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november 2011

TARGETING ! ! ! Clear Channel Broadcasting

! ! ! Tropical Nut & Fruit ! ! ! Stafford Consulting Engineers ! ! ! Records Reduction ! ! ! Knowmad Technologies

Deloitte Tailors Diversified Assets to Meet Middle Market Needs Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com Theresa Drew Managing Partner, Carolinas Practice Deloitte & Touche LLP

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Internet | Phone | Cable TV | Ethernet

It’s no secret that tech is your thing. But the most fulfilling part of your job is finding a unique solution to anything that comes your way. So you work with a communications provider that has taken the time to understand what makes your company tick. A partner who works with you to bring fresh ideas and solutions to the table, all in the name of making you more productive. Time Warner Cable Business Class. You first. The technology follows.

TWCBC.COM | 1.866.TWC.4BIZ Some restrictions apply. Time Warner Cable Business Class is a trademark of Time Warner Inc. Used under license. Š2011 Time Warner Cable. All rights reserved.


in this issue

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cover story

Deloitte & Touche

Among the things that set Deloitte apart is their commitment to bring the same level of service to companies with revenues under $1 billion. In fact, the middle market represents 80 percent of the firm’s Carolina audit clients, through Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services. Managing Partner Theresa Drew says middle market companies form the backbone of the American economy and also, “We think they will be the companies that will really bring us completely out of this recession.”

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Clear Channel Broadcasting “The alternatives for listeners have increased tremendously,” Charlie Wilkinson acknowledges, “but our listenership remains strong and has grown. Clear Channel has changed with technology. Fans today can listen to us on air, engage with us online, stream music through their computer, or access us wherever they go through smartphones and handheld devices.”

#$ Tropical Nut & Fruit Whatever the occasion, there’s no better greeting than a selection of tropical nuts and fruits by themselves or in freshly baked goods or healthy snack mixes from Tropical Nut & Fruit Co. headquartered right here in Charlotte. Manufacturing, sales and distribution facilities span the Southeast, and their delectable edibles are even available online through Tropical’s Nut House.

28 Stafford Consulting Engineers Protecting the “building envelope” during construction is essential to reducing the much higher costs involved in repairing a building damaged by water intrusion. That’s why Stafford Consulting Engineers, experts in building envelope issues, would much rather be involved at the beginning of a construction project to head off potential problems.

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!" Records Reduction “It just makes good business sense to store records digitally—both on and offsite, both online and off-line—to provide for business continuity,” says Shane Hunt. “Digital storage, including server and hosting fees, as well as fireproof boxes for storing CDs and DVDs are easily attainable and inexpensive. There’s just no reason not go digital wherever possible.”

departments publisher’spost

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legalbiz

5

Transforming the Business of Law to Meet the Needs of Business

consultingbiz

7

Managing and Delivering Change to Optimize Business Value

accountingbiz

8

Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

webbiz

9

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

employersbiz

21

Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers

biznetwork

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on the cover:

legalbiz

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consultingbiz

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accountingbiz

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webbiz

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employersbiz

november 2011

Theresa Drew Managing Partner, Carolinas Practice Deloitte & Touche LLP

TARGETING ! ! ! Clear Channel Broadcasting

! ! ! Tropical Nut & Fruit ! ! ! Stafford Consulting Engineers ! ! ! Records Reduction ! ! ! Knowmad Technologies

Photo by Wayne Morris

Deloitte Tailors Diversified Assets to Meet Middle Market Needs Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com Theresa Drew Managing Partner, Carolinas Practice Deloitte & Touche LLP

"%

Knowmad Technologies William McKee and Diona Kidd describe the mission of Knowmad Technologies as helping their clients advance their businesses online. This involves enhancing online brand visibility, creating Web-based sales and lead generation engines, and optimizing online revenue. They liken their mission to being sherpas in the way of the Web.

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ALL PROSPECTIVE MBA STUDENTS INVEST IN YOURSELF

Be a Student for the Morning * Saturday, November 12, 2011 10:30 AM - 1:00 PM

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Learn about one of the few investments that consistently beats the market... right here in Uptown!

CALL FOR AN INDIVIDUAL CONSULTATION TODAY: 1-888-WAKE-MBA business.wfu.edu/charlotte


[publisher’spost] Payroll and Capital Gains Taxes Not Working For Our Economy If we really want get people back to work, we need to eliminate payroll taxes. They are the most substantial roadblock to hiring in this current economy. Payroll taxes are those taxes on employment to the employee and to the employer that include Social Security and Medicare/disability also known as the Federal Insurance Contributions Act or FICA. John Paul Galles The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935, the first taxes collected in 1937, and the first benefits were paid in 1940. The first taxes imposed were 1% on the employer and 1% on the employee on the first $3,000 of income. That remained in place from 1937 to 1949. Medicare was passed into law in 1965. Cost of living allowances were added by law in 1972 and began to be paid in 1975. Until this year, payroll tax rates have been set at 7.65% for both employer and employee or 15.3%. This rate is imposed on taxable earnings up to $106,800 for Social Security and higher for Medicare. When payroll taxes were first imposed, there were more than 40 workers for every beneficiary or retiree. By 1960, the ratio had fallen to about 5 workers per every retiree. By 1990, the ratio was about 3.4 workers per retiree, and in 2010, 2.9 workers per retiree. There were about 58 million workers in 1951 and in 2008 there are about 162 million. The total population is now stands at 312 million and the number over 65 years old is above 40 million and growing rapidly. When social security was first created, individuals in the United States were expected to live on average to about 63 years old. In 1960, life expectancy had increased to nearly 68. In 1990, it had reached almost 73, and by 2004, it was slotted at 75.7 years. We have clearly reached the point in time when !"#$%&'()*+",(#-(%&.#/,(-#"(0*,("%.* our obligations are now higher than the revenues SHARE OF NATION'S INCOME including capital gains we collect from payroll taxes. While there is no www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/business/income-inequality/ doubt that revenues and expenditures need to be in balance, it is wrong to rely on payroll taxes alone to finance Social Security and Medicare.

!

Inequality in the U.S. has has grown steadily since the 1970s, following a flat period after World War II. In 2008, the wealthiest 10 percent earned almost the same amount of income as the rest of the country combined. The top 0.1 percent of the population (those making about $1.7 million or more) saw the sharpest increase in income share, taking home 2.6% of the nation’s earnings in 1975 and 10.4% in 2008.

During the same historical tracking period, 1937 to 2010, capital gains tax rates have fallen from a high of 39% to its current low of 15%. Until recently, the reduction in the capital gains tax was justified as a stimulus for job creation when investors finance job-creating enterprises. That was thought to work for many years as the U.S. economy generated jobs year after year until 2000. However, job creation seems to have been supplanted by wealth creation. Recent economic reports from the Economic Policy Institute indicate that over 80% of the wealth gains over the past 25 years have gone to the top 5% of households. Recent evidence from a study by Deloitte regarding mid-sized businesses suggests that businesses are choosing to invest in technology rather than new jobs. We have also learned that non-financial S&P 500 companies recently reported holdings of $837 billion, up 26% from $665 billion one year ago. The incentive of low taxes on capital gains for stimulating job creation seems to have been stymied by people and companies fearing the economic climate and choosing instead to “hoard” what they have until an economic recovery seems more likely. It was 1987 when President Reagan and Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski reached their agreement on the last major tax reform. In the intervening 25 years, lobbyists and special interests have hacked away from that reform to put in place their own corporate tax advantages. Our national economy has become a global economy. It is time for substantial tax reform. The debate has begun. If we really want to create jobs, payroll taxes need to be eliminated. We need to encourage investment in people and the development of a highly skilled and talented workforce to keep America great. We have much work to do to compete successfully. biz

Let me know what you think - jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com

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704-676-5850

November 2011 Volume 12 • Issue 11 Publisher

John Paul Galles x102 jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com

Associate Publisher/Editor Maryl A. Lane x104 mlane@greatercharlottebiz.com

Creative Director

Trevor Adams x107 tadams@greatercharlottebiz.com

Sales Manager

Chris Sessions x106 cell: 704.816.0605 csessions@greatercharlottebiz.com

partners

!CC Communications, Inc. !Central Piedmont Community College !hiSoft Technology International Limited !Potter & Company, P.A. !The Employers Association !Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A.

Contributing Writers Zenda Douglas Barbara Fagan Suzanne Fulton Heather Head Casey Jacobus Sheila Neisler

Contributing Photographers Trevor Adams Wayne Morris

Galles Communications Group, Inc. 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115 Charlotte, NC 28226-1310 704-676-5850 Phone • 704-676-5853 Fax www.greatercharlottebiz.com • Press releases and other news-related information: editor@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Editorial: mlane@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Advertising: jgalles@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Subscription inquiries or change of address: subscriptions@greatercharlottebiz.com. • Other inquiries: please call or fax at the numbers above or visit our website www.greatercharlottebiz.com. © Copyright 2011 by Galles Communications Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, Galles Communications Group, Inc. makes no warranty to the accuracy or reliability of this information. Products named in these pages are trade names or trademarks of their respective companies. Views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Greater Charlotte Biz or Galles Communications Group, Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the publisher. For reprints call 704-676-5850 x102. Greater Charlotte Biz (ISSN 1554-6551) is published monthly by Galles Communications Group, Inc., 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, NC 28226-1310. Telephone: 704-676-5850. Fax: 704-676-5853. Subscription rate is $24 for one year. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Greater Charlotte Biz, 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, NC 28226-1310.

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[legalbiz] Commercial

"62B%(4>2>6%91<:614 Get a Lien A lien can be filed once the broker performs services. The deadlines for filing the lien depend on when amounts are due to be paid and the type of transaction involved (sale or lease of property). The broker must generally bring a suit to enforce the lien within 18 months of the lien. Brokers need to be aware of when the lien can be filed as the timing varies based on when the compensation is due and when the transactions giving rise to the compensation occur. Be aware that other obligations come with this benefit. A broker will not be able to sue a client for the broker’s services unless the contract is in writing and signed by the client.

Commercial real estate brokers now have an ability to place liens for compensation due from commercial real estate transactions. The broker must have a written agreement for the broker’s services with the owner or owner’s authorized representative. The lien is available if the broker has performed the agreement, the agreement clearly sets forth the broker’s duties, and the agreement sets forth the conditions for when compensation is due and the amount of the compensation. Only the broker named in the agreement can claim the lien, and the lien is only against the real estate subject to the agreement.

Forgiveness for College

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for North Carolina E-Verify is an online service for determining the ability of your employees to work in the United States. North Carolina has required all counties and municipalities to use E-Verify in their hiring as of October 1, 2011. Employers with 500 or more employees are required to start using E-Verify October 1, 2012. Employers with 100 or more employees are required to start using E-Verify on January 1, 2013. Employers with 25 or more employees are required to start using E-Verify on July 1, 2013. Keep in mind that South Carolina already requires E-Verify for employers with South Carolina employees.

