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december 2011

   Morton’s/Charlotte    iMapCharlotte.com    Morgan Chair    Suite 1000    Commercial Flooring Solutions

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Wake Forest Emboldens Its Presence in Charlotte

Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com Steven S. Reinemund Dean of Business Dr. Yvonne Hinson Dean of Charlotte Programs Wake Forest University Charlotte Center

Change Service Requested 7300 Carmel Executive Park Dr., Ste. 115, Charlotte, N.C. 28226-1310

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in this issue

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cover story

Wake Forest University Charlotte Center

“Our students, faculty and alumni are the thought leaders of Charlotte,” says Wake Forest Dean of Business Steve Reinemund. “It’s only fitting that we move to the center of this vibrant business community; we want to be at the center of business thought leadership in Charlotte.” “Charlotte has the largest concentration of our alumni in the country—more than 6,000 graduates. We want this facility to be a place they can call their second home,” adds Dr. Yvonne Hinson, Dean of Charlotte Programs.

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Morton’s/Charlotte In the three decades of Morton’s existence, they have maintained an exact vision: Quality, consistency and genuine hospitality. According to General Manager Loney Felder, “We want everything to be perfect. We want people to know that we care and that we appreciate them coming in. There should never be a guest who hasn’t been ‘wowed.’”

departments publisher’spost

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legalbiz

5

Transforming the Business of Law to Meet the Needs of Business

16 iMapcharlotte.com

consultingbiz

iMapCharlotte.com is an easy-touse interactive platform on which to explore, navigate and discover everything that Charlotte has to offer—from amusement parks to plumbers. Its unique location-based marketing approach allows businesses to demonstrate their products and services, delivering customers to their front door.

Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

28 Morgan Chair According to Jesse Morgan, vice president of this family-owned and operated custom design and reupholstery firm, “We’ve been able to grow so much so quickly because of our flexibility. As a small firm we have the flexibility to shift focus quickly. When the residential market is down, as it is currently, we can concentrate on the commercial market which is strong now.”

7

Managing and Delivering Change to Optimize Business Value

accountingbiz

9

webbiz

11

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

biznetwork

44

on the cover: Steven S. Reinemund Dean of Business Dr. Yvonne Hinson Dean of Charlotte Programs Wake Forest University Charlotte Center

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december 2011

   Morton’s/Charlotte    iMapCharlotte.com    Morgan Chair    Suite 1000    Commercial Flooring Solutions

Photo by Wayne Morris

Center Stage

to

Wake Forest Emboldens Its Presence in Charlotte

Scan to view greatercharlottebiz.com Steven S. Reinemund Dean of Business Dr. Yvonne Hinson Dean of Charlotte Programs Wake Forest University Charlotte Center

34 Suite 1000

40 Commercial

“The whole call-center industry has changed dramatically over the years,” says President Laurie Leonard. “It used to be a simple, paper-based business. You were just a glorified message-taker. That has completely changed with the rise of the Internet. Now, we can interact with our clients’ own software applications. We can become an actual extension of their company.”

“Truly world-class service is vanishing in today’s business environment”, laments President Michael Crippen. “We seek to make every interaction with our clients a positive one, and to consistently go above and beyond the call. We are not in the customer satisfaction business; we are in the customer delight business!”

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Flooring Solutions

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[publisher’spost] 704-676-5850

