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B D O S e i d m a n • C P C C H e n d r i c k C e n t e r • M c C o l l ’s I n n o v a t i o n I n s t i t u t e • E m p l oye r s A s s o c i a t i o n

may 2008

O. Bruton Smith Chairman and CEO Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Sonic Automotive, Inc.

Scratch-Made Bruton Smith Relishes Ruling His Dual Empire 5601 77 Center Dr., Ste. 250, Charlotte, N.C. 28217


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The transport and motorsports industries in North Carolina are going “full throttle.” Central Piedmont Community College’s nationally recognized instructors and state-of-the-art facilities offer training that gives our students the competitive edge. Available programs include: Automotive Technology, Auto Body Technology, Motorsports Technology, and Heavy Equipment and Transport Technology (Diesel).

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in this issue



may 2008









cover story

Speedway Motorsports + Sonic Automotive Worth more than $1.5 billion, Charlotte’s own Bruton Smith relishes ruling his dual empire. He built both NYSE-listed Sonic and Speedway from scratch and says, “They’re my children and I like them equally well.” Racing has been in Smith’s blood since he was a teenager and he obviously enjoys it.The octogenarian looks and acts like a man closer to the age he claims—39.


BDO Seidman Charley McNealy and Norman Manley contradict the traditional numberscruncher image of accountants.The partners and staff of the BDO Charlotte office pride themselves in a genuine interest in clients, far beyond ledgers loaded with digits.

18 bizlife

McColl’s Innovation Institute This initiative of the McColl Center for Visual Art was created to form a bridge between corporate executives and artists, offering business people practical experiences in applying artists’ creative process to corporate problem solving.


Employers Association In business for 50 years now, the Employers Association has become a stalwart shoulder to lean on, with trusted experts who specialize in the nuances of laws and regulations as they affect a broad spectrum of businesses.


departments publisher’spost


bizXperts Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions


employersbiz Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers


bizlife Pursuing a Balance of Business and Life






executive homes Luxury Homes above $500,000


on the cover: O. Bruton Smith Chairman and CEO Speedway Motorsports,Inc. Sonic Automotive, Inc.

CPCC Hendrick Center Automobile complexity continues to increase with the increasing use of technology. CPCC and Hendrick Automotive Group have partnered together to find and train a new generation of technicians to a high level of computer proficiency.

Photography by Wayne Morris

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[publisher’spost] A Bold New Plan for a “Charlotte Promise” As business owners and managers in the Charlotte region, we have all articulated concern for our public school systems at one time or another. We all know that a healthy public school system is important to our economic health and to the success of our communities. And we all know that a high school education is wholly inadequate in preparing students for successful careers in our global economy. It may be time to consider a bolder and more substantial undertaking that changes the mindset of every parent and every student participating in our public school system. It may be time John Paul Galles to challenge our public school systems to prepare students for higher education that will enable them to compete successfully in our global economy. I would like you to consider the potential of a NEW IDEA for Charlotte and the regional public school systems that is based upon an idea first launched as the “Kalamazoo Promise” in Kalamazoo, Mich., and recently adopted as the “Pittsburgh Promise” in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is under consideration by numerous other communities across the country. It is a simple, clear and clean promise to provide all students graduating from public schools the opportunity to attend post-secondary education with up to 100 percent tuition scholarships. Scholarships would be provided for up to four years of education at any state university or community college. While North Carolina currently provides a number of scholarship programs that guarantee academically qualified N.C. students who come from families making less than 200 percent of the poverty level ($42,000 in N.C.) at least their first two years’ tuition free, this offering is too complex. The truth is that students should be able to graduate almost completely debt-free—including costs for tuition, room, board and fees—but families and school counselors don’t understand this. That in itself is a shame. It is also true that if your family makes more than $42,000, you are eligible for almost zero federal, state or campus aid. If we truly believe that a high school education is inadequate, then we must seriously encourage more students to pursue higher education. Money is always a problem, but I urge you to think about the alignment of incentives for students, parents, teachers, administrators and business interests if a “Charlotte Promise” were to be implemented. It would certainly be incredibly exciting for more families and their children to contemplate and choose to take advantage of advanced learning beyond high school. In fact, we would want all children to look for schooling beyond 12th grade. Over time, we could improve performance at public schools as well as respect for the graduates of our public school system. This program could also stimulate greater economic opportunities at the same time by providing a more educated work force. Why not create a “Charlotte Promise” or an “N.C. Promise”? It is a big idea that merits serious consideration, planning and forethought! It will not change education overnight, but as students graduate each year, more and more students will pursue higher education. If we are serious and really want to prepare our children for the challenge and competition that approaches from around the world, we must find leadership and benefactors who can guide this idea and make it happen. Together, we can raise the necessary funds to make this promise something very real that can boost our students’ expectations and ambitions and our economic vitality for many years into the future. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can make this reality. Let’s get started. biz


may 200 8

May 2008 Volume 9 • Issue 5 Publisher John Paul Galles

Associate Publisher/Editor Maryl A. Lane

Creative Director Trevor Adams

Editorial & Sales Assistant Janet Kropinak

Account Executives Joe Gleason

Sue Williams

Contributing Writers Ellison Clary Casey Jacobus Janet Kropinak Vivian McMahon Contributing Photographers Wayne Morris Janet Kropinak Galles Communications Group, Inc. 5601 77 Center Drive • Suite 250 Charlotte, NC 28217-0737 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 2008 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 704676-5850 x102. Greater Charlotte Biz (ISSN 1554-6551) is published monthly by Galles Communications Group, Inc., 5601 77 Center Dr., Ste. 250, Charlotte, NC 28217-0737. Telephone: 704676-5850. 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 28217-0737.

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[bizXperts] Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions

is your “contractor” really an “employee”? You may be able to relate to my fictional client, Joe Fitnessbuff. Joe owns and operates a small local gym that also provides individual personal training services. Like many small business owners, Joe is always looking for smart ways to cut costs. He has found that making payroll and providing benefits for his workers are some of his most expensive obligations. In completing his payroll, he must withhold the employee’s portion of FICA taxes, pay a matching FICA tax as the employer, pay unemployment taxes, withhold income taxes (state and federal) and furnish employees with W-2 forms each year. These items are in addition to any benefits he may provide or other optional withholdings made for employees. Joe also pays a fee to a firm to administer his payroll for him. Joe has heard from some friends and business advisors that he should treat his workers as “independent contractors” instead of “employees”. In doing so, they claim he can simply pay the workers the agreed hourly rate and have no other out-of-pocket taxes or expenses for payroll. The taxes paid on the workers’ incomes are then the responsibility of each worker, not Joe’s business. To Joe, this sounds great! He is seriously considering this option. However, according to the IRS and our court systems, the reality of independent contractor versus employee is not merely up to him— the business owner. Joe and all other business owners should know that in determining payroll tax and certain other obligations, the IRS and other government agencies will not simply rely on his determination that his workers are independent contractors. Even if he and the workers agree, the IRS will not rely on those agreements. The IRS will make the determination for itself, which could result in back taxes and significant penalties for Joe if the IRS determines that his workers are actually employees. For example: the penalties for failure to withhold and pay FICA and unemployment taxes range from 20 to 40 percent of the unpaid amounts plus interest. Joe may also be responsible for additional amounts if the workers do not pay their share of the FICA taxes. Thus, it is vital that Joe know how the IRS will determine whether his workers are employees or independent contractors. Unfortunately, there is no simple test that will tell Joe whether his workers can be treated as independent contractors. The decision depends on each situation and how it relates to certain factors considered by the IRS. Most importantly, if Joe has the right to control and direct the workers as to the details and means by which they accomplish their duties they are considered employees. It doesn’t even matter whether he actually does control the workers, only that he has the authority to do so. Many other factors are considered as well. While the factors are too many and too detailed to give a comprehensive list here, some of the major factors are: the amount of instructions given to workers; the training provided to workers; how integral the workers are to Joe’s business operations; whether his workers hire and supervise their own assistants; the workers’ authority to set their own hours of work; whether the working relationship is continuing or not; whether the workers must perform services on Joe’s premises; how the workers are paid; whether the workers furnish their own tools and equipment; whether the workers perform services for others; and the ability to terminate the relationship without a penalty.


may 200 8

Joe must examine the current situation with his trainers according to the many factors and make a determination as to whether the IRS will deem them employees or independent contractors. If he believes they can be treated as independent contractors already, then he can move forward with his plan. If not, he may consider whether it is possible to modify their “jobs” such that Eric Bass they may qualify as independent contractors. However, if the jobs cannot be modified sufficiently, Joe must treat them as employees. Given the complexity of the employee versus independent contractor considerations, Joe and other business owners facing this dilemma should generally seek the counsel of an attorney to help them make the correct determination. While conducting this exercise, Joe may also want to prepare written employment or independent contractor agreements with his workers. These agreements can help describe the relationship properly and deal with other important issues, such as non-competition restrictions and confidentiality of information. Such assistance can help greatly reduce the risks of costly charges for unpaid taxes and associated penalties. Joe, just like other business owners, can then be more confident of his decision and focus on other productive ways to increase his profitability. Eric Bass is an employment lawyer with Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A., a law firm focused on serving the needs of business and business owners. Contact him at 704-364-0010 or visit

Revenue Ruling 87-41 The traditional tests to determine whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor involve the concept of control: Are the services of the worker subject to the taxpayer's will and control over what must be done and how it must be done? In Revenue Ruling 87-41, 1987-1 CB 296, the IRS developed 20 factors used as guides to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor under the common law. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Instructions Training Integration Services rendered personally Hiring, supervising and paying assistants Continuing relationship Set hours of work Full time required Work done on premises Order or sequence set Oral or written reports

