easy. For example, Dillon, a jumpmaster and highly decorated Army officer (Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device and Oak Leaf Cluster are on an impressive resume that includes a master’s from Stanford and bachelor’s from West Point) talks about the “Christmas tree’’ effect. “Soldiers have all of these great pieces of equipment,’’ he said, “but they’re hanging off them like an ornament.’’ With body armor and all the trappings, a soldier carries an added 130 pounds. That’s more than the bulky equipment soldiers had in World War II. Open architecture is aimed at reducing that weight and providing faster upgrades to equipment on the battlefield. “The Army has got to modernize, got to really transform how they do business,’’ Boone-Shaw said. “The acquisition process takes too long, is way too slow. Our enemies and Near Peers have watched how the military fights and the tactics while we’ve been at war for a couple

By Mike Easterling / Photos provided by Booz Allen

of decades. “They also have access to technology that allowed them to catch up with their capability to the U.S. The U.S. has to maintain the advantage.’’ Speed, integration using open architecture and combining fastimproving technology such as GPS and satellites, mission adaptability and maintaining military superiority are some of the buzz words and phrases involved in Digital Soldier. But, Dillon said, Booz Allen sets itself apart from other firms by taking a “holistic’’ approach to consider the individual. He compared the approach to the way an NFL team maintains assets such as a valuable player through everything from nutrition and condition to the best equipment and devices. These allow for better and faster decision making on the battlefield. “I don’t know if there’s anything more valuable than the sons and daughters of our citizens,’’ he said. Digital Soldier, Dillion said, has been initiated to give those sons and daughters their best chance at readiness, lethality, and survivability. Combining technology and making it work “synergistically’’ can produce a soldier who will be “unbeatable on the battlefield.’’ “We want to give them the best training and best equipment to get them home safely.” w


December 2019

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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

COVER

2019 Holiday Gift Giv

By Lori J. Connors / Ph Deck the halls and walls and fill the stockings while you’re at it. Make the lists, check them twice, and shop local. No disputing it, Huntsville is rife with retail and the local treasures listed below barely scratch a dent into what the Rocket City has to offer. For those of you who are stumped for giftgiving ideas, here’s a good starting point. From traditional “family and friend” presents to “Dirty Santa” and “White Elephant” gifts, there’s something for everyone.

LEWTER’S HARDWARE 222 Washington St NE, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 539-5777 Hours: Mon-Fri: 7 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat: 7:30 a.m.-noon Lewter’s time-honored motto, “If we don’t have

it, you don’t need it” still holds true. The shelves at Lewter’s are filled with an infinite selection of tools, home improvement, and pretty much anything known to mankind to embellish one’s nest. Spoiler alert: Lewter’s also carries toys; a very quirky selection, at that. Looking for a scatologically inspired stocking stuffer? Lewter’s has a can of Big Foot Scat for only $5.99. It’s a great way to keep the young’uns giggling and entertained for a spell.

What better way to pass the time - or gas for that matter? Windbreaking, as it’s referred to in polite circles, has taken on a life of its own in Toyland. As part of the “Fartist Club,” Ripping Randy and his pals, Farty Flip, Munchy Max, and Windy Wendy are here to show you how it’s done. All that’s required is $10.99 and 2 AAA batteries to get that office Dirty Santa party started. “This is the first time we’ve had these,” said Dianne Douglas, merchandise buyer for Lewter’s. “Sometimes, the guys tease me when things like this come in.”

ART & SOUL INSPIRED HOME https://artandsoulhsv.com 2313 Whitesburg Dr, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 270-7363 Hours: Mon-Thur: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Looking for gifts for that special guy? Art & Soul carries Duke Cannon Supply Company men’s products. With eye-catching names like “Mr. Perfect” Grooming Kit, “Bloody Knuckles” hand repair balm, and “Offensively Large” lip balm, the goods are guaranteed to deliver quality, along with a chuckle. Along with men’s grooming goods, rock the holidays in style! Art & Soul also has a collection of quippy door tags that will ring in the season with a big laugh.