A Prescription for Getting Back to Work I just read Bill Clinton’s new book titled, Back to Work. It is a good read, with historical reflections on the past 40 years, and offers pragmatic advice for our current President and Congress to address the continuing economic crisis. Mr. Clinton also has some observations that offer a slightly different John Paul Galles twist on the debate between those who think that government is the problem and those who think that it is the answer. In between those two sides is his recommendation for a smart government that is lean and aggressively manages its budgets while still focusing its resources for the greatest economic growth. Mr. Clinton starts with three-part strategy to put a lot of people back to work now. First, he wants the banks and corporate entities holding nearly $4 trillion in reserves to get that money back into the economy quickly. Second, he wants to concentrate on areas most likely to produce good jobs that have a positive ripple effect…jobs in modern infrastructure building, high-end manufacturing, green technologies and exported goods and services. And third, he recommends numerous other ideas that will, collectively, make a substantial impact now and increase long-term economic growth. He admits that getting the money flowing again is much tougher following a financial crash. Reluctance on the part of banks, businesses, corporations, and consumers creates a negative atmosphere and a pessimistic business climate. Nevertheless, banks are sitting on over $2 trillion in excess reserves. Having the leverage to lend $10 for every dollar banks hold in reserves, they have the capacity to stimulate a sizeable recovery. Unfortunately, loan demand is weak and banks are extremely cautious. So, how do we unlock the money? Here are just 20 of his 46 proposals. 1. End the mortgage mess as quickly as possible. 2. Let people with government-guaranteed mortgages who are not delinquent refinance their mortgages at the current low interest rate. 3. The Federal Reserve should give the banks an incentive to lend. 4. Give corporations incentives to bring more money back to the United States. 5. Let companies repatriate their cash now with no tax liability if the money is reinvested to create new jobs. 6. Pass the payroll tax cuts. 7. Build a 21st century infrastructure. 8. Speed up the process of approving and completing infrastructure projects. 9. Launch an aggressive 50-state building retrofit initiative. 10. Get the pension funds involved. 11. Paint all roofs white. 12. Reinstate the full tax credit for new green technology jobs. 13. Finish the smart grid, with adequate transmission lines. 14. Turn more landfills into power generators. 15. Develop our natural gas resources. 16. Get the military involved to speed our energy transformation. 17. Concentrate on high-end manufacturing and getting smaller companies into exports. 18. Negotiate long-term contracts to sell food to China, Saudi Arabia, and other nations facing food shortages. 19. Increase the role of the Small Business Administration. 20. Promote crowd-funding to help small businesses raise capital. Mr. Clinton offers another two dozen ideas on top of what I have listed for you. His is the most extensive list of ideas that has been constructed in recent years. The New Year will surely be consumed with our presidential and congressional elections. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get the candidates focused on new ideas for job creation rather than simply passing blame back and forth between democrats and republicans or between the White House and Congress? We must make our future more productive and less focused on pointing fingers. We need to be creating businesses for our future instead of wishing for the past. We cannot afford to be stagnant or to go backwards. Our challenges grow tougher the longer we put them off. Bravo to Bill Clinton for bringing original thinking to the fore! Let’s bring new resolve to have more of the same in the New Year! biz

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

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December 2011 Volume 12 • Issue 12 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 Talbert Gray x106

partners CC Communications, Inc. Central Piedmont Community College hiSoft Technology International Limited Potter & Company, P.A. Wishart, Norris, Henninger & Pittman, P.A.

Contributing Writers Zenda Douglas Barbara Fagan Suzanne Fulton Heather Head Casey Jacobus Lauren Whitmore

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.

w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

[legalbiz]

T

he Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently asserted that morbid obesity can qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The EEOC contends, with regard to one employee in particular, that this obesity substantially limited the employee in one or more major life activities. The employer terminated the employee because, according to the employer, he could no longer perform his job. The employer is alleged to have not allowed the employee to transfer to a different job and to have not engaged in any process to determine if reasonable accommodations could be made to allow him to perform his job. Because of this, the EEOC alleges the employer violated the ADAAA. The EEOC alleges that the employee could perform his essential job functions and that he was replaced by a person who was not morbidly obese. In 2006, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that obesity must have a physiological cause. However, that was before the ADAAA. One court has held that, under the ADAAA, obesity does not need to be linked to a disorder. Further, under the ADAAA, an employer’s “perception of disability” may create protections for employees even when a true disability is not present.

It is also important to remember that major bodily functions are included as part of major life activities so that, if any of them are substantially impaired, a disability may exist. The bodily functions include digestive, bladder, reproductive and other functions. While there is no clear cut answer to the current case about whether morbid obesity is a disability, it appears that the scales may be tilting in favor of it being a disability, either because it qualifies as substantially limiting a major life activity or because the employer believes it does. A general note about important differences in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and ADAAA: While an employee may not have a condition that qualifies for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that condition may require the employer to provide leave as a reasonable accommodation for the disability. The ADAAA applies to employers with 15 or more employees, while the FMLA does not apply until the employer has 50 employees. Further, the ADAAA applies the first day of employment, while the FMLA does not apply until after 12 months.

Your Employee Handbook May Be an

Political Support for Business

Employment Contract

Your employee handbook says all the right things. It tells employees that their employment is “at will.” You document your employee files with written performance reviews and written notices of misconduct. You just terminated an employee as a result of misconduct. You should not have to worry about claims by the former employee. Unfortunately, you still do. Rite Aid recently had just such an issue with its employee handbook. The employee handbook stated that employees are “at-will.” The employee in question was terminated as an employee for documented misconduct. The employee even admitted the misconduct. However, South Carolina law requires a disclaimer of “at will” employment in underlined capital letters on the first page of the employee handbook, and the disclaimer must be signed by the employee. While it appeared that the employee did not sign the disclaimer, the court did not find that that was the problem. The problem came from another policy outside the employee handbook. This policy contained a mandatory discipline procedure for dealing with specific misconduct that was listed as one of the reasons the employee was fired. This policy did not have the disclaimer regarding the employee���s “at will” status. Rite Aid argued that the employee’s employment was not terminated based solely on misconduct covered by the separate policy. However, because the termination was in part based on the misconduct covered by the policy, the employee gets to argue his case to the jury.