12. Payments by hour, week or month 13. Payment of expenses 14. Furnishing of tools and materials 15. Significant investment 16. Profit or loss 17. Working for more than one firm at a time 18. Making services available to the general public 19. Right to discharge 20. Right to terminate

www. grea tercha rl ot tebiz .c om

Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions


is this the worst mess since world war II? Rather than speculate about how bad things really are, let’s focus here on what we know while adhering to the sound advice from Personal Finance Daily advising “Bear Stearns’ bailout sends only one signal to average investors: Stay Put.” We read or hear the word subprime almost every day, including weekends, and the wreckage it’s causing not only in this country but also in many others as well. Banking expert Thomas Brown of sorely disagrees, “Despite what the talking heads on CNBC would have you believe, not every subprime mortgage written over the past two years is bound to default and not every MBS [mortgage-backed security] issued over that period is headed for a crackup. There is a huge disparity that’s not reflected in the alarmists’ broad-brush predictions of calamity. “For ourselves, we have looked at the bond-by-bond data, and we don’t arrive at estimates of cumulative losses from subprime mortgage lending that are anywhere near as high as the huge, back-of-the-envelope numbers that keep making their way into the headlines.” In general, at or around major market bottoms, pessimism is rampant, and that’s true today. The latest Merrill Lynch survey shows that 41 percent of fund managers are

overweight in cash, up from 26 percent in December 2007, and the highest since 2001 just after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. David Bowers, an independent consultant to the firm, noted, “Risk aversion is so extreme and cash levels are so high that the challenge is now to identify the catalyst that prompts money to return to the stock market.” Significantly lower fixed-income rates could be that catalyst. Bill Staton Since World War II, recessions typically have gone on for nine months to a year. And usually stocks bottom about halfway through. Warren Buffett and a number of others believe we’ve been in recession since at least 2007’s last quarter. If that’s true, we could be about halfway—or more— through it. Stocks, therefore, could experience a major bottom at any time, if they haven’t already. Highly-regarded Morningstar ratings service said last month that based on an individual analysis of each of the Dow’s 30 components, it “will rise more than 6,000 points to roughly 18,500 over the next three years.” The venerable index “hasn’t looked this cheap since September 2002 when [it] stood at 7,592 (three years later it had risen to 10,569).” Bill Staton, M.B.A., CFA, is chairman of Staton Financial Advisors LLC, a money management firm. Contact him at 704-365-2122 or visit

the power of numbers: efficiency ratios Efficiency Ratios measure how effectively your business is utilizing its main assets such as inventory, accounts receivable and fixed assets. How efficiently inventory is managed will have a significant impact on cash flow. The Inventory Turnover Ratio (cost of goods sold/average value of inventory) shows how often a business’ inventory turns over during the course of the year. A high inventory turnover ratio is generally a positive—you are retrieving the dollars you have invested in inventory quickly through sales and inventory is not sitting around on the shelf. However, an unusually high ratio could mean your business is losing sales because turnover is so rapid you run out of certain key products. If inventory is turning too slowly it could indicate an impending cash flow problem. The best way to assess where your turns should be is to compare it with that of other businesses in the same line of operations. There are two ways to increase your inventory turnover ratio, by reducing inventory levels and/or increasing sales. Your decision would be based on an analysis of each individual stock line. Accounts receivable represent sales for which payment has not yet been collected. If a large portion of your sales are on credit, the payment of accounts receivable could represent your single most important source of cash flow. The Average Collection Period Ratio (current accounts receivable balance/average daily sales) measures the length of time it takes, on average,

pursuing a bala nc e of busi ness and life

to convert sales into cash. A longer average collection period means a higher amount tied up in accounts receivable. A longer than industry average collection period may mean your payment terms are too lenient or that you are collecting too slowly. For firms that rely heavily on their fixed assets in Deborah Daniel order to carry out their business operations, the Fixed Asset Turnover Ratio (sales/fixed assets) indicates how well the business is using its fixed assets to generate sales. Generally speaking, the higher the ratio the better because a high ratio indicates that the business has less money tied up in fixed assets for each dollar of sales revenue. A low or declining ratio may indicate that you’ve over invested in plant, equipment, or other fixed assets. As a business owner you can determine how efficiently your business is utilizing its assets by better understanding and monitoring your efficiency ratios. All rights to the content in this publication are reserved by RAN ONE Inc. Any use of the content outside of this format must acknowledge RAN ONE Inc. as the original source. Deborah Daniel, C.P.A., is a principal with Daniel, Ratliff & Company, a full service accounting and business development firm. Contact her at 704-371-5000 or visit

may 2008


[bizXperts] Smart Salvos, Select Strategies and Succinct Solutions

in a tight economy, you can’t afford a bad hire A recent article in Small Business Review said that 75 percent of new hires fail to meet expectations. A professor at New York University found that the “standard 50 minute chat” interview only predicted success about 20 percent of the time. Given these statistics (and my experience), most businesses do a dreadful job in the hiring process. Now, I don’t believe for a minute that the problem is a lack of good people. I don’t believe that 75 percent of the people hired weren’t worth having or that 80 percent of the people hired lied to us and caused us to make a bad decision. I think much of the fault points back to our hiring processes. Hiring is the most important thing you do in your company. Why? Because it impacts your customers, processes, products, other employees and your bottom line. Making a bad hire anytime is a bad idea, but in a tight economy, it’s especially bad news. You can’t afford to waste money, and bad hiring certainly does that. Studies show that you will spend 150 hours dealing with a bad hire. You could certainly use that time more effectively. Your hiring process must include an analysis of the culture of your company and of the job being filled. You need to know the skills, abilities and

temperament needed to make someone successful doing that job in YOUR company. Without that baseline knowledge, there’s little chance you’ll make a good hiring decision. Once that information is gathered, your process should include behavioral interview questions to help you discover what the applicant is best suited for. TestDenise Altman ing for the necessary skills and temperament should also be used. Finally, you need to have a thorough reference-checking process. Doing this right takes time. “I don’t have that much time,” you say? Well, here’s the deal. You can pay now or pay later. If you plan and execute a good process up front, you’ll save yourself hours of time and tons of headaches later. Remember the old saying, “There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.” If you’re hiring, take the time to do it right. If you need help setting up a good hiring process, call us. Denise Altman is president of Altman Initiative Group, Inc., helping companies hire and retain productive employees. Contact her at 704-3159090 or visit

24 Years In Business


may 2008

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Add a benefit at no cost to your company North Carolina’s National College Savings Program Company Advantages • • • •

Offer the NC 529 Plan to your employees No set-up fees or administrative charges Available through payroll deduction or automatic draft Minimal administrative involvement

Employee Advantages • • • •

Easy enrollment and online account access Multiple investment options Tax-free earnings State tax deduction on contributions

© 2008 College Foundation, Inc. For more information about North Carolina’s National College Savings Program, please review the complete Program Description and Enrollment Agreement available at or contact 800-600-3453 to request an enrollment kit that includes both. Before opening an Account, or contributing funds to an existing Account, you should carefully read and consider the Program Description, which includes information on investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information. Check with your home state about tax or other benefits associated with investing in its own qualified tuition plan. North Carolina’s National College Savings Program is a program of the State of North Carolina, established and maintained by the State Education Assistance Authority as a qualified tuition program under federal tax law, and administered by College Foundation, Inc. Investment Options feature funds from NCM Capital Management Group, LLC; J. & W. Seligman & Co. Incorporated; Wachovia Bank, N.A. through its affiliate, Evergreen Investment Management Company, LLC; the State Treasurer of North Carolina; and The Vanguard Group, Inc. The features of a qualified tuition program are complex and involve significant tax issues. The earnings portion of withdrawals not used for qualified higher education expenses are subject to federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax, as well as state and local income taxes. The availability of tax benefits may be contingent on meeting other requirements.

Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers


MORE LARGE EMPLOYERS OFFER CDHPs, SEE COST BENEFITS ••• •• • The number of large U.S. companies offering consumer-directed

encourage employee participation in health improvement activities.

health plans (CDHPs) is on the rise, and those with high enrollment

CDHPs need to be part of the overall strategy, not the entirety of

are seeing about half the increase in health costs as those offering only

the plan design, to be effective in driving down health care costs, Nuss-

traditional health coverage, according to an annual survey by Watson

baum explains. Using high-quality hospitals, which tend to be less expensive

Wyatt and the National Business Group on Health. CDHPs are high-deductible plans offered with a personal account

in the long term, is one way to achieve savings, he says. That

that can be used to pay a portion of medical expense that the

means doing research to learn such things as a hospital’s infection

employer’s plan does not cover.

and readmission rates.

The findings are from its annual survey, which looked at employ-

In fact, according to the survey, poor information on provider qual-

ers’ health care purchasing value released during in March 2008. The

ity was the third-biggest challenge employers face in maintaining affordable benefit coverage. Employees’ poor health

statistics reflect 2007 and 2008 health plan decisions,

habits are the biggest challenge, 64 percent said,

and in some cases 2009 strategies, for the 453

followed by poor information on provider

large U.S. employers surveyed. Those compa-


nies collectively employ 8.4 million people.

Measuring outcomes of programs

Nearly half (47 percent) of those surveyed offer a CDHP, up from 39

also is important. Nussbaum sug-

percent in 2007 and 33 percent in

gests measuring the work-loss days

2006. More than half (54 percent)

of employees participating in an

plan to offer a CDHP by 2009.

employer-sponsored health care initiative to help determine the success

Companies with at least half of their

rate of that program.

work force enrolled in a CDHP have a

Strategies that saw major increases

two-year median cost increase trend of 3.6

among companies surveyed included offering

percent, versus 6.2 percent of companies

health risk appraisals, offering weight manage-

without a CDHP, according to the report. Over-

ment programs that focus on reducing obesity among

all, employers with a CDHP saw a two-year cost

workers, and auditing or reviewing eligibility and enrollment in

increase trend of 5.5 percent versus 7 percent for those that did not offer a CDHP.

the health plan.

According to Watson Wyatt’s director of group and health care consulting in North America Ted Nussbaum, having a substantial number

Other survey findings:

of employees enrolled in a CDHP is critical to driving down costs.

• • •• ••

Employers with only 15 percent CDHP enrollment, for example, won’t

employee in 2007; that’s expected to increase to $7,620 in 2008.

see big savings, he says.

• • •• ••

The survey found that best performers see results by combining

Companies spent an average of $7,211 on health care per The average annual cost increase for health care was 6 percent, a

drop from 8 percent in 2006; costs are expected to increase by 9 per-

CDHPs with a range of programs—services, tools, information—to

cent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2009.

steer employees into becoming better-informed health care consumers.

• • •• ••

Best performers, and employers with consumer-oriented health

83 percent of companies offered health risk appraisals in 2008, an

18 percentage point increase from 2007. 27 percent of companies offer CDHPs with a health savings

care models, the survey found, are making “significant cost savings”

• • •• ••

with the following key drivers:

account; 24 percent offer CDHPs with a health reimbursement

• Offering appropriate financial incentives, such as significantly lower-

account. (SHRM)

ing premiums for CDHP enrollees. • Communicating information effectively to employees to help them make wise health care choices. • Using metrics and evidence. Many companies don’t receive information about employee use of their programs, according to the report. • Offering quality care that is delivered efficiently. • Maximizing health and productivity by using financial incentives to

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

The above content was provided by The Employers Association, a nonprofit organization providing comprehensive human resources and training services to a membership of over 800 companies in the greater Charlotte region. For more information, please call Laura Hampton at 704-522-8011 or visit

may 2008


(Back, l to r) Thiru Govender, Partner, Assurance; Anthony L. Smith, Partner, Assurance; (Front, l to r) Charles E. McNealy, Partner and Assurance Business Line Leader; Norman F. Manley, Partner and Tax Business Line Leader BDO Seidman, LLP


may 200 8

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by ellison clary



{ More Than NUMB3RS} Global Capability; Local Presence

Charley McNealy, Norman

BDO Seidman is the U.S. Member Firm of

alliance network that McNealy and Manley

Manley and their team of pro-

BDO International with its Global Coordina-

call unique to BDO Seidman. Nationwide, the

fessionals clearly contradict

tion Office in Brussels, Belgium, and combined

BDO Seidman Alliance has 150 alliance mem-


Member Firm revenues of $4.7 billion for the

bers, which are local and regional CPA firms

year ending September 30, 2007.

that keep their independence but often col-



cruncher image of account-

laborate with BDO Seidman. Carolinas cities

ants. The partners and staff of the Charlotte office of BDO

Strategic Advantage

where alliance firms exist include Asheville, Hickory, High Point, Greensboro, Raleigh and

Seidman pride themselves in a

The BDO Seidman Charlotte office, oper-

genuine interest in clients, far

ating in 12,000 square feet in Morehead

beyond ledgers loaded with digits.

Square, is the only one between Richmond,

“In recent years, the marketplace has

Columbia, as well as Charlotte.