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

&12345611738%923:%.;;<=3>4%<3%,62>?%><%)<3@#A3614 You may be familiar with “joint accounts with right of survivorship” where ownership of a bank account automatically transfers to one of the account owners when the other owner dies. A new North Carolina law stretches the ability to transfer bank accounts on death to non-owners. Under the law, individuals may create a “payable on death” bank account. Such account may have multiple individual beneficiaries. However, with multiple individual beneficiaries, any one of the beneficiaries may withdraw the entire account. If an entity is made the beneficiary of the

account, only one beneficiary may be named. These type accounts are not restricted or governed by will at the death of the owner. The owner’s direction to the bank as to the beneficiary controls who gets the account. While this type of account should not be used as a substitute for a will, it does allow a person who has not made a will to be able to control where part of his or her assets may go at death. It also allows those people with a will to change beneficiaries of assets in the bank without having to revise their wills.

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

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!"#$%&'(%)*+* ,(-."&$()&% #!%"(/()0(

As you may have heard, borrowing from the government by not paying your taxes is a bad idea. The owners of a business or other people responsible for paying the taxes can be held personally liable for those unpaid taxes. North Carolina has started a program to help these businesses and business owners. The Small Business Taxpayer Recovery Program offers benefits to businesses that voluntarily choose to pay their taxes. Businesses under the program have the opportunity, if they complete the program, to have all penalties against them waived. Also, if the business is accepted into the program and complies with the program, no tax liens will be filed or collection actions will be taken by the state against the business. Under the program, taxes must be paid by June 30, 2013. This encourages businesses to enter the program quicker in order to have longer payment terms. Routine terms for the payment of taxes are six months. Businesses accepted into the program also receive free business counseling from either the Small Business and Technology Development Center or the NC Small Business Center Network. Both of these centers have locations throughout North Carolina. The business must have at least one counseling session to comply with the program. In order to use the program, you must have no more than 200 employees. The taxes covered by the program are “trust fund” taxes (money that you have taken from another person to pay to the state like employee tax withholdings and sales and use tax). Also, some income taxes may be paid under the same terms (without penalties being waived). The program is operated by the North Carolina Department of Revenue. Content contributed by Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A., which partners with owners of closely-held businesses to provide comprehensive legal services in all areas of business, tax, estate planning, succession planning, purchases and sales of businesses, real estate, family law, and litigation. For more information, contact Gary Smith at 704-364-0010, follow on Twitter @ glawnews, or visit www.wnhplaw.com.

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CENTRAL PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Healing our community

For almost 50 years, CPCC has been building leaders who pursue meaningful careers that significantly contribute to the community. One such alumna is Paula Vincent, whose nursing talents and professional skills are healing our community - making it a better place to live and work. Says Paula, â&#x20AC;&#x153;CPCC gave me the self-confidence and preparation to succeed in my career, enabling me to be extraordinary in my profession and to attain positions of leadership in health care.â&#x20AC;? To learn more about CPCC and its programs and alumni or to support the College, visit cpcc.edu or cpccfoundation.com.

Paula Vincent CPCC Alumna, Associate Degree in Nursing SVP Operations - Administrative Executive Center City Market, Presbyterian Healthcare


hiSoft Technology International Limited

[consultingbiz]

Global Partner for Success

Beyond ROI:

A

n environment of increased competition demands differentiation from your competitors. To win over customers, firms have to show that they can get their products and services to the end user in a manner that is faster, less costly, and of higher quality. Traditionally, firms have addressed which projects to prioritize based on financial returns analysis methods, such as discounted cash flow and return on invested capital. To accomplish this mission more effectively and position themselves for success, firms have to look at project funding and prioritization decisions in a different light. In order to prioritize multiple opportunities that provide returns in excess of a firm’s hurdle rate, managers today need to think about project prioritization with business processes in mind. While discounted cash flow analysis and Monte Carlo simulation provide managers with insight into the projected financial benefits, these methods neglect an important aspect of business operations: identifying which processes the prioritization decisions affect, and the impact these decisions will have on customer-facing activities. To address this issue, managers need to examine their firm’s process architecture. While process architecture has traditionally been a technology-focused function, there is significant value in leveraging it for project prioritization and business agility analysis. Namely, what are the core business processes, and what is the level of differentiation and maturity of each of the core business processes? By examining the enterprise processes from a process differentiation and maturity perspective, managers gain valuable insight into the processes that differentiate them from their competition. While these projects may seem to have a lower return on invested capital from a projected cash flow perspective, it is difficult to accurately calculate the future financial impact of differentiating your offering from the plethora of choices available to consumers in the environment of endless choices. Deploying resources against these differentiating processes can add significant value to the enterprise, which can often be Anup Dashputre, Senior Consultant in the U.S. Consulting Division of hiSoft Technology International Limited

c o n s t r u c t i ve c a t a ly s t fo r c re a t i ve c o n s c i o u s n e s s

Leveraging Process Architecture for Project Funding Prioritization

overlooked if discounted cash flow analysis is the only tool used in prioritizing which projects to undertake. For example, a consumer products firm could choose to deploy resources against improving receivables collection from a retailer rather than in improving their customer offering. While the former may improve day’s sales outstanding (and ultimately cash flow) in the short term, those resources could be applied to a customer-facing process such as improving the perceived value of the product or service to the customer. By undertaking a differentiation and maturity assessment, one can determine which processes affect customer buying decisions. By prioritizing improvement in these customer-facing processes rather than those which improve internal efficiency in the short run (and thus may seem to have a better return), firms can better position themselves for future success. With this thought process in mind, the question turns toward execution: with limited resources at hand, how can managers leverage process architecture to better understand which projects to prioritize? In order to answer this question, key business processes must be identified through value analysis. After processes are modeled and ownership is assigned, their positioning on a differentiation and maturity matrix should be assessed. Based on this assessment, the type and amount of investment will become evident. In addition to having a return in excess of the firm’s hurdle rate, projects that improve processes which differentiate the firm from its competitors will be prioritized, so that long term value is created. Ultimately, managers should look at more than just ROI when prioritizing projects. While ROI tells us a great deal about projected future financial benefits, it does little justice to the consideration of market factors—if everyone improved the same processes and failed to differentiate their offering and build process maturity, ROI calculations would look vastly different because consumer choice would be greater, and net revenues for the firm would potentially be lower. Through the assessment of business process differentiation and maturity, firms can choose which positive-ROI options to prioritize, and what type of decision to make—whether to sustain, source, or leverage a business process for future success. Content contributed by hiSoft Technology International Limited, a consulting ser vices firm. For more information, contact Anup Dashputre, Senior Consultant in the U.S. Consulting Division, at anup.dashputre@hisoft.com or 704-944-3155 or visit www.hisoft.com.

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[accountingbiz]

Potter & Company, P.A. Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

!"#$!'()*!%&'()**+(,"$-./*+0( 1&+(23*(4&5*()*(2$#*("6(!"#$(2&7().889

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ecent residential and commercial real estate market declines have resulted in many homeowners and business owners being “upside down” on their real estate holdings and the related debt or unable to make their mortgage payments due to unemployment and business slowdowns. In an effort to provide relief to these real estate holders, the federal government enacted legislation to assist taxpayers in alleviating their debt burden when they can no longer maintain their properties, without having to pay tax on the debt relief. In general, if you settle a debt with a creditor for less than the full amount, or a creditor writes off the debt you owe, the IRS treats the forgiven debt as taxable income. Certain kinds of debt forgiveness, however, qualify for exclusions from income. Principal Residence Indebtedness Under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, debt discharged during the years 2007 through 2012 on a principal residence, such as mortgage debt, is exempt from taxation within certain limitations. If the loan was secured by your principal residence and was used to purchase, construct or substantially improve the qualified residence, you may exclude up to $2 million of debt. However, this exclusion does not apply to a mortgage securing a vacation home or a home equity loan which is not used for improvements of your principal residence. The tax consequences of a discharge of qualified principal residence debt can depend on whether the debt is recourse or nonrecourse debt. Recourse debt means the debtor can be held personally liable in the event of default. If the fair market value of the property that secures the loan is not sufficient to cover the outstanding debt balance, the creditor may seek other property owned by the debtor to cover the loan balance. Nonrecourse debt means the creditor can only seize the property that secures the loan. In a nonrecourse loan, the debtor can simply give up the property and walk away from the loan without being pursued by the creditor, and the property is considered to have been sold for a price equal to the loan balance. In a recourse loan, if the fair market value of the property that secures the loan is less than the loan balance, the borrower may have discharge of indebtedness income. This income, however, is excluded under the tax law as discharge of indebtedness on a qualified principal residence. Unless the debt discharged is greater than $2 million, or gain on the sale of the residence exceeds the gain exclusion (see below), there is no income to recognize in either situation. In most cases, the only difference is how it is reported on your tax return. If taxpayers are able to keep their principal residence, a discharge of indebtedness on the property will have the same impact for nonrecourse and recourse debt. In both cases, the taxpayer must reduce the basis of the principal residence by the amount of the debt discharge income excluded (up to $2 million). With the taxpayer’s basis in the principal residence now reduced, the question then becomes, what happens when that principal residence is sold? The basis reduction will increase the gain on a sale of that residence, but the tax law excludes up to $250,000 ($500,000 on a joint return) of gain on

8

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the sale of a principal residence. A gain greater than those allowances would be recognized as income. Qualified Real Property Business Indebtedness A discharge of qualified real property business indebtedness may also be excluded from income for a business taxpayer. This exclusion exists for taxpayers other than C-corporations. The IRS defines qualified real property business indebtedness as indebtedness that is incurred or assumed by the taxpayer in connection with real property used in a trade or business and that is secured by the real property. To be considered qualified acquisition indebtedness, the debt must have been incurred to acquire, construct, reconstruct, or substantially improve real property in a trade or business. Discharge of other types of debt, other than qualified real business indebtedness, will not qualify for this income exclusion. The maximum exclusion allowed is the amount by which the qualified acquisition indebtedness exceeds the property’s fair market value. The exclusion cannot, however, exceed the property’s adjusted basis. The exclusion is not automatic. It must be elected by the business taxpayer on a timely filed tax return (including extensions) for the year in which the discharge occurs. An issue in the use of this income exclusion for non-C corporation businesses is: Is rental real estate considered a trade or business? The answer is, it depends. The tax law gives us no clear cut definition. The substance of the law on whether the rental of real estate constitutes a trade or business depends on how actively involved the taxpayer is in the rental activity. The IRS has defined active participation as making “management decisions in a significant and bona fide sense.” This would include the approval of new tenants, deciding on rental terms, approving expenditures, etc. It is clear, however, that in cases where the lessee is responsible for management and expenditures of the property, the related debt will not qualify for the income exclusion. If you are in a situation where debt on your principal residence or business real estate property is going to be discharged, consult your tax advisor to help you determine whether a discharge of debt, short sale, and/or outright default on your principal residence indebtedness or qualified real property business indebtedness would trigger any adverse tax consequences. Tax consequences can vary greatly depending on the nature of the debt and the actions taken. As can sometimes be the case, a little planning and communication with your accountant could be the difference between paying more or less when it comes time to file your tax return. Content contributed by Sam Leder, CPA, Partner with Potter & Company, P.A., a locally based certified public accounting firm offering core services of professional accounting, business consulting, and financial analysis. For more information, contact him at 704-786-8189or visit www.gotopotter.com.

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CC Communications, Inc.

[webbiz]

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

QUESTION

&

ANSWER

Q: Should I do social media or SEO? -Huntersville, N.C.