TURKISH TREASURES & INSPIRED AT CYN SHEA’S https://turkishtreasures.com/ https://cynsheas.com › inspired-gifts 415 Church St NW Suite E-5 Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 527-2488 Hours: Mon-Sat: 10am-3pm

Inspired Located in Cyn Shea’s, Inspired is filled with an enticing collection of unique gifts from local, regional, and global artisans. Turkish Treasures is a store within a store. A retail version of a nesting doll, if you will. Turkish Treasures features handmade gifts from Turkey and Central Asia. Both Inspired and Turkish Treasures feature sustainable products made by artisans and companies that “give back” to their local communities.

TRASH PANDAS EMPORIUM https://www.milb.com/rocket-city 365 The Bridge St, Huntsville, AL 35806 (256) 325-1413 Hours: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.9 p.m.; Sun: Noon-6 p.m.

Baseball bling is in, especially when the mascot is a raccoon with an attitude! Haters can hate, but


December 2019

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STORY

ving, Huntsville-Style

hotos by Lori J. Connors quirky team names are here to stay. Just a thought: it sure beats a name like “Wind Surge.” All team name grousing aside, the Emporium has an assortment of goodies from the big-ticket jerseys and hats to stocking stuffers like nail files, clippers, and decals. There’s even a stuffed unicorn! Gifts from the Trash Panda Emporium will delight those rabid baseball fans, who are eagerly counting the days until the season opener.

LITTLE GREEN STORE https://thelittlegreenstore.net 820 Monte Sano Blvd SE, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 539-9699 Hours: Mon-Sat: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Open Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas

GREEN PEA PRESS/THE PEA POD AT LOWE MILL http://greenpeapress.com/ 2211 Seminole Dr SW, Huntsville, AL 35805, Studios 111-122 (256) 679-7288 Hours: Wed-Thur: Noon-6 p.m.; Fri: Noon-8 p.m.; Sat: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

News Flash! Vinyl has never really disappeared and it’s back with a vengeance. Vertical House offers a wide selection of 33 1/3 playable discs; from Bobby Sherman to Alice Cooper and all points in between. Don’t have anything to play them on? There’s an assortment of turntables in stock, as well. Located in the Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment Center, Green Pea Press/The Pea Pod and Vertical House Records are two of the many local artisan-retailers in the collective. Be sure to check out the other Lowe Mill artists while checking off your holiday gift list.

RAILROAD STATION ANTIQUES https://www.railroadstationantiques.com 315 Jefferson St N, Huntsville, AL 35801 (256) 533-6550 Hours: Mon-Fri: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun: 1-5 p.m. The Little Green Store and Gallery features a dazzling assortment of locally created art, pottery, and handmade jewelry. They also carry products by the socially conscious company Blue Q, makers of quirky socks, potholders, and more. A solid collection of Houston Ilew’s “Spirtiles” are also available. The glass on copper enameled collectibles are beautifully designed; each “tile” has a theme with an accompanying phrase.

Green Pea Press embraces the quirky, whimsical side of Huntsville . The group’s collective imagination makes for interestingly designed wearing apparel and products that celebrate our city, our state, and the denizens who inhabit it. Be an ambassador! The apparel makes a great gift for out-of-town family and friends.

LOWE MILL ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT www.lowemill.net 2211 Seminole Drive, SW, Huntsville, AL 35805 (256) 533-0399 Hours: Weds: Noon-6 p.m.; Thurs: Noon-6 p.m.; Fri: Noon-8 p.m.; Sat: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

VERTICAL HOUSE RECORDS theverticalhouse.com 2211 Seminole Dr SW, Huntsville, AL 35805 (256) 658-2976 Hours: Weds-Fri: Noon-8 p.m.; Sat: Noon-5 p.m.

Railroad Station has a dynamic assortment of merchandise. There are Gurgle Pots and Chirpy Tops for home entertaining. Unique items such as decorative concrete crosses, dragonfly tiffany lamps, and many other one-of-a kind items fill up the three stories of vendor space.


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

BIOTECHNOLOGY

HudsonAlpha, CFD Research Partnership Aims to Find New Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer At the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, casual gatherings can lead to incredible research opportunities. Most recently at the Institute, a fortuitous encounter at a HudsonAlpha mixer led to a partnership that will search for new ways to treat pancreatic cancer. HudsonAlpha Institute President Dr. Rick Myers and fellow faculty investigator Dr. Sara Cooper will work with CFD Research Principal Investigator AJ Singhal on a Small Business Innovative Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The group will work to find a more effective target for pancreatic cancer drugs, illustrating the power of

HudsonAlpha’s unique approach to public-private collaboration. An Idea over Drinks For this project, the collaboration between the Institute’s Cooper Lab and CFD Research started at Science on Tap, a monthly campus event sponsored by HudsonAlpha where people get together to talk research over pizza and beer. Singhal spoke at the event, and he told the crowd about strides he and his team were making in modeling and targeting proteins. They just needed some ideas for new proteins to target. After his talk, Singhal found

Myers, who noted there might be an opportunity for Singhal’s group to work with researchers at HudsonAlpha. “It was an incredible moment,” Singhal said. “You could just feel it all coming together. This collaboration will define our research into pancreatic cancer drugs, and one day, it might even lead to a new treatment. A better treatment.” Myers put Singhal in contact with Cooper, and the partnership began in earnest. Cooper’s Lab had a number

From Staff Reports

of novel target proteins identified through its work. CFD Research had the tools to model those proteins and predict drugs that might target them. A Search for Treatment Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the world. According to Johns Hopkins, more than 44,000 Americans will receive a pancreatic cancer diagnosis this year; more than 38,000 Americans will die from the disease. While pancreatic cancer is more treatable when found early,


December 2019

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BIOTECHNOLOGY

most cases are not found until far too late, leaving patients without curative treatment options. “I study many kinds of cancer,” Cooper said. “Pancreatic cancer is particularly dangerous and cruel.” The Cooper Lab previously

discovered a number of genes were linked directly with patient survival in pancreatic cancer. One example from that study identified a gene that, if it becomes overactive, makes cells more resistant to drugs by limiting normal stress

response that would trigger cell death. Other genes studied by the Cooper Lab control different aspects of the body, like how closely packed cells are or how cells metabolize drugs. Through its nonprofit research work, the Cooper Lab generated a trove of data on genes and proteins related to patient survival for people with pancreatic cancer. The lab’s partnership with CFD Research allows them to use this knowledge for testing potential treatment options. A Way Forward Not only has the Cooper Lab developed a list of potential targets for pancreatic cancer treatment, they’ve also developed the means to test outcomes for those targets. In this case, Cooper and Singhal have honed in on a particular protein—the one that affects cellular stress response. Using the three-dimensional structure of the protein deter-

mined by the team, they can predict which existing chemical compounds might be able to attach to it and render it non-functional. If the protein can be turned off, it could increase the effect of traditional cancer therapies. “Partnering with outside experts is an important way to advance our non-profit research,” Cooper said. “We’re lucky at HudsonAlpha that we have highly specialized experts right here on campus with us.” The first stage of the NIH grant will focus on finding potential drug molecules. For the collaboration, CFD Research will test a variety of molecules that could potentially inactivate the protein in question; the Cooper Lab will test those molecules to see if they work on pancreatic cancer cells. “If everything goes the way we plan,” Cooper added, “We could walk away from this with a new drug.” w

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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

PHILANTHROPY

Huntsville Hospital Foundation Joins Korn Ferry Tour for Huntsville Championship Chris Hanback, board of trustees chairman of Huntsville Hospital Foundation, was intrigued when he heard representatives of a new professional golf tournament coming to town were looking for a charitable partner. The new golf tournament, named the Huntsville Championship, is one of 28 on the Korn Ferry Tour that serves as the PGA’s Triple-A circuit. It’s scheduled for spring 2020. The not-for-profit Huntsville Hospital Foundation (HHF) has hosted its fundraising golf tournament and

dinner, the Huntsville Classic, in the spring since 1989. Opportunity knocked, and Hanback and the board answered. “There’s been a long tradition of the Foundation and golf in

this community,’’ Hanback said. “When we heard (the Korn Ferry Tour) wanted to give back to the community, and it was a golf tournament that was going to be played around the time when we’ve historically held our golf tournament, it all made sense.’’ The Classic was held previously on Mother’s Day weekend. The Huntsville Championship will be a six-day event to be held from April 20-26 at The Ledges. Golf fans will have the chance to play in a Pro-Am. The Huntsville Classic dinner and concert will be at the Von Braun Center on May 7. Proceeds will benefit both the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville and the new Huntsville Hospital Foundation Fund at the Community Foundation. “The Pro-Am is a unique experience,’’ Hanback said. “You get to see some of the best golfers in the world and see how they play. “The mission of the Classic remains the same — to raise essential funds needed to support our local, not-for-profit hospital. Without this event, key lifesaving equipment would not be possible.” Penn Garvic, chairman of the Huntsville Championship,