“The clients we best serve are

Va., and Atlanta and serves both North and

embraced BDO’s positioning as a distinctly

the ones looking for advice,” says

South Carolina. As a result, McNealy, Manley

different service alternative and we’ve seen a

Manley, a 29-year accounting veteran

and their colleagues are mobile, focusing on

real alignment of our client service model with the needs and desires of the market,”

who came to BDO Seidman when it merged with Charlotte’s Dellinger & Deese in 2001. “It’s not about filling out tax returns; it’s about planning and goal setting and being an advisor.” To be sure, McNealy and Manley can reel off numbers. The Charlotte office of BDO Seidman has existed since 1973 and currently employs up to 70 people, depending on whether it’s tax season. It’s been expanding annually by as much as 15 percent and its size has doubled in the last half decade. The pair projects the Charlotte practice at 50 to

“Our tax practice is focused on more of a consultative approach. Most of the private clients serve are closely held business owners and high net worth individuals. Where we can benefit them most is helping them meet their goals. It’s about planning and goal setting and being an advisor to them.”

says McNealy. “Our audit practice is serving a

~ Norman F. Manley, Partner and Tax Business Line Leader

Coopers, KPMG, Deloitte & Touche and

75 percent larger in five more years. BDO Seidman doesn’t break out

large private companies, and not-for-profits seeking the combination of services, international reach, senior level attention, and responsiveness BDO offers.” Since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which established enhanced standards for U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms, BDO Seidman has gained 350 to 400 clients across the nation from the Big Four—PricewaterhouseErnst & Young. Passed in the wake of corporate scandals

financial results for its 35 individual offices, but the Chicago-based firm

growing number of mid-cap public companies,

clients throughout the Carolinas.

disclosed $589 million in revenue for

Helping them relate to professionals in

the fiscal year ending June 20, 2007.

other metro areas are local firms in an

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

such as at Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley requires larger public companies to have auditors to examine their internal control structure.

may 2008

➤ 15

The upshot, McNealy says, is a 40 percent to

more we understand them and their business,

50 percent increase in the work for a

the more value we can add.”

McNealy, who’s been with BDO Seidman since 1970, says his firm has an advantage because of the autonomy headquarters gives

typical audit. So the Big Four increasingly have concen-

Global Services

trated on their very largest clients, those in the

BDO Seidman is part of what is now being

Global 1,000. Meanwhile, this quartet of huge

coined as the Global 7, which includes the Big

international accounting firms has struggled

4, Grant Thornton, and RSM McGladrey.

offices such as Charlotte, coupled with a flat management structure. “I’m one person away from our CEO,” he says. “We only have to go to one or two people

to staff and serve some of their not-as-large

“We would not seek to serve every need of a

to get decisions made. Because Norman and I

clients, thus creating great opportunities for a

Fortune 500 corporation” says McNealy, speaking

are the leaders of the practice here, generally we have the capability

firm like BDO. “That’s where we have

to give most of our

a strategic advantage,”

clients the answers they

McNealy explains. “What

need to run their busi-

we’ve understood is, the

ness or to conduct their

smaller public companies

personal affairs.” Manley,

and the larger private


companies want a heavy

and crew offer a wide

compliment of partner


and senior people interac-

including assurance, or

tion to help them solve


their business issues—to

consulting in matters

consult with them.”



services, tax



Quinton Gandy appre-

investigations, restruc-

ciates that. “They help us

turing, and risk advi-

make strategic plans,” the

sory services; corporate

president of Cornelius-

real estate services; and

based Gandy Communities,

through affiliate companies, private client

Inc. says of BDO Seidman. Gandy Communities is a real estate developer and residential builder and Gandy says the firm has worked with BDO Seid-

(back, l to r) Tony Leonard, Director, Business Development; Thiru Govender, Partner, Audit; Tony Smith, Partner, Audit; Ed Jankun, Director, R&D Credits; Tony Thompson, Director, Tax; (front, l to r) Donna Chamberlain, Director, Tax; Norman Manley, Partner, Tax; Charley McNealy, Partner, Audit; Eric Fletcher, Director, Tax; Angela Spaugh, Senior Manager, Audit

man’s Manley for 15 years. Gandy describes Manley as “very straight-



investment banking and business valuations. BDO Seidman serves companies in many sec-

of BDO Seidman. “We do want, and we have

tors, including manufacturing and distribution,

done specialty projects for these corporations.”

health care, financial services, retail and con-

forward, very reliable” and he praises his

For example, the Charlotte office leads the

sumer products, energy, real estate and real estate

integrity and honesty. “We’ve developed a real

domestic BDO Seidman operation in preparing

development, media and entertainment, pharma-

individual tax returns for people who routinely

ceuticals and biotechnology and technology.

“When we obtain a new client, we need to understand their business and how we can best service them. The more we understand them and their business, the more value we can add.”

travel in and out of the country on business. “We have probably 500 or 600 returns we

Client Retention

do for foreign nationals,” McNealy says. Sev-

Even as the Charlotte BDO Seidman office

eral of the firm’s manufacturing clients

picks up larger firms, McNealy says, it contin-

employ hundreds of people who work both

ues to concentrate on clients it has served for

inside and outside the country.

20 years or more. Some are public companies,

More stringent audit requirements have caused BDO Seidman to make changes. “The

but many are family-owned and their needs run from succession planning to estate planning.

hardest part is dealing with the challenging

An example is Jim Wright of FHG, Inc., a

environment put forth by the rule makers, the

mechanical contractor to major oil companies

people who pass new accounting and techni-

such as Shell and BP. Wright recently transferred

strong relationship and there’s a trust thing

cal pronouncements,” McNealy says, “They’re

control of the company he started 25 years ago to

you develop as time goes on,” Gandy says.

becoming immensely complex.”

his son and son-in-law and their wives. He has

~ Norman F. Manley, Partner and Tax Business Line Leader

Manley says he approaches growth

He recalls a recent accounting change that

methodically. “When we obtain a new client,

was about 40 pages long. It prompted another

we need to understand their business and

firm to publish an implementation guide that

how we can best service them,” he says. “The

took 350 pages to explain it.


may 2008

been a BDO Seidman client for a decade and he leaned on Manley to make the switch. “Norman’s guided me at every major point in the last 10 years,” Wright says.

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On Wright’s office wall hangs a letter from the Internal Revenue Service. It confirms that the IRS declined to make any changes after

week during the first few months of each year. That’s busy season. Manley toils on tax returns from 7:30 a.m.

Manley picks up on that. “I enjoy being a mentor,” he says. Even though most people have a masters degree in tax when they join

auditing FHG tax returns. “You don’t get many of these,” Wright says an IRS auditor told him. Wright recalls how concerned he was several years back when he received notice of an impending IRS audit. He immediately called Manley for advice. Manley told him: “You should pay me to have that man come to my office and perform

“In recent years, the marketplace has embraced BDO’s positioning as a distinctly different service alternative and we’ve seen a real alignment of our client service model with the needs and desires of the market. Our audit practice is serving a growing number of mid-cap public companies, large private companies, and not-for-profits seeking the combination of services, international reach, senior level attention, and responsiveness BDO offers.”

the audit so I can answer all the questions.” So

~ Charles E. McNealy, Partner and Assurance Business Line Leader

Wright sent a truckload of files to Manley. “A week or so later, the IRS presented me with a ‘no change’ letter,” Wright says. Manley calls that “seeing where he made a difference,” and he calls it the most rewarding part of his work.

until 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. each weeknight and

the tax practice at BDO Seidman, Manley says

most of Saturday. He takes Sunday off and

they still need training in how to best advise

encourages his staff to do the same.

clients. He hopes they’ll share his passion for

Immediately after the tax filing deadline,

making a difference.

To Manley, that kind of assistance epito-

he likes to wind down gradually. Usually, he

“We work with some very successful, bright

mizes the personal attention that the firm car-

takes a short break with his wife, then enjoys

clients,” Manley says. “To develop the kind of

ries out in its tax work: “Our tax practice is

a longer family vacation in May.

relationship where we’re their most trusted

focused on more of a consultative approach.

“You’re running on adrenaline, and when

advisor—that’s what excites me in the morning.

Most of the private clients serve are closely

you hit April 15, it takes a little while to gear

It’s not making the extra dollar; it’s knowing that

held business owners and high net worth

back down,” he explains.

I’ve got that kind of relationship.” biz

individuals. Where we can benefit them most

McNealy also has a hectic early year rou-

Ellison Clary is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

tine. “Our work schedules in assurance

BDO Seidman is part of what is now being coined as the Global 7, which includes the Big 4, Grant Thornton, and RSM McGladrey.

(audit) are 55 to 70 hours a week from January 15 through the end of March,” he says, “primarily because most public companies have their filings due between the middle and the end of March.” During other parts of the year, McNealy and Manley say they are committed to increasing their involvement in Charlotte civic

is helping them meet their goals. It’s about

activities and to encouraging their associates

planning and goal setting and being an

to do the same. McNealy is on the board of

advisor to them.”

the Belk School of Business at UNC Charlotte

He brings up an executive he began work-

and the Harris YMCA. Manley is an elder at

ing with in 1984. The man was in his 90s

his church and has served on the board of

when he passed away recently, but his busi-

with Missions International, a worldwide

ness, which had grown substantially, had long

evangelism organization. This involvement is

since passed on to the third generation. “We

reflective of the Charlotte office as a whole,

saved untold millions of dollars in estate

where many people are actively involved in

taxes,” Manley says, then adds, “The family

leadership roles in a number of civic and

would probably have sold the business if we

charitable causes, working to make a positive

hadn’t actively planned back in 1984.”

difference in the community.

Taxing Times

other firms and landing new clients, he says.

At work, McNealy thrives on competing with The 700 individual tax returns the Charlotte office handles far outnumber the 400 fil-

Helping existing clients with either an acquisition or a sale also gives him a warm feeling.

ings it completes for businesses, but the

Internally, he enjoys working with other

revenue from those 400 business accounts is

team members and helping them grow in their

about 70 percent of its annual output.

positions. And he likes helping a deserving

Both Manley and McNealy work six days a

BDO Seidman, LLP Independent Member Firm, BDO International 1001 Morehead Square Dr., Ste. 300 Charlotte, N.C. 28203 Phone: 704-887-4236 Charlotte Office Principals: Charles E. McNealy, C.P.A., Partner, and Assurance Business Line Leader; Norman F. Manley, C.P.A., Partner and Tax Business Line Leader; Anthony L. Smith, C.P.A., Partner, Assurance; Thiru Govender, C.P.A., M.B.A., Partner, Assurance National Office: Chicago, Ill. Established: 1910, New York City Charlotte Office Established: 1973 Charlotte Employees: 55 to 70 Service Area: North Carolina and South Carolina region Rankings: The world’s 5th largest accounting and consulting network; 7th largest accounting and consulting firm in the U.S. Business: National professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies; offering a sophisticated array of services and access to global capabilities combined with local presence and the personal attention of experienced professionals.

person become a partner.

purs uing a balance of busi nes s and life

may 2008



by casey jacobus


It is no longer adequate to maintain a level of competition by keeping up with one’s competitors; it is now necessary to lead in innovation instead of reacting to it. Collaboration between the business and

the bank, Hugh McColl (Chairman and CEO

McColl Center. “An artist comes here for

the arts communities of Charlotte created

at the time) and the Arts and Science Coun-

three months to push the boundaries of their

McColl Center for Visual Art on North Tryon

cil of Charlotte Mecklenburg, McColl Center

work. We provide all the tools and equipment

Street. The Center is housed in a former ARP

opened to the public in September 1999.

and the safe environment.”

Church, which was once of the city’s most

Since then, more than 180 artists from

Out of the 125 similar artists-in-residence

active congregations. Originally built in the

around the world have come to Charlotte to

programs around the country, the Andy

Gothic Revival style in 1926, the church had

challenge themselves intellectually, hone their

Warhol Foundation in New York City has

500 members at its height. However, mem-

techniques, and develop new skills and exper-

designated McColl Center one of the top

bership declined as the city’s population

iment. McColl Center provides them with a

three. Artists have come to Charlotte from a

moved away from the inner city and the

state-of-the-art 30,000-square-foot facility,

variety of countries, including, Botswana,

church building was sold in 1981. It stood

which includes nine individual studios and com-

Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France,

empty until an accidental fire damaged the

mon use wood , blacksmith, sculpture, and

Japan, Latvia, South Africa, Spain and the

structure in 1985. For many years the burned

ceramic studios, plus a darkroom, printmaking

United Kingdom. They practice a wide variety

out shell of the building marked the Tryon

studios and a media lab. The center also pro-

of arts, including ceramics, conceptual,

Street entrance to uptown.

vides each artist-in-residence with a one-bed-

environmental, fibers, film/video, furniture,

room furnished condominium.

installation, mixed media/collage, multimedia,

In 1995, Bank of America bought the church in order to establish an urban artists’

“It’s like a scientist going to MIT,” explains

community. With the vision and support of

Suzanne Fetscher, president and CEO of the


may 2008

paint, performance, photography, printmaking, quilting, sculpting, and new media.

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One of the original goals of the Center was

beginning to realize that competing in the

to demystify the creative process by providing

global marketplace would require more

opportunities for artists to engage with the

than cutting costs and increasing efficiency.

public. The Center maintains an open door

“There was a dialogue going on in

policy and encourages the general public to

Charlotte,” says Fetscher. “Business leaders

visit artists’ studios and to view exhibitions. In

were all talking about the need for innova-

addition, each artist participates in at least two

tion. Well, you can’t be innovative without

outreach programs during his/her residency.

first being creative. Creativity is the gener-

Suzanne Fetscher President and CEO McColl Center for Visual Art The Innovation Institute

ation of new ideas; it is the creation of Unleashing the Creative Core About three years ago, Fetscher, who has a Master in fine arts degree, began to consider

something that wasn’t there before. I saw an opportunity for artists to be integrated into the conversation.”

how Charlotte’s high-powered corporate

Recognizing that artists could provide

community could be brought into closer con-

insights into the creative process, which

tact with the uptown McColl Center. The

could benefit corporations and other organi-

2002 publication of Richard Florida’s book,

zations looking for innovative ideas, Fetscher

The Rise of the Creative Class, was creating a

envisioned the Innovation Institute as a way to

buzz among business leaders who were

form a bridge between corporate executives

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

➤ may 2008


and artists. During six alternating Fridays,

adding to its offerings. In addition to the cur-

Institute participants work with professional

rent program of one day every other week, it

artists and expert facilitators to explore topics

is also offering an intensive week-long pro-

such as “Unlocking the Creative Voice,”

gram, which should appeal to executives from

“Pushing the Edge” and “Risk: The Value of Failure.” Presentations, along with hands-on

“It was intimidating at first. It pushed me way out of my comfort zone. But I learned that anyone can be creative, given the time and space to work at it.”

group and individual exercises, give participants insights into artists’ creative process and how the process can be applied to business. “Creativity is applied knowledge,” says Bart Landess, senior vice president for development and planned giving at The Foundation for the Carolinas. “I do a lot of writing and

~ Jason Ward Director of Innovation Wachovia

presenting materials to potential donors. The Institute program helped me recognize opportunities to be more creative in these tasks.” The Innovation Institute is based on the

outside the Charlotte region. The Institute is

premise that everyone is innately creative.

also offering custom group programs for

However, our educational system focuses on

individual corporations and not-for-profit

developing analytical abilities and the work-


place often reinforces this. The Institute’s goal

Twelve executives from Piedmont Natural

is to assist individuals in becoming more

Gas participated in a custom-made program

innovative in their approaches to every day

last fall. Renee Hanson, manager of operational

problems. McColl Center anticipates that the

effectiveness, says the experi-

individuals, the companies, and the community will all benefit from this approach. “Everybody is creative,” says Fetscher. “All

Howard Sherman, Title: Gutter Prep, 2008

of us know it and recognize it. As kids we

companies, and the community will all bene-

built forts, made up games, put on plays, but

fit from the program.

ence was one the group couldn’t have gotten in any other way. “It took us out of the office into an environment

gradually we lose confidence in our creativity.

The program is limited to twelve partici-

With this program, we can help develop that

pants, each of whom goes through an orienta-

that fosters creativity,” she

lost muscle and help create the culture that

tion before beginning the six-day session.

explains. “We saw artists

supports it.”

Each day of the program is led by an artist

thinking about things

The Institution is looking for participants

with support from a professional executive

in a different way.

for the program who are senior level execu-

coach and consultant in organizational devel-


tives, committed to their company and inter-

opment. The curriculum is designed to help

equal failure; they

ested in making a difference in their

the participants tap into their own creative

were simply part of

company’s performance, and who are also risk

core, develop the capacity to recognize, influ-

the process.”

ence, and support creativity in others, and to


Hanson says that

“There was a dialogue going on in Charlotte. Business leaders were all talking about the need for innovation. Well, you can’t be innovative without first being creative. Creativity is the generation of new ideas; it is the creation of something that wasn’t there before.

apply these new abilities to their professional


and personal lives.

applied at Piedmont Gas,

~ Suzanne Fetscher Preseident and CEO

“It is a truly unique experience,” says



with employees looking at

Vicky Taylor, a lawyer and consultant who

new projects from as many

acts as a facilitator for the program. “Business

angles as possible.

leaders are working side-by-side with artists.

“We’re trying to stop

They see how artists work and learn that the

the mindset that ‘this is the

creative habit is a process we can all develop.”

way Piedmont always does

Taylor says the benefits of the program are

it,’” she says. “We’re doing

unavoidable. “Nobody can sit through this

more brainstorming. We’re just

course,” she says. “You are in there, spilling

throwing ideas out there and

paint. Everyone is a neophyte; the process

embracing them.”

forces out the creativity.”

The group has also decided to take unused space on the lower level of the

takers and leaders in their company. The Institute anticipates that the individuals, their


may 2008

The Power to Innovate Based on its success so far, the Institute is

gas company’s headquarters and build an “innovation station.” The company

w ww.g rea terc ha rlo ttebiz .com

has held two focus groups to design the space,

tion and throw something on the canvas,” says

the personal insights they gain and take back

where employees will be able to come and think

Jason Ward, a member of the Institute’s first

to their own organizations, a network tends to

or do research or “just clear our minds.”

class in 2005. “I learned that being creative is

form between the participants.

“This is a big change for this very traditional

something you have to work at.”

“The twelve people who go through the

Ward, formerly director of the eCommerce

program together form a bond,” asserts Tay-

Blair Stanford, along with two other mem-

Interactive Design Group for Wachovia, was

lor. “They want to stay in touch with each

bers of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce,

recently promoted to a new position at

other, whether this takes the form of drink

utility company,” Hanson laughs.

attended the Innovation Institute at a time

parties or, in at least one case, two partici-

when the Chamber was undergoing some

pants going into business together.”

internal changes. Stanford, who was recently

As the Institute grows, Taylor believes it

appointed chief operating officer, says the

will move into a Phase II, where the Center

organization is shedding some of its formal,

will track graduates and changes in both their

business-like hierarchy for a philosophy

personal and professional lives. “We can support the graduates better so

which values new ideas from all employees. “People can have talent or creativity in all

that people who have participated in the Insti-

kinds of jobs,” she says. “Whether they work

tute can become more valuable to the commu-

in the print shop, Web support, or an execu-

nity,” says Taylor.

tive office, they have all sorts of ideas. We are

Fetscher, too, believes the program will

inviting all of our employees to be part of the

grow. She anticipates that more companies

decision-making process.”

will opt for custom programs that can be tai-

To support this more open exchange of

lored to the needs of their specific organiza-

ideas throughout the organization, the Cham-

tions. She also sees the Institute as filling a

ber has established a “Creativity Room” to cre-

unique role in Charlotte and beyond.

ate a more informal environment for

“No other program in the country is con-

meetings. Comfort-

necting visual artists and business people in this

able chairs, soft

way,” says Fetscher. “This is a great opportunity

lighting, a large

for Charlotte to foster this serious link between business executives and creative artists. biz

mural of the Charlotte skyline, makers, and



M&Ms and “thinking hats” encourage outof-the box problem solving. Many of the Institute participates are surprised to learn that artists follow a highly

“No other program in the country is connecting visual artists and business people in this way.This is a great opportunity for Charlotte to foster this serious link between business executives and creative artists.” ~ Suzanne Fetscher Preseident and CEO

disciplined approach to creativity. “Before I attended the Institute, I thought that to be creative you had

Wachovia, director of innovation. He calls the

to be artistic,” says Hanson. “I

Institute a “phenomenal personal experience.”

came to realize that wasn’t true.

“It was intimidating at first,” says Ward. “It

Creativity is thinking about

pushed me way out of my comfort zone. But I

things in a different way.”

learned that anyone can be creative, given the



also observe the artists’ willingness to experi-

time and space to work at it.” Ward’s experience changed the way he works with his team at Wachovia.

ment with new ideas

“I give them the general goal and then give

and to fail repeatedly

them time to reflect on it,” Ward says. “As a

before discovering a truly

result, a number of new initiatives have

innovative solution.

resulted in new patents.”


About 85 participants have graduated

artists have a big inspira-

from the Innovation Institute. In addition to



pursu ing a bal ance of busi nes s a nd l ife

Casey Jacobus is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

McColl Center for Visual Art The Innovation Institute 721 N. Tryon Street Charlotte, NC. 28202 Phone: 704-332-5535

Principal: Suzanne Fetscher, President and CEO Founded: 1999 (McColl Center); 2005 (Innovation Institute) Business: New initiative at McColl Center that adds another facet to the Center’s core values of creativity and the value of artists to society; a professional and personal development curriculum focused on creativity and innovation addressing a corporate priority identified by Richard Florida in his book The Rise of the Creative Class, i.e., attracting, developing, and retaining creative associates given the level of intense global competition in all sectors of business and service. It was created to form a bridge between corporate executives and artists, offering business people practical experiences in applying artists’ creative process to corporate problem solving.

may 2008


photo: Harold Hinson Photography


O. Bruton Smith Chairman and CEO Speedway Motorsports, Inc. Sonic Automotive, Inc.

Saying Lowe’s Motor Speedway buzzes dur-

attractions in May alone, culminating in the

Inc., with 170 car dealership franchises and 34

ing May is like calling former raceway devotee

Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s longest, during

collision repair centers.

Jessica Simpson “good looking.” She’s hot, and

Memorial Day weekend. “We’ll have at least

“I like both companies because I built them

most folks know the speedway is, too.