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

A recent survey in Inc. magazine asked business owners what they believe to be true about federal government currently:

2% were highly satisfied with its effectiveness, and 67% were highly unsatisfied. The two big issues on business owners’ minds were unemployment/job creation and the budget deficit. When asked which political parties best support small business:

35% answered that no party supports small business,

23% believe Republicans best support small business, and

21% believe Democrats best support them. 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.

december 2011

5

CENTRAL PIEDMONT COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Investing in our community For almost 50 years, CPCC has been building leaders who pursue meaningful careers that significantly contribute to the community. One such alumnus is Jim Rogers, whose talents and professional skills are making Charlotte a better place to live and work. Says Jim, “Charlotte’s real estate market demands that its professionals be active in the community, have up-to-date skills and possess defined goals – all life lessons I learned in the CPCC classroom.” To learn more about CPCC and its programs and alumni or to support the College, visit cpcc.edu or cpccfoundation.com.

Jim Rogers CPCC Alumnus, Associate Degree in General Education Cofounder, Flagship Capital

hiSoft Technology International Limited

[consultingbiz]

Global Partner for Success

Failing to Plan is a Plan for Failure (and Planning as Usual)

Y

identified in the previous step. It is imperative that the objectives identified directly impact the issue or impact processes that run parallel to the issue. 3. Define Company Goals. Senior Leadership defines company goals. The goals, either enhanced from past initiatives or recently created, should be looked at as “perfect state” goals or as “if money and time were no object.” This is then defined as the “Perfect State,” and the subsequent steps will be considered BFP or working Backwards From Perfect. 4. Develop Creative Strategies That Support the Goals. The cross functional team of client employees and the Consulting Project Manager use creative, outside-the-box techniques to develop strategies that directly support each of the independent goals. These strategies do not take into consideration the current state of things within the organization, but rather stand independently as supporters of the goals. As stated earlier, the strategies will be developed working backwards from the “Perfect” goal.

our organization will not survive in these economic conditions by thinking and planning as it has in the past. Strategic planning should be a driver of competitive advantage and not just an exercise we do every year as we continue to bleed out. There is a better way to plan and it involves a “lean” approach utilized by the healthiest organizations worldwide. It is known as the Hoshin Kanri method of strategic planning. Hoshin Kanri is a Japanese term that loosely translated means “direction setting” or I have heard it referenced as “compass-like” in nature. This hints at the nature of the methodology that has a dual approach, the first being to set the long range objectives of the company or the “vision” and second, to make ongoing improvements on a dayto-day basis as you are striving for that future vision. The Benefits of Hoshin Kanri The first benefit to the Hoshin Kanri approach is that you are forced to re-evaluate your current vision of the company and apply creativity in setting its future direction. There is nothing wrong with setting a vision that is truly visionary in nature. You do not need to take into account your current issues but rather think of a future state where your clients are happy, auditors are easy to deal with, and you are getting payment for your services without disruption. Whatever it is you desire in your business, you place it at the center of your vision. The second benefit is the built-in accountability and ownership the process provides. The accountability and ownership is directly tied to its use of measurements and metrics. Each subcomponent of action supporting the efforts to reach the vision is tied to one or more metrics. The constant review of these metrics and the creation of reports on these metrics make the progress visible to all those involved. The third benefit to the Hoshin Kanri methodology is its familiarity. Many of the main tools used in its application are already in use. This shortens the learning curve associated with major initiatives. You have peace of mind in knowing you are truly addressing what lies at the root of your opportunities and understand the impact your decisions will have to your bottom line.

Implementation of Hoshin Kanri 1. Identify Critical Business Issues. The Senior Leadership Team identifies high-level opportunities within the organization that need attention. A Strategic Business Consultant can assist in the identification of these opportunities based on prior engagements. They can also act as a guide to high-level vision creation. 2. Establish Business Objectives That Address Issues. The Senior Leadership team establishes objectives that directly address the opportunities Patrick Sullivan, Managing Consultant and Process Excellence Knowledge Domain Leader 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

5. Define Sub-goals That Support Strategies. At this step detailed templates are used to capture each individual goal, the sub-goals, owners of the sub-goals, as well as sub-goal-related metrics. The metrics are developed in the next step. The information gathered at this step is designed for use in the critical Hoshin concept of reflection. You should take a step back and see if indeed you are accomplishing what you hoped to accomplish. 6. Establish Measurements for Business Fundamentals. This is critical to the success of the overall effort. You have to keep an eye on the fundamental items that are important to the success of a key business process. If you start to slip here you have to make adjustments as needed before you can get back to the long-range strategy efforts. These metrics should be tracked in an easy-to-read dashboard to make the metrics visible. In summary, the Hoshin Kanri approach utilizing creative strategic approaches will provide you with the structure that is necessary to improve your business-related processes in line with an overall strategic direction. Content contributed by hiSoft Technology International Limited, a consulting services firm. For more information, contact Patrick Sullivan, Managing Consultant and Process Excellence Knowledge Domain Leader in the U.S. Consulting Division, at patrick. sullivan@hisoft.com or 704-944-3155 or visit www.hisoft.com.

december 2011

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scan our QR code for a virtual showroom tour

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Potter & Company, P.A.