By Mike Easterling

said in a press release that pairing with HHF was a perfect fit. “From the beginning,’’ he said, “our focus has been about providing a premier Korn Ferry Tour golf event while also giving back to the community,’’ The Korn Ferry Tour replaced the Nationwide Tour. The Tour has 28 events scheduled for 2020 in 20 states and four countries. The former PGA Q-School is also now part of this tour. Majors champions Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson all played the Korn Ferry Tour. According to HHF, its mission “inspires philanthropic partners to invest in medical technology and programs that advance Huntsville Hospital’s mission to improve the health patients in its region of 1.1 million residents. Through the generosity of its donors over its 41-year history, it has grown to almost $38.5 million in assets and has distributed more than $54 million toward Huntsville Hospital’s service to its patients.’’ The Alabama-based sports marketing and event management firm Knight Eady operates the Huntsville Championship. For more tournament information visit www.huntsvillechampionship.com. w


December 2019

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SPORTS / RECREATION

A New Game Plan Breathes New Life into Joe Davis Stadium Joe Davis Stadium got a reprieve from the wrecking ball. The stadium, which sits just off South Memorial Parkway that was built to bring professional minor league baseball to Huntsville in the mid-1980s, was spared demolition when the city council approved a renovation of the site. It will look different to be sure, but it won’t be reduced to rubble. “We will convert it to a stadium with a rectangular field that would accommodate football, soccer, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and field hockey in their standard, full regulation size,’’ City Administrator John Hamilton said. “It could be used for any other sport or recreational activity that would fit within the dimensions of a soccer field.’’ Construction on Joe Davis Stadium -- named for the late, former longtime city mayor—began in 1984 and it opened in 1985 as the home of the Double-A Huntsville Stars, an affiliate of the major league Oakland A’s.

In the previous 30 years, Joe D. hosted high school football and baseball, Alabama A&M football and concerts. Current plans call for the seating to be reduced from 10,000 to a cozier 6,800. The new design will feature new fencing, roofing, restrooms, locker rooms, concessions, offices and press box. The skyboxes will be removed, and there will be stands where the old right-field wall was with backing towards the Parkway.

Heralded at the time as a gem among minor league baseball parks, it became a dinosaur and was in need of repairs within 20 years. Eventually, the Stars (later linked with the Milwaukee Brewers) left town and the stadium has been shuttered since 2015.

The Huntsville City Council approved a $1 million contract with Chapman Sisson Architects for the renovation plans. The estimated cost is $8 million. Once the city has design and construction documents in hand the project will go out for bid.

Construction is expected to begin in 2021. As for a professional soccer team coming, Hamilton said that would hinge on private interest. “If and when professional soc-

By Mike Easterling

cer comes to Huntsville it will be through private, team ownership efforts,’’ he said. “It is our understanding that there are entities exploring that possibility right now. We believe Joe Davis Stadium would be a good site for them.’’ While high school baseball will obviously not return to the stadium, and Alabama A&M has built Louis Crews Stadium since it last played at Joe D., the city’s high school football teams would be the only former tenants at the new venue. The city currently has only Milton Frank Stadium for high school varsity football games and partners with Alabama A&M to use its facility to accommodate Huntsville’s five high school teams. w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL


December 2019

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SMALL BUSINESS By Kimberly Ballard Madison Chamber of Commerce Celebrates Best in Business 2019 Awards MADISON — Just as Madison is growing and evolving, so are the categories for the annual Madison Chamber of Commerce Best in Business Awards. More than a dozen businesses were recognized at this year’s dinner and awards presentation at the Insanity Complex Entertainment Center. The event was sponsored by the Madison Chamber and Good Samaritan Hospice. The evening was capped off with Janine Nesin of Nesin Therapy Services being awarded the Excellence in Leadership & Service Award. Cassie Scott of the Quadrus Corp. was runner-up. According to Pam Honeycutt, executive director of the Madison Chamber, the awards categories are evolving every year to better re-

flect the growth and diversity of the Chamber membership. “We added arts, entertainment and hospitality categories to the awards this year, and we added a new Culinary Student Program sponsorship, presented by Earfinity,”

EMERGENCY CARE WITH

said Honeycutt. “A $500 check was awarded to Madison City Schools Culinary Program instructor Monica Creekmore for their service to the Chamber throughout the year.” The winners were Signalink for Best Business of the Year; Capital Management Services for Best Start-up Business of the Year; Mozaic Audio Video Integration for Best Small Business of the Year; and Union Chapel Christian Academy for Best Nonprofit of the Year. Conditioned Air Solutions; Black Patch Distilling Co.; Air Essentials; and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of North Alabama took runner-up in each category respectively. Daniel Kasambira of Hogan Family YMCA won Community Servant of the Year with Michelle Linville of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of North Ala-

LESS WAITING

bama the finalist. Health and Wellness Business of the Year went to Hot Yoga DeLux & Cryotherapy with Madison Health Mart Pharmacy taking second place. The Dessert Fork won the Culinary Business of the Year with Insanity Complex the runner-up. Compass Physical Therapy took first place as Medical Practice of the Year; Conditioned Air Solutions won for Essential Service Business of the Year; and Signalink won Professional Service Business of the Year. Good Samaritan Hospice of Madison; Turf Tamer; and Two Men and a Truck were finalists in each of those categories. In the new Arts, Entertainment & Hospitality category, iHeartMedia took the top prize while Insanity Complex was runner-up. w

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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

SMALL BUSINESS

Madison’s Best in ‘Buss-iness’: The Physical Therapist, The Technology Specialist, A Shared Kiss, and Two Awards The 2019 Madison Chamber of Commerce Best in Business Awards may have been the most romantic awards presentation ever. It is tradition that the winner of the previous year’s Best in Business Award in each category, present the trophy to the winner of the current year’s Best in Business award. However, when Stephanie Johnson, owner of Compass Physical Therapy, presented Michael Johnson, owner of Mosaic Audio Video Integration, with his Small Business of the Year trophy this year, she also gave him a big kiss, much to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of a flabbergasted audience! “Boy, I wish I had won that award,” someone in the audience piped up to uproarious laughter. Few in the audience realized at the time that Stephanie and Michael Johnson are married, and both own award-winning small businesses in Madison. Earlier that evening, Stephanie accepted a trophy for the Best Medical Practice – less the kiss of course! “I was thrilled to have been nominated but I never expected to win because the Small Business of the Year category is very competitive,” said Michael Johnson. “I was excited and honored to have won among so many deserving businesses here in our community.” Johnson has been in the home automation business for over 20 years, but five years ago broke away to form his own company. Specializing in whole home and office automation including smart lighting, motorized window shades, multi-room music and audio, home theatre, cameras and surveillance, as well as Wi-Fi networks for home and office conference rooms, Johnson said he wears the nickname “The Speaker Guy” as a badge of honor. “People automatically think about what we do in terms of surround-sound and home theatre, but that is just a small part of what we can do,” he said. “If it’s technology-based electronics

Pictured: Michael Johnson owner of Mosaic Audio Video Integration and Stephanie Johnson, owner of Compass Physical Therapy

and automation, Mosaic Audio Video Integration can help you design and install it.” In addition to residential, Mosaic does a lot of commercial work for companies in Research Park. He said Huntsville and Madison are great markets for technology-based systems because it is a well-educated community where people are in tune with what is available. Stephanie has been a licensed physical therapist for nearly 15 years but bought the business six years ago, renaming it Compass Physical Therapy in 2017. She specializes in physical therapy for children age 1 to 18 and includes rehabilitation for special needs children, traumatic pediatric injuries and rehab for school athletics and other injuries resulting from physical activities. “Alabama is a ‘direct access’ state so anyone can come in and get evaluated without a doctor’s prescription; however, some insurance may require that you get some form of medical preauthorization,” Stephanie said. “If needed, we communicate with the doctor after they come in and let them know what is going on.” Compass Physical Therapy is also engaged with the local schools. Madison Schools have health advisory boards in which they invite professionals in engineering, IT, and the medical