400,000 people visiting the speedway during

from scratch,” Smith says. “They’re my children and I like them equally well.”

With the addition of the NHRA POWER-

May,” says O. Bruton Smith, who founded

ade Drag Racing Series event in September,

Lowe’s and lays claim to it and six others

Lowe’s will host six of the nation’s premier

around the country as chairman and CEO of

auto racing series during the 2008 season. Also

Speedway Motorsports.

Good Ingredients Racing has been in Smith’s blood since he

on the schedule are three NASCAR Sprint Cup

Calling Smith a success is another huge

was a teenager growing up on a farm in Stanly

Series races, two NASCAR Nationwide Series

understatement. Worth more than $1.5 bil-

County, N.C., and he obviously enjoys it. The

events, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

lion, he consistently ranks among the world’s

octogenarian looks and acts like a man closer to

race, three World of Outlaws Late Model

richest people.

the age he claims—39.

Series events and a pair of Advance Auto Parts

He remains active at the helm of two com-

He presides in his cubbyhole quarters at

panies traded on the New York Stock

flagship auto dealer Town & Country Ford. He

The 1.5-mile track in Concord hosts three

Exchange: Speedway Motorsports, Inc., which

keeps a much larger office on the second floor,

major stock car races and a gaggle of related

owns seven race tracks, and Sonic Automotive,

but he likes his street-level spot packed with

World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series races.


may 2008

w ww. great erchar lottebiz .co m

by ellison clary




Bruton Smith Relishes Ruling His Dual Empire

“I like both companies [Speedway Motorsports and Sonic Automotive] because I built them from scratch. They’re my children and I like them equally well.” ~ O. Bruton Smith Chairman and CEO

Mercedes out the window. It’s the one with 620

he grew up on the farm of Lemuel and Molly

horsepower in a V-12 engine. “Best car I’ve ever

Smith, the youngest of nine children.

driven,” he smiles, adding that he’s told that

He rubbed elbows with legendary drivers

model exceeds 200 miles per hour on the Ger-

from NASCAR’s early days, stars such as Buck

man Autobahn.

Baker, Jimmy and Speedy Thompson, and

Smith has been fascinated with racing since

Ralph Earnhardt, father and grandfather

he was 8 and his father took him to a track at

respectively of icons Dale Earnhardt and Dale

the old Charlotte fairgrounds off North Tryon

Earnhardt Jr.

Street. “It was so exciting,” he remembers. “Man, I sure loved it.”

Another big name early on was Curtis Turner, who nominally helped Smith create what started

Fresh out of high school, Smith bought a

in 1960 as Charlotte Motor Speedway, today

used Ford racer for $700 in 1949. His mother

named Lowe’s Motor Speedway, just across the

racing memorabilia because it provokes inter-

soon prevailed on him to stop competing and

Mecklenburg County line in Concord.

esting conversations and promotes rapport with

he started promoting and staging races, instead.

Like many superspeedways of the era, the

He organized his first competition on a half-

track fell into Chapter 11 reorganization from

his visitors. Oh, and he can see his shiny black 2008

mile dirt track near Midland, not far from where

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

which it eventually emerged despite lagging

may 2008


ticket sales, and, despite his departure from

rights agreement and higher income taxes.

are 22,850 new, stadium-style frontstretch seats

the speedway in 1962 to pursue other busi-

“SMI’s core operations remain strong,” Smith

with armrests, more leg room and better hand-

ness, Smith became quite successful and began

told shareholders. “Almost four million fans

icap access that have been added. Renovations

purchasing shares of stock in Lowe’s Motor

attended our 2007 events, despite challenging

in the next three to five years could include

Speedway. By 1975, Smith had again become

economic circumstances, demonstrating that

more seat upgrades, double-decked suites and

the majority stockholder in

giant video screens. Total

the speedway, regaining

tab for the renovations is

control of its day-to-day

around $200 million. Smith committed to

operations. years,

those improvements after

Smith has added other

a loud and public spat

tracks to what has become

with Concord city officials





who balked at his plans to

most recently bringing New

build a drag strip near the

Hampshire Motor Speed-

speedway. Smith threat-

way into the fold that

ened to forsake Concord

includes tracks in Atlanta,

and build a new track

Dallas, Las Vegas, Califor-

somewhere else in the

nia’s Sonoma Valley and

region. Then city council

Bristol, Tenn.

decided the drag strip was acceptable after all, and

The speedway’s New York Stock Exchange symbol is TRK.

city fathers offered him

Lowe’s Motor Speedway

incentives to stay. “I learned a lot,”

“I took racing to Wall Street in 1994,” Smith says. “They started talking

the demand and appeal for motorsports

Smith says of the uproar from late last year.

about racing in the board rooms. It brought a lot

remains strong.”

“We were wanted in other areas. Offers just flowed in.”

of companies to the table that we had not visited Southern Hospitality

with before.”

Within an 18-mile radius of Charlotte-

Speedway Motorsports reported total rev-

He’s learned, Smith says, that making

Douglas International Airport, he heard of

enues of $561.6 million for 2007, down from

speedways fan-friendly builds lasting success.

opportunities such as 600 acres in Rowan

$567.4 in 2006, but that includes lower rev-

“Racing is recession-proof,” he says. “People

County with $8 million in grading paid for, or

enues under a new NASCAR broadcasting

will cut on some other things, but they still

2,200 acres in another spot with $300 million

want their entertainment.”

in tax incentives.

He’s proud of the emphasis his tracks have

What he didn’t like hearing, Smith admits,

placed on features that women appreciate,

is that owners of small businesses near Lowe’s

including a proliferation of upscale restrooms.

Motor Speedway worried that his anticipated

Today’s raceday crowds are about 50 percent

abandonment of that track could ruin them

female, he observes.

financially. The thought of hurting them

“Women have fallen in love with the sport,” he smiles. “If the women come, men

repelled him, he says. He’s glad things worked out as they did. “We went through a public process with Con-

will follow.” Major upgrades at Lowe’s Motor

cord and the whole area,” he says. “It started

Speedway are greeting those hun-

bad but, it ended good.”

dreds of thousands of fans

So construction is underway now on

descending on the facility

Smith’s new $60 million drag strip on 125

this month. There

acres across Highway 29 from the speedway. When it opens in September for the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals,

the strip

will feature a starting Top Fuel dragster Rod Fuller, courtesy of NHRA.

tower with 16 luxury


may 2008

line suites

w ww. great erchar lottebiz .co m

and a rooftop viewing area. Grandstands will seat 30,000. Smith, who has three other drag strips, is known for making changes at his tracks. “I buy a speedway and, invariably, I want to change it,” he admits as he lists major alterations he made to his facilities in Atlanta, Las

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chain of dealerships that among them sell virtually every make of car. The company, SAH on the NYSE, reported $8.3 billion in revenue for

“I’ve jokingly said...that I want to take the word ‘work’ out of the dictionary. I want to replace it with ‘fun.’ If you’re having fun doing what you’re doing, your productivity is going to increase 20 or 30 percent.” ~ O. Bruton Smith Chairman and CEO

2007, with net income of $95.5 million, up


from $81.1 million in 2006. Smith reckons Sonic sells about 22,000 vehicles a month. Smith’s son B. Scott Smith is Sonic’s president and chief strategic officer. The younger Smith told shareholders: “Our key operating initiatives continue to drive our results even in

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a challenging new vehicle sales environment.” In a decade, the number of dealerships will decline, the elder Smith predicts, but his holdings will expand. He wouldn’t mind becoming the largest auto dealer in the country. “That would be an enviable position to be in, if


we managed them all properly,” he says. He recently cut a deal to buy Beck Imports, one of the Carolinas leading Mercedes-Benz dealers with its facilities within a stone’s throw of Smith’s Town & Country campus. Why? “It’s right down the street,” he says matter-of-factly. “I know Mr. Beck and I know the family. I’ve

1001 Morehead Square Dr. Charlotte, NC 28203

known them for years.” How can he grow in a contracting industry?


Money and people, he says quickly. It’s easy to point to Sonic’s impressive dollar figures,

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

may 2 0 0 8


“I’m for it because it’s what’s happening in the world,” Smith explains. “There are about

Lowe’s Motor Speedway

38 countries that now have a national health The Dirt Track

care program.” Health care costs that American automakers

US Hwy 29

pay account for $1,800 to $2,000 in the sticker price of a new domestic vehicle, Smith says. Yet Japan has a national health care program, so there are no medical benefits built into the cost of a Toyota, or any other Japaneseproduced vehicle. Smith pauses, then professes to truly like

The Dragway

what he does. “I enjoy business immensely,” he says. And, when pressed, he admits he likes the advantages of his huge wealth. As a young man, Smith says he admired legendary industrialist and eccentric millionaire (Above) Aerial photo of construction underway on The Dragway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, a new $60 million drag strip on 125 acres across Highway 29 from the speedway. When it opens this September for the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals, the strip will feature a starting line tower with 16 luxury suites and a rooftop viewing area. Grandstands will seat 30,000. Aerial photo courtesy of Carolina Photo Group. (Left) Construction of the dragway primary grandstand and rendering of the finished entrance building. Courtesy of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Howard Hughes. “I’m not like him,” Smith laughs, then offers a light-hearted caveat. “In a way I am. I do have a home in Beverly Hills and he had one there, too.” In recent years, Smith has enjoyed recognition for achievements in both racing and business. He’s a member of the International

but Smith says good people are essential. He believes he attracts them and keeps them because he helps them have fun on the job. “I’ve jokingly said in some of my speeches that I want to take the word ‘work’ out of the dictionary,” he says. “I want to replace it with

Analogizing to dragway lingo, it would appear that for Bruton Smith, “burnout” means just getting started.

‘fun.’ If you’re having fun doing what you’re doing, your productivity is going to increase 20 or 30 percent.” Smith is strong on making training courses

Smith’s daughter Anna Lisa is strong into

house “College of Knowledge.” He also

equine pursuits and might not ever join his busi-

preaches what he calls “taking the high road.”

ness enterprises, but his three sons are already

“If our employees do that, we’re a more cus-

part of his empire. Besides Scott Smith, son Mar-

tomer-friendly company,” he says. “We’ve got to

cus Smith leads national sales and marketing for

be absolutely right with our customers. We actu-

Speedway Motorsports. And his youngest son,

ally sell to sell again. We’re very strong on that.”

David Smith, is senior vice president of corporate

the domestic auto industry. “There’ll always

pany’s acquisitions of new dealerships. “I do have a succession plan,” the patriarch

Ford,” he says. “But where will they build the

grudgingly admits. “We don’t talk about it, but,

cars?” After a moment, he suggests that might

yeah, we do.”

The cost of manufacturing vehicles in the United States includes enormous amounts for benefits to workers, those still on the job as well as retirees, Smith points out. Although Smith is a Republican, he professes

may 2008

development for Sonic, overseeing that com-

be a General Motors, there’ll always be a

be China.


Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

available, and his employees study at an in-

Smith has strong opinions on the future of

Top Fuel dragster Doug Herbert, courtesy of NHRA.

Motorsports Hall of Fame as well as the North

Yet Smith continues to tell people he’s 39. “Absolutely, I might work another 20 years,” he says. “I’m feeling good.” Analogizing to dragway lingo, it would appear that for Bruton Smith, “burnout” means just getting started. biz

to espouse what is essentially a Democratic theme—a national health care plan.