A:

Excellent question. Assuming funds are limited, your first steps should be toward search engine optimization (SEO) for your main website. Why? Because you first want to ensure your website is well optimized for your primary keyword audiences. Fundamental SEO helps you align your website messaging so search engines can easily and correctly organize and index your web content. Well executed SEO can lead to better

delivery in search results, more indexed pages, and better overall experiences for visitors referred by search engines. An organized website with key SEO elements in place serves as an excellent hub for subsequent marketing, advertising and social media activities. Social media, like all online promotional efforts, should be consistent with your website messaging and it should deliver relevant, qualified visitors to your website.

WORK Melberg Gallery – ! Jerald Online Form and Function The Jerald Melberg Gallery has advised individual collectors, corporations and museums on fine art acquisitions for over 28 years. Their website at www.JeraldMelberg.com is a critical component in representing the high quality works of art available for public, private or corporate collections. Bold colors, stunning graphics and innovative design techniques are employed throughout the site. Contemporary navigation and site architecture make it easy for collectors to browse artists and their works and learn more about exhibitions, art fairs, books, catalogues, newsletters and art reviews. A state-of-the-art content management system (CMS) allows gallery professionals to edit ongoing content on demand to deliver an impressive online experience.

!!"#$%&'%#()%*+,(*%)"-.%&'/+-(/%(01233(!1(%-+1-"1* Digital research leader eMarketer predicts that U.S. e-commerce sales will increase 13.7 percent this year, and those sales—excluding digital downloads, event tickets and travel purchases—will top $188 billion. Even businesses that traditionally shy away from selling directly online are discovering new and inventive methods that can speed up cash flow, attract new customers and capture more immediate revenue. Is your business ringing up new direct sales opportunities online? Make sure online customer transactions are a lead component of your digital marketing strategy. Think “Frontline E-commerce.” Integrate “micro purchase points” within informational Web content… Many online shoppers simply don’t take the time to browse through extensive multipage, catalog-style shopping sites. Instead, consider inserting simple, stand-alone “buy now” buttons placed within existing narrative text and images describing the many features and uses of your product. Clicking “buy now” opens a new small supplemental “order collection window” that disappears and returns the shopper to the original content after the order has been placed. You may further simplify the integrated buying process by maintaining a copy of your customer’s previous account information and shipping instructions which can be prefilled to reduce the number of keystrokes required by the customer to complete the next sale. E-commerce goes multi-channel… The convenience of purchasing products and services online is more accessible than ever. Make sure that your online storefront fully supports “m-commerce” (purchases made through mobile devices) and “t-commerce” (sales using computer tablets). You can’t afford to overlook these rapidly growing audiences. Not all shopping applications work equally well across these different devices., so make certain that your online shopping application functions properly for smartphone and iPad shoppers, as well as traditional desktop consumers. Emerging NFC (near-field communication) technologies will soon make mobile phone transactions easier, avoiding the need to enter credit card data to complete the sale. Leverage LinkedIn “People” to request valuable online introductions with key decision-makers who work within companies where you would most like to secure new business. Requesting online referrals from both your direct and secondary LinkedIn network of ~Kip Cozart

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connections can produce immediate and effective results. Not ready for prime-time digital commerce? Try constructing a straightforward product Web page that simply includes a “click-to-call” feature that dials and connects the smartphone shopper directly to a live sales associate who can complete orders verbally. Sell through third-party e-commerce venues… Without your own individual online storefront, you can still quickly implement a successful e-commerce strategy by selling your products and services through established third-party websites, such as eBay and Amazon. Deal-of-the-Day services like Groupon, LivingSocial and Restaurant.com can also generate quick sales while also introducing your company to new audiences. Create “service packages” that are designed to facilitate online sales… Companies who sell services rather than tangible products can also generate revenue streams with a strategic e-commerce plan. Create an entrylevel or trial service package that can easily be described, priced and sold online. Promote a low-cost, introductory planning or consulting session. Offer an added gift or incentive to customers placing a small online deposit for an upcoming service. For existing customers, present a secured, streamlined “order form” that collects sales on a simple “bill me later” basis. Increase revenue with a rapid “post-sale” response… A modern e-commerce strategy emphasizes repeat transactions. Present an additional, limited time “discount code” or “printable coupon” on the original order confirmation screen promoting additional quick follow-up sales. Offer an incentive to customers who are willing to pass along email referrals to friends and associates just after their own initial online purchase. Send special “upsell” offers via email to customers within just a few hours of their original purchase. Content contributed by CC Communications, a Web design, programming and Internet media company providing a full array of services to businesses and organizations to enhance and produce effective Web, email, multimedia marketing initiatives and business process improvements. For more information, contact Kip Cozart at 704-543-1171 or visit www.cccommunications.com/resources_articles.cfm.

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Charlie Wilkinson President and Market Manager, Charlotte Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc.

s you turn on the radio today, there’s a good chance that what you are listening to has been influenced by Charlie Wilkinson. Wilkinson, president and market manager of Clear Channel Broadcasting in Charlotte, is responsible for five of Charlotte’s most popular radio stations as well as Total Traffic Network, a real time traffic information service. “I wear a lot of hats,” Wilkinson says, with a certain measure of pride. “I’m responsible for the Charlotte market as a whole with my main focus on revenue and content.” Given the wide range of formats in the Charlotte cluster of stations, all those hats look very different from each other. The local market is broken down into five distinct demographics: alternative rock on WEND-FM (“The END” 106.5), Top 40 on WHQC-FM (“Channel 96.1”), country on WKKT-FM (“The Kat” 96.9), soft rock on WLYT-FM (“Lite 102.9”), and classic rock on WRFX-FM (“The Fox” 99.7). Those clear-cut differences are intentional. 10

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“A tremendous amount of research goes into determining demographics and whether we’re reaching our market,” Wilkinson explains. “We have a programming team for each station. We’re committed to delivering on our promise of giving the listeners exactly what they want as far as music and content.” Part of the content includes the popular morning drive shows. Each morning show is uniquely suited to its particular station. There’s pop culture with a country twist from 30-year-veteran and the number one morning show in the market, “Paul Schadt and Meg in the Morning,” irreverent Southern humor on “The John Boy and Billy Big Show,” edgy satire for the 18-to-34 demographic on “The Woody and Wilcox Show,” topical water

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by barbara fagan

[bizprofile]

Clear Channel’s Cutting Edge Technology and Commitment to Charlotte is the Perfect Mix

cooler talk from “A.M. Mayhem with Fred and Angi,” and award-winning openness from “Valentine in the Morning.” The radio personalities provide yet another way to connect with listeners. “Radio is a one-on-one relationship with the listener,” Wilkinson says. But with more and more types of media vying for a consumer’s attention, radio has had to be innovative to maintain that relationship. “The alternatives for listeners have increased tremendously,” Wilkinson acknowledges, “but our listenership remains strong and has grown. Radio and radio technology has changed with the times and Clear Channel is leading that change. Listeners today can not only listen to us on air, but also can engage

with us online, can stream music through their computer, and can carry us with them wherever they go through smartphones and handheld devices.” Getting in the Groove With all his enthusiasm for the industry, it’s surprising that Wilkinson’s radio career began by chance while he was working in hospitality industry in Orlando, Fla. “In Orlando you either work in the hospitality industry or you work for Mickey,” Wilkinson kids. “I happened to meet a woman who ran several radio stations in Houston, and she suggested that I should get in the business.” In 1998 he moved there to be a radio account executive.

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“I discovered that this was the business for me,” he says. “I love the pace.” In 2001 he began his career with Clear Channel in Houston as a sales manager for a struggling alternative rock station. “It was an intimidating proposition,” Wilkinson admits. “But it’s where I learned the difference between a manager and a leader—a manager presides over a process but a leader creates.” Success in that position led to sales manager responsibilities at a second and then a third station, and then the pivotal opportunity to become general manager with vertical responsibility for all aspects of a station. But there was a catch: this particular station was changing to a " total Spanish language format.

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John Boy & Billy

Paul & Meg

“I’d taken high school and college Spanish and knew about enough Spanish to get along on vacation. I was nervous.” Wilkinson says and smiles. “But I learned Spanish and ran that station for several years. It was a great experience.” In 2010 he was offered the market manager position in Charlotte, the 24th largest radio market in the nation, and in April of 2010 assumed the responsibilities of president and market manager of Clear Channel Charlotte. With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Broadcasting has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. Clear Channel Broadcasting serves 150 cities through 850 owned radio stations and an additional 100 cities and 4,000 stations through its syndicated products. Clear Channel entered the Charlotte market in 2000. So what is it like to have an industry giant as your parent company? “We’re an arm of Clear Channel,” Wilkinson explains. “This gives us unlimited capabilities and resources. We have every tool needed to create the best experience for our listeners and advertisers. “We’re in a huge paradigm shift as an industry and I’m proud to say Clear Channel’s leading the way. We’re moving from being about tall towers and transmitters to being about building our brands and about our loyal listeners.” Proof of Clear Channel’s vanguard position is easy to find. This October, Clear Channel Media Holdings appointed Bob Pittman as its CEO. Pittman, who started his media career at

Woody & Wilcox

Valentine

15 as a radio announcer, co-founded the MTV Network and has been a CEO at MTV, AOL Networks, Six Flags Theme Parks, Quantum Media, Century 21 Real Estate and Time Warner Enterprises. “Bob is a leader in the media and entertainment industry,” says Wilkinson of the new CEO. “He will unequivocally lead us into the new look of media. It’s an exciting time for our company and it’s exciting to have Bob Pittman at the helm. “The future of radio is about providing listeners with the content and the music they want, when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it.”

Enter iHeartRadio To accomplish that goal, Clear Channel recently launched its newest product, iHeartRadio. iHeartRadio can be accessed

“iHeartRadio combines the best of both worlds. It delivers everything a listener wants in one free, fully integrated service. It’s a competitor to Pandora (another customizable Internet radio service offered by Pandora Media, Inc.) but in reality, the iHeartRadio application, coupled with our live radio stations, puts iHeartRadio in a different league. We have more albums than Pandora has songs.” ~Charlie Wilkinson President and Market Manager

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Brotha Fred's AM Mayhem

online or through apps on handheld devices, allowing users to listen to live programming on more than 800 of Clear Channel’s radio stations or create their own personalized custom stations from a catalog of over 11 million songs by 400,000 artists. The two-day product launch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in September, was the largest concert event in radio history. The iHeartRadio Music Festival featured a diverse line up of artists including: Lady Gaga, The Black Eyed Peas, Kenny Chesney, John Mayer, Jennifer Lopez, Sting, Coldplay, Usher, Nicki Minaj, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Rascal Flatts, Jane’s Addiction and Steven Tyler. The concert sold inside of 10 minutes and was broadcast live over Clear Channel stations as well as streamed over the Internet. “iHeartRadio combines the best of both worlds,” Wilkinson explains. “It delivers everything a listener wants in one free, fully integrated service. It’s a competitor to Pandora (another customizable Internet radio service offered by Pandora Media, Inc.) but in reality, the iHeartRadio application, coupled with our live radio stations, puts iHeartRadio in a different league. We have more albums than Pandora has songs.” Wilkinson demonstrates the program on his smartphone by clicking on the iHeartRadio icon. “You can find a station by city or format,” he explains. “It’s their live programming streaming right from your cell phone. I’ve created several stations with its customized station ability. “You can pick an artist or even a song and tell it to ‘like’ songs like that and customize it even further by telling it to stick with familiar artists or broaden it out to other artists, maybe new artists, with the same sound. In that way, it can introduce you to a much wider variety of artists that you might like. If you hear something you like, you press the ‘thumbs up’ button and it gives you more songs like that. Hit ‘thumbs down’ and it won’t. You can create your own station

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that has predictive playlisting.” Clear Channel has partnered with Facebook on the launch and roll out of iHeartRadio and iHeartRadio continues their partnership with social media by allowing users to share songs and stations through posts on Facebook or Twitter, and lets them view the recent music selections of others in their social media network, to add another dimension to the listening experience. Last month, Clear Channel expanded its partnership with Microsoft to offer iHeartRadio on the Xbox 360 through its Xbox LIVE service. Xbox Gold members with Kinect have the unique ability to control the radio using their voice and body movements. The month before, Clear Channel announced a partnership with Univision Radio, the leading Spanish language radio group serving Hispanic Americans. This connection allows iHeartRadio listeners to access Univision’s range of stations and programming on any platform supported by the iHeartRadio program. “We’re changing with the times,” comments Wilkinson. “We’re committed to being a change agent and to maximizing our ability to connect with our audience. Building partnerships is one way we do that.”