[accountingbiz]

Accounting, Tax and Consulting Solutions

I

’ve got the best employees. They are a loyal, dedicated and trustworthy group. They would never do anything detrimental to hurt this company. The frauds that I’ve read and heard about in other companies would never happen here.” Does this sound familiar? Chances are most business owners feel this way. But is it a false sense of security?

Can you imagine how devastating it would be to you and your business if you lost $230,000 to a fraud? According to the 2010 fraud survey conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), this is the median loss to private businesses per fraud scheme. And if that aspect doesn’t raise your eyebrows, consider that the most costly schemes are usually perpetrated by longtime, trusted employees in the accounting department who have access to the company’s money and accounting records—the very employees you have placed a great deal of trust in. Many frauds can go on for years prior to detection. Source: 2010 ACFE – Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse – 2010 Global Fraud Study

Fraud is defined as wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. To commit a fraud, an employee must have opportunity, rationalization and motivation. Many times employees will rationalize fraud with an attitude that the company “owes” them. Many employees committing fraud believe that they are just borrowing the money and will pay it back. Fraud indicators or red flags to look for in your employees are a change in lifestyle, financial difficulties, and control issues such as refusing to share job duties or take vacation. As a business owner, you should be concerned about a number of different fraud schemes. The one that usually gets the most publicity is one where an employee has embezzled cash by forging checks. However, fraud can take many forms, such as: stealing customer payments and falsifying customer receivable records, creating false vendor invoices payable to the fraudster, writing unauthorized checks for personal expenses, inflating expense reports, or paying “ghost” employees (someone who is not a current employee) and then taking the check. So what can you do as a business owner? Although no amount of controls or oversight can completely eliminate the risk of fraud on your business, there are steps you can take to increase controls and reduce fraud risk. By implementing these measures, you will be able to lower the opportunity for fraud.

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

Source: 2010 ACFE – Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse – 2010 Global Fraud Study

 Install a tip/fraud hotline. The one number source for finding fraud, tip hotlines are generally run by independent third parties who specialize in this area. They are easy to implement and relatively inexpensive.  Have intimate knowledge of the day-to-day operations of the business, including having a physical presence. An absentee owner gives employees more opportunities to commit fraud.  Be careful not to co-mingle business and personal expenses. Employees watch how you handle company money and may use this to justify their own actions.  Review monthly financial statements on a timely and consistent basis; look for unusual trends.  Review all supporting documentation for invoices and expense reports before signing checks. Know your vendors and the frequency of payments to them.  Use online bank access to view activity in bank accounts or get bank statements sent directly to you and review cancelled checks or images to detect checks written without your knowledge or if payees were changed after management signature.  Separate incompatible duties. Have one employee receive customer payments, but others make bank deposits and reconcile the bank statements, eliminating the opportunity to misappropriate cash and then conceal it.  Review payroll reports paying special attention to new employees, terminated employees and pay rate changes. Hand deliver payroll checks periodically by surprise to prevent a payroll manager from writing a check to a “ghost employee” and then intercepting it for personal deposit.  Discuss your current control systems with your CPA. Consider having your accountant perform a set of agreed-upon procedures to test specific controls to test if they are working properly.  Monitor use of company credit cards closely. Adopt a policy for no personal expenses on company credit cards.  Make sure your business has adequate employee theft coverage which is relatively inexpensive; many businesses either do not have this coverage or don’t know how much coverage they have or need. In most cases, your company is the largest investment that you have. In these economic times it is more important than ever to keep a close eye on that investment. Content contributed by Jeff Carlini, CPA, CFE, audit manager with Potter & Company, P.A., a locally based certified public accounting firm offering core services of audit, business consulting, tax, and financial analysis. For more information, contact him at 704-926-3300 or visit www.gotopotter.com.

december 2011

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The most trusted health insurer in North Carolina. Plans for you, your family and your business.

The most trusted health insurer in North Carolina based on FrederickPolls, LLC April 2011. An independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. U7811, 9/11

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w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

CC Communications, Inc.

[webbiz]

New Media Strategies, Secrets and Solutions

Advances in Mobile Web Technologies Dial Up New Customers

Over 35 percent of all adