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Connextions • SpeakEasy Communications • Basicsplus Office Products • Ballantyne Resort

april 2007

Total Synchronicity New Facility Delivers Talent and Technology to Families and Kids in Need

Martha Whitecotton, Administrator; Katlin Watts (l); Charlie Riesmeyer (r) Levine Children's Hospital at Carolina’s Medical Center

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in this issue








Levine Children’s Hospital From fundraising, to community support, to staffing, to its on-time and on-budget construction, Martha Whitecotton, newly appointed administrator, could not be more enthused with the way the plan for the $85 million hospital has come together. And it is obvious this synchronicity is due in no small part to her involvement with the project from day one.


Ballantyne Resort Six years after welcoming its first guests, Ballantyne Resort has become a beacon to business travelers, golf enthusiasts, spa devotees, and locals who visit for mini-getaways.Today, the resort commands attention from almost any spot in the city.


Connextions When Orlando-based Connextions was scouting new locations they found themselves in Concord where they “fell in love” with not only the site but also the quality work force available. Specializing in support functions, they’ve already brought 360 jobs to the area.


Basicsplus Office Products Doug Heineman came to Charlotte with just shy of 30 years of Xerox experience. Now, with the help of his daughter,Tracy Miner, Basicsplus has built a reputation of being a customer-focused business, offering their clients solutions, support and satisfaction.

april 2007


cover story





publisher’s post


bizXperts Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions




employersbiz Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers






executive homes Luxury Homes above $350,000


on the cover:

Martha Whitecotton Administrator; Katlin Watts (l); Charlie Riesmeyer (r) Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolina’s Medical Center

SpeakEasy Communications In the business world, language barriers can be intimidating; owner and president Myelita Melton and her staff make learning on-the-job Spanish simple and even fun for folks all across the greater Charlotte region and around the nation.

Photography by Wayne Morris.

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[publisher’spost] Capturing 50 Years of Economic Growth

April 2007 Volume 8 • Issue 4

This March I was privileged to attend a celebration of Allen Tate and Allen Tate Realtors for 50 years of service and leadership in real estate and in the Charlotte regional economy. Ever since Allen Tate left his hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina, in 1957 headed for Charlotte, he has been a leader encouraging the economic growth of Charlotte and ushering new residents into this community. Now, at age 75, Allen has not slowed down except to celebrate this milestone. Notably, Allen Tate Realtors reported a total residential sales volume of $6.78 billion in 2006. That volume was up from $5.95 billion in 2005. In terms of transactions, those sales were the result of 17,144 listings, 28,554 sales transactions, and 24,446 closed transactions. Over the years, Allen Tate and his management team including Pat Riley and Gary Scott have launched several other enterprises under the Allen Tate name in addition to Allen Tate Realtors, including Allen Tate Insurance, Builder Services, Inc., Allen Tate Mortgage, Allen Tate Home Services, and the Allen Tate School of Real Estate. Allen Tate and Pat Riley do not see 2007 as the zenith year for their company. They see it as just another step in their expansion as they spread their business leadership and activity to Winston-Salem, Greensboro and the Research Triangle. They are even looking into other metropolitan areas of North Carolina and South Carolina. Allen Tate Realtors certainly is well-positioned to continue to expand its impact on the Charlotte region and beyond. With 50 solid years of experience, there are few persons so well situated as Allen Tate to recall the important changes that have occurred in the Charlotte region over that period of time. It would be extremely valuable to capture Allen Tate’s memories and recall the challenges and changes that have occurred over the last half century. In fact, why not gather and collect the input of all those important leaders who are still alive and can contribute from their own personal experiences to an accurate history of the plans, debates, decisions and activities that have culminated in the economic boom that Charlotte is currently experiencing. Contributing to that endeavor, WTVI, Charlotte’s community television, has created a valuable series entitled, Legacy, the Making of a Great City. Running from April through December 2007, WTVI will present interviews with 20 remarkable civic leaders to learn about their insights into Charlotte and the changes they have witnessed over time. This series is expected to continue into 2008 as well. With over 80,000 new residents moving to Charlotte every year, it would be immensely helpful to provide an accurate and comprehensive history of the last 50 in Charlotte’s development. People want to know how Charlotte got to where it is today. Charlotte’s growth is the result of courageous and thoughtful leaders who have contributed their time and energies to continue to improve and build upon the foundation of this city before them. From the building of the Charlotte Douglas Airport, to the growth of Duke Energy and the creation of Lake Norman and Lake Wylie, to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, to the building of Bank of America and Wachovia, to the construction of the convention center, to efforts to bring the NFL to the Carolinas, to the struggle over the Bobcats and Bobcats Arena, and even to the campaign to bring the NASCAR Hall of Fame to Charlotte, this city has an incredibly important economic history. It is high time that this history is collected and the stories are told so that future families and generations will have a clear understanding and appreciation of the dynamics that created this marvelous region. We are anxious to contribute to the publication of this history. biz


april 2007

Publisher John Paul Galles

Associate Publisher/Editor Maryl A. Lane

Creative Director Michele E.Warren

Editorial & Sales Assistant Janet Kropinak

Business Development Sandy Rosenfeld

Account Executive Mimi Zelman

Contributing Writers Ellison Clary Susanne Deitzel Lisa Hoffmann Janet Kropinak Contributing Photographer Wayne Morris Galles Communications Group, Inc. 5601 77 Center Drive • Suite 250 Charlotte, NC 28217-0736 704-676-5850 Phone • 704-676-5853 Fax • Press releases and other news-related information, please fax to the attention of “Editor” or e-mail: • Editorial or advertising inquiries, please call or fax at the numbers above or e-mail: • Subscription inquiries or change of address, please call or fax at the numbers above or visit our Web site: © Copyright 2007 by Galles Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved.The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, Galles Communications Group, Inc. makes no warranty to the accuracy or reliability of this information. Products named in these pages are trade names or trademarks of their respective companies.Views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Greater Charlotte Biz or Galles Communications Group, Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. For reprints call 704-676-5850 x102. Greater Charlotte Biz (ISSN 1554-6551) is published monthly by Galles Communications Group, Inc., 5601 77 Center Dr., Ste. 250, Charlotte, NC 28217-0736. Telephone: 704-676-5850. Fax: 704-676-5853. Subscription rate is $24 for one year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Greater Charlotte Biz, 5601 77 Center Dr., Ste. 250, Charlotte, NC 28217-0736.

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[bizXperts] Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions

preparing your company for sale Over the past year there have been many articles in business publications suggesting that we now have a “seller’s market” for profitable companies. There appears to be an abundance of capital looking for business acquisitions, as well as an increase in the number of potential buyers. Many have suggested that now might be the time for owners to consider selling their business. In several instances over the last year a business owner has called and said, “I need to make a decision today whether to list my company for sale. The broker says his buyer won’t wait.” Invariably we respond, “Slow down and let’s talk.” The point is that there are numerous factors a business owner should consider long before offering his company for sale. In these cases, usually the worst thing an owner can do is to be pressured into selling his company without considering these factors. Unfortunately, many owners wait until they are ready to retire before seriously analyzing various exit strategies and choosing the strategy which best meets the owner’s objectives. In fact, beginning the planning process long before an owner desires to sell his company (and in any event, at least three to five years before a sale is contemplated) will normally help the owner maximize the value he receives upon the sale as well as avoid the possibility that a successful closing will not occur—with the only option left for the owner being a liquidation of the company at values far less than anticipated. Assuming that the owner has looked at alternative exit strategies and has chosen to sell his company to “outsiders” (whether strategic buyers or financial buyers), we would propose that the business owner take the following steps to help prepare his company for future sale: 1. Ensure that appropriate management and key employees are in place and have a proven track record in order to convince a buyer that the earnings of the company will continue for the buyer after the owner leaves upon sale, i.e. the “goodwill” of the business can effectively be transferred to the buyer through the transfer of existing management and the customer base. 2. Ensure that all legal and organizational documents are in place and properly filed (properly incorporated, qualified to do business, good standing, annual reports, merger documents, stock books, etc.). 3. Ensure that all tax returns have been properly filed and all issues regarding the various tax authorities have been appropriately addressed (independent contractor versus employee issues, overtime, sales tax, etc.). 4. Ensure that the company’s financial statements are in order and that the company has reliable historical financial information (preferably reviewed or audited statements by the company’s CPA). 5. Explore elimination of owner “add backs,” non-recurring or excess expense from financial statements so that the seller does not have to argue that these adjustments to the financial statements should


april 2007

be made in order for the buyer to determine the “real earning power.” These adjustments include those expenses appropriate to “add back” to the income statement for excessive owner compensation or special owner benefits (such as auto leases, cell phones, special insurance, children employed by the business, product used by owners, etc.). If there are assets on the books (i.e., real estate, inventory, or intellectual property) with market values greater than their book value, the buyer should be made aware of these “added asset values.” 6. Analyze your accounting methods to make sure they are appropriate for the particular business (i.e. capitalization versus expense methods, etc.). 7. Review the format of your financial statement and make sure that it is consistent with the industry and that it is formatted in such a way so that it will be easy for a buyer to compare expenses. 8. Make sure any intellectual property of the seller is appropriately protected (trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc.). 9. Make sure that there are confidentiality agreements for employees as desirable as well as non-competition agreements for key employees, which are enforceable. 10. Make sure that key employees are given proper incentives so that they will desire to stay with the company after the sale to a new owner. 11. Make sure that you review your business to continuously improve it strategically (i.e. can you: improve your concentration of customers by diversifying your customer base; improve your profit margins; improve the markets you are in; replace antiquated technology/systems or equipment, etc.). 12. Attempt to finally resolve all claims or lawsuits versus the company. 13. Make sure you understand the vastly different tax consequences to both seller and buyer depending on the structure of the sale (i.e., sale of stock versus sale of assets in a “C” corporation). In reviewing these and other issues long before you offer your business for sale, you will get your company “cleaned up” so that you can withstand the due diligence process which will be avidly undertaken by any potential buyer as well as maximize the “after tax” proceeds you will receive upon sale. Robert Norris is managing partner of Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A., a law firm which focuses on helping business owners define and achieve their business and personal objectives. Contact him at 704-364-0010 or

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Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions


eliminate “think-it-over” from your selling opportunities It seems that salespeople have been forever plagued by a prospect’s need to “think-it-over.” This leads to longer than necessary selling cycles, which in turn, creates anxiety and frustration for the salesperson—not to mention the salesperson’s company or employer. While salespeople will, from time to time, find themselves dealing with someone who truly is an indecisive individual, there are a number of things you can do to minimize the average prospect’s desire to “think-it-over.” Develop the habit of establishing an “up-front” agreement with the prospect that a decision will be made at the end of the appointment. This decision will not always be a buying decision. Before an initial appointment, for instance, you may agree to decide if there is a fit between what the prospect needs and wants and what you can provide and then decide whether the prospect will be taking the next step in the selling process. By establishing this agreement, you give prospect’s “permission” to tell you if they don’t see a fit or they are truly not interested in your product or service. Identify the stalls, objections, and put-offs that, in the past, prevented you from obtaining a buying decision. During future selling opportunities, deal with these elements before you make your closing presentation. If you can’t eliminate these potential roadblocks “up-front,” they won’t magically disappear when it’s time to close the sale. Instead, these roadblocks, give rise to “think-it-overs.” Find out what the prospect is “thinking over.” It could be a money issue, a timing issue, or a question about whether your product or service is the best-fit solution. Prospect’s buy for their reasons, not necessarily your reasons. Make sure that you are asking appropriate questions early in the selling process to not only discover what aspects of your product or service the prospect wants, but exactly why he or she wants it. Then, when you make your presentation, you can focus only on those features and benefits that address those issues. Avoid the temptation to “stack the deck” with additional features and benefits, perhaps in an attempt to show added value. Asking the prospect to focus on all the features and benefits will only lead to confusion and a “think-it-over.” Check your timing. The purpose of a presentation is to obtain a buying decision. Determine the prospect’s time frame for making a decision. Make sure that you are presenting at a time when the prospect can and will make the decision. When it

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comes to presentations, “the early bird” doesn’t get the worm. Even if the prospect liked your presentation, the best he or she can say to you is “maybe”—a first cousin to “think-it-over”—if there are others waiting to present after you. Take a “no” instead of a “maybe.” Successful salespeople understand the importance of collecting “yeses” and “nos.” “Yes” means they closed the sale and they are on the way to the bank—they get to collect their commission. “No” means they closed the file and they must uncover another selling opportunity. Salespeople who have a fat “pending” file are not usually motivated to do what it takes to fill the selling pipeline. If you follow the above strategies, the only one “thinking anything over” will be you—deciding whether to invest any more time with a prospect or to close the file and move on. You will be better able to identify real selling opportunities, your selling cycle will be shorter, and you will “go to the bank” more often and usually with more cash to deposit.

hints to beat procrastination • Do what you hate first: Start your workday by first doing the task you most dread. • Make an accountability contract: Find a friend who is also a procrastinator. Every morning one of you calls the other, and each name one thing you least want to do that day. Check in with each other for completion at the end of the day. • Follow the 24-hour rule: Within one day of receiving any new communication requiring action—mail, e-mail, phone calls, etc., take it at least one step toward responding to it. • Visualize completion: Instead of thinking how bad you feel that you have to do something think about how great you’ll feel when you get it done. • Announce your deadlines: Make public commitments to starting and finishing unpleasant tasks. • Divide and conquer: Break especially difficult jobs into manageable pieces. • Stop reading this article: Put it down right now. Don’t pick it up again until you make significant progress on the most nagging task in your backlog. Bob Henricks is president of Henricks Corporate Training and Development, a company dedicated to helping business owners, sales managers and salespeople succeed. Contact him at 704-544-7383 or visit

april 2007


[bizXperts] Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions

unified messaging—is that possible? As business owners, managers and sales people, we have so many ways we communicate with our business associates and our customers. We are cramming more into a business day than ever before. With all the multi-tasking we do, we constantly debate whether technology is hurting us or helping us. One new platform of technology makes managing this all a little easier. This technology is unified messaging. With unified messaging, you have one place to retrieve all your messages. Instead of looking in three different places, your e-mail inbox gives you access to all e-mails, voicemails and fax messages. By having all this in your Outlook inbox, you can forward and share all types of messages internally within your organization and externally with vendors and customers easily. You can also save voicemail messages with your e-mail correspondences and access them with ease and organization. In addition, unified messaging can increase the control you have over your personal mailbox greeting. When you use your Outlook calendar, your voicemail greeting can reflect a personal greeting of your status. For example, if you have a meeting from 9:00 to 10:00, your callers will be automatically notified of your commitment. Likewise, your personal greeting can notify a caller

when you are out to lunch, or if you have left the office for the day. Any person calling you will receive a personal message in your voice of your status. By notifying callers of where you are and what time you will return, you are setting expectations of when you will be returning their call. You can even take this a step further, and give a personal greeting tied to a particular telephone number. If you are trying to reach a specific customer, what better way than to give them a personal greeting that will recognize them individually, and allow them the choice to leave you a message or to be connected to your cell phone. A high profile customer can now get an entirely different set of options on how to reach you. Unified messaging allows you one place to look for your messages, one place to manage your greetings and the added benefit of tying them all together with your personal contacts and your cell phone. It is a great way to make technology work for you. Rhonda Morgan is vice president and general manager of ATCOM Business Telecom Solutions. Contact her at 704-602-2902 or

learning to communicate: context Most people learn to talk around 2 years old, but never really learn to communicate. I’m reminded of that daily as I coach business owners and executives. Here’s a fairly common example: A manager (John) tells his assistant (Roger) to call a client today with a specific piece of information. That seems fairly straightforward, right? Wrong. In John’s mind, he has clearly defined what needs to happen— call the client today. John knows why the client needs to be called today and what will happen if the client doesn’t receive the information. He has shared none of that with Roger. Many managers would say, “I don’t need to share that with Roger. If I tell him to make the call, he should simply make the call.” Ah, but life is not so simple. Roger, in trying to carry out his assignment, has a question. He’s not sure he understands what he’s to tell the client, and he doesn’t want to get caught off guard. He leaves a message for John, which John does not receive until after 5:00. The client doesn’t get called on the day he was supposed to. John is furious! “Why didn’t you call him like I told you to,” he asks Roger. Okay, maybe there’s an argument for that line of reasoning. But in Roger’s defense, he was trying to do the right thing.


april 2007

He didn’t want to confuse the client by relaying information incorrectly. Had John shared the specific reason the call had to be made that particular day, Roger could have made a better decision. He would more likely have called the client, even though he had questions. Without the knowledge of the urgency, he thought it more prudent to clarify and then call. With just two minutes of additional information, John could have averted this crisis. Do you relay information this way? Most people function better if they have context. Context helps the people involved make better decisions. When you’re relaying information, ask yourself if you’ve shared enough context. Think about adding a “because” statement after every direction. “Roger, please call Mr. Green today with this information because he has a board meeting at 5:00 this evening and must have this to present.” Simple statements like this can avoid a world of trouble. Denise Altman is president of Altman Initiative Group, Inc. She works with companies to improve communication. Learn more at

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your intentional life: “the pull of purpose” There comes a time in most of our lives—it can happen at any age—when we begin to feel a bit uneasy. Not terribly so. Perhaps we feel just a slight irritation with the status quo. We have gotten what we asked for, but it just seems like there should be something…more. Of course we get irritated when things aren’t going our way. But this nagging discomfort can be pretty dispiriting when things seem to be ‘good.’ This is because, as writer Jim Collins has said, “good is the enemy of great.” We reach a certain point where we become frustrated with the fact that no matter how much accomplishment, financial success, fame, recognition, or whatever our driver is, there is always something gnawing, prodding, tugging at us. This gnawing is what I refer to as the “pull of purpose.” Purpose calls us out. It uses this discomfort to tell us that there is a difference to be made, and we are the ones to make it. Our purpose commands that our unique skills and talents be used. Have you heard this call? If so, are you listening? Many of us choose to ignore the discomfort, continuing to work the same way, live the same way, carry on our relationships the same

way—but the tug always resurfaces. Since we can’t deny the call of purpose, we might try learning to listen to it. One important step is to carve out a ‘margin’ in your calendar. We cannot begin to make room for purpose in our lives if we are crowding it with phone calls, scanning through e-mails or surfing the Internet. Find time to sit quietly and just be present. What is it that you are missing when your life is moving at a breakneck speed? The fact of the matter is that most of us are working fast and hard to push and prove ourselves, instead of working smart and smoothly to allow us to find what makes us happy and fulfilled. The key difference between the two is finding the space to be able to seek your purpose. You must only be willing to disengage from the struggle, the grind, and the pace long enough to listen. As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” Slow down. Get quiet. The pull of purpose will lead you to the trail marker for your journey. Mike Whitehead is president of Whitehead Associates, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in leadership and culture development. Contact him at 704-331-9091 or

Hickory Printing

greater charlotte biz

april 2007



Work Force Training and Development

CPCC Develops Succession Management Program Did you know that 77 million baby boomers will retire in the next decade? Did you also know that according to a 2006 American Society for Training and Development study, most organizations reported their top three skills gaps as “managerial/supervisory skills, communication/interpersonal skills, and leadership/executive-level skills? These alarming statistics are impacting corporations and businesses across the country. Many business leaders are looking closely at how they can prepare for this impending crisis and what their competition is doing. That’s why Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) has partnered with respected researchers and leadership experts including Lominger Limited, a Korn/Ferry International Company, and Dorrier Underwood executive coaching to offer a unique succession management program. Succession management is the name for a complex group of behaviors, both individual and organizational, leading to the continuity of an organization. The continuity, in fact even the survival of an


april 2007

organization, depends on a succession of good managers in key positions. Through this program, companies are able to create what is called “bench strength,” which relates to a reserve of employees who are capable of stepping into the roles of managers and most importantly, leaders. “Encouraging personal growth and leadership among all employees is a surefire way to keep high quality people,” explains Dr. Tony Zeiss, president of CPCC. “To retain and motivate leaders, organizations must also work to promote decision-making at every level; encourage and reward creativity and change; actively mine employee input; and provide abundant training and growth opportunities.” CPCC’s succession management program offers businesses and organizations tools and strategies to:Identify hidden talent • Link employee development with organizational strategic goals • Target development and training dollars where they matter most • Develop a pool of talent and a bench of strength for the future • Attract and retain top talent • Remain competitive and ensure a sustainable future • Incorporate the latest trends in leadership development • Create higher performing organizations and supportive cultures According to Dr. Zeiss, “The best way to minimize skill deficiencies in employees is to educate and train them. If they have good attitudes and a strong work

What Can Companies Expect from CPCC’s Succession Management Program? • A comprehensive and customized program that will align hiring, promotion and employee development programs with the company’s organizational strategy • Assistance in determining the desired leadership competencies for a healthy organization in the future • Systematic ways to identify and develop leadership talent • Defined competencies to attract and retain high performers • Customized development training prescriptions to tap into the true potential of a company’s human assets and ensure future success • Access to hundreds of development programs for all levels of leaders, including executive coaching • Application based tools and strategies for talent management and succession planning ethic, it makes sense to prepare employees for success.” The new succession management program is designed to help companies identify that talent and build on those strengths for future leadership. For more information on CPCC’s succession management program call 704-330-4660 or visit their Web site at *Source: American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). 2006. Bridging the skills gap. Alexandria, Va: ASTD Public Policy Council Report. biz This section is intended to highlight work force training and development programs and initiatives delivered by community colleges within the Charlotte region. Community colleges are invited to submit substantive content ideas to

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Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers [employersbiz]

Stereotypes of Wealthy Women Challenged in New Study Wealthy women today are not only wealthy, but well educated and working too. They give education and work a high priority, manage their own money and careers, are philanthropic, and want to give their children equal shares in their wealth, a recent study sponsored by Asset Management Advisors (AMA) concludes. Many of the findings provide insights that are contrary to the traditional stereotypes of wealthy women.  Surveyed affluent women are not only wealthy, but also very well educated: Over 60 percent of the women indicated that the net worth of their household was between $5 and $100 million. Over 80 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree and over 40 percent had a master’s or Ph.D.  A majority of wealthy women work: 53 percent of the women surveyed are employed and manage their own careers. 70 percent expect family members to work.  Supporting family members financially with their education is a priority: Not only do the women who were surveyed feel it is important to be educated themselves, 70 percent agreed that it is important to support family members financially with their education.  A majority of women concur that they are in control

and involved with the management of their wealth: When asked to rate the statement, “I have control of my wealth,” 68 percent agreed, and over 50 percent said they are actively involved with the management of their wealth. Women expressed the importance of not relying on a man when it came to their wealth, and the importance of being educated and knowledgeable about wealth management issues.  A majority of women are talking about wealth in their families and have communicated to their children about their estate plan and inheritance. 71 percent of women indicated that their families are talking about wealth. Over 70 percent of women agreed that they are talking to advisors and spouses about wealth, with 62 percent of women agreeing that they have talked with children about estate plans and 64 percent of women agreeing that have talked with children about their inheritance.  A majority of women anticipate having their children inherit equally. Almost all women with children indicated that some portion of their wealth would go to their children, and 95 percent of mothers surveyed intend for their children to inherit equally. (Women & Wealth Study;

Demand for Older Workers Increases The most compelling quality a job seeker can possess in today’s employment market apparently is to be over the age of 55, according to newly revealed statistics analyzed by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Unpublished Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data analyzed by Challenger show that older workers are in high demand. As of August 2006, the number of workers 55 and older reached 24.6 million, the highest level ever recorded. About one-fourth of these older workers (5.2 million) were 65 and older. That is a giant leap of 45 percent from 3,617,000 in August 1996 and just below the record high of 5.4 million set in May. The number of older workers is not only growing, it is growing faster than any other age group. The Challenger analysis of BLS data found that employment among workers 55 and older grew 10.5 percent from 2003 to 2005. The same was true for those 65 and older, whose ranks of employed grew 10.5 percent from an average of 4.6 million in 2003 to 5.1 million in 2005.“In 1948, one in four 65-year-olds was employed. That percentage steadily fell to a low of 10 percent in the mid-1980s. The percentage of working retirees has been on the rise since the mid-1990s,

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and it may not be long until we are back to the 25 percent level not seen since 1951,” says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “Employers are learning through experience that most if not all of the long-held common perceptions about older workers simply are not true. For example, the greatest misperception about older workers was that the diminishing health that accompanies aging would be too costly in terms of increased absenteeism and higher health insurance costs. “However, today’s seniors are much healthier. Many employers have probably found that older workers take no more sick days than their younger counterparts,” says Challenger. (Shrm) biz The Employers Association is a nonprofit Charlotte organization providing comprehensive human resources and training ser vices. Founded in 1958, the Association maintains a broad-based membership of over 800 companies from all industries in the greater Charlotte region. The above excerpts were taken from The Management Report, the Association’s monthly newsletter. For more information, please call Laura Hampton at 704-522-8011 or visit the Web site at

april 2007


Labor of Love Cultivating a

Charlotte Landmark

Howard "Smoky" Bissell, Owner; Sara Harris Bissell, Owner Ballantyne Resort


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by susanne deitzel


H.C. “Smoky” Bissell and his wife Sara began the planning for Ballantyne Resort in the mid ’90s; their casual picnics on her family’s old hunting grounds allowed them both, as Sara fondly recalls, “to let the dogs run wild” while they “talked big.” What was hardly imaginable then was that those playful conversations would yield the luxury hotel that has become the cornerstone for one of the largest and most exclusive communities in Charlotte. Today, Ballantyne Resort’s domed cupola can be seen from almost any spot in the city and its prestigious reputation commands attention from all over the region and garners national ratings. Six years after welcoming its first guests, Ballantyne Resort has become a beacon to business travelers, golf enthusiasts, spa devotees, and increasingly, locals who visit the hotel on weekends for mini-getaways. Travelers from far and wide mingle with Charlotte natives amidst the crimson upholstery and polished mahogany of the Veranda Bar featuring live music several nights a week; executives on corporate golf outings talk business over drinks at its tony bar. Smiling couples celebrate special occasions at the hotel’s new fine-dining Gallery Restaurant featuring a classic yet contemporary take on American fare. ® greater charlotte biz

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Since its opening, the Ballantyne Resort has been recognized by critics as the ultimate culmination of luxury, service and elegance. However, the Bissell’s initial plan paired with their staff’s unremitting attention to detail and service has encouraged quantum leaps in the hotel’s evolution. Staff members are encouraged to get creative, to seek out the next best offering that will delight their guests. The results are nothing short of extraordinary. Southern Hospitality The Ballantyne Resort opened in 2001 and was courted to become a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel in 2005, a recognition enjoyed by only 80 luxury hotels globally, and the only hotel between New York and Florida enjoying that designation. The Bissells’ original vision, a combination of classic elegance and bright modernity, cou-


april 2007

pled with unparalleled luxury and service, has made the AAA Four Diamond resort a must-see for those in search of opulence. The star staff at the resort hotel has devised a formula that frequently commands accolades beginning with: “The Best …” Each team member is hand-selected for their high standards and sincere delight in service. Comments Joe Hallow, president of Bissell Hotels, “Great hotels with great service are built on the foundation of hiring only the best people, demanding practice and hard work come together to consistently exceed guest expectations.” Smoky Bissell’s original plan for the resort intended for the luxury hotel to accommodate guests of the Ballantyne Golf Course he had been planning for some time. The Ballantyne Golf Course was a project created to accommodate golfers and business people traveling through or visiting Charlotte. It is situated at the heart of the 2,000-acre Ballantyne mixeduse development that features private residences and 300,000 square-feet of retail space, which also carries the Bissell stamp. The Ballantyne mixed-use development currently has over 2.5 million square-feet of “Class A” office space, and with the ability to build up much more, this development is one of the largest concentrations of office space in the southeastern United States. Each component—the 535acre corporate park, surrounding residential communities, golf course, area hotels and Ballantyne Resort—work in harmony to leverage each component of the area toward a powerful regional synergy.

But of these constituent elements, the Ballantyne Resort is the undeniable main attraction. Its award-winning golf course was meticulously planned and is painstakingly maintained, providing a picturesque backdrop to the plantation-style structure of the 214-room hotel. The resort is also home to the 20,000-square-foot award-winning Ballantyne Spa, a newly showcased Gallery Restaurant, a pro shop, numerous conference and banquet rooms, and a newly expanded bar offering the area’s only $300 cocktail, fittingly named “The Ballantini.” But the accommodations, amenities and awards aren’t what make the Ballantyne Resort inimitable. It is the extraordinary attention to every detail and personalized service, from design to operations, that set this establishment apart. Fine Appointments The appointments for the Ballantyne Resort were lovingly accumulated during the Bissells’ travels to exotic locales like Bangkok, Singapore and cities in Europe. Hand-loomed rugs, stately antiques, and carefully chosen art are generously displayed in the hotel for visitors to appreciate. The color schemes, room themes, and design savoir-faire are directly attributable to Sara Bissell, an esteemed interior designer. Her penchant for vibrant palettes and thoughtful personal touches are what has defined the resort hotel’s character. The result is a clever juxtaposition between honoring historic Charlotte and recognizing the jubilant attitude the city demonstrates toward seeking the finer experiences in life. The most salient example of Sara’s influence is the original artwork commissioned by the Bissells from artist Thomas Vieth which render Charlotte landmarks in resplendent color throughout the Resort. Another painting from former Secretary of State Donald Regan which adorns the

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Presidential Suite and an impressive breakfront from Prince Charles’ Trust are also exemplary of the distinctive strokes that make walking through the resort not unlike a lively museum tour. Joe Hallow says that it was the Bissells’ special vision that brought the resort to the attention of Starwood’s Luxury Collection of prestigious hotels and resorts. “The affiliation of the Ballantyne Resort with The Luxury Collection is a true testament to the vision Smoky Bissell and his wife Sara had when the property was developed. The acceptance by Starwood substantiates that our dream to compete favorably with the finest properties in the world has become a reality.” Since the Starwood affiliation, the resort has continued to expand upon its offerings, and resort team members have a full-time job trying to ‘one-up’ themselves in service. Comments General Manager Steve Kalczynski, “We try to make a difference by understanding the needs and desires of our guests before they arrive, and then exceeding them.” Palatial bedding, Egyptian cotton linens and rich robes greet guests in their suites; soft music, handwritten welcomes and guest baskets are also common. Executive suites include flat screen televisions, break out rooms and outdoor balconies. Warm or cool towels, dependent on the weather,

Ballantyne Resort a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway Charlotte, North Carolina 28277 Phone: 704-248-4000 or 866-248-4824 Owner/Operator: Bissell Hotels Principals: Joe Hallow, President [Bissell Hotels]; Howard C.“Smoky” Bissell and Sara Harris Bissell, Founders Employees: 442 Hotel Rooms: 214 Amenities: 18-hole award winning golf course, Conde Nast Johansens Rated Top 5 Spa in North America, Gallery Restaurant & Bar,Veranda Bar, banquet facilities, conference space, health club, indoor pool and resistance lap pools, and The Lodge, a 35-room private retreat.

greater charlotte biz

april 2007


greet guests in lounges and guest rooms, and flavored water is available at strategic points in the event a guest gets thirsty. Occasionally, a lucky visitor gets treated to the sight of a child wheeling around a redwagon full of toys, complements of the hotel during a family stay. Obviously, the resort excels in a concierge mentality. Explains Ballantyne Resort representative Christina Argeris, “One of the most exciting things about working here is the fact that we are given every resource we need to do our job, and that job is making people happy. We have a specially created Guest

Relations Department whose primary function is to get creative and make that emotional connection with our guests. Whether that means offering a gift basket for a returning guest, or knowing the special tastes of a guest beforehand, we are here to make what looks like the impossible, possible.” To that end, the past year at the resort has been one of purposeful renewal. Now established as an upscale destination resort and golf course, the resort plans to continue its excellent service for hotel guests while also reaching out even further to Charlotte communities with its golden touch.

“We wanted to offer the people of Charlotte the same high-quality service, luxurious atmosphere, relaxing entertainment, and sumptuous dining that we offer our traveling guests. So, we collaborated on plans to make the resort more accessible,” says Argeris. The result is the Gallery Restaurant, helmed by Executive Chef Kirk Gilbert, formerly of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. Gilbert exhibits an intuitive flair for pairing the traditional with the eclectic, offering market-fresh and regionally influenced fare with a refined and artful presentation. Highlights of the menu range from a Mediterranean Sea bass to the much-heralded Prime Moyer Beef, which discerning diners will recognize as purely bred Aberdeen Angus—the ‘Cadillac’ of steaks. Named for the Bissells’ appreciation of fine art, Gallery Restaurant is complemented by a posh bar, designed to evoke modern luxury in a relaxed environment. The walls are lined with dark mahogany, hardwood floors provide a rustic charm, and the space boasts a white onyx bar as its centerpiece. Here, appetites are indulged with Southern favorites or Spanish tapas over casual conversation or taking in a sporting event on the wide screen plasma TV. Says Argeris, “Every experience at the hotel is designed to be an enriching experience for the senses, be it a visual delight from the magnificent setting, or appreciating the indigenous flavors of the restaurant and bar. Our staff is also committed to delivering pleasant, attentive service that never fails to surpass expectations.” Plenty of Room The Bissells are known for their vision and for cultivating teams that strive for the highest level of performance. But even they are surprised at the fruits that have come to bear from this oft-regarded “labor of love.” Since the completion of Ballantyne Resort Hotel and Golf Course, and finalizing the development of the 2.5 million square feet of office space in Bissell’s Ballantyne Corporate Park, an entire submarket has flourished under the auspices of high quality and best service. The resort shines like a jewel just across Highway 521 where over forty Fortune 500 companies and countless other businesses call home.


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Comments Bissell Companies CEO Ned Curran, “The Ballantyne Resort is the standard bearer for the region; there is incredible synergy between the hotel and the corporate park, and also with fine residential communities and the upscale retail centers that have grown up around us.” The original stroke of genius was to get visitors, business people and travelers alike, interested in all that Charlotte has to offer. By offering Ballantyne Resort as a travel destination propitiously located across from a giant, well appointed, Class-A office park, light bulbs of opportunity started flashing for both relocating businesses and retail businesses alike; all the more reason Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority chose Ballantyne

greater charlotte biz

Resort as a “Partner of the Year” in 2006. But like most things in the Bissell world, there is always a ‘next level’ to be sought. If anything can be counted on, it is that the Ballantyne Resort staff will continue to create new services and more amenities, and endeavor to keep raising the bar. Argeris says that creating special packages like their current “Whitewater Package” that combines a hotel stay with a recreational trip to the new U.S. Whitewater Center, and holiday packages like Valentine’s Day romantic getaways, are another way they try to offer the best experience to guests during their visit. Even Ballantyne Corporate Park is eyeing up space next to its charismatic sister. Plans are underway to locate additional 2.5 million

square feet of office space in and throughout the east side. Ever the careful stewards, The Bissell Companies are planning carefully with regard to preserving green space and of utmost importance, keeping the golf course one of the finest in the region. Concludes Barry Fabyan of The Bissell Companies, “The Ballantyne Resort has played a dramatic role in attracting major companies like AXA-Equitable, SPX, The Lending Tree, and others who have a demonstrated commitment to quality and service. Charlotte as a whole is very fortunate to have visionaries like the Bissell’s who could see the vast potential from the very start.” biz Susanne Deitzel is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

april 2007



Tracey Ayers, Senior Vice President Connextions, Inc.


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by ellison clary


The Pieces Together Connextions Integrates the Customer Interaction Lifecycle Suppose you’re shopping the Sprint Web site for a cell phone and you

Olympus camera is at a 40,000-square-foot facility in Concord’s International Corporate Center. That facility is packed with workstations which

can’t decide on a model

include computers, telephones and headsets. The peo-

or service plan. You click

ple who use them help customers interact with

Sprint’s help button and start

Connextions clients such as Sprint and Olympus.

an online chat with a service person that guides you through your options and then takes your

All the Pieces The huge room hums with activity. The sun beams

order. Or perhaps you’re

through giant windows. Bright colors cover the walls.

talking about buying a digi-

Exposed ceilings and functional features with decora-

tal camera with a represen-

tive touches keep energy levels high.

tative on the Olympus customer service phone line. In either case, the person you’re dealing with is in Concord, N.C. That person is

In charge of this bustling hive is Tracey Ayers, senior vice president, who moved to Concord last year from the company’s only other center, a 300,000 square foot structure in Orlando where 1,500 employees support companies such as Levi Strauss and Mercedes-

working for Connextions, Inc., an Orlando-based com-

Benz as well as the Lance Armstrong Foundation,

pany that specializes in support functions for its clients.

FedEx, UnitedHealth Group and Caremark.

Its customer relationship management offerings include

A separate health care division in Orlando provides

contact center services, fulfillment management, supply

clinically experienced, registered nurses for patients of

chain management and warehouse distribution.

medical-related clients. The nurses are available 24

The person you carry on a virtual conversation with regarding your Sprint phone or speak with about an

greater charlotte biz

hours a day to monitor clients’ patients by phone, fax and the Internet. ®

april 2007


Ayers, 44, has been with Connextions for almost six years. The University of Massachusetts graduate has nearly 20 years of experience in contact center work and is quick to explain how Connextions is much more than a call center. “Our people learn from their first day that this is a different company,” she says. “It’s not a capacity-driven model; it’s a value-based proposition. We effectively write programs that add value back to our clients.” “We don’t just put people in seats to take phone calls,” she adds, with a tinge of brogue that betrays her Boston roots. “There are a lot of folks out there that can do that. That’s not us.” Indeed, Connextions can fulfill orders. Ayers says the firm can pick and pack, procure merchandise, store it, handle returns, host Web sites for placing orders, and ship. It also manages supply chains

Connextions, Inc. 4601 Corporate Drive, NW Concord, N.C. 28027 Phone: 704-262-2400 Corporate Headquarters: Orlando, Fla. Principals: Jack LeFort, Chairman, Founder and CEO;Tracey Ayers, Senior Vice President Established: 1996; opened Concord facility in 2006 Revenues: $65 million (2006) Employees: 1,800 overall; 360 Concord Representative Clients: Sprint, Olympus,Vonage, Mercedes-Benz, FedEx, Levi-Strauss, UnitedHealth Group, Caremark Business: Believes every customer can be a high-performing asset through effective customer relationship management. Integrates the entire customer interaction lifecycle—from contact center to fulfillment and technology outsourcing—to provide customized solutions that enhance customer and supply chain strategies.


april 2007

The primary focus of my job is around the people, the clients and the environment. It includes being the cultural ambassador and coaching, mentoring and developing that next set of leaders for Connextions. ~ Tracey Ayers, Senior Vice President and warehouse distribution. Connextions sometimes operates an outbound contact program; such as one it hopes to start in the Concord facility this spring for a health care provider. That would involve agents calling doctors, hospitals or clinics to educate them on the health care firm’s programs. “We don’t like straight selling,” Ayers says. “It doesn’t fit our business model. There are plenty of folks out there who will do that.” Before they start supporting clients, Connextions’ Concord recruits complete a specially designed training course administered in partnership with RowanCabarrus Community College and its continuing education center. Course length varies by the client the workers will support, because they learn much about the products and culture of that client. Sessions can continue anywhere from two weeks to as many as seven. New hires also get acquainted with the history of Connextions and learn that the company’s passion is centered on, as Ayers describes it, “our people, our clients and our environment—the building and the community.” The first class of 50 started work in the Connextions Concord facility in October 2006. By then, upfit work that began in July was fairly far along. The company continued adding classes of 25 to 50 people to the work force every two weeks, and now has 360 in Concord. But that’s not nearly enough. Ayers says, “Our intention is to grow the center to 650 people.” That would place Connextions among Cabarrus County’s biggest employers, along with Philip Morris, Sysco, Lowe’s Motor Speedway

and Northeast Medical Center. To make room for the additional workers, Connextions is upfitting another 12,000 square feet of contiguous space. It is scheduled to be ready in May. Choosing Charlotte The same growth that is fueling that expansion is what led Connextions to look for another center outside its Orlando base. The private firm anticipates $100 million in revenue for 2007 compared to $65 million for 2006 according to Ayers. To find another operation site, the firm searched within a two-hour flight radius of Orlando, scrutinizing places such as Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn., the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and the greater Charlotte region. When a deal for a Knoxville facility fell apart, Connextions got serious about Charlotte, but still hadn’t identified Concord as a possibility.That’s when Kenny McDonald, senior vice president at the Charlotte Regional Partnership, weighed in. “Tracey, why is Concord not on your list?” Ayers remembers him asking via long distance telephone. That was about 36 hours before she and her crew were to touch down at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. The Partnership had more than a few properties lined up for the Connextions brass to see, but McDonald says he worried that none of them was quite right. “Part of our role,” McDonald explains, “is to help clients get a real comprehensive look at our region. The property in Concord is the type they are using in Orlando and I thought it would be appropriate.” The Connextions crew “fell in love” with Concord, Ayers says, not only because

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of the available building but also because of what they perceived as a quality work force. They haven’t been disappointed. “The work ethic is extremely strong,” Ayers says of the applicants she and her team see. “People rate very highly on our evaluation testing. There are skilled workers in this area. They come from very solid backgrounds and have a solid work history. They’re genuinely interested in being a part of the Connextions family.” Many employees of Connextions in Concord come from customer service backgrounds, including retail, home nursing and even some call centers that operate in Mecklenburg County. “We do have some former textile workers here, Ayers says, “but we’ve found that a lot of those individuals have had another job prior to coming here, generally in the servicerelated areas. They’ve retooled.” Brandi Brown of Charlotte was among the first 50 on the job in Concord. Formerly with call center giant Convergis Corporation in Mecklenburg County, she recently won a promotion to a supervisor role. “The atmosphere here is positive,” says Brown, a graduate of East Tennessee State University. “Everybody’s concerned about everybody else. You’re not a number. You’re a person.” The Connextions operation runs seven days a week and is shut down only from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m. Work schedules can be configured to accommodate employee needs, such as a day off for a doctor visit. Part-time hours are available, too. There is a cafeteria on site and benefits include health and dental insurance and a 401(k) plan. The wage scale, which Ayers characterizes as competitive, starts between $10 and $11 an hour and runs up close to $15 an hour. Performance rewards are also available. “If they’re doing their job and doing it well, they have the ability to earn more,” Ayers says. “We are results-oriented.” Ayers herself enjoys being near her parents who retired from Boston to the Lake Norman area. She’s building a

greater charlotte biz

house for herself and cocker spaniel Chelsea near Davidson, about halfway between the Connextions center and her parents’ home. “The primary focus of my job is around the people, the clients and the environment,” Ayers says. “It includes being the cultural ambassador and coaching, mentoring and developing that next set of leaders for Connextions.” Connextions wants its employees to feel empowered to solve problems, she says. “They can reach out to me or their peers and collectively we’ll go about solving problems.” She also stays active in the Cabarrus community, “making sure people know who we are.” The company takes pride in

being part of the civic network, she says, and even though getting fully operational made schedules hectic, Connextions employees raised funds for a sheltered women’s agency throughout the past Christmas season. Connextions matched the total. The Completed Picture Ayers reports to Mike Tripp, executive vice president for contact center operations, based in Orlando. Jack LeFort of Orlando is chairman and chief executive of Connextions, which started in 1996 as an outgrowth of Magnetix, an audio-

cassette-manufacturing firm LeFort started in 1986. Ayers explains the evolution simply. The cassette company began shipping its own cassettes. “That’s what started our fulfillment, supply chain management and reverse logistics business down in Orlando,” she says. “The natural progression was, well, if you can ship, you can also take an order. And that’s where the contact center evolved. We build our business practices around the client’s core competencies.” LeFort grew the company on effective customer relationship management. Connextions clients get “customized solutions that enhance their customer and supply chain strategies,” he says. “Clients appreciate relationships,” he adds, “but they commit to value.” For evidence that the LeFort approach is working, Ayers points out that Connextions has doubled in size annually for three years running. “We grew out of space in Orlando and we’d also been hit by three hurricanes,” she says. “When the opportunity to start a facility outside Florida came up, that was definitely where I wanted to be. We had a chance to create something from scratch up here.” The company will continue to grow, Ayers vows, in health care and in its core business of high-value commercial services. A decision on placing a third facility in another city, probably in the Central time zone, could come by late this year, she says. The future could be bright for the Concord operation, as well. Connextions might open a complimentary facility nearby to house another 200 to 300 agents, Ayers says. “We’ll watch closely as Cabarrus County grows,” she says, “to see if it offers the same quality of hires. “I think we’ve been received well in Concord and Cabarrus County,” she adds. “Over the next six months, we’re going to be reaching out even deeper in the community than we have to date.” biz Ellison Clary is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

april 2007


photo: Wayne Morris

Martha Whitecotton, Administrator; Katlin Watts (l); Charlie Riesmeyer (r) Levine Children's Hospital at Carolinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Medical Center


april 2007

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by susanne deitzel


Total Synchronicity Levine Children’s Hospital Provides Talent and Technology


“From day one, everything and everyone involved in making Levine Children’s Hospital a reality has seemed to fall perfectly into place.” This is what the hospital’s new administrator, Martha Whitecotton, has to say about her experience with the design and operation of what will soon become Charlotte’s first full children’s hospital. From fundraising, to community support, to staffing, to its on-time and on-budget construction, Whitecotton could not be more enthused with the way the plan for the $85 million Levine Children’s Hospital has come together. What becomes immediately obvious in speaking with Whitecotton is that this synchronicity is due in no small part to her involvement with the project from day one. While Whitecotton is the first to attribute Levine’s success to the impact of teammates and community involvement, it is clear that if there were a recipe for a children’s hospital administrator, Whitecotton would be a hands-down, blue ribbon winner Whitecotton’s training as a nurse, paired with her considerable experience as an administrator and her empathy as parent of two, makes her uniquely suited for the job. She had logged over 16 years as a neonatal nurse when she was promoted to the director of nursing for Carolinas Medical Center’s (CMC) existing children’s hospital. After managing multiple areas focused on nursing services and care delivery for children, she moved into the role of chief nursing executive in 1997, where she was responsible for the majority of inpatient operations for CMC. In this position she learned first-hand “what it takes to run a hospital.” And while she was installed as administrator for the Levine Children’s Hospital in September of last year, she has been intimately involved with the project since planning began in 2001. ®

greater charlotte biz

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While Whitecotton’s academic accomplishments, nursing acumen and business experience make her a more-than-desirable candidate for the position of hospital administrator, her character, perspective and passion are what make her a vital component to the success of the new Levine Children’s Hospital. Assessment and Planning During her tenure as chief nursing executive for CMC, Whitecotton was assigned to its Center of Excellence for children’s services. While evaluating the quality of existing care, Whitecotton realized that CMC’s existing children’s services were something “really special.” Says Whitecotton, “When we reviewed our breadth of pediatric specialists and pediatric research, we realized we were offering the services of a full children’s hospital within our existing walls. We then began to discuss how we could enhance our physical structure to leverage these resources for maximum benefit to the community.” A full children’s hospital must be credentialed by the National Association of Children’s Hospitals. Criteria for such a facility include being located within an academic medical center, facilitating pediatric research, and having a broad spectrum of pediatric specialists. Explains Whitecotton, “In a children’s hospital, physicians are board-certified and expertise is honed specifically in the treatment of children. Because of our wealth of pediatric specialists—from child anesthesiologists, radiologists and, cardiologists, to hematologist/oncologists and hepatologists—we are well equipped to deliver high-level care specifically for children. She adds, “The treatment of children is unique. The care involved is intrinsically different from that of an adult; but also, pediatric care centers around two patients—the child, and the child’s parents. Parents hold the knowledge and the concern for a child that isn’t old enough to do it on his/her own. Parents become our care partners in the truest sense of the word, and our charge is to make sure they have the resources they need to get the best treatment.” To this end, the Levine Children’s Hospital was devised to increase the sup-

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port for families from both an operational and design standpoint. While CMC already operated the largest children’s hospital in the state, it needed to expand the facility to provide more complete support options. In terms of design goals, Whitecotton says the ideal is to reduce the number of occasions when a child must leave the carefully customized children’s environment to receive care in what can be an intimidating world of adult services. To accomplish this, CMC leadership invested in strategic planning initiatives before the first blueprint was ever drafted. “We had support to create a children’s hospital advisory committee comprised of community members, board members, physicians, and other caregivers. By viewing the design through the perspective of each stakeholder, we hit the ground running with a very high level of consensus. We also engaged focus groups that were incredibly productive, set up mock patient rooms for feedback, and we have a family advisory council that will continue to provide us with parental insights into children’s care.”

There is no conflict between caring for people and running a successful operation. It comes down to quality and safety. If we keep the health and welfare of our patients at the forefront of every decision, the financial aspects of the business will fall in line. The healthier we can make people, the less it will cost down the line. It is my job to put systems in place that will facilitate this outcome. ~ Martha Whitecotton, Administrator

A Plan Comes Together The result is impressive. The Levine Children’s Hospital is strategically placed between the Rush S. Dickson Tower and the ICU/surgery tower and is occupied by 234 pediatric beds. The Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care include a pediatric intensive care unit, neonatal intensive care nursery, and the region’s only pediatric cardiovascular recovery unit. Also unique are a pediatric surgery unit, diagnostic center, children’s rehabilitation pavilion and the region’s only 24-hour children’s emergency department. The layouts of the service units are carefully designed for ambulatory and care efficiency, as well as the likely eventuality that there will be overflow into the current children’s floor. “Every children’s hospital we visited while we were making plans told us the same thing, ‘As soon as you open the doors, you will need more room.’ So we made sure that we built as much as we could, and that plans are in place to provide the best accommodations possible.” The design is also engineered with the

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april 2007


Construction began on Levine Children’s Hospital (at Carolinas Medical Center) on September 13, 2004 and the hospital is expected to open this fall.

finest details to make life within its walls easier for families. “One of my favorite elements is the Family Resource Center, which is sponsored by the Junior League,” says Whitecotton. “It is very therapeutic for families to understand a diagnosis they have been given. The resources are considerable. The Center is staffed by a medical librarian and houses a lounge and group meeting areas.” “Our intensive care unit was also developed very intentionally. A lot of parents told us that being in the hospital for long stretches made them feel ‘suspended in time’—that they had lost contact with their life outside these walls. It was our desire to restore that sense of connection.” Provisions in the ICU include separate parent rooms for sleeping and showering, in addition to sleeping couches in the room with their child. There are both quiet and ‘loud’ waiting rooms (the latter including a TV), quiet work zones for catching up on phone calls and email, and washers and dryers. According to Whitecotton, most parents appreciate the Child Life Program most among these distinctive features. “We have child specialists in every area of the hospital that sees children, and they are dedicated to creating a level of comfort and normalcy for them. These specialists create activities to make sure that the experience is as positive as it can possibly be.” Human Caring:The Life Blood The heavily windowed facade of Levine


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Children’s Hospital is hallmarked with brightly colored flags, apexed with colored glass, and roofed with an outdoor play area. The inside boasts as many bells and whistles as its design will hold, all intended to support the high caliber of children’s specialists available inside. Recruiting has been easy. “We knew from the start that this facility was going to attract the best and the brightest. Still, we can’t help being delighted at the applications we are receiving from places like Brown and Yale, from both honor students and seasoned physicians and nurses. What we are hearing is that people want to become part of this mission from the beginning,” comments Whitecotton. But if Whitecotton is any indication, it takes more than just brains and experience to become a part of this team. It also takes passion, empathy and a family-centered care philosophy. “We are involved in some of the most intimate moments in people’s lives. We don’t get the privilege of having a bad day,” contends Whitecotton. Professional initiative, a concierge mentality, and discipleship in family-centered care are at the top of Whitecotton’s wish list. She also believes that employees must have a safe and supportive atmosphere. Levine team members will be empowered to suggest improvements that will circumvent mistakes, make routine decisions that can benefit the families without bureaucratic roadblocks, and play a key role in determining who becomes part of their elite team.

The administration of any hospital is a seemingly tricky business, incumbent with the complexities that occur between balancing a business, and providing optimal care for those who enter its doors. But you wouldn’t know it talking to Whitecotton. She appears confident, optimistic and ready for the task that lies ahead. This is due, in no small part, to the outpouring of support that Levine Children’s Hospital has enjoyed since its planning stages. “The Levines set the tone for this endeavor with their initial $10 million naming gift, and our employees have shown their commitment by contributing $3 million of their own funds.” Major donations have been given by the Overcash family ($5 million), the Hendrick family ($3 million), Wal-Mart ($2.5 million), and Clear Channel Communications ($2.5 million). Local organizations making milliondollar gifts include Bank of America, Wachovia, Southeast Anesthesiology Associates, Charlotte Radiology and the Carolina Panthers. Numerous other million-dollar gifts have been received from local families and foundations. “In addition to these financial gifts, we have also encountered great generosity of spirit from families who have had or have children at CMC. The warmth and commitment of the families that have guided us cannot be overstated,” Whitecotton adds. For her part, Whitecotton embodies all the things that either a parent or board leader would want in a top administrator. Her nursing background provides a holistic and empathetic approach to patient care; as and, as a parent, she has had to navigate first hand the rough waters of pediatric surgery and aftercare solutions. She is also smart, talented and committed, with a clear and focus on the ultimate goal: making Levine Children’s Hospital a household name for those looking for optimal children’s care. Explains Whitecotton, “There is no conflict between caring for people and running a successful operation. It comes down to quality and safety. If we keep the health and welfare of our patients at the forefront of every decision, the financial aspects of the business will fall in line. The healthier we can make people, the less it will cost down the line. It is my job to put systems in place that will facilitate this outcome.”

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In the first year of Levine Children’s Hospital, Whitecotton hopes to have assembled a complete team of people who embody the attributes and expectations that her staff is cultivating. In five years, she fully hopes that the hospital will become nationally recognized as a leader in children’s health care. “Everything has just fallen into place as a result of the dedication and goodwill of everyone involved. We all believe that the sky is the limit,” she concludes. biz Susanne Deitzel is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center a member of Carolinas Healthcare System 1000 Blythe Blvd. Charlotte, N.C. 28203 Phone: 704-355-2079 Principal: Martha Whitecotton, R.N., M.S.N., Administrator Previously Chief Nursing Executive at CMC. Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Fellowship in healthcare administration at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Total Beds: 234 (185 licensed intensive care, progressive care and acute care beds; 13 licensed pediatric rehabilitation beds; 16 observation beds; 20 day hospital beds) Construction began September 13, 2004.The hospital is expected to open in fall of 2007. Architect: Karlsberger Companies of Columbus, Ohio, well known for its expert work in pediatric healthcare, in association with Wright, McGraw, Beyer of Charlotte. Clinical Features: 32 pediatric specialties; Neonatal Critical Care, Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery (NICN); Pediatric CriticalCare; Cardiovascular Intensive Care; Pediatric Surgery; Children’s Pre-Operative and Recovery Center; Children’s Diagnostic Center; Day Hospital; Children’s Rehabilitation Pavilion; Family-centered care

greater charlotte biz

april 2007



Douglas W. Heineman, President and CEO; Tracy Miner, Sales Manager Basicsplus Office Products, Inc.


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by janet kropinak


of Choice

Basicsplus Offers Solutions, Support and Satisfaction


Whether you are seeking to create documents

something that Heineman and company find

that get noticed by your customers, or to produce

valuable to solidify customer relationships and

high quality documents in-house, the power of

aren’t willing to compromise.

Xerox color is eye-catching. However, purchasing the machine that produces it can be eye-popping. That is, if you are not in the right shop. Doug Heineman and his staff at Basicsplus

Learning the Recipe Heineman has been a member of the Xerox family for 41 years. In 1966 he joined the company

Office Products offer reproduction solutions that are

as a sales rep and moved his way through the

mouth-watering. In line with the Xerox ambition of

ranks to manager, branch manager, product

total customer satisfaction, they walk you through

management and eventually found himself working

the different varieties and choices of equipment,

for Xerox International. For five years Heineman

and follow through with after sale support. It may

worked as the director of marketing for Latin

not be a breeze through an ice cream parlor, but

America. He handled marketing for 37 countries

their many flavors of solutions are almost edible.

including Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico. Although

You would think that in their competitive market,

he didn’t live abroad, he spent much of his time

it might not always be in their best interest to

traveling, which wasn’t always easy with young

devote so much time to their clients, but it is

children at home. ®

greater charlotte biz

april 2007


Heineman’s next position was with the Xerox corporate staff. There, Heineman developed a white paper recommending Xerox initiate a joint venture with China to produce machines there. At the time, Xerox was searching for an alternate channel strategy for the company and was debating between sales agents, dealers or retail stores. Ultimately, they made the decision to go with sales agents for rural areas and retail stores, so Heineman chose to leave the corporate staff to develop the retail channel in metro areas. A short time later, Heineman received a call inquiring about his interest in working on the project in China. He immediately answered yes, but indicated

product manager and, in 1994, he chose an early retirement package. Later that year, he joined another Xerox initiative and opened an authorized Xerox sales agency in the Charlotte area, which was the program he had helped initiate years earlier. Stepping Behind the Counter Heineman came to Charlotte with just shy of 30 years of experience with Xerox; he was excited about this new phase of his life. He describes the name for his business: “The name Basicsplus reflects our corporate direction to provide not only basic products to small and medium size businesses but also additional acces-

If you can provide your clients with more than just a great product, a total experience that exceeds their expectations, then you form a partnership and become more than just a vendor. These become your long-term clients and it’s instilled in our reps via example as we have rep/client relationships that have been in place for many, many years. ~Tracy Miner, Sales Manager that he needed to discuss the opportunity with his family. His wife was on board with the move, but his daughter Tracy was a harder sell. She was getting ready to start high school and wasn’t excited about moving around the world. So Xerox sent Heineman and daughter Tracy to Hong Kong for 10 days so they could make an informed decision on whether or not this was something they wanted to do. After visiting schools and meeting other expat children, Tracy was excited about the move and Heineman accepted the position. For the next three plus years, Heineman was responsible for sales operations in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. When the family returned to the United States, Heineman rejoined the Xerox corporate family as a worldwide


april 2007

sories and services. We want the name to reflect that we are providing more than base products; we also work with scanning, printing and faxing as well as after sale support. All of these facets are incorporated in our business.” Around this time Heineman’s daughter Tracy was finishing her degree at the Rochester Institute of Technology studying photography and digital imaging. After graduation she returned to Charlotte working for Biggs Camera in photo restoration and other imaging services. In 2001 Xerox made an announcement that they were expanding their color portfolio and were searching for candidates who had such training, Tracy thought this was a good fit for her and joined her father at Basicsplus. Tracy began working with sales reps and training them in color and how to use and sell the machines. With the rise of digital

printing, Tracy’s experience made her even more valuable to the team and she eventually became sales manager. Heineman says that he and Tracy balance each other and compliment each other’s strengths. “Tracy is really technically astute and knows how to take advantage of each machine’s capabilities. Networking is another one of her strengths. I, on the other hand, handle the business end. My extensive background with Xerox is also valuable.” Heineman isn’t the only one who sees the advantages of working together. Tracy says she had no reservations about joining her father and the family business. “I love working for my dad, he’s a great boss,” she says with a smile. “With our combined efforts, we have our bases covered. I have learned an incredible amount of history and direction of Xerox as well as the art of customer service from my dad.” With Heineman running the business end and Tracy keeping up to date on the technology side, the missing piece was a sales team. Says Heineman, “The Xerox philosophy of customer service runs in my veins, and we try to emphasize to our reps that you cannot promise to do something you know you cannot do.” This should seem like common sense, but so often he says people make promises to get a sale and don’t worry about the aftermath when the customer finds out you can’t produce what you promised. When it comes to adding members to their “family,” finding the right people isn’t easy. Heineman and Tracy admit that their interviews often turn into lectures and have been known to last several hours. This is the process they use to determine whether or not someone really wants to join their team. Heineman explains, “We are really proud of the fact that we always aim for the satisfaction of our clients; we have a high retention rate and strong loyalty from our customers. And we are always looking for the people who are going to help us carry out that tradition.” Having the Xerox name behind your company does help attract sales people in large part because of the extensive training they offer. “Xerox provides enough

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resources to allow someone to train for 40 hours a week if they chose to do so. Everything from product information to skills training and e-learning exercises,” Tracy describes. Finding people who are ready and eager to take advantage of these resources remains a top priority for Tracy and her dad. More Than Just Vanilla Xerox is a company where everyone is invested and the majority of the people working there have a long history. Despite the financial problems they have had over the years, they have always maintained their focus on customer service and maintaining customer relationships after the purchase. And it is with these very principles that Heineman and Tracy run Basicsplus. “We like to refer to the three S’s in Basicsplus: Solutions, Support and Satisfaction,” Heineman says. Tracy explains, “If you can provide your clients with more than just a great product, a total experience that exceeds their expectations, then you form a partnership and become more than just a vendor. These become your long-term clients and it’s instilled in our reps via example as we have rep/client relationships that have been in place for many, many years.”

Basics Plus Office Products, Inc. 376 Crompton Street Charlotte, N.C. 28273 Phone: 704-357-3347 Principals: Douglas W. Heineman, President and CEO;Tracy Miner, Sales Manager Founded: 1994 Employees: 10 Business: Xerox-authorized sales agent and dealer serving the greater Charlotte area; products include network printers, color, digital, copiers, faxes and supplies.

greater charlotte biz

Tracy has trained her reps to listen to what the client is looking for and helps them find the right solution. There are so many “flavors of choice” available in office equipment today that the process can seem overwhelming. This is where the experience of the Basicsplus team comes in. They go over your options and all the

stresses the importance of not making empty promises to “land a sale.” Basicsplus is currently the only Authorized Xerox sales agent in the Charlotte area. “We’re happy doing what we’re doing and will continue to look for ways to do it better,” says Heineman. “We don’t want to grow past a point

The name Basicsplus reflects our corporate direction to provide not only basic products to small and medium size businesses but also additional accessories and services. We want the name to reflect that we are providing more than base products; we also work with scanning, printing and faxing as well as after sale support. All of these facets are incorporated in our business. ~Doug Heineman, President and CEO choices available in an effort to find the best match for your needs, which sometimes can mean creating a custom machine. Although Xerox has a strong support team, the Basicsplus team also makes sure they are available for any questions a customer might have. A Satisfied Customer Years ago, Xerox started offering a Total Satisfaction Guarantee (TSG) to its customers in response to winning the Malcolm Baldridge Award. “They were looking to show people that they were a quality company and that they were working to do what was best for the customer,” Heineman says. Tracy continues, “Our machines are not always the least expensive, but we make up for that in the kind of follow up customer service we offer and of course the TSG that Xerox offers.” The job of a Basicsplus sales rep doesn’t end after the sale is made. They are expected to work with the customer and follow up with them, making sure they are happy with their decision. Tracy emphasizes to the sales reps to listen to what a customer is looking for and to work with them in finding the solution that best fits their needs, and again

where customer service doesn’t remain a top priority as often happens with larger companies.” Tracy says she would like to get to a point where they no longer have to worry about turnover in the sales department. “Our goal is to build a team of people that really work well together, enjoy their jobs, and will remain with the company for many years.” Both Tracy and Heineman agree that the number one priority is being able to grow without losing focus and Tracy offers a few secrets on how she plans to do this. “Xerox does have the absolute best product and service out there as evidenced by the fact Xerox just won the J.D. Powers Award for Excellence in Customer Satisfaction for the second year in a row, so we have to focus on finding clients that understand how important documents and communication are to their success. The only other secret I have is that we never keep secrets—we are a very open, honest and straightforward company. We never promise the moon and stars and then deliver Lucky Charms.” biz Janet Kropinak is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

april 2007



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by lisa hoffmann


Enabling a Communication SpeakEasy Spanish Connection Helps Bridge the Language Barrier


Remember high school Spanish class? All that verb conjugation business was enough to make you want to cut class and head for the local burger place. And when el maestro called on you to speak Spanish in front of all your classmates, well, that was often just plain excruciating. Myelita Melton, owner and president of SpeakEasy Communications based in Mooresville, feels your pain. In fact, she was a high school language teacher for over 10 years and remembers the looks of dread she saw on students’ faces when she called on them. She still sees those looks, only now they appear on adults’ faces. Lucky for her students, she’s found a way to make those looks of dread and feelings of terror melt away. Melton and her staff make learning on-thejob Spanish simple, and even fun, for folks all across the greater Charlotte region and around the nation. No conjugation required. A Model Business Model The music of foreign languages hooked Melton from the very first time she heard them in a sixth grade cultural enrichment program. She was the

greater charlotte biz

first student to take two foreign languages simultaneously at her Burke County high school and attended the prestigious Instituto de Filológica Hispánica in Saltillo, Mexico, at the tender age of 17. “I absolutely fell in love with Mexico, its people and its beautiful language—and I’d return there at the drop of a sombrero,” Melton quips. After studying as an undergraduate, Melton began her career as a high school foreign language teacher. In 1989 she was awarded a Rockefeller Scholarship for foreign language instructors. For her research project she decided to travel to Italy to research and produce a documentary film about the Italian and French immigrants who settled the Burke County town now known as Valdese. Much later, this led her to a job with NBC’s Spanish news division and a stint with PBS affiliate WTVI. She was laid off from both jobs, one within a year of the other. Falling back on her education roots, she began calling local community colleges to inquire whether they needed a traveling night school instructor. Many said “yes.” ®

april 2007


It was the familiar looks of dread and terror Melton saw on her adult students’ faces that got the wheels turning in her head. “Many of these people were absolutely terrified of taking a Spanish class but were doing it because they had to,” she explains. “I immediately began thinking critically about communication strategies and the essential elements of the Spanish language. It was very important to teach people Spanish they could really use every day. Clearly, the available curriculums and materials were not working.” Melton’s business plan slowly developed as she began going on-site to teach construction workers, medical professionals and journalists how to communicate with Spanish speakers. The key difference in her approach was that she structured each class around industry-specific needs. She interviewed students to find out exactly which common words and phrases they needed to know to communicate with their Spanishspeaking customers, patients, employees and business colleagues. “I realized then that it’s about communication, not conjugation,” Melton says. “These folks didn’t need to become fluent in Spanish, they just needed a toolbox of common words and phrases specific to their particular industry.” The SpeakEasy Spanish method began working right away but it would be three years before Melton incorporated her business. After watching a family-owned cable television advertising company collapse, Melton knew she had to be meticulous in the planning and execution of her new business model. “I wanted to make absolutely sure that the methodology was perfect, that the system worked and that the research I’d done on the growth of the Hispanic population in this area was valid,” Melton explains. “I wanted a good, solid base for the business.” She incorporated SpeakEasy Communications in the summer of 2001. The Plan in Action According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic population in North Carolina has grown 394 percent since 1990. The bureau reports that 9.1 percent of Mecklenburg County residents are of Hispanic or Latino origin and that Hispanic


april 2007

buying power in North Carolina increased metro areas with high Hispanic populations 255 percent between 1990 and 2001. because I assumed the need was being met Business people are taking notice, looking by other companies. I was wrong. And, I for ways to tap into this profitable market. should have published my book series and A basic understanding of Spanish is the started marketing it years before I did.” necessary first step. Melton started getting requests to schedSpeakEasy Communications now has ule classes from across the country, enabling such notable businesses as Coca-Cola, her to develop a network of contractors she Presbyterian Hospital, Duke Energy, Food can send to fulfill instructional needs west Lion, Bank of America and the Charlotte of the Mississippi. She seeks out experiApartment Association as clients. enced teachers, many with corporate expe“Myelita helped us address the needs of rience, to teach SpeakEasy Spanish courses. our sales force for communicating with curShe provides these independent contractors rent and potential Hispanic customers, mostly with basic training in the form of printed small business owners,” says Laura Sawyer, materials and offers them guidance and learning manager for Coca-Cola Bottling support, but she’s careful not to micromanConsolidation here in Charlotte. “She was age them. “I don’t want to tell good teachers really able to customize her program for our how to teach. I let them use their own unique situation here at Coca-Cola.” expertise and provide whatever support That customization process, along with offering a smattering of instruction on cultural considerations her clients can employ when working with Hispanic customers, colleagues and employees, has been the key to SpeakEasy Communication’s success here and across America. So has a flexible responsiveness to the marketplace. When the economy tanked in the aftermath of 9-11 and companies slashed their training budgets, Melton turned her attention to producing a line of CDs she could market outside the Charlotte region. She put an enormous amount of time and energy into producing the audio programs, not knowing whether they’d sell or not, although she had an inkling they would be very successful when she discovered a competitor’s book paired with her CD on The proverbial silver lining of the cloud that covered the American economy appeared for Melton when she discovered a nationwide market for her goods and services. “I made the mistake early on of not marketing SpeakEasy Spanish trainMyelita Melton Owner and President ing programs Speakeasy Communications in the southwest and

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they may need or request to allow them to do their jobs.” Today, Melton has two full-time and six part-time employees and calls on 24 independent contractors who provide instructional services in over 20 states. Her books and CDs are offered on,,, and in a growing number of bookstore chains. Additionally, several national associations also distribute her publications. SpeakEasy Communications has seen a 25 percent growth every year since 2001. Over time, Melton has become an indemand keynote speaker for a variety of professional organizations, something she finds immensely rewarding. Her quick wit and friendly smile no doubt help build an instant connection with her audience and hold people’s attention. “Success isn’t about luck,” Melton claims. “It requires dedication, vision and a lot of hard work. I’m very grateful for what we’ve achieved.” Looking Forward Despite all the hard work and travel Melton’s job requires, she finds it truly invigorating. She thoroughly enjoys the research it takes to develop new programs: finding out what people do on the job, touring clients’ facilities and tailoring programs to suit their needs. She also loves working with what she calls “visionary business leaders” in Charlotte and around the country, those who see how important it is to keep pace with the ever-changing American demographic. “Businesses that attempt even a little Spanish with Hispanic customers reap tremendous rewards,” she says. “The attempt to communicate in Spanish sends a clear message that the consumer is highly valued.” “We’re very appreciative of the work Myelita does and her flexibility of providing training here in our workplace,” says Martha Gallagher, human resources assistant for The Charlotte Observer. “Our company realizes that acquiring those lan-

I realized then that it’s about communication, not conjugation. These folks didn’t need to become fluent in Spanish, they just needed a toolbox of common words and phrases specific to their particular industry. ~ Myelita Melton, Owner and President guage skills helps us deal with the growing Hispanic population in this area.” Businesses everywhere are scrambling to keep up with technology and SpeakEasy Communications is no different. Partnering with a Georgia firm, Melton is in the process of launching an online training course for apartment managers later this year. If that is well received she’ll expand the e-learning model. She is also expanding her line of CDs and working on video-ondemand. Improving the courses she offers is an ongoing process. And she’s toying with the idea of franchising the SpeakEasy Spanish model. Melton was more than pleased when a representative from the American Bar Association called to request a copy of her recently released “Survival Spanish for Legal Professionals.” Given the overall demand for her “Survival Spanish” materials, Melton created “Survival Spanish for All Americans.” The accompanying CD is hot off the presses at this writing and has Melton squirming like a schoolgirl in her seat. “These products are like my children. It’s great to see them take off and grow.” Past clients and students often call to make update suggestions, such as adding a new term or phrase, for her educational materials. The best calls, though, are the ones she gets from clients to tell her how helpful her course has proven to be. “Not only do people overcome the fear and anxiety they experienced in high school Spanish classes and move to successfully speaking Spanish on the job, but these skills help people all the time,” Melton shares. “I’ve heard from a social worker who helped a mother enroll her child in a Head Start program and a construction company representative who told me how much safer his construction sites are due to our efforts. That’s the true reward, one that I focus on each and every day. It’s what keeps us all going.”

greater charlotte biz

Still, all that hard work makes keeping Melton’s life in balance a challenge. She starts each day by thinking about how someone, somewhere, is able to communicate with another human being because of SpeakEasy Spanish. Positive thoughts really energize her, she explains. And she focuses on enjoying downtime, when it comes. Melton has learned not to panic about occasional business lulls. “Now, I enjoy the brief downtime. It may be the last I get for many months,” she says with a laugh. Although Melton is quick to praise supportive friends and family, it is clear that the driving force behind SpeakEasy Communication’s success is Melton’s passion. “You could call it my manifest destiny,” she says. “It is what I was meant to do.” biz Lisa Hoffmann is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

SpeakEasy Communications, Inc 116 Sea Trail Drive Mooresville, N.C. 28117 Phone: 704-662-9424 Principal: Myelita Melton, Owner and President Established: 2001 Staff: 2 full-time employees; 6 parttime employees; 24 independent contractors Business: Offers industry-specific occupational Survival Spanish seminars and teleseminars; print and audio materials; and convention programs in over 20 states. Provides practical, economical ways to help local and national businesspeople learn on-the-job Spanish skills. Books and CDs are offered on,,, and in a growing number of bookstore chains.

april 2007



Charlotte ood Hargett Breakfast Club: The Premier Business Development Organization for Success-Minded Charlotte Business Owners. The Hood Hargett Breakfast Club is a ‘category exclusive’ business development organization that develops and hosts some 36 events throughout the year for its members and guests. The goal of these events: to provide success-minded business owners with first-class venues to entertain their clients and prospects. HHBC takes great pride in creating a pro-active, professional-yet-casual environment that gives members and guests the chance to meet and learn more about each other and their respective companies. These opportunities to develop new business relationships and enhance existing ones are key to the on-going success of HHBC.

Upcoming 2007 Speakers

April 13, 2007

May 4, 2007

September 14, 2007

October 12, 2007

November 9, 2007

Liz Murray Inspiration for

Jim Nantz Broadcaster CBS Sports

Rich Karlgaard Publisher Forbes Magazine

Michael Powell Former Chairman FCC

Lloyd Trotter Vice Chairman, GE President & CEO, GE Industrial

Homeless to Harvard A Remarkable Journey

HOOD HARGETT Breakfast Club America gives “Wake up and smell the coffee” full-bodied meaning!

To attend or learn more or to find out about membership,call JenniferSnyder at 704-602-9529 •

w w w.c har lotteb c a.c om ©2007 Galles Communications Group, Inc.

[biznetwork] Thank you to our advertisers who make this publication and its distribution to over 100,000 readers possible! Enjoy their products and services as Charlotte’s leading business-to-business suppliers. 44, IBC

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TOPIC 2007: What’s In It For Me April - Help me do the right thing! We depend on employees to help us achieve our desired goals. Yet, sometimes, we fail to provide enough information and training to help them work effectively. How can they make good decisions if they’re working in the dark? We’ll work on translating our goals into meaningful direction for employees. We’ll discuss how to help them understand their role, their contribution and what’s in it for them if they succeed.

2007 Schedule of Meetings April - Help me do the right thing! June - I need to know how I’m doing! August - Money makes the world go ‘round October - Would I buy this business from me? 25



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For specific dates, times, locations and membership information visit or call Denise Altman at (704) 708-6700.

april 2007


[ontop] trust+strategy+integrity+planning+insight+experience

it all adds up!

We're not your typical CPA firm. Instead, we go beyond traditional accounting services, adding valuable insight and guidance to your growth process. Think of us as the business development partner you always wished you had - a Champion for your business! Our Philosophy We believe we are rewarded only to the extent that we add value to those we are privileged to serve. At Daniel, Ratliff & Company, we are here to serve you, to help your business achieve its goals. We do so by learning your business and the challenges you face, then working with you to guide you toward success.

Daniel, Ratliff & Company has helped me better understand the financial side of my business. They take the time to go over my financial statements with me, work with me to get the most out of my accounting software, and serve as a strategic business partner in discussing ways to improve my business. ~ Warren Klugman ©2007 Galles Communications Group,

Owner, W.B. & Associates, Inc., provider of plumbing fixtures

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Uptown office: Daniel, Ratliff & Company 301 S. McDowell St., Ste. 502, Charlotte, NC 28204


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We promise to provide our customers with quality new and pre-owned office furniture and accessories at affordable prices. Our great customer care also includes the following:


Space Planning


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Office Furniture


april 2007


3111 Freedom Drive Charlotte, NC 28208


Awards & Achievements Winners of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s Blue Diamond Awards, recognizing technology-based contributions made by Charlotte-area companies and individuals, have been named as follows: Family Dollar (Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp., finalists) for project of the year and best information technology business value; Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Wachovia and Mecklenburg County Geographic Information Systems, finalists) for best information technology innovation, corporate edition; Patient Care Technology Systems (UpSNAP, finalist) for best information technology innovation, small to medium business; UpSNAP (Charlotte Fire Department, finalist) for best information technology business value, small to medium business; Girl Scouts Hornets Nest Council for nonprofit excellence in information technology; and Family Dollar (Duke Energy Corp. and the city of Charlotte, finalists) for project of the year. Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh McColl of Bank of America has been named among five Legends of Business to be inducted this year in the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in recognition of their business excellence, courageous thinking and actions, vision and innovation, inspiring leadership, and philanthropy. UNC Charlotte biology professor Ken Bost is the 2007 recipient of the First Citizens Bank Scholars Medal. Ken Bost Queens University of Charlotte, in partnership with Wachovia, has named Dee Dixon the 2006 Charlotte Business Woman of the Year. WTVI has launched a new series called Legacy focusing on the influence and initiative of Charlotte’s leaders of the past 40 plus years for in-depth and candid conversations that capture their wisdom, their insight and their drive in formulating and ultimately making decisions regarding Charlotte’s growth and development, in the

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[ontop] areas of business, politics, religion and civics. Scheduled guests include: Allen Tate; Liz Hair; Johnny Harris; Mark Bernstein; former Charlotte mayors John Belk, Harvey Gantt and Richard Vinroot; past Charlotte Chamber president Carroll Gray; former North Carolina Governor Jim Martin; former First Union CEO Ed Crutchfield; and former UNC Charlotte Chancellor Dr. Jim Woodward.



Advertising & Media Walker Marketing, Inc. has appointed Deanna Jones to the position of client services administrator. Luquire George Andrews Inc. (LGA) has hired new media designer Steve Mast. Cordelia Anderson has joined the Cabarrus Convention & Visitors Bureau (CCVB) as marketing manager.

Construction & Design The Home Builders Association of Charlotte has named Bill Daleure, Crosland, Inc., 2006 Distinguished

greater charlotte biz

HR ADVICE HOTLINE The Employers Association provides advice daily on these and other questions as an exclusive benefit for members.

Q: Spring has sprung. The office picnic is right around the corner, and this year the company has decided to serve alcohol. What steps should the company take to reduce liability? 1. Ensure that the company's policy against harassment is up to date and that the policy mentions that the rules apply to all company functions, even those conducted off the premises. 2. Instruct supervisors that they are expected to set an example at company social functions and to respond appropriately to improper behavior by employees or their guests. 3. Consider inviting spouses and/or partners since their presence can have a “leveling” effect on conduct. 4. Provide for designated drivers or taxi vouchers. 5. Call The Employers Association to determine if you should do some or all of the above.

The best response is to call The Employers Association to discuss the full answer to these and other compliance and employer relations issues.



©2007 Galles Communications Group, Inc.

Business & Professional Charlotte Copy Data is changing the names of its offices in other Carolinas cities to include the words “Copy Data” to better identify them as part of the Charlotte Copy Data Network. Law firm Kennedy Covington has named J. Benjamin Earthman as special counsel in its Charlotte office. Ben Earthman Founding member Bob Wishart has moved to the Charlotte office of Wishart Norris Henninger & Pittman. Wishart, who spent 30 years in the Burlington office for Wishart Norris, will put together a commercial litigation team at the firm that concentrates on serving closely held businesses. Fluent Language Solutions Inc. has promoted Otto Zellman to foreign language interpreter manager and Flora Brooks as an American Sign Language interpreter in the Charlotte office.

Architectural Interiors & Exteriors Advertising • Industrial • Corporate

For more information on The Employers Association please visit us at or call 704-522-8011.



[ontop] Builder of the Year and Grady Thomas, Builder Services, Inc., the 2006 Distinguished Associate of the Year. Russell Ash has joined Little’s land development services studio as site development consulting project manager. Jenkins-Peer Architects has promoted Benjamin D. Benson, AIA and Victor A. Jones, Jr., AIA to partners and Robert Hsin, AIA to associate. Boyce Ballenger, ASID has joined the interior design department of Pease Associates, Inc., and Don B. Peebly has been appointed director of business development. LandDesign, an urban planning, civil engineering and landscape architecture company, has hired engineers Frank McMahan, Shamma Murphy, Tessa Thomason and Stephen Whalen; architects David Booth and Matt Vinten; construction administration manager Ray Graham; planner and technical writer Scott Hinkle; and office/facilities manager Shelley Oppedisano; and has promoted Nate Doolittle to principal in its Charlotte office. Dienst Custom Homes has been awarded the 2007 Guildmaster Award by GuildQuality, Inc., and a 2006 Best In American Living Award for their home in the Sanctuary, Aspenwoods. Tyler 2 Construction has hired Lance McCabe as project coordinator and Jerry Marcotte as a project manager. Francis “Jensie” Teague III has joined Lauth as senior vice president of retail. Education & Staffing Anderson & Associates, a retained executive search firm, has hired Stephen Sellers as executive search consultant. Steven Littleson has joined CEO Inc. as sales practice leader focusing on recruiting business-to-business sales professionals. Steven Littleson The Community School of the Arts has appointed Andrea J. Stevenson as president and executive director of the organization.


april 2007

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[ontop] The Phoenix Challenge Foundation has appointed Stephen Gerhardt to its board of directors. Stephen Gerhardt Engineering Barbara H. Mulkey of Mulkey Engineers & Consultants has been named Distinguished Engineering Alumnus of the Year from the College of Engineering at Barbara Mulkey North Carolina State University.

Financial & Insurance Grant Thornton LLP has announced the appointment of Ken Sharp as the global leader of assurance services for Grant Thornton International. Frank Sanders, managing director of Marsh Charlotte, has been recognized by Risk & Insurance magazine as a power broker. Wachovia Bank ranked Frank Sanders No. 1 for the sixth straight year in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a survey of consumer satisfaction conducted by the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Charlotte-based Bank of Commerce has appointed Brian Brantley as assistant vice president of commercial lending. Marc Horgan has been named Mecklenburg area executive for First Citizens Bank in Charlotte. Timothy C. Flanagan Marc Horgan Jr. has joined Hinrichs Flanagan Financial as a financial services professional. Steve Menaker has joined McGladrey & Pullen Steve Menaker as an audit and transaction advisory partner. Dave Niles has joined Dixon Hughes PLLC as the member-in-charge of risk advisory and internal audit services for financial institutions.

greater charlotte biz

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april 2007


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Government & Non-Profit Mecklenburg County has named Dena R. Diorio as its new finance director. Robbie Howell has Robbie Howell been named director of programs for the Charlotte region chapter of the American Leadership Forum (ALF). Health Care Dr. Patricia McHale, a sports medicine specialist in OrthoCarolina’s Gastonia office, has been one of 694 new members inducted into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons as a fellow. Real Estate Commercial/Residential Caren Wingate has been named director of business development for Percival McGuire Commercial Real Estate. Lake Norman Realty has hired Gina Dillard as a sales associate in the Mooresville office and Phaedra L. Flowers as a commercial sales associate in the Cornelius office. Ben Speir has joined Trinity Partners as broker in the office tenant representation group. Retail & Sports & Entertainment The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has appointed Meg Freeman Whalen as its new public relations manager and Joan Thomas as director of development. Kathryn Karakus has Kathryn Karakus joined Donald Haack Diamonds as marketing manager. Charlotte Citipass has promoted Vicki Ford to regional manager. Vicki Ford


april 2007

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Technology Time Warner Cable’s Charlotte Division has named three new directors to its management team: Nestor Martin as director of construction; Michael Tanck as director of government affairs; and Tanya Wilson as director of customer care. CC Communications, Inc. has added Andrea Smith as an account manager; Alicia Stewart as a customer service representative; and William Culp as a marketing associate. ATCOM Business Telecom Solutions, a communications solutions provider, has formed an agreement with PMAB, LCC to provide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems to the firm’s Charlotte office. Synapse Technology, a leading provider of event based marketing solutions, has hired Brit Linkner as business development executive for financial services. Peak 10 has promoted Monty Blight to vice president and general manager of managed services. Tourism Bill McMillan, director of marketing and business development for the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, has been named chair of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (CRVA) Visitors Advisory Committee; Linda Libby of Tribble Creative Group retires as chair after two years. Cordelia Anderson has joined the Cabarrus Convention & Visitors Bureau (CCVB) as marketing manager.

Member FDIC

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Boyd Coggins, Samuel Black, Douglas Phillips

The oldest new bank on the block. We’re community bankers with a remarkable history, a promising future. Our seasoned officers hustle as hard as you do. We get it when you talk about launching a start-up, growing your business, juggling success. We’ve been in the business of business banking for a full century – let’s strategize the next. Uptown Charlotte 704.945.6565 Lake Norman/Cornelius 704.987.9990 Matthews 704.814.1200 SouthPark 704.442.5900

Craig Dedrick, the assistant vice president of Carpenter, Cammack & Associates, has been named to the board of directors for the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance (HTA). biz To be considered for inclusion, please send your news releases and announcements in the body of an e-mail (only photos attached) to, or fax them to 704-676-5853, or post them to our business address—at least 30 days prior to our publication date.

greater charlotte biz

april 2007


Featuring Executive Homes in the Charlotte Region CLASSIC GEORGIAN Charlotte, North Carolina This fabulous SouthPark home features elegant formal rooms, mahogany raised paneled library, plus great room. The professionally landscaped grounds give way to a brick terrace, pool with spa, pergola, perennial garden with fountain and brick wall, all nestled on 1.3 acres in a very prestigious, gated community. 5BRs/4.1BAs MLS# 622503 - $2,550,000 Property Address: 4550 Fox Brook Lane

Gay Dillashaw - 704-409-5252

COLONIAL TREASURE Charlotte, North Carolina Experience the grandeur and charm of this Colonial treasure. Located in prestigious Deering Oaks, this Georgian-style home is situated among extensive landscaping with a custom, heated in-ground pool with a pergola and brick wall en closure. This residence is truly a work of art. 4BRs/3.2BAs MLS# 649909 - $1,300,000 Property Address: 2414 Richardson Drive

Meba Thompson - 704-661-0699

UNIQUELY STUNNING Monroe, North Carolina This stunning home is nestled among large trees and beautiful landscaping. If offers all of the extras, including Brazilian cherry floors, marble, ceramic, granite counters and maple cabinets. Walking trails behind the property and around the Price Mill community lead to Wesley Chapel Elementary School. 5BRs/3.1BAs MLS# 656654 -$449,900 Property Address: 6222 Pumpernickel Lane

Russell Wing - 704-291-8908

WEDDINGTON CHASE Waxhaw, North Carolina This exquisite home is located within the sought-after Weddington Chase neighborhood. Fabulous details are featured throughout. Come inside to find a tremendous kitchen and library, lavish master suite and extraordinary media room. Go outdoors to entertain in the beautiful, fenced yard with a fountain. 5BRs/4.1BAs MLS# 638881- $710,000 Property Address: 7818 Stonehaven Drive

Donese Harvey - 704-907-0253


Featuring Executive Homes in the Charlotte Region MAGNIFICENT OLD WORLD CHARM Denver, North Carolina Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be amazed with 360-degree water views. Hand-hewn Douglas fir beams, walnut floors, textured walls, ceiling details and water views from every room. Distinctive extras include a recreation room with full wet bar, stone fireplace, media room, outdoor fireplace, built-in grill, heated pool with spa and more. 4BRs/4.2BAs MLS# 657032 - $3,250,000 Property Address: 2483 Peninsula Shores Court

Lee Ann Miller - 704-896-5141

HISTORIC DILWORTH RESIDENCE Charlotte, North Carolina This fabulous home is the largest surviving private residence in historic Dilworth. It has been exquisitely updated and yet has kept the charm of the past. Beautiful, original hardwood floors and wainscoting grace the interior, while a fabulous porch and lush landscaping add to the charming exterior. 5BRs/4.2BAs MLS# 657033 - $1,500,000 Property Address: 301 East Park Avenue

Jan Kachellek - 704-517-2764

HIGHGATE ELEGANCE Weddington, North Carolina Let wide, tree-lined streets guide you to this sophisticated home. It offers a flexible floorplan ready for formal entertaining or just relaxing with family and friends. Enjoy the gourmet kitchen with island, luxurious master suite, two bonus rooms, and private patios that overlook the wooded back yard. 5BRs/4.5BAs MLS# 657994 - $1,349,000 Property Address: 8008 Wicklow Hall Drive

Anne Burkart - 704-957-9227

MAGNIFICENT PALISADES HOME Charlotte, North Carolina Within the beautiful Palisades community resides this magnificent home. It features an open plan with decorator colors. Formal rooms, a fireside den, main-level office, gourmet kitchen and spacious bedrooms make up this fun and flexible layout. Additional recreational space is offered upstairs. 4BRs/3BAs YMLS# 1037971 - CMLS# 649085 - $415,900 Property Address: 14217 Grand Traverse Drive

Mary Beth Shealy - 866-658-5754


• Named Charlotte’s “Preferred Hospital”

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for 9 Years by National Research Corporation J.D. Power and Associates Distinguished Hospital Program for Excellence in Maternity Services HealthGrades —Best Cardiac Care in the Region American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Outstanding Achievement Award CMC Neuroscience and Spine Institute ranked top 10% nationally by NeuroSource First North Carolina Hospital to receive Chest Pain Center Accreditation Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Cardiac Centers of Excellence Member of the U.R.N. “Neonatal Centers of Excellence” Network UnitedHealth Premium Cardiac Specialty Centers National CareScience Quality Top Performer for Total Knee and Hip Replacement Surgery CareScience Most Effective Strategic Approach to Improving Outcomes— Oncology Program Top 40 Family-Friendly Employers Most Wired— recognized by InformationWeek and Hospitals & Health Networks Numerous designations for Excellence in Transplantation For a complete list of CMC’s awards and designations, please visit our Web site.

Greater Charlotte Biz 2007.04  

Greater Charlotte Biz

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