Ellison Clary is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

w ww. great erchar lottebiz .co m

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. 5555 Concord Parkway South Concord, N.C. 28027 Phone: 704-455-3200 Principal: O. Bruton Smith, Chairman and CEO NYSE: TRK Established: Incorporated in 1995; subsidiary track (Lowe’s Motor Speedway) in 1959 Revenue: $561.7 million (2007) Net Income: $38.4 million (2007) Employees: 974 (2005) Business: Promoter, marketer and sponsor of motorsports activities; #2 operator of auto racing facilities in the U.S. behind International Speedway Corporation. Owns and operates Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Infineon Raceway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Hosts a number of events sanctioned by such U.S. racing bodies as the Indy Racing League, the National Hot Rod Association, and the World of Outlaws; however, more than 80 percent of Speedway Motorsports’ revenue comes from NASCAR events. Smith owns more than 60 percent of the company. Ancillary Businesses: Also provides souvenir merchandising services through its SMI Properties subsidiary; provides radio programming, production and distribution through its Performance Racing Network subsidiary; develops electronic and media promotional programming and distributes wholesale and retail racing apparel through The Source International subsidiary; and manufactures and distributes smaller-scale, modified racing cars and parts through its 600 Racing subsidiary. Co-owns Motorsports Authentics, a joint venture with International Speedway Corporation formed in August 2005 to produce, market and sell licensed motorsports merchandise.

Sonic Automotive, Inc. 6415 Idlewild Road Charlotte, N.C. 28212 Phone: 704-566-2400 Principal: O. Bruton Smith, Chairman and CEO NYSE: SAH Ranking: #285 in Fortune 500; S&P 600; member of Russell 2000 Index Established: 1997; founded with 5 dealerships Revenue: $8,336.9 (2007) Net Income: $95.5 million (2007) Employees: 11,200 (2006) Business: One of the largest automotive retailers in the U.S. operating 170 dealership franchises, representing 38 different brands of cars and light trucks, and 34 collision repair centers in 15 states. Dealerships provide comprehensive services, including sales of both new and used cars and light trucks, sales of replacement parts, performance of vehicle maintenance, warranty, paint and collision repair services, and arrangement of extended warranty contracts, financing and insurance for the company’s customers. Sonic owns Don Massey Cadillac, the largest Cadillac dealer in the U.S. Smith controls more than 74 percent of Sonic’s voting power.

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life


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may 2008


Kenny Colbert, President Laura Hampton, Marketing, Membership and Training Services Director The Employers Association


m ay 2008

w ww. grea terchar lottebiz .c om

by vivian mcmahon



Many important milestones

people daily. If a male employee

were reached in 1958:

compliments a female co-worker

The Treaty of Rome was implemented,


on how wonderful she looks that


day, is that bordering on sexual

European Union, the first Inter-

harassment? If a company wants

national House of Pancakes

to hire an employee from another

opened in California, Jack St.

country, how do they deal with

Clair Kilby invented the first

visas and immigration laws and

integrated circuit or microchip,

requirements? What are the legal

NASA started operations, and The Employers

Charlotte-based dental supply company, and

ramifications of an employer reading an

Association opened it doors in Charlotte.

several area business leaders who saw the need

employee’s e-mail or searching their locker?

For some area businesses, the founding of

to establish a business group to become more

Fifty years ago employer requirements were

The Employers Association (TEA) in May 1958

educated about labor laws and personnel issues

fairly straightforward. But with the enactment

was perhaps the most important event of that

and to network about personnel challenges

of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the

year. The 501(c) (6) not-for-profit organization

unique to their companies. At the time, one of

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of

has helped businesses in North and South Car-

the issues that employers faced was unionization.

1967, and many others to follow, figuring out

olina with thousands of their human resources

“Each year we give out the Randy Babcock

the morass of laws and regulations—local, state

and other business concerns, from resolving

Award to the human resources person who has

and federal—which address personnel issues

personnel problems to providing specialized

made the most significant contribution to their

can be a nightmare. And, these laws and their

training for the myriad of challenges today’s

company and the community,” says Kenny Col-

enforcement are always in flux with court rul-

employers face, for 50 years now. The associa-

bert, president of the association. The Employ-

ings and legislative actions.

tion has become a stalwart shoulder to lean on,

ers Association is also the sole sponsor of the

The Employers Association is usually the

with trusted experts who specialize in the

City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

first place members turn to for answers and

nuances of laws and regulations as they affect a

Employee of the Year awards.

training for handling all sorts of crises. They


Today’s businesses are dealing with chal-

have an extensive library of federal labor laws,

The current membership consists of over 850

lenges which were non-existent 50 years ago.

state laws and manuals covering everything

businesses and nonprofits in 19 counties in

As a member of the national Employers Associ-

from OSHA to workers’ compensation to

North and South Carolina, ranging from those

ation Group, TEA networks with similar organ-

HIPAA, plus an alphabet soup of others.

with one or two employees to those employing

izations around the country keeping abreast of

“We used to have people lining up to use

thousands at various locations in the United

the latest changes in employment laws. TEA

our resource library, but these days many of our

States and abroad. Annual membership dues

itself has a large network of vendors and can

members do their research on our Web site. We

depend on the number of employees, beginning

help a company set up human resources pro-

added an online research tool called HRAn-

at $475 for the smallest organizations.

grams such as group insurance plans and flexi-

swersNow for members to use for research in

ble spending accounts tailored to a company’s

response to this trend,” says Colbert.

broad spectrum of businesses.

Helping Businesses Succeed

specific needs.

The association began as the idea of Randy

Human resource personnel face new and

Babcock, then president of Pelton & Crane, a

constantly changing challenges dealing with

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

Stan Sewell, president of Barloworld Han-

dling, one of the founding companies of TEA in 1958, says that in his 23 years with the

may 2008

➤ 29

company, “Business changes are putting a

both ways, sending our people to the TEA site and

effective communication and creating employee

greater emphasis on wanting and desiring to be

having courses for our employees at our location.”

handbooks. There are seminars with guest speakers to update employers on current and

“TEA is the greatest value, worth much more than the membership dollars. It’s like having an additional staff member with the numerous resources they have. They recently helped us design a management development program tailored to our business. They have the ability to be flexible in practice and theory and adapt to customer needs, not just producing a canned product.” ~ Daryl Bennett Vice President of Human Resources Transamerica Reinsurance

upcoming issues in management and human resources. Members receive a monthly newsletter, “The Management Report.” “Perhaps one of our biggest challenges is designing an education course adapted to a specific business,” says Colbert. “Each business thinks it may be unique, but it all boils down to basic management and human resources principles.” Daryl Bennett, vice president of human resources at Transamerica Reinsurance and

the company of choice. Businesses want to

The Employers Association has become the

the 2007 Babcock Award winner, says “TEA is

attract and keep the best people. Companies

network hub for their members with the 24-

the greatest value, worth much more than the

today are competing for talent, management

hour Web site available which provides every-

membership dollars. It’s like having an addi-

succession, and pleasing the customer base. TEA

thing from upcoming training classes to

tional staff member with the numerous

helps employers maintain that competitive edge.”

answers for the most frequently-asked-ques-

resources they have. They recently helped us

tions. They offer classes at their 27,000-square-

design a management development program

foot location on West Arrowood road or

tailored to our business. They have the ability

customized classes can be conducted on-site at

to be flexible in practice and theory and adapt

the employers’ location.

to customer needs, not just producing a

Hotline to Help Colbert wants employers to think of The Employers Association first when dealing with human resources issues. The human resources





advice hotline is one of the association’s most

answers, TEA also focuses on education. Com-

valuable services. “Say a local member company

puter training has

terminates an employee at their site in Califor-

become an increas-

nia, they call us to see which laws they will be

ingly important com-

dealing with,” explains Colbert.

ponent. Fifty years ago

The Employers Association receives about

nonexistent; today, computers

“While the majority of calls deal with serious

are in every business in America.

issues, we have gotten some pretty zany ques-

The Employers Association has

tions,” laughs TEA’s Laura Hampton, marketing,

classes available in their five com-

membership and training services director, “like

puter labs covering many programs,

what to do about an employee cooking a lunch

such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Access,

with an unusual smell or a receptionist showing

PowerPoint, and many others, to meet the

up one day with purple hair.”

demand for computer training.

“I love to sing their praises,” says Cindy

Although the trend in the training

Tilley, vice president of human resources at

industry is toward the growth of online

Charlotte region’s Hospice and Palliative Care.

courses, interestingly, “Even if there are

“One of the most valuable benefits is being able

Internet resources available, we have found

to learn and implement best practices on our

that people prefer a classroom atmosphere,

own. They are a strong sounding board, sort of

where the instructor is right there to answer

an HR directors’ sanity check, to help us

questions,” says Colbert. Many of their 25

achieve that.”

employees are involved in management, lead-

Nut and Fruit and a member of the 12-person

ership, human resources, and professional development training, both on- and off-site.

board overseeing TEA, says for his company,

Over 20,000 square-feet of their office

which does business globally, “The hotline is a

space is dedicated to classroom and confer-

great tool and gets a lot of use in our company.

ence space. They offer 30 products and

Our people can call about any employment-

services related to human

related situation and get answers. Training is

resources and provide over 250

also very important, and we have had it done

classes in everything from leadership training to


may 2008

Effective Outreach TEA has joined with Capital Associated Industries in Raleigh and Western

computers were practically

40 to 50 calls per day on average for advice.

John Bauer, president and CEO of Tropical

canned product.”

Lobby Sculpture from the R.T. Morgan Art Gallery: The inspirational sculpture in The Employers Association lobby can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The ball and swoosh wall hanging (p. 31) can represent calmness and serenity among waves of confusion; the freestanding figure (pp. 28 and left) can be an individual lifting up hands in thanks for all of the world’s goodness—asking for help, prosperity, divine intervention—and searching for knowledge, wisdom, and truth. The association likens the ball and swoosh to the solace and guidance they provide members seeking help; the figure, to the HR professional who comes through their doors seeking knowledge and wisdom for practicing the profession.

w ww. great erchar lottebiz .co m

plement to businesses of any sort.

Carolina Industries in Asheville to form the

survey for 10 NASCAR teams covering approx-

Employers Coalition of North Carolina (ECNC)

imately 70 job categories,” says Colbert.

Tropical’s Bauer says, “There are so many

to give North Carolina businesses a larger voice

“Another one we have done is for the Associa-

policies to be knowledgeable about; particu-

in the legislative process.

tion of Legal Administrators.”

larly companies with no HR personnel need to use TEA to keep up-to-date.”

“Contributions to ECNC are totally volun-

Another important survey TEA produces

tary—some companies are very involved and

biennially is a look at benefits provided by various

Sewell, also a member of TEA’s board, says

others have said they are not interested.

businesses. “We also take a look at pay adjust-

the organization has benefited small compa-

ECNC has a part-time lobbyist, Connie Wil-

ments, how they compare with previous years

nies with their “comprehensive business serv-

son, a former North Carolina state representa-

and what the companies predict for the future,”

ices.” While the original Barloworld was in the

tive, to handle lobbying on behalf of ECNC,”

explains Colbert.

private domain, it is now publicly held. Sewell


says, with TEA, “It is as if HR has been out-


sourced. We were able to grow to our advan-


says Colbert. One of the current issues is the high cost to employers to provide

tage, because we have been able to

worker’s compensation coverage in the

leverage their expertise, helping us with

state and how to make the state more

affirmative action plans, and keeping

inviting to businesses.

up with regulations.”

The Employers Association partners with outside firms to offer additional services to

Keeping a finger on the changing busi-

bring value to its members. Colbert added that

ness of today and into the future is one of the

because of TEA’s membership and the thou-

of Commerce and local economic developers

main goals of TEA. According to Colbert, when

sands of employees for which these companies

come to us for data-related to pay, benefits, and

he began with the organization 14 years ago, “I

are responsible, the organization is “able to

other important human resources benchmarks.”

would say 50 to 60 percent of the membership was manufacturing. Today, manufacturers aver-

negotiate with vendors to get a better price for

They also conduct employee opinion sur-

the vendor’s human resources products and

veys, which can become valuable to employers

services,” such as background checks, assess-

to discover work-related issues and prioritize

Companies going through changes of any

ment tools, and required labor law posters.

age about 30 percent of membership.”

how to respond and improve their workplaces.

sort also come to TEA for help in explaining

Hospice’s Tilley says that, “Sometimes TEA

TEA tracks a benchmark norm of all partici-

the changes to their employees, he added. As

will seek me out and give me a heads-up on

pants so that users can compare their results to

their mission statement reads: “The Employers

something happening in my industry. It is a

other employers.

Association is poised to remain a member-

TEA also conducts exit interviews for mem-

based organization serving as a knowledgeable

bers’ departing employees, as they are more apt

and trusted resource to meet the comprehen-

One of the most vital business management

to open up to a third party. “Former employees

sive human resource needs of businesses, for

products produced by TEA are their surveys,

are more willing to elaborate on their problems

the next 50 years and beyond.” biz

foremost the annual report of wage and salary

with a third party than with the company. After

pleasure working with this group; they are so customer-focused. These people are a force.”

all, on your last day, all you want to do is get

“Sometimes TEA will seek me out and give me a heads-up on something happening in my industry. It is a pleasure working with this group; they are so customer-focused. These people are a force.” ~ Cindy Tilley Vice Preseident of Human Resources Hospice and Palliative Care

Vivian McMahon is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

your paycheck, clean out your desk and leave,” acknowledges Colbert.

The Employers Association The Next 50 According to Hampton, The Employers Association is working on a comprehensive history of the organization and the challenges throughout the years which will be included in a series of articles in their monthly newsletter starting with the annual meeting this month. “We will be having a special speaker and will recognize companies who have been involved

statistics covering approximately 300 job titles

with us for many years. We still have two mem-

with over 300 area companies participating.

bers who have been with us for 50 years,”

With the survey sources remaining anonymous,

Hampton says.

an employer can gauge how competitive their

And TEA will be hosting an open house at

pay practices are in the area and relative to sim-

their location this summer, complete with hors

ilar businesses by industry and/or size.

d’oeuvres and refreshments and a chance for

They also conduct custom wage and salary

member businesses and newcomers to net-

surveys. “We just completed a customized

work and find out how TEA is a valuable sup-

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

A Nonprofit Association 3020 W. Arrowood Road Charlotte N.C. 28273 Phone: 704-522-8011

Principals: Kenny Colbert, President; Laura Hampton, Marketing, Membership and Training Services Director Employees: 25 Established: 1958 Business: Nonprofit Charlotte organization providing comprehensive human resources and training services; maintains a broad-based membership of over 850 employers in North and South Carolina, assisting with human resources compliance, training, benchmark surveys, and employee benefits.

may 2008



may 2008

DRI w ww. great erchar lottebiz .co m

by janet kropinak


Driven by Technology •

Hendrick Center Helps Retool Automotive Technology Training

IVEN There was a time when the requirements for

the automobile’s computers are seeing and doing.

employed in the U.S., with an estimated shortage

auto technicians were familiarity with engines,

The good news is that with the aid of com-

of nearly 60,000 trained technicians. BLS studies

brakes and fluids coupled with a strong back

puter diagnostic systems technicians can

show labor needs are expected to increase by 10 to

and affection for getting dirty. But those days are

extract the information they need right from

20 percent by 2010.

long gone.

the car, analyze it, and pinpoint problems

As automobile complexity continues to

without turning a wrench.

With work force demands increasing at such

rapid speed, CPCC’s Transport Systems Technol-

increase with the increasing use of technology,

Today’s technicians must not only possess high

ogy Division is working hard to prepare its stu-

those who are responsible for their repair and

computer proficiency but also a dedication to

dents to work in one of the estimated 120,000

upkeep must evolve. The cars of today still burn

ongoing education and training. To help meet

new jobs being created over the next few years.

gasoline, but engine control and monitoring has

these demands, Central Piedmont Community

Meeting these demands was made more

been taken over by electronics.

College (CPCC) and Hendrick Automotive Group

attainable in 2007 with the opening of the Joe

have partnered together to find and train a new

Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology

generation of technicians.

on the Levine campus in Matthews. The facil-

Advanced computer systems and sensors have

replaced the role of the carburetor. Computerized

ity serves technicians who are seeking

control has helped to make cars more efficient, but when something goes wrong there can be many

Repairing the Void

more causes. In order to diagnose problems, a

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

technician must now know and understand what

(BLS), there are 837,000 automotive technicians

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

updated technical skills through contract

training and corporate and continuing educa-

tion classes, as well as those who are looking ➤

may 2008


to become technicians through curriculum

Fine-Tuned Education

the Center encourages students to look at this as

Walking through the Center, it is impossible

an opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge.

The 34,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facil-

not to notice the immaculate hallways and train-

“Cars today are really computers on wheels,” she

ity—funded by a $1 million gift from the Hendrick

ing areas. Grease stains, rusted tools and men in

comments. “You have to learn to outthink them

Automotive Group in honor of Joe Hendrick, father

jumpsuits have been replaced with computer

before you try and fix them,” she comments.

of car dealer and NASCAR team owner Rick Hen-

modules, electrical simulators and professional

drick—was designed to meet the needs of students,



dealers and the motoring public.

CPCC has partnered with BMW, Toyota and GM to offer two-year degrees that combine cur-

Students first become familiar with the simula-

riculum and manufacturer training. At the core of

Additionally, Hendrick donated $100,000 of

tors and the stages of development before working

these programs is the ASE certification, the mark

new equipment and furnishings for the facility,

on the car itself. When the students have an

of excellence in automotive repair, through the

including an engine and etched glass timeline for

understanding of the underlying electrical theory

National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.

the lobby showing his late father’s contribution to

The Center has developed excellent rela-

both the racing and the automotive industry. “It was obvious to everyone who knew my

tionships with the automobile manufacturers,

father that he had a love of cars and a great desire

and because of that, it is able to receive special

to help others, especially young folks, reach their

tools, diagnostic equipment and training

true potential. He would be so humbled to know

updates directly from the factories to better aid

that his name is associated with an institution that

in educating the students. “The education of automotive technicians

honors both of those passions,” comments Rick

serves everyone—the technician, the dealer and


the customer,” according to Ken Collins, program

“The Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology at CPCC is all about creating opportunities in our industry and region. Together, everyone in this community—from the manufacturers and auto dealers to our leadership in government—has truly stepped up to build a world-class facility,” continues Hendrick. The facility is home to the College Automotive Systems partnerships with BMW, Toyota and GM and has capacity for 19 vehicle bays and 31 man-

“Our dream for this building is to be one of the top centers for automotive electrical training in the country...We are truly state-of-the-art.” ~ Laurie Walker Transport Systems Division Director Central Piedmont Community College

chair for the Transport Systems department. “As cars become more complex, it requires more knowledge to fix them. If the technician has the appropriate knowledge, he can fix the customer’s car quicker and more completely. That education increases the technician’s ability to make more income for himself and for the dealership or repair shop. There’s really no way to get that knowledge other than the ASE-certified educational programs like the one we have here at CPCC.”

ufacturer-provided training vehicles. Eighty com-

In addition to curriculum training, CPCC pro-

puters and six labs ensure that diagnostic training

vides BMW dealerships with manufacturer-

meets and exceeds industry standards. The educational focus of the Center is electrical

trained interns. Toyota and Lexus dealerships also

training, which has become more essential in

offer the Toyota Technical Education Network (T-

recent years, especially considering the current

TEN), where T-Ten students alternate semesters

interest in hybrid models. As cars become more

between learning hands-on repair skills at CPCC

dependent on computer technology, having a solid

and working in dealerships. The GM program also

foundation and understanding of these intricacies

encompasses service technician training.

is crucial for successful entrance into the industry.

The Center is set up in the same configuration

Laurie Walker, CPCC Transport Systems

and with the same state-of-the-art equipment that

Division director, credits the new facility and its

is found in most auto dealerships today. The man-

offerings to helping the program attract the

ufacturer programs are set up to be 2-year full-

right kind of students and also in allowing them

time schedules, with co-op training time built into

to attract high school students to the program.

the schedule. Each manufacturer program is set

“It is so important to peak the interest of high

up differently depending on their preference, but

school students, especially high school gradu-

each program builds dealer training in to their

ates, and this facility is making that job a lot

curriculum. This training is not only giving students the opportunity to apply their teaching but

easier for us,” she notes. “Our dream for this building is to be one of the

they are able to take that practical knowledge to

also helping them forge relationships with local

top centers for automotive electrical training in the

the “classroom” where they work on cars donated

dealers where many will return as employees

country,” Walker continues. “We have more elec-

by program sponsors.

upon completion of their respective programs.

trical training simulators than any other school across the country. We are truly state-of-the-art.”


m ay 2008

Walker admits that the complexities of new car

Additional opportunities available through the

models can add more work for the technicians but

Center include training in North Carolina

w ww. grea terchar lottebiz .c om

Automotive Safety and Emissions Inspection

a growing and rewarding career. The demand for

Hendrick Auto Mall, currently in the planning

courses, Independent Auto Dealers certification,

trained technicians has never been greater and is

stages, which will feature multiple dealerships to

and customized electrical and Hybrid courses.

not expected to diminish.”

be built near the Levine campus. The mall will

For students who enroll at the Center but aren’t

Future goals for the Center include further

work in conjunction with Automotive Youth Edu-

yet sure which manufacturer they would like to

expansions to the facility as well as bringing on

cational Systems (AYES), a partnership among

join, there is the general auto program which trains

another manufacturer program. Walker would

automotive manufacturers, dealers, and selected

students to work at non-specific dealers.

also like to see an expansion to the BMW program

high schools and tech prep schools. The AYES

“We also have a good relationship with Sonic

where they would train technicians as well as cur-

program will serve as another attraction for high

Automotive as well as other local dealers”, says

riculum training. She expects to see continued

school students to the Center.

Walker. “We have 13 students at local Sonic deal-

steady growth within the GM and Toyota pro-

ers and hope this number continues to increase.”

grams as well.

Currently, there are 80 full-time students

Walker takes a moment to acknowledge the ongoing support of Hendrick Automotive Group:

Another coming attraction to the Center is the

“Hendrick has been, by far, the best supporter

attending curriculum program classes and the numbers are rising each semester. The College


With the increasing numbers of hybrids and the development of fully electric as well as hydrogen-powered vehicles, education and training in this field is absolutely necessary. CPCC is committed to ensuring tomorrow’s work force has the knowledge and tools to keep up with the changing automobile.

“I’m an Angela fan. She’ll always have my business. Plus, it is rewarding to walk through the door and everyone knows you.” – I’m Sarah McAulay, community leader, and my banker is Angela Lovelace.

estimates that it trained over 1,000 automotive inspectors in 2007. Speeding Forward Since joining CPCC in 1996 Walker been an active participant in the Center’s growth and her position within the Transport Systems division has When asked what her favorite thing about the program is, Walker is quick to answer: “It works. I’ve seen it. Everybody wins; the industry, the dealers and the students.”

Member FDIC

her positioned to speak about its success.

She is also equally enthusiastic about future growth of the Transport Systems program. “This program is invaluable in terms of its impact on the school as well as region and the industry,” Walker says.

Cornelius/Lake Norman 704.987.9990 Matthews 704.814.1200 SouthPark 704.442.5900 Uptown Charlotte 704.945.6565

Wayne Simpson, director of fixed operations for Hendrick Automotive Group echoes Walker’s sentiments: “With the presence of the Joe Hendrick Center, and through efforts at the dealership level and their involvement in their respective communities, we are reaching young people with the message that the automobile repair industry is

pursui ng a bal ance of busines s and life

may 2008


of the program—in terms of recruiting, hiring,

nicians in the dealerships where they trained.

with computerized and digital equipment; we’ve

scholarships and awards. They are truly great

With the current industry demands, Walker is

really seen a shift to a more professional status. I

promoters of education.”

confident this job security will continue to

Walker also credits the program’s advisory

draw in students.

board for their contribution. “Our advisory

Although Walker seems to have nothing but

board has been crucial for us. It is imperative to

praise for the program, she does note one area

have industry involvement; without it, we

where she sees room for improvement: recruit-

aren’t relevant. I am so proud to say that every-

ing females to the program. “As the jobs become

one involved in this program is dedicated to its

more technical and less physical, I think we are

success and growth.”

going to begin to see a rise in those numbers,”

Nearly all CPCC graduates move from their co-op training to become full-time tech-

she says optimistically.

When asked what her favorite thing about the program is, Laurie Walker is quick to answer: “It works. I’ve seen it. Everybody wins; the industry, the dealers and the students.”

“The field is becoming more sophisticated think we are going to continue to break the stereotypes of the job of the auto technician.” The job description of the auto technician

Start With Trust


has evolved by leaps and bounds over the past 10 years but this is only the beginning. With the increasing numbers of hybrids and the development of fully electric as well as hydrogen-powered vehicles, education and training in this

If you are looking for a car dealer, a home contractor, a jeweler or any other business, you want one you can trust a business with a proven track record for keeping its commitments and doing the

field is absolutely necessary. CPCC is committed to ensuring tomorrow’s work force has the knowledge and tools to keep up with the changing automobile. biz

Janet Kropinak is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

job right. Businesses you can trust are easy to find - just look for the Better Business Bureau Seal.

Central Piedmont Community College Joe Hendrick Center for Automotive Technology 2800 Campus Ridge Rd. Matthews, N.C. 28105 Phone: 704-330-4123

Scott Clark, Scott Clark's Toyota City, BBB Accredited Business Since 1988

Find businesses you can trust at 36

may 2008

Principal: Laurie Walker, Director, Transport Systems Division Offerings: BMW Associate degree; Toyota satellite training; Toyota Associate degree; GM Associate degree; GM Service Technician training; AC Delco training; North Carolina Automotive Safety and Emissions Inspection courses; Independent Auto Dealers certification; and customized electrical and Hybrid course. Business: State-of-the-art 35,000-squarefoot facility featuring six classrooms and six labs with the latest equipment and technology, serving technicians who are seeking to update technical skills through contract training and corporate and continuing education classes, as well as those who aspire to be technicians through curriculum programs.

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Awards & Achievements Fortune Small Business has ranked Charlotte No. 8 on its list of 100 Best Places to Live and Launch 2008. According to a study by the Travel Industry Association of America, visitors to North Carolina spent a record $16.5 billion in 2007. Martin R. Cramton Jr., former planning director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Commission, has received ULI Charlotte’s 2008 Legacy Award.

Martin Crampton

Advertising & Media The Lyerly Agency has been awarded both a Gold and Silver 2008 ADDY award from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Charlotte affiliate. Vizhun Marketing has been honored with a 2008 MAME Gold Award. The company has also hired Krystle Hart to manage public relations services of the company. Barnhardt Day & Hines has been awarded a Silver Addy Award in the category of direct marketing.


LA Management has been awarded a Bronze Telly Award for their Rock Hill Police Department recruitment video. Sue Williams has joined the marketing staff of Greater Charlotte Biz. Brian Saemann has joined WAXN-TV as an Sue Williams

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Jerry Jenkins has joined commercial printing and marketing services firm Integraphx as account manager. Business & Professional Piedmont Natural Gas has been ranked by its own business customers as the highest ranked gas utility in the South for the second consecutive year, according to a study released by J.D. Power and Associates. The Charlotte Regional Partnership has announced Hugh L. McColl Jr. and the Lincoln Economic Development Association as the 2008 recipients of its Jerry Awards. For the fourth consecutive year,


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Kennedy Covington led all Southeast-based transactions—both closed private equity and venture capital deals, according to Private Equity Analyst. Smith Moore LLP attorney Larry B. Sitton has been

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Littler Mendelson attorney Brian S. Clarke has been named vice chair of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section. Womble Carlyle member,

Trusted HR Advice, Tools & Training

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Human Resources Compliance Surveys Training Employee Benefits

American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers. Gary Chamblee

E. Lynwood Mallard, Mark C. Prybylski, David

B. Whelpley Jr., and Elizabeth G. Wren have joined McGuireWoods LLP as partners. William J. Garrity has joined Crumley & Associates, PC as a workers’ compensation attorney. Poyner & Spruill LLP has hired Karen Chapman as an associate in its Charlotte office to practice in the area of litigation. Stacey Randall has joined IMR Research Group, Inc. as vice president. Tashia McCluney has joined Aon Risk Services South, Inc. as an executive assistant. Construction & Design Environmental Building Solutions has

The Employers Association is a membership based organization that provides human resources solutions to employers. We serve over 850 member companies in the Charlotte and surrounding areas in a variety of sizes and industries.

been awarded the 2008 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Little’s Susan Hensey has been appointed to serve a 10-year term on the American Institute of Architect’s Contract Documents Committee; Carol Rickard-Brideau has been named to the National Advisory Board at Virginia

Celebrating 50 years of partnership with employers!

Commonwealth University; Bruce Barteldt has been named a member of the Davidson Design Review Board and has also been appointed to serve on the Historic District

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Annual memberships ranging from $475 to $3,100

For more information about membership, call 704-522-8011 or visit may 2008


[ontop] Advisory Board; and Luis Hernandez has been hired as studio principal of its interiors studio. Clark Nexsen has hired Eliza C. Shevenell as market-

William Culp

ing coordinator and Stephen T. Nowak as project architect in the Charlotte office. Sharpe Images, Inc. has promoted William Culp and Andrew Treanor to account executives.

Andrew Treanor

ONSITE Woodwork Corporation has hired Patrick Shea as an estimator. SFL+a Architects has hired Kerryn House as an accountant. Education & Staffing Audrey Sherrill, director of counseling at Gaston College, has been presented with the 2008 Altrusa Award for Excellence. Students Jessica Ray and Grady Withers have been honored with Audrey Sherrill

North Carolina Community College System Academic Excellence Awards. The college has also appointed Dr. Silvia Patricia Rios Husain as the new vice president of student

Dr. Husain

services and enrollment management.

The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. and the Levine Museum of the New South recently inducted Johnson C. Smith President Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy into its Women’s History Hall of Fame.

Dr. Yancy

CPCC received a $745,957 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for the Center for Non-Destructive Examination Technology Training. Pfeiffer University has promoted Steve Cumming to vice president for enrollment. Pfeiffer has also been Steve Cumming


may 200 8

awarded a $200,000 gift from

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[ontop] The Cannon Foundation, Inc. to help develop an enrollment management center. Aaron Houck, research assistant in the land use and Aaron Houck

environmental planning division at UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute, has been named associate director of the new Renaissance Computing Institute at the university.

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• Audit & Accounting Services • Retirement Plan Compliance & Design • Real Estate Development Strategies • Merger and Acquisition Planning

Paul Wetenhall has been named president and execu-

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Sells, Cedar Hintelmann and Cecelia Cook have joined the bank’s Union County loan production office.

Learn how to increase the value of your business by developing a good management team, improving your sales and marketing, using technology wisely and practicing sound financial management.

BB&T has named Mark Schrader as an investment

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For times, locations and membership information visit or call Denise Altman at 704-315-9090.

may 2008


[ontop] associate serving the Charlotte market. Aquesta Bank has hired Brigette Barker as a business development representative. The bank has also named Cagin Orgen as Employee of the Month. Anc Newman has joined the Carolinas business development team of Marsh Inc. Jarrett Meadors has joined Hinrichs Flanagan Financial as a financial advisor. Government & Nonprofit Ken Thompson, Wachovia president and CEO, has been appointed board chair of Foundation For The Carolinas. Health Care Dr. Theodore Belanger of OrthoCarolina has been inducted into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons as a fellow. Richard Gilbert, chairman and CEO of Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants, has been appointed to the Charlotte Health Care Collaborative Board on behalf of the Mecklenburg medical society. Manufacturing Livingston & Haven, an industrial technology provider, has been named as a winner of the Progressive Manufacturing 50 Award selected by Managing Automation. Harper GraphicSolutions has added Paul Teachout as southeast technical graphics advisor; Ken Jones has joined Harper Corporation as a technical account manager. Real Estate Commercial/Residential Allen Tate Company has promoted Denise Reardon to vice president of residential services. Century 21 Hecht Realty has added Yuri Rojas and Teresa Saccone as sales Yuri Rojas

associates. The Charlotte office of Carlson Real Estate has promoted Michelle Kirby to assistant property manager. WEICHERT, REALTORS - Rebhan & Associates has

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may 200 8

appointed Elizabeth Nisbet

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[ontop] Miller to director of business development. Retail & Sports & Entertainment Carl Howard, vice president and COO of Autobell Car Wash Inc., has been appointed by the board of directors of the International Carl Howard

Carwash Association to the Car Wash Market Assessment Task Force. Ryan Brickley has joined Olde Sycamore Golf Plantation as head golf professional.

Ryan Brickley

The City Club of Rock

Hill has named Janice Gilbert as the new events coordinator and Vincent Balducci as general manager. Green Rice Gallery has hired Angela Goodman as gallery director and Carla Garrison as a gallery representative. Technology Verizon Wireless has awarded Mark Boggs of Rock Hill and Brian Hoey and Susan Staples of Charlotte with its highest honor, the National President’s Cabinet Award. Inc. Magazine has ranked Internet marketing agency WebsiteBiz No. 87 on their 2007 Southeast 500 list. The company has also hired Dana Maki as an account executive. Customer Connect Associates has hired Brent Eicher as Web developer. Travel & Tourism The Bechtler Arts Foundation, the entity that will operate the Becthler Art Museum, has named John Boyer as president of the Foundation. 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.

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