With 237 million monthly listeners in the U.S., Clear Channel Broadcasting has the largest reach of any radio or television outlet in America. Clear Channel Broadcasting serves 150 cities through 850 owned radio stations and an additional 100 cities and 4,000 stations through its syndicated products. A Word from Our Sponsors Partnerships with advertisers are also key to Clear Channel Charlotte’s success. Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and president and COO of Speedway Motorsports, partners with Clear Channel Charlotte to promote events and festivals throughout the year. “We currently spend about 20 to 25 percent of our advertising budget on radio and we’ve increased our spending from last year,”

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Smith notes. “As more people spend time in their cars, they’re listening to the radio. Radio advertising does a great job of reaching people and Charlie Wilkinson and his team develop the best marketing program for us with added touches like mentioning that it’s a great day for the race during the weather broadcast.” Keith Hawthorne, owner and president of Keith Hawthorne Automotive, gives his advertising with Clear Channel Charlotte a personal twist. “I record weekly commercial spots at the station,” Hawthorne says. “I like to have a dialogue with my customers through my ads, and Arroe Collins at the station works with me to come up with a concept. They’re very sensitive to what my company needs. I advertise primarily on the radio because it hits my demographic right in the sweet spot. And Charlie Wilkinson is very hands on, very involved.” “I advertise mainly on ‘The Kat’” says, Scott Clark, of Scott Clark’s Toyota City, “but I also run ads on the four other stations. The stations do live remotes from the dealerships and Paul Schadt and I even do live commercials every morning. He tracks me down on my cell phone wherever I am, even in Alaska. “We use radio, TV and print for advertising but we really like radio because we get so " much more frequency for the cost. And we

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“We’re in a huge paradigm shift as an industry and I’m proud to say Clear Channel’s leading the way. We’re moving from being about tall towers and transmitters to being about building our brands and about our loyal listeners.” ~Charlie Wilkinson President and Market Manager

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advertise with Clear Channel Charlotte because of their understanding of the marketplace. They’re always looking to do something new.” “We promote like nobody else,” says Wilkinson. “We have robust options for our advertisers. You can use our on-air radio, or a live endorsement from John Boy and Billy or Paul Schadt or a comprehensive indepth campaign using our website and Web capabilities. We provide equivalent or better solutions for our advertisers to reach new and existing clients. We have national reach but can execute locally.” Wilkinson is excited about the future. “Radio is so dynamic and the technology is changing all the time, but some things will always remain the same. Our job is to be engaging and relevant. We’re committed to connecting with our listeners. After all, radio is America’s companion.” biz Barbara Fagan is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Clear Channel Broadcasting, Inc. 801 Wood Ridge Center Drive Charlotte, N.C. 28217 Phone: 704-292-5324 Principals: Bob Pittman, CEO of Clear Channel Media Holdings; Charlie Wilkinson, President and Market Manager, Charlotte Employees: 115 full and part-time employees in Charlotte Established: Clear Channel in Charlotte market since 2000 Business: Media and entertainment company with five radio stations in the Charlotte area. www.1065.com, www.channel961.com, www.lite1029.com, www.wkktfm.com, www.wrfx.com, www.bidoncharlotte.com, www.eshopcharlotte.com

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by sheila neisler

[bizprofile]

hatever the occasion, there’s no better greeting than a selection of tropical nuts and fruits, by themselves or in freshly baked goods or healthy snack mixes, from Tropical Nut & Fruit Co., headquartered right here in Charlotte. Picture these routine scenarios…A South Carolina grocer restocks the shelves of his holiday baking candy and nut shop for novice and experienced bakers alike. A D.C. mom scratches off her children’s suggestion of ‘cookies’ and writes in ‘healthy snack mix’ to the grocery list for their soccer games. A Charlotte office assistant swings by the Healthy Home Market on her way into work, picking up containers of nuts and dried fruits for an intense year-end budget meeting, a welcome alternative to the mood-spiking donuts of the prior day. An Atlanta college cafeteria worker puts out high-protein nut mixes anticipating an early rush for the mid-term crunch.

Tropical Nut & Fruit Offers a Cornucopia of Delights

Central to all these activities, employees of Charlotte’s Tropical Nut & Fruit—starting with the 5:00 a.m. shift of roasters—make sure this food service manufacturer runs smoothly. Annually, some 2,500 tons of nuts will flow through their Charlotte and Orlando facilities. The roasters are part of a small community—some say “family”—of 220 employees working in 13 different locations, generating $55 million in revenue. Clearly Gerald York’s vision of starting and building a company wasn’t ‘nuts.’ And now a second generation is leading the business to the new markets, new distribution channels, new products, and to a new level of success. Planting the Seed Tropical Nut & Fruit’s beginnings were relatively modest. Gerald York was a nuts salesman going back to the mid-’50s. After the company he worked for was bought out, he relocated to Orlando to wait out a two-year non-compete agreement. In 1977, with a partner, he started Tropical Nut & Fruit, and returned later that year to Charlotte to build a facility here. In the 34 years since, the growth has hardly been modest. In addition to the corporate facilities, Tropical Nut & Fruit has

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sales offices/distribution centers in Atlanta, Dallas, Memphis, Columbus, Ohio and Washington, D.C. Intuitively, York felt a critical need to stay connected to one of his primary target markets, the Tropical consumer, be it the seasoned baker or the homemaker. As wholesaler, he also knew that having a company-owned store, he would start out with his first ‘customer.’ In concert with the Charlotte operation, York opened Home Economist retail stores, providing a natural, health-food alternative to standard grocery store fare. Reflecting a more modern lifestyle, the stores have been renamed Healthy Home Markets and now have five locations: three in Charlotte with one each in Hickory and Davidson. Additionally, the company has ‘The Nut House’ retail outlets adjoining their office park facilities in Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbus and Memphis, and has recently opened an online store, Tropical’s Nut House. The company name, Tropical Nut & Fruit disguises the full depth and breadth of its operations. The company offers some 3,000 items including signature snack mixes, spices, beans, grains, " flours, candies, roasted nuts and seeds.

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The product list reflects the diversity of clientele, too. The consumer will find Tropical’s products on the shelves at grocery stores, health food stores, coffee shops, and ice cream and candy shops. However, some 50 percent of their business is through institutional distribution: hospitals, hotels, colleges, restaurants, airlines, cruise ships, even at your favorite theme parks. A Family Affair Today, Tropical works like a finely tuned machine with a familial corporate culture. In the leadership positions are sisters Angela Bauer and Carolyn Bennett, who co-own the company along with their mother and Angela’s husband John who leads the company as president and CEO. This leadership talent is based more on knowledge and know-how than merely good genes. Carolyn began full-time in the business immediately following graduation from Queens University in Charlotte. Initially she started on the retail side and rose through the company’s ranks. Today Bennett heads the purchasing department, a crucial position given the slim margins and pricing volatility food manufacturers face today. She’s also considered the resident “Mix Queen” as she’s always on the look-out for changing tastes and trends to develop new snack mixes. John and Angela both climbed the company ladder first by learning the ropes in other companies and later through the eyes of Tropical’s customers. A former engineer, John joined the firm armed with a Georgia State MBA and hit the streets of Atlanta as an outside sales rep. Angela, following a stint selling cable with Scientific Atlanta, got her MBA from Chapel Hill’s Keenan Flagler School of Business and later joined the Atlanta outside sales team. When both relocated to Charlotte, John took over the operations side and managed the transition to the new facility on Continental Boulevard and Angela took over the marketing side of the business. Angela has now turned her focus to leadership and organizational development as well as strategic planning. As a matter of fact, the company values family relationships down to the production floor; there are numerous instances of immediate and extended family members working side by side. “At one point we joked about a palace coup,” laughs Angela, “because we had so many other families’ members working together and they outnumbered us.” But in reality, it’s that close-knit protective

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John R. Bauer President and CEO Tropical Nut & Fruit Co.

“Tropical was there with me at the very beginning, some 18 years ago. My customers, whether they know their way around the kitchen or can’t turn their oven on without directions, count on me to offer the best products available. Their baked goods are gifts to their families and friends; it’s a reflection of who they are. Tropical’s been there with me and my customers every step of the way—giving the best quality, the best prices and the best service.” ~Gerald Tucker Gerald’s Holiday Baking Candy & Nut Shop

attitude that helps strengthens the team and implement changes.

“Regularly we have a ‘State of The Business’ meeting, bringing in groups of 20 of our leadership team to talk about ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ in the challenges they face. Because of the familiarity, we’ve built up the trust of team members so they tell us what we need to know, not what we want to hear,” says CEO John Bauer. Likewise, Tropical strives to engender the same long-term partnership relationships with their corporate customers, facilitating their successes.

“Tropical was there with me at the very beginning, some 18 years ago,” declares Gerald Tucker of Gerald’s Holiday Baking Candy & Nut Shop in South Carolina. “My customers, whether they know their way around the kitchen or can’t turn their oven on without directions, count on me to offer the best products available. Their baked goods are gifts to their families and friends; it’s a reflection of who they are. Tropical’s been there with me and my customers every step of the way—giving the best quality, the best prices and the best service.” Going Nuts! With such a diverse product line, Tropical Nut & Fruit is constantly juggling to meet customers’ needs. The cashews come from Brazil, Vietnam and Africa, pecans from Texas, and pistachios and almonds from California. Combine this worldwide supply chain with various cultivation methods. Peanuts, pistachios and almonds grow in orchards and Brazil nuts grow wild in the forest, requiring a harvester to climbing 200 feet in the air to cut down the fruit. Mix in the quality standards they demand for their customers. For example, Tropical only accepts super extra large peanuts, which is usually

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only the top 3 percent of a peanut crop. Throw in a few challenges from Mother Nature: droughts, floods and temperature changes, and oh, increased demand from a rapidly growing Chinese middle class—and you’ve got a business “mix” which changes rapidly. Consumer demand is also in flux. “People are becoming more aware of the health and antioxidant benefits of nuts, which is redefining our business,” notes Angela. “Additionally, American’s palates are changing. There are more people choosing vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Others are simply looking for bolder flavors and different tastes. Fortunately, we’ve got the experience to adapt to new appetites.”

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As evidence of these taste trends, several of Tropical’s best selling products and mixes include: Re-charge (a health-inspired snack mix), Wild About Wasabi, Mango Tango, and Kona Coffee Crunch (betcha can’t eat just one—handful). A new addition to the line, Buffalo Wing Flavored Nuts, has been a real a hit at tailgating festivities. Recently, after several attempts at trial and error, the Tropical team was successful in creating chocolate dipping disks that duplicate the taste and consistency of a chocolate fruit fondue at restaurants and catered parties. Giving Back The Tropical family believes in translating their mission statement beyond their walls and into their community. Aligning with their food profession, they are regular sponsors and participants of Charlotte’s CROP Walk and donate to Second Harvest Food Bank. They support children’s causes too, from the Boy Scouts to children’s hospitals throughout their company footprint. " One particular company passion arose

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initially out of a team brainstorming session. Bauer explains, “We all agreed that we wanted to get behind a cause at the grassroots level where we could make a true impact. Listening to our customers at the Healthy Home Store, we learned that gluten-free products really helped the quality of life for individuals with autism. We also heard that because of the unique needs of autistic children, they always didn’t have the opportunity to participate in regular camps.” Tropical’s solution: Get behind the efforts of The Parker Autism Foundation, a locally based all-volunteer not-for-profit serving North Carolina children and their families. Tropical donated $5,000 to support the Parker Autism Camp and raised another $ 5,000 in through the Puzzle Piece fundraising initiative. Also, when a customer brings their own bags to shop at the Healthy Home Market, 10 cents is donated directly to the Foundation. Shelley Reilley, Parker Autism’s president and founder speaks glowingly of Tropical’s involvement: “Their support is being used is so many ways. It enables us to expand our own camp, extend more scholarships to our camp and to other higher level autistic-focused camps. It provides the funding to help community education initiatives about autism. It helps

“Regularly we have a ‘State of The Business’ meeting, bringing in groups of 20 of our leadership team to talk about ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ in the challenges they face. Because of the familiarity, we’ve built up the trust of team members so they tell us what we need to know, not what we want to hear.” ~John R. Bauer President and CEO

underwrite the fees for families to attend autism conferences and provides additional family support so parents can give their children the help and care they need.” Recent economic challenges haven’t stopped the Tropical team from growing. The company has just completed the purchase and integration of the sister organization started in Orlando and is readying its resources for a robust future.

Notes Bauer, “Company executives know that even in the best of cases, like the one we just completed, a successful merger and acquisition is arduous. We’re gratified the Orlando deal went so smoothly. Now, we’re taking a breath, celebrating that success and regrouping a bit for a westward expansion. “We’re already selling to a number of Midwestern firms; a geographically closer location to these companies seems like a logical next step.” Angela chimes in, “Internally, there’s also lots of forward movement. We’re expanding our online presence through social media, we’re working to increase our own line of branded products as well as private label lines for our customers, and we’re focused on increasing the depth of our talent bench.” Given its broad range of nut and fruit products, well established organizational structure, core of family strength and leadership, and new direct-to-consumer e-commerce online, there’s no telling what the future holds for Tropical Nut & Fruit Co. One kernel of advice, though…if you get the opportunity, you’ll surely delight in the cornucopia of fruits (and nuts) of the Tropical family’s labor. biz Sheila Neisler is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

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Legislative and Regulatory Highlights for Area Employers

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Photo: Wayne Morris

Theresa Drew Managing Partner, Carolinas Practice Deloitte & Touche LLP

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by heather head

[bizprofile]

Deloitte Tailors Diversified Assets to Meet Middle Market Needs

In the 1970s, corporate executives wore ties and played golf, and large accountancies served only the Fortune 500. Theresa Drew began her career with Deloitte in 1979, and reflects back on it now, from her perch as managing partner for the Carolinas practice of Deloitte. On the day of our recent interview, however, she wore a feminine satin blouse, heels and a mother-ofpearl necklace, and talked about how the environment has changed for her and other ambitious women, and how Deloitte’s leadership toward greater workplace diversity has kept the firm in the lead on attracting, retaining, and developing some of the best talent in the industry. We also talked about Deloitte’s long-term commitment to the growth company market—the value her firm brings to a vast array of companies with revenues under half a billion dollars—and how that talent is helping a wider diversity of clients access the depth and breadth of expertise only Deloitte can offer. Accounting for Women Drew graduated with a degree in accounting from Northern Arizona University in 1979 and immediately joined Deloitte, which was operating at the time as Touche Ross. She says there weren’t very many women role models for her, but she was determined to have a successful career and willing to do whatever it took. Along the way, a number of individuals took her under their wing and provided mentorship and advancement opportunities. In 1991, she was admitted as a partner at a time when Deloitte led the accounting profession with women representing only 4 percent of its partners. In 2001, Sharon Allen, a trailblazer in the profession and the first woman to ever hold one of the top three positions within a large accounting firm, asked Drew to lead the practice in San Diego as managing partner. “At that point, we didn’t have very many women in leadership roles, running offices or heading up a function,” recalls Drew. “So that was risky on her part, to ask me to do that.” Thanks in part to the mentorship and opportunities Allen and others had afforded her, Drew was inspired to lead initiatives on behalf of all women in the firm. One of the first things she did as partner was to look systematically at the causes behind the lack of women leaders in the organization. By that time, Deloitte had been hiring 50 percent women accountants into the firm for over a decade, but it was still seeing disproportionately low numbers of women promoted into leadership roles. The reason appeared to lie in retention—women simply were not staying with the firm long enough. In 1993, a series of studies into the phenomenon confirmed some of the expected causes, including work/life balance. But at the same time, women were not leaving the profession to go home and raise families. They were leaving for other professions where they felt more welcome, better supported, and " saw more opportunities to advance.

Firms realize that to stay in front of marketplace demands and drive future growth they may have to ‘color outside the lines’...


From the results of that study, Drew supported the women’s initiative still in operation within the organization, the first of its kind among Big Four players. The initiative provided clear paths to advancement, better work/life balance options, and formal mentorship opportunities, as well as benefits such as elder care, childcare, and work flexibility. Deloitte now leads the industry in percentage of woman leadership, having raised their principals, partners, and directors percentage to 24 percent, and decreased the ratio gap between women versus men leaving the firm. Drew’s leadership in women’s issues has won her and the firm abundant recognition. San Diego Magazine named her 2010 Woman of the Year, the accounting fraternity Beta Alpha Psi called her the 2005 Professional of the Year, and Athena San Diego awarded her their 2005 Pinnacle Award. The list goes on, but perhaps most telling was the award proffered by the San Diego Girl Scouts: Ten Coolest Women.

However, it was Drew’s track record in serving clients in the San Diego market that led the Carolinas to seek her leadership in 2011. The San Diego market is smaller, with only 200 people in the office versus the Carolina region’s 650. But in her ten years of service in that market, Drew had shown a forward-thinking approach and a leadership approach that promised to bring important new initiatives to help the Carolinas practice thrive. Ability to Serve Drew’s and Deloitte’s efforts have resulted in Fortune and BusinessWeek consistently ranking the firm among the best places to work. In 2011, Fortune listed the firm as #63 in the country, citing its focus on diversity and the fact that a third of its employees are nonwhite, the highest percentage in the Big Four. Drew says this helps Deloitte attract the best talent, and thereby better serve its hundreds of thousands of clients. For instance, Deloitte has worked with Life

One of a kind. Like you. “Your company reflects you–your goals, your personality, your instincts. At Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, we work to know those attributes well. We apply our breadth of experience and variety of offerings in just the right areas. The result is a suite of professional services as individualized as the company you’ve built.”

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“When you look at Charlotte, it’s a really vibrant city. Over the past few years, there has been a renewed commitment to the arts, and steady development in the uptown area. We have the financial industry, the energy sector, and growth in life sciences. There is a lot of excitement here, a lot of opportunity, which includes the financial benefits of hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012.” ~Theresa Drew Managing Partner

Technologies, a $3.5 billion revenue public medical device and life insurance company in San Diego, for eight years, providing a range of services from consulting, to business integration and re-engineering. In 2008, they assisted Life Technologies with a multi-billion dollar global acquisition. “Deloitte was a lead integration partner,” says Life Technologies CEO, Greg Lucier, “bringing the two companies together culturally, financially, and strategically.” He adds that working with Drew’s team underscores the fact that when you work with Deloitte, “you know you have the attention of the entire team, from the working person’s level all the way up to the top leadership. Client relationship is something they really excel at.”

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Another thing that sets Deloitte apart is their commitment to bring the same level of service to companies with revenues under $1 billion. In fact, the middle market represents 80 percent of the firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Carolina audit clients, through Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services. Drew says middle market companies form the backbone of the American economy and also, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We think they will be the companies that will really bring us completely out of this recession.â&#x20AC;? Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services provides clients like Bi-Lo, BC/BS of SC, and the Carolina Panthersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;organizations traditionally served by smaller accountanciesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;a level of service usually reserved for the Fortune 500.

To support these companies, Deloitte offers managed analytics services to help clients achieve consistent performance, proactively manage risk in a tough regulatory environment, and process the exponentially increasing volumes of data coming available. These services combine deep industry knowledge, broad functional capabilities, and a high degree of technical sophistication with strategy-level insights to help clients leverage analytics capabilities for greater profitability. Deloitteâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tools and resources for mid-cap executives also include research and thought leadership in private company issues, emerging

Where next?

Ambitions for Growth In a 2007 article in bizSanDiego, Drew

"

Today, more and more business owners are looking for ways to cut costs and boost their bottom line.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Increasingly, mid-sized companies are expanding globally. At Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re helping them. With global connections, experience in nearly every country in the world, and mid-market insight.â&#x20AC;?

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Deloitte reaches out to this segment through live events, signature reports, research publications, webcasts, podcasts, and other materials. Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services disseminates these materials through a section of its site called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Perspectives.â&#x20AC;? One current report available through Perspectives details a survey of several hundred CEOs of middle market companies that uncovers insight into what executives are doing to compete more effectively in this uncertain economy. It found that most have accepted that the â&#x20AC;&#x153;low-hanging fruitâ&#x20AC;? of an expanding economy is gone, and also that most have become increasingly pessimistic about emerging economic developments. Also, that most companies are cautious about hiring. However, 70 percent of executives said that productivity has increased since the recession began. Improvements in business processes and new technology take most of the credit for the increases, plus most companies are investing in business analytics to target high-value customers.

technologies, growth strategies, organizational performance, regulatory and legislative compliance, and risk intelligence. Although Drew is bullish on serving the middle market, the firm continues also to serve the largest companies, providing the depth of service and expertise expected by Fortune 500 clients. In fact, Deloitte professionals are involved in almost every aspect of businessâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;from corporate responsibility and sustainability, to advisory services on doing business in China and Japan.

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“Mid-sized businesses want the same access to the depth of resources and thinking as the Fortune 500. They just don’t want them delivered the same way. At Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, we scale our offerings to suit mid-market companies and deliver tailored thought leadership and insight.”

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was asked what she would be doing if she weren’t heading up a region for Deloitte. Her answer: Directing a not-for-profit organization. In fact, she says it’s still something she’d like to do some day, when she retires from Deloitte. In the meantime, she promotes volunteerism and serves on the board of the Arts & Science Council. As she sees it, business flourishes best in concert with a thriving arts community. “You can’t have one without the other,” she says, “just like you have to have good infrastructure, and a good school system.” She is passionate about education as well, and says that in every community, she likes to be involved in at least one arts organization, one education organization, and one health and human services organization, “so I feel like I’m covering all my bases.” She has also joined the board of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. Her commitment to nonprofit work fits well within Deloitte’s own culture, which strongly encourages giving both financially and through volunteerism. One visible example of Deloitte’s commitment is the one day a year when they close their offices and send their people out into the community to volunteer. “If you can imagine,” says Drew, “40,000 people, across the country, doing something positive and giving back to the community. Some may paint murals, plant trees, help write resumes, or provide a seminar on corporate governance for a not-for-profit. Whatever it is, people are making a difference in their communities. It’s a really neat day.” During the rest of the year, the firm encourages employees to provide skills-based volunteer work, where they perform tax, audit, financial advisory and consulting services to

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not-for-profit organizations that may not have the resources to hire the same level of expertise. In Charlotte the project has served the Charlotte Center City Partnership, United Way, Hope Haven, and many others. Despite challenging economic indicators, Drew is hopeful for the future of her firm and for Charlotte. “When you look at Charlotte,” she says, “it’s a really vibrant city. Over the past few years, there has been a renewed commitment to the arts, and steady development in the uptown area. We have the financial industry, the energy sector, and growth in life sciences. There is a lot of excitement here, a lot of opportunity, which includes the financial benefits of hosting the Democratic National Convention in 2012.” In the Carolinas, she expects that Deloitte’s initiatives to better serve the middle market and its strong industry focus will combine to provide an economic buffer in the event of a double-dip recession. Plus, she says, the country as a whole has made a lot of progress toward preventing the types of scandals that fed the current economic problems, though the resulting regulation has come with a price. Deloitte focuses on helping clients seize the opportunity inherent in economic reforms, while avoiding potential pitfalls. As their website says, “Reform can hold a company back or move it forward. It all depends on how you use it.” Drew remains committed to moving forward—for the firm, for its clients, for women, and for Charlotte. She intends to continue building the firm’s track record and reputation as an employer of choice, to grow the practice, and to serve middle market and large clients with excellence. Golf and tie optional. biz

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Heather Head is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Deloitte & Touche LLP Duke Energy Center 550 S. Tryon Street, Ste. 2500 Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Phone: 704-887-1910 Principal: Theresa Drew, Managing Partner, Carolinas Practice Employees: 45,000 in the U.S. In Business: More than 100 years Business: Audit, financial advisory, tax and consulting services to Fortune 500 and mid-cap markets; long-term commitment to the privately-held, middle-market sector, with services tailored to meet the specialized needs of growth companies. www.deloitte.com

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!South Carolina High School

â&#x20AC;&#x153;People want space and nice-looking buildings. They also want to keep the cost of construction low. The roofs, walls and windows are all potential places for failure. This is more critical than it used to be because of the wider variety of construction materials and procedures.â&#x20AC;?

!

~Stuart W. Sutton President !Curtain Wall Inspection

!High Rise Roof Replacement

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by casey jacobus

!UNCC Barnhardt Hall

[bizprofile]

D?E

%!27B

Stafford Consulting Engineers Are Building Envelope Experts

W

!Water Infiltration Testing

ater can have a devastating effect on buildings. Whether it is a minor roof leak or a violently destructive hurricane, water intrusion can cause a structure to deteriorate and, through the resulting growth of mold and bacteria, pose a significant health threat to people using the facility. Protecting the roofs, walls, windows and other components of the “building envelope” during construction is essential to reducing the much higher costs involved in repairing a building damaged by water intrusion. That’s why Stafford Consulting Engineers, experts in building envelope issues, would much rather be involved at the beginning of a construction project to head off potential problems. “We are very cheap insurance,” asserts Stafford President Stuart Sutton. “If a client brings our firm in at the front end of a project design, they’ll have far fewer problems down the road.” Unfortunately, that’s not the way it usually works. Sutton estimates that 80 percent of the company’s business is with existing buildings. They do a great deal of “forensic” work which involves investigating all the elements of the building’s outer design to determine why the system failed and water intrusion occurred. With 24 employees and over 240 years of combined experience, Stafford engineers not only understand the engineering principles involved, but have seen them in action again and again. This expertise helps them quickly determine why a system will work or why it has failed. “Good design can be accomplished only through detailed analysis,” says Sutton. “You don’t truly understand why something will work until you understand why it fails.” Engineering From the Ground Up Stafford Consulting Engineers was founded in 1964 by Robert M. Stafford, a chemical engineer, with the mission of providing much-needed engineering guidance for roofing and waterproofing systems, where little or none existed before. “Stafford was one of the first to specialize in roofing systems,” explains Sutton. “Mr. Stafford saw a need for an independent consultant to help clients use products to protect their construction investments.” After Stafford retired, Thomas Anderson led the firm from 1979 until 1996. Sutton joined the company in 1982. He grew up in Scotland Neck, N.C., and attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill until he dropped out and went into construction. He was first a laborer, then a carpenter and then foreman on projects that ranged from houses to bridges to nuclear power plants. Sutton developed an interest in the fundamental principles of design engineering and returned to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he earned a degree in civil engineering. “When I got my degree in 1982, the country was in the middle of the recession,” says Sutton. “I took the job at Stafford thinking it was just temporary until a real job came along.” Sutton was initially assigned field responsibility for quality control inspection. In that role, he became experienced in the scheduling, materials handling and procedures used by contractors to install roofing and waterproofing systems. He was appointed project engineer in 1984 and senior project engineer in 1988. In those jobs, he provided design review services to architects, general contractors, roofing contractors and owners in connection with roofing and waterproofing systems for new construction and the renovation of existing structures. He has worked on projects throughout the United States, " ranging from paper mills to the U.S. Capitol.

!Inspecting Water Proofing

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(l to r) Louis T. Hall, PE RRC Senior Project Engineer Stuart W. Sutton, PE President Christine M. Quigley, PE RRC LEED AP Senior Project Engineer Stafford Consulting Engineers, Inc.

Sutton continued on up the ranks—he was appointed vice president-engineering in 1990 and assumed administrative responsibility for not only his own engineering assignments, but for all of the engineering and architectural services provided by the firm. And he became president of the firm in 1996. !Charlotte Douglas Airport

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Experience on the Job One of the problems Sutton has faced as the head of Stafford Consulting Engineers is finding qualified employees. “No one comes out of school knowing how to do this job,” explains Sutton. “You have to learn the business on the job.” When Sutton takes a chance on a young graduating engineer, it is because of their enthusiasm and interest. He knows it will take about two years for them to learn enough to work independently on a project, but he feels it is training well spent. “What sets us apart is our people, their experience and their ability to solve problems,” Sutton asserts. “We have a passion for this stuff. It’s who we are.” Stafford’s staff includes registered professional and graduate engineers, registered roof consultants, registered roof observers, roof system technicians, and non-destructive testing technicians. Sutton, who has been with Stafford for a total of 29 years, points out the staff’s longevity: Louis Hall, senior project manager, served as a captain with the United States Air Force and has been with Stafford since 1990; Dennis Mashburn,

senior technician, has been with the firm since 1984; Vu Nguyen has been with Stafford since graduating from Clemson University in 1996. Christine Quigley, senior project manager, has 16 years with the company. “I was impressed with Stafford from the first; it is a highly respected firm,” says Quigley. “There will always be a need for this kind of business. It’s like the CSI of building construction as we analyze buildings and determine what went wrong.” Building forensics is the science of evaluating the source of building system or component failures. Statistically, roofs account for almost 70 percent of construction litigation costs and about 50 percent of building maintenance costs. Forensic investigations are typically requested by owners, insurance companies, or law firms. During a forensic investigation, the team will not only use visual inspection, but also may perform activities such as infrared thermography, pressurized window tests, moisture surveys, invasive inspections and related analytical services. In addition to determining the cause for the failure, the investigation focuses on determining the most cost effective means of remediation, including corrective design, or reconstruction. “Our clients are glad to see us come,” laughs Sutton, “and glad to see us go.” Figuring Out Solutions Stafford Consulting Engineers began by focusing on roofing. Its first clients were primarily public school systems. As the company grew, it expanded

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from roofing to focus on all the elements in the “building envelope,” including walls, windows, doors, above and below grade waterproofing. The building envelope, as defined by the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, is what separates the building from unconditioned space. The building envelope serves as a building’s “outer shell” to help maintain the indoor environment. Today Stafford is one of the limited number of consulting firms in the country devoted exclusively to providing solutions to building envelope issues, such as the control of moisture and air flow.

SPECIALISTS IN VOICE NETWORKS FOR 32 YEARS.

“Good design can be accomplished only through detailed analysis. You don’t truly understand why something will work until you understand why it fails.” ~Stuart W. Sutton President Currently Stafford handles approximately 125 to 150 active products for 50 clients at any one time. While most of its clients are in North or South Carolina, Hurricane Charlie did so much damage to the schools in Florida that Stafford Consulting Engineers gained a strong base in that state and has an office in Jacksonville. After Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in New Orleans, Stafford Consulting Engineers provided expert testimony on the roof failure of the Super Dome. The company has written the guidelines and prepared the standard details that are used for U.S. Army Reserve Centers worldwide and also provides roof design services for Shriners Hospitals nationwide. When a new roof system at Orlando Airport showed widespread cracking, Stafford evaluated the roof system, using laboratory tests and microphotographs to determine the cause and depth of the unusual cracking. The company designed the replacement roof system of the Old Charlotte City Hall to meet the requirements of the local historic landmarks commission, while providing a state of the art roof system. Stafford serves many school systems, universities and health care facilities, as well as industrial clients, government agencies, architectural and engineering firms, contractors and construction managers, and other commercial entities. “People want space and nice-looking build" ings,” explains Sutton. “They also want to

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keep the cost of construction low. The roofs, walls and windows are all potential places for failure. This is more critical than it used to be because of the wider variety of construction materials and procedures.” Some buildings are already leaking as they are being dedicated. The National Roofing Contractors Association estimates that 40 percent of all new roofs develop serious problems within one year of installation. Fifty percent of these problems are attributed to poor workmanship, 20 percent poor design, 15 percent poor maintenance, and 10 percent material failures. The new Charleston County Courthouse in downtown Charleston, S.C., leaked from the day it opened in 2001. Stafford Consulting Engineers investigated the construction and design and identified extensive problems with the concealed water resisting systems. Stafford then designed and administered the contract for the repair work which was completed two years ago. “It looks exactly like it did before,” says Sutton. “But it no longer leaks.” Recent Stafford projects include waterproofing and roof system investigations for a major home improvement retailer, as well as some of its retail centers; roof system evaluations and designs for U.S. Army Reserve Center facilities worldwide including Alaska, Hawaii, American

!Water & Air Infiltration Test

Samoa, Guam and Saipan; and building envelope evaluations for Veterans Administration facilities in various parts of the United States. One national apartment management company won’t purchase a new apartment complex until Stafford does an evaluation. Erecting a Future Although the business isn’t recession-proof, Stafford Consulting Engineers has continued to grow within the current economic downturn. Building owners are now trying to extend the life of existing facilities and systems, rather than replacing them. They are also seeking to control energy costs. Building envelope consulting has become a high demand service. In June 2011, Stafford was acquired by Terracon, one of the major national consulting firms providing geotechnical, environmental, construction materials and facilities services to clients at local, regional and national levels. With

T A K I N G I N I T I AT I V E

more than 2,700 employees and more than 130 offices nationwide, Terracon is ranked 38 in Engineering News-Record’s 2011 listing of the Top 500 Design Firms. “They approached us because they felt that we were the best at what we do,” says Sutton. “They liked the staff and they liked that we have a strong presence in the Carolinas. We are well respected and they believed we could take the lead in their facilities services division.” Kevin Langwell, senior vice president of Terracon’s Facilities Engineering Division, said the acquisition of Stafford would provide significant additional resources to provide its clients with total facilities services solutions. “Combined with our acquisition of Energy Systems Associations in 2010, and our existing facilities capabilities, we believe we are well equipped to deal with virtually any issue affecting the ability of any facility to operate at optimum performance over an extended life cycle,” declared Langwell. As a result of the acquisition by Terracon, Stafford gains the opportunity to expand its work and gain more national clients. It also gains more financial backing and the ability to afford more expensive testing equipment, as well as a chance to develop a solid foundation on which to build staffing. Prior to Terracon’s acquisition, Stuart, age 57, was the company’s sole owner. He sees the acquisition as a way to make sure the company survives and prospers. However, while Stafford may acquire a stronger national presence, Sutton is absolutely committed to existing clients. “We hope to take the lead for Terracon in this business,” he states, “but be assured, we intend to do this out of Charlotte.” biz Casey Jacobus is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

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Stafford Consulting Engineers, Inc. 9115 Harris Corners Pkwy., Ste. 230 Charlotte, N.C. 28269 Phone: 704-597-9000 Principal: Stuart W. Sutton, President Founded: 1964 Employees: 24 Satellite Offices: Raleigh, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla. Accredited: Professional Engineers, Registered Roof Consultants, and LEED Accredited Professionals Business: Specializes in the design and analysis of building envelope systems, including roofing and waterproofing systems. www.stafford-usa.com

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308 308 Friendship Friendship Drive Drive Greensboro, Greensboro,NC NC27409 27409 n ove m b e r 2 0 1 1

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Shane Hunt President Records Reduction, Inc.

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by suzanne fulton

a g n i k a T of

[bizprofile]

Paper

Records Reduction Ensures

Safekeeping and Accessibility of Important Documents quotation from motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale rang true one day in 1999 for Shane Hunt: “You are, at this moment, standing right in the middle of your own ‘acres of diamonds.’” That maxim plus serendipity provided the inspiration to Hunt to form Records Reduction, Inc. Hunt, a Certified Document Imaging Architect, publicly recognized in his industry by AIIM for his score of 100 percent on their certification exam, has a business degree from UNC at Chapel Hill. He explains, “I was selling very expensive in-house imaging solutions at the time as an employee for Document Technologies, Inc. After I demonstrated a solution to Bissell Hayes Realty, Robert Hayes said he didn’t want to spend $30,000 on a system plus pay someone to prepare and scan the documents in-house. He just wanted to outsource scanning to someone else. “Regrettably, I told him we didn’t offer such an option. But it hit me as I left that office—there’s my new business! I had long been searching for an idea for a business of my own and the answer was right in front of me!” Now, desktop imaging machines softly hum at Records Reduction, located in an office park in Matthews—a far cry from its first location in a room of Shane and Allison Hunt’s home. Eight full-time employees and five contractors provide document imaging and pickup and delivery services to a variety of customers. About 40 percent are medical offices and accounts payable and human resources departments of other types of firms. For Hunt, repeat business and word of mouth recommendations have been sufficient to keep his company very busy. Service With a Scan Every day Hunt’s employees prepare, scan and index paper documents and slides, as well as convert or reformat scanned text to facilitate finding key words, phrases and sets of numbers. “Prepping” is the most time-consuming part of the process—removing any clip, staple or sticky note and determining if the document is two-sided. Scanners sit conveniently at each station, and these machines can scan two-sided in one action. The conversion service, dubbed OCR (optical character recognition), is part of an a la carte list of services from which clients may select. OCR enables the client to not only easily search a file, but also copy and paste selections of text into another document. As workers transform paper to PDF files, Hunt explains, “Our firm is unique because it is the only scanning company in the area that does not require its customers to install additional, expensive software to enable use of their new digital files.” His company produces files that can be used by Adobe Reader or the standard imaging program that comes with Microsoft Windows. One can view, print, fax and e-mail using either of these free programs. Records Reduction customers may select to receive the PDF files burned to CD, in which case workers prepare duplicate CDs. Hunt encourages customers to store one CD away from their physical site as a precaution against losing data in an office fire or from water damage. "

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Customers then load the digital documents on CD into their own network. Having been custom indexed, the files are easily found in a few seconds by using familiar search terms. A bonus is that more than one staff member can open a file at the same time, a feature with multiple advantages. Customers may also select to have the PDF files put in Web-based file storage (“cloud” storage) on popular vendor site recordsreduction.box.net, accessible at any time, or off-site physical storage. Turnaround time for any given job depends on stated needs. The customer decides whether and how to dispose of the paper files. Shredding and recycling are among the menu of options. All processes are secure. All members of Hunt’s work force sign a non-disclosure agreement before they commence employment, and he routinely offers a confidentiality agreement to each client. Photo scanning, which appeals to individuals as well as businesses, is a newer service on the Records Reduction menu. Most folks have multiple albums or boxes full of paper photos and bring them to Records Reduction to have them photo scanned as PDFs on CDs or DVDs so they can upload them and share them digitally with family members. “While some businesses and individuals have scanners and can scan their own photos,” Hunt says, “we can do it on much better equipment with much better results, and because it is what we do, we can do it much less expensively in terms of time.” Productivity, Continuity, Savings While the quest for a paperless office emerged more than 30 years ago, it has not been widely embraced until the last 10 years. In the late 1990s, then Coopers & Lybrand (PriceWaterhouseCoopers) reported that 90 percent of critical business information existed only on paper. In December 2010, records management organization AIIM published that in 39 percent of offices they surveyed, “paper usage was finally starting to fall.” These offices reported “investment payback within 12 months of implementing [scanning and capture] systems.” Rather than striving for paperless, which may be an impossible dream, using “less paper” has become a standard operating quest, driven by a variety of forces, the most important of which is productivity enhancement. While not as cleanly measurable as the cost of filing cabinets or the per-square-foot value of space, productivity influences profit.

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Shane and Allison Hunt Records Reduction, Inc.

“It just makes good business sense to store records digitally—both on and off-site, both online and offline—to provide for business continuity. Digital storage, including server and hosting fees, as well as fireproof boxes for storing CDs and DVDs are easily attainable and inexpensive. There’s just no reason not go digital wherever possible.” ~Shane Hunt President

It takes a tremendous amount of time to file and retrieve documents using a paper-based system. This, of course, impacts productivity. Productivity is impacted by employee satisfaction as well, and scanning or paper filing and re-filing are unsatisfying tasks that are often low priority on the “To Do” list. “We all know the frustration of not being able to find a file. And it can cost you in many ways. If a file is missing during an audit, for example, many times there are fines,” says Hunt. Informational management industry organization ARMA International reports, “Companies typically misfile up to 20 percent of their records—thus losing them forever.”

“Using Record Reduction, Inc., you will never have a lost file,” Hunt predicts. Other reasons for imaging files include: business continuity, the growth of the mobile work force, enhanced customer service, the legal acceptance images, and cost savings. Seventy percent of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a catastrophic loss of paper-based records due to fire or flood, reported Coopers & Lybrand in the late ’90s. At the time, the U.S. Department of Labor predicted that one in four businesses would suffer a catastrophic loss. “It just makes good business sense to store records digitally—both on and off-site, both online and offline—to provide for business continuity. Digital storage, including server and hosting fees, as well as fireproof boxes for storing CDs and DVDs are easily attainable and inexpensive,” says Hunt. “There’s just no reason not go digital wherever possible.” As Times Change… Surely the most head-whipping influencer is the triple whammy growth of broadband, telecommuting, and innovations in mobile computing/communications devices with everlarger screens. Hunt agrees, saying, “The mobile work force movement is a big reason why a lot of companies engage our services. More workers are conducting business from home or elsewhere. Management and sales people need constant access to their organization’s information when they are out of the office. Our online solution

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meets their needs for access at any time from anywhere.” Additionally, electronic files that can be accessed and searched almost instantly, allow businesses to provide better service to their customers, whether looking up information or providing them document copies, whether doing so from their office or mobile device.

“While some businesses and individuals have scanners and can scan their own photos, we can do it on much better equipment with much better results, and because it is what we do, we can do it much less expensively in terms of time.” ~Shane Hunt President

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Images of documents do not fade over the years and, more importantly, they stand up in court. Since the 1970s, Federal Rules of Evidence have admitted images of business documents in court the same as the original paper, as long as keeping such form of records is a normal part of the activity of the organization. By 1995, most states had adopted the language in the federal rule. Physicians and hospitals have realized that transitioning from paper to electronic medical records is not only a cost-cutting convenience, but also can dramatically improve both preventative and critical care since medical professionals can access their patients’ records 24/7. In 2009, the federal government made available more than a billion dollars in federal grants toward helping hospitals and other health care providers implement technology to use electronic records. As for measurable cost savings over paper storage, consider that the per-square-foot rent for office space in the greater Charlotte area is typically more than $20. One filing cabinet takes up six square feet, which includes "

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to repurpose the office space that was being wasted on filing cabinets.” Delphi Group offered up some interesting results from a study, “Companies on average spend $25,000 to fill a typical four-drawer file cabinet, $2,000 to maintain it annually…Over its life span, a single sheet of paper ends up costing an average of $30.”

“Our firm is unique because it is the only scanning company in the area that does not require its customers to install additional, expensive software to enable use of their new digital files.” ~Shane Hunt President

space needed to open a drawer. Filing costs to factor in should include manila folders and hanging files and tabs as well as time for filing and retrieval. Hunt has a favorite story he likes to use to illustration the cost comparison: “I was presenting a scanning quote to a prospective customer. When the gentleman made an unusual expression, I immediately asked if there was a concern. He replied that he was so happy he had called me. Due

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to the tighter HIPAA regulations, his medical facility had decided to invest in fireproof filing cabinets. “He was planning to buy 12 cabinets that week at $1,200 per cabinet for a total of $14,400. He realized from my quotation that we could scan in an entire cabinet for under $1,000. This would give him the security he was looking for and he’d be able

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Sparkling Testimonials Of those customers who measure return on investment (ROI), all have realized or exceeded expected ROI in less than a year, Hunt says. He is proud of their customer retention rate of nearly 100 percent and they have received numerous accolades from satisfied customers. “Records Reduction does an excellent job storing our files on CD. The records are accurately labeled and easy to access. They take care of removing paper clips and staples, scanning the documents, labeling them according to my instructions and securely disposing of the originals. It couldn’t be any easier. Thanks, Records Reduction, for solving our file space problem!” says an office manager at Trane. “Records Reduction has assisted us in eliminating a lot of additional paper around the office,” says a director at Mack. “Using Records Reduction’s services has also allowed us to be able to present customer copies in a timely manner. They have saved us an enormous amount of time and space.” For Hunt, the future looks brilliant, as more and more companies get on the digital bandwagon and there seems to be a never-ending supply of paper records to be scanned. The company has enough work to warrant hiring a manager and even more staff to keep jobs flowing smoothly. For Records Reduction, some version of that old adage applies, “One man’s stash, is Records Reduction’s treasure!” biz Suzanne Fulton is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Records Reduction, Inc. 2032-F Independence Commerce Dr. Matthews, N.C. 28105 Phone: 704-724-3313 Principal: M. Shane Hunt, President Employees: 8 plus 5 contractors In Business: 12 years Business: Document imaging services, off-site document storage, secure shredding, photo scanning, slide scanning, and VHS tape conversions. www.recordsreduction.com

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[bizprofile]

by zenda douglas

W

hat do you call knowledge workers that move around from place to place? For William McKee the answer is Knowmad, a name he coined in the early ’90s while working at a Colorado community networking project as a programmer and consultant. It would be 10 years later, in 2002, before he incorporated the company under the name Knowmad Services, Inc., doing business as Knowmad Technologies. McKee has since joined forces with Diona Kidd, and together, as managing partners, they have built a successful and comprehensive Web agency. During that time the reach of the company has changed, from physical geography-based to predominantly cyberspace, and the name continues to serve them especially well.

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Knowmad Technologies

Sherpas the Way of the Web McKee describes the mission of Knowmad Technologies as helping their clients advance their businesses online. This involves enhancing online brand visibility, creating Webbased sales and lead generation engines, and optimizing online revenue. Specific primary services include Internet strategy consulting, Web design and usability, content strategy, design and development, audience research and analysis, Web analytics, conversion optimization, Internet marketing, search engine rankings, and open source programming. Whew! Enhancing Online Brand Visibility “Ultimately, we’re sherpas to doing business online,” says Kidd. “Tell us where you need to go and we’ll help you get there.” The agency examines business models and guides clients on how to use the Web most effectively based on growth strategies, sales and marketing goals, long-term sustainability and cost management. Knowmad Technologies is not a typical Web agency. The company doesn’t just build websites. Rather, it takes a close look at the brand and goals of a company and works to " translate that in an online setting that is compelling for viewers.

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William McKee Dionna Kidd Managing Partners Knowmad Technologies

“Inherent is a lot of business consulting. Often, clients will self-diagnose and report that they need a new website or social media tools. A client may say that they need to be #1 in Google rankings. We don’t take that assumption. We dig deeper to find out why they think they need that,” says McKee, explaining that among the multitude of things they can do, they need to determine what will have the greatest impact for the company. “We help our clients become better perceived in their markets,” says Kidd. “Not only in the visual appeal of the website but also with content, form and function or usability of their website.” The ultimate goal is to increase traffic and then convince that traffic to become engaged with the client in a way that makes sense for the overall business. Web-based Sales and Lead Generation One of the areas the company looks at is cost. “If a client is selling something online for $200 and spending $150 for the sales lead, that doesn’t make a lot of business sense,” says McKee. “We help in that regard.” They also look at how easy—or not—it is to buy online. “Some websites leave you pleading, ‘Just let me give you my money,’” jokes McKee. Kidd likens it to being in a restaurant, ready to pay the bill with no waiter in sight. “We address those issues online; make sure the viewing customer has a clear map to the call to action,” says Kidd. “We set out to improve whatever is not working. Plus, we build some type of content management system so the client doesn’t have to come to us to make minor changes and updates of information,” says McKee. He explains that just a few years ago websites would be built and then remain stagnant until another was built. “Now, we design websites to last for three to five years with direct management,” says McKee. Knowmad Technologies serves clients in many different business sectors and industries including manufacturing, technology and data service, higher education and professional services. Clients are mostly established businesses who hire the agency on a retainer basis. “We’re in it for the long term,” says McKee. “We work with our clients as partners in their business.” While the agency has clients located across the country in California and Chicago as well as in Canada and Mexico, it mainly focuses on the Charlotte region, according to Kidd. New clients come through the Internet exposure, from conferences, technologies that the agency supports, and leadership in online communities.

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"Knowmad Projects

“Inherent is a lot of business consulting. Often, clients will self-diagnose and report that they need a new website or social media tools. A client may say that they need to be #1 in Google rankings. We don’t take that assumption. We dig deeper to find out why they think they need that.” ~William McKee Managing Partner At present, two local clients are enjoying the broad scope of Knowmad Technologies’ offerings. The agency has redesigned the website of Johnson C. Smith University. “There are not a lot of companies that can pull off a university website redesign project,” says McKee. “There’s a lot of politics, lots of decisions, content, special interest and functionality that tie into their existing software running behind the scenes.”

While the university’s primary goal was to attract more students, the new website needed to reach and meet the needs of existing students, alumni, donors, faculty and staff, and community partners. “Thus far, the feedback has been excellent,” says McKee. Knowmad Technologies has also worked with Suite 1000 to redesign their website to be the company’s primary lead generation tool. “For this client we developed Web interaction to provide what’s called a convincing value proposition,” says Kidd. “Now this business can spend its time working with interested parties versus trying to find interested parties.” Occasionally, McKee says, the partners do themselves a disservice by making it all look so easy to their clients. “We’re like a swan, beautifully smooth and graceful above the surface of the water but paddling away as hard as it can under the water,” he describes. “Fortunately our clients appreciate the work involved when seeing the end results.” Optimizing Online Revenue McKee and Kidd met each other in 2005 in a Charlotte coffee shop. He was structuring Knowmad Technologies and growing his consultancy; she was operating a

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business called ModernFlow Technologies that she started in 2004. “We ended up hiring one another for each of our clients,” remembers Kidd. Finding that they each had a vision of building something bigger than themselves and that they had similar values, they merged their businesses in 2006 with Kidd bringing her clients over to Knowmad Technologies. Both partners are computer programmers and identify themselves as Web strategists and Internet business consultants. Kidd also has a background in digital product sales and e-commerce management.

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“It’s just a good match,” says McKee. The values they incorporate into Knowmad Technologies include authenticity, continued learning, community, quality and creativity. These are practiced by building honest relationships based on trust; engaging in an ongoing search for knowledge that will benefit clients; helping grow the local economy and provide thought leadership; producing high quality work; and bringing a fresh set of eyes and ears to look at problems and figure solutions. Kidd offers an example in creativity: “Most people look at websites as cost centers. We develop them such that they are powerful revenue generators.” McKee’s love of all things computer goes back to the 1970s. “When I was in college I got " introduced to the Internet and I knew that

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this was going to change the world. I wanted to be a part of that evolution,” he says. “What I saw was the connections it made possible; I just understood that this was going to change things. I took a deep dive into the technology side to understand how the connections, server and programming work.”

“Ultimately, we’re sherpas to doing business online. Tell us where you need to go and we’ll help you get there.” ~Diona Kidd Managing Partner

Moving Fast McKee was born in Charlotte and lived most of his childhood years here. It was after completion of college at UNC Chapel Hill that he left for Colorado to explore his craft. He returned to Charlotte in 1998 to work as a contractor for Duke Energy. Over time, he took on additional clients and worked as a consultant and programmer under the Knowmad name. Kidd describes herself as self-taught through work with numerous Internet-based companies, many of them start-ups—first in pharmaceutical R&D, then in dot-coms. Originally from Greensboro, she moved to Charlotte because she saw Internet commerce growing at a rapid pace here. “My interest was in building businesses online and learning how this will impact our culture,” she explains. Knowmad Technologies staff has grown to five members who work in a highly collaborative and creative environment. “In technology things move fast,” says McKee. “But we don’t want a factory-focused work style. It’s important to foster the creativity of the design and problem solving sides.” Workers in Web development come from three basic backgrounds: IT, graphic design or marketing and public relations, according to McKee. The problem is that the knowledge and skills needed are so diverse, so specialized and change so rapidly, that it is difficult to create a working curriculum. “Schools are starting to graduate students that have attended specifically for a Web curriculum but none of the established agencies have come from that environment,” says McKee. “Self-taught or life-skills are very valuable in this field.” McKee and Kidd admit that they were

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taken off guard by the force of the recession which started in 2008. “We didn’t entirely see what was coming,” says Kidd. “We had to move quickly in 2009, adjusting staffing and expenses and re-planning our revenue.” In early 2010, the partners made plans to add revenue streams in Internet marketing and consulting. As a result, in 2011, they’ve seen revenues double. Now, they are back on track and, while the industry is fairly volatile, they are experiencing steady growth. “As a matter of fact, this is the best year we’ve ever had,” says McKee. “Three years ago, we couldn’t possibly have envisioned where we are now and the clients we’ve garnered. We credit it to persistence and what we think the Web can be for businesses.” The partners also salute the businessfriendly city of Charlotte. “It’s a great place to have a business,” says Kidd. “Charlotte is about relationships. We’re relationship-based. Business is built on trust,” adds McKee. “If we need to go anywhere, we can go via Internet or there’s a great airport here.” McKee and Kidd both agree: “The Web is where everybody is. We saw what was happening and also what was not happening. We set out to address what was not happening. That requires speaking a lot of different languages—that of IT, marketing, executives, and sales people. We work between all those different groups.” Knowmad advises its clients that when it comes to websites, you can’t just build it and they will come. But if you build it with solid business growth strategy, and state-of-the-art interface and functionality, and then market it well, it can take a business far, indeed. biz Zenda Douglas is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Knowmad Services, Inc. dba

Knowmad Technologies 401 Hawthorne Lane, Ste. 110-204 Charlotte, N. C. 28204 Phone: 704-343-9330 Principals: Diona Kidd, William McKee; Managing Partners Employees: 5 Established: 2002 Awards: Hermes Creative Awards—Gold (2011, 2010) Business: Comprehensive Web strategy agency focusing on online business and growth strategies, Internet marketing and website development. www.knowmad.com

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O'(5%P",7

Q',3%O'RR"17

Customer Service Expert and Best-Selling Author

Inspirational Leader and Commander of the USS Cole

Oct. 12, 2012

Nov. 9, 2012

Call For More Information Call Jenn Snyder at 704-602-9529 • jenn@hoodhargett.com !www.hoodhargettbreakfastclub.com


4521 Sharon Road, Charlotte NC 28211 • 704.532.9041 or 888.400.4447 (Located across from SouthPark Mall) Hours: Monday-Friday 10:00-7:00, Saturday 10:00-6:00 www.Diamonds-Direct.com Diamonds Direct Birmingham | Mountain Brook, AL | 205-201-7400 • Diamonds Direct Crabtree | Raleigh, NC | 919-571-2881


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