fields into their classrooms to talk to students who are interested in those fields. Stephanie speaks to students and fields questions from them about prepping a career in physical therapy. “Compass also accommodates student observation hours in the physical therapy field,” she said. “Students interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, or who may be looking to go to college or physician’s assistant’s school, need observation hours,” said Stephanie. “the high schools are aware that we host students here so they can get their observation hours. It can help advance their professional careers.” She said they also take on student interns when they can. “It’s our way of helping perpetuate the next generation of physical therapists.” Michael’s expertise is on full display at Stephanie’s practice. “Music and special lighting are important to inspiring and keeping children engaged during the rehabilitation process,” Stephanie said. “Michael has installed smart lighting and music in some of our work areas that can be adjusted from a tablet-like remote.” From a businessowner’s standpoint, she said her favorite feature is the onebutton access to opening and closing her business every day.

“In the morning when I arrive, I usually have my hands full and all I have to do is push one button and the door unlocks and opens. It turns on the lights and brings up our favorite TV station in the waiting room. When we

By Kimberly Ballard

leave at night, I push one button and it turns off the lights, sets the thermostat, and locks the door behind me,” “Stephanie’s work with special needs children has a profound effect on people’s lives. She comes home at night talking about how she helped a baby learn to walk today,” said Michael. “I implemented home automation technology in the master bathroom of a wealthy homeowner that day, so I like to believe that good stuff rubs off on me just a little.” Clearly it does. Three years ago, the Johnsons began hosting a joint annual fundraiser called Blues, Brews and Booze in which they choose a local charity for which they raise money. Among those charities are Kids to Love, Clothe Our Kids of North Alabama and BeArded Warriors. “It’s important because the local Madison community has been so great to us,” said Stephanie. “We try find ways we can give back to the community and reach out to people who need help, It has grown from just a handful of supporters three years ago to over 4,000 participants this year.” Both of the Johnsons give a shoutout to the Madison Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber brings Madison small businesses together for networking opportunities, and they really get the business community talking to each other, making it easier to work together when needed,” said Stephanie. “Madison is a friendly Chamber, involved and engaged with all businesses in our area,” said Michael. “We get together on a regular basis to network and help each other grow. It really is a community effort and we are fortunate the Madison Chamber is so supportive of small business.” w


December 2019

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SMALL BUSINESS

Annual BIG Marketing and PR Event Features Key Marketing Insights Marketing and PR professionals, small business owners, and entrepreneurs packed the Jackson Center for the seventh annual BIG Marketing and PR Event. The audience heard key marketing insights in a three-track series of breakout sessions - 12 in all – that focused on content, digital media and government contracting. The day-long workshop was presented by Red Sage Communications and co-hosted by The Catalyst and the North Alabama chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama. Edward R. Murrow Awardwinning journalist Debra Alfarone presented the lunch keynote: “How to GTFO of Your Own Way So You Can Create Anything!” Alfarone, CEO of Debra Alfarone Media, shared her story and challenged participants to take inspired action, and to create the positive energy needed to attract the right people and opportunities at the right time and place.

“The labels you wear can limit you or launch you,” said Alfarone. “I considered myself a throwaway, I had no role models out there who I could see or be. It is so important that you can see who you can be. What you call yourself creates yourself. “Get real about the labels that hold you back.” Jason Dodge, founder and chief strategist at Michigan-based

Debra Alfarone, CEO of Debra Alfarone Media

Black Truck Media, livened the breakfast crowd with his morning keynote “Human-Centered Search Marketing: The Right Message at the Right Time.” All too often, PR and marketers get mired in the “What” and overlook the “Why,” he said. “If you’re not coming up in a search, are you really talking about what you do?” asked Dodge. “Why is that person searching to begin with?” Dodge parlayed four easy-to-use tools: “Identify your audience; define the what; understand the why, and improve the search experience.” Michelle Givens, directing manager of Image in a Box, presented “Make Your Content Strategy Smarter, Without Working Harder.” She provided the audience with “3 Rs of Content: Redistribute – develop ways to expand the reach of original content, Revise – update content by adding vid-

eos and illustrations, repurpose – adapt content for use in different contexts.” Ellen Didier, president of Red Sage Communications, presented “Giving Back as Part of Your Company Culture.” Didier recommended that HR personnel get more creative with digital campaigns and develop great recruiting videos that show organizational culture, along with better job descriptions that convey culture and growth opportunities. Creating better content is only part of the picture. “It’s important to track results, find out what’s working and put

By Lori J. Connors / Photo by Steve Babin

your energies there,” said Didier. “The Good, The Paid, and The Organic: How a Variety of Industries Tackle Digital Marketing,” a panel discussion lead by Vicki Morris, CEO of Face to Face Marketing, featured panelists Kristen Pepper, Ashley Ryals, and Brittany Kruse. “Take time to plan your content,” said Pepper, director of marketing for the HuntsvilleMadison County Visitors and Convention Bureau. “Focus on content distribution as much as content creation. You may think you know who your audience is, but don’t pigeonhole yourself into just reaching out to them. Our most engaged people are our locals. We tend to discount our locals because we think they’re not our target audience.” “Be adaptable to change as you grow,” said Ryals, owner of Homegrown, LLC. “Initially, I was geared toward the young professionals for the Dine and Dash, then realized that 40- to 70-year olds were our main ticket buyers, and we were selling out.” “Stay consistent, post often,” said Kruse, owner of Pink Wall Boutique. “Be very intentional in what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to spend extra money to boost. “Stay in the latest trends.” w Attendees at the Big Marketing & PR Event


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

BUSINESS BRIEFCASE

com or John Park at johnp@corporatetaxadvisors.com. w

Corporate Tax Advisors (CTA) Expands Service Offering with Georgia Tax Credits CTA’s service offerings are expanding, this time offering comprehensive Job Tax Credits and Quality Job Tax Credits for companies with employees in Georgia. Sam Hyon and John Park have been added to the Atlanta CTA team. “Sam and John bring us the experience and credibility needed to navigate the complex rules surrounding these two employment incentives. They also bring a proprietary method for computing these incentives accurately and efficiently. John and Sam will be the springboard to offering job incentive tax credits in other states as well,” says Mike Woeber, CTA’s CEO. The Job Tax Credit offers companies up to $4,000 per new job per year for the next 5 years totaling up to $20,000 per new job. While the Quality Job Tax Credit offers companies up to $5,000 per new job per year for the next seven years totaling up to $35,000 per new job. Both of these tax credits allow businesses to offset 100% on both Georgia state income tax liability and Georgia withholding tax liability. CTA was formed in 2014, with headquarters in Huntsville, AL. Specializing in R&D Tax Credit Services, Cost Segregation Services, 179D Energy Incentives, Job Tax Credits and Quality Jobs Tax Credits, CTA has performed over 500 Tax Credit Studies for clients all over the United States. Contact us today for all your tax credit needs. Call 256-9707129 or email Sam Hyon at samh@corporatetaxadvisors.

IronMountain Solutions Employees Award More Than $100,000 in Local Grants For its third grant award season, the employees of IronMountain Solutions granted nearly $41,000 to 13 local nonprofits. This brings the total to nearly $103,000 that our employees have given back to local community organizations since our employee giving fund was founded less than two years ago. The IronMountain Solutions Employee Peaks Fund was created in early 2018 in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville. In that short amount of time we have already made an impact on 36 non-profits. The IMS Employee Peaks Fund awards grants to qualified applicants twice a year based on votes from our employee contributors. The following charitable organizations will receive grants from the IMS Employees Peaks Fund for the second half of 2019: CASA - $5,000 Heals, Inc. $2,500 National Children’s Advocacy Center - $5,000 New Futures - $2,000 Crisis Services of North Alabama - $5,000 Huntsville Assistance Program (HAP) - $2,000 Huntsville Hospital Foundation NICU$3,749 Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Alabama - $2,000 Still Serving Veterans - $3,705 CARE Center - $2,000 Huntsville Community Free Dental Clinic - $3,000 Early Learning Center - $2,000 Fostering Connections (North Alabama Foster Closet) - $3,000

Since founding the company in 2007 IronMountain Solutions President & CEO, Hank Isenberg has always believed in supporting our community. “To see our employees be able to raise more than $100,000 in less than two years is such a testament to the caliber of people we hire. Not only do we have the right kind of people on our team to support our customer, but we also have employees who truly understand the importance of giving back.” More than 80 percent of IMS employees contribute to our Employee Peaks Fund through payroll deductions throughout the year. The IronMountain Solutions Employee Peaks Fund will accept grant applications again in Spring of 2020. To apply, visit ironmountainsolutions.com/ community. w

tracting processes” said Merit Bank President Hill Womble. “They are Huntsville business executives who know what it takes to get things done. Now they are part of the Merit Bank team, bringing their experience and insight to provide a unique voice and vision for local businesses.” The board members are: Steven Cost, president of Hexagon Safety & Infrastructure; Chad Falciani, founder and CEO of Strategix Medical Solutions; Kevin Heronimus, former CEO of Line-X; current chairman/ CEO of Technical Micronics Control Corp.; Jeff Huntley, owner of T-H Marine; and Brent Romine, founder of nou Systems. “Bankers are an essential lifeline for small business success,” Romine said. “As a Huntsvilleheadquartered bank focused on industrial and commercial banking, Merit Bank is well positioned to be a small business enabler. “Our bankers not only understand working capital needs, but are vital advisors for businesses growth.” w

Huntsville-based Merit Bank Announces Board of Directors Merit Bank has announced a board of directors reflecting its philosophy of focusing on local small businesses. The board for the bank, which opened this summer, is comprised of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Merit Bank is among six percent of the banks which are Huntsvillebased. “The directors guiding Merit Bank have been small business owners themselves. They have turned startups into multi-million-dollar companies and have led complex government con-

IberiaBank, First Horizon Announce Merger First Horizon National and IberiaBank have announced an all-stock merger of the two southern banks. Under the terms of the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, the combined holding company and bank will operate under the First Horizon name and will be headquartered in Memphis. Once


December 2019

the transaction is completed, the combined company will be one of the largest financial services companies headquartered in the South and one of the top 25 banks in the U.S. in deposits. The combined organization will have $75 billion in assets, $57 billion in deposits and $55 billion in loans. Under the terms of the merger agreement, IberiaBank shareholders will receive 4.584 shares of First Horizon for each IberiaBank share they own. First Horizon shareholders will own 56 percent and IberiaBank shareholders will own 44 percent of the combined company. Additionally, IberiaBank shareholders will receive a 43 percent increase in their dividend after consummation of the transaction, based upon each company’s current dividend per

share. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020. w

Rocket City Trash Pandas, Inline Electric Announce Partnership MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas and Inline Electric have announced a longterm strategic partnership to include naming rights for the Inline Electric Rock Porch bar.

“We are excited to have Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply join the Trash Pandas family,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “Inline Electric is a home-grown business that has been known throughout our region for their quality products and customer service for three decades. Since we designed the Rock Porch, I have always felt it will become everybody’s favorite spot in the ballpark. We are thrilled that Inline Electric, a North Alabama business institution, has elected to sponsor it. “The Inline Electric Rock Porch will be providing our fans with the most unique vantage point in Minor League Baseball.” As part of the agreement, Inline Lighting & Electrical Supply has been named a Found-

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ing Partner of the Trash Pandas and Toyota Field. The Inline Electric brand and logo will be prominently featured throughout the stadium, including the Inline Electric Rock Porch bar overlooking right field. “Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply is proud to be a sponsor of the Rocket City Trash Pandas new venture in North Alabama,” said Bruce Summerville, President of Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply. “Our customers in Huntsville, Athens, Sheffield, Cullman and Albertville are certainly excited to participate with in making this a huge success for all of North Alabama.” The Trash Pandas make their Toyota Field debut in April 2020. w


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Huntsville BUSINESS JOURNAL

Profile for EVENT Magazine

December 2019  

Huntsville Business Journal

December 2019  

Huntsville Business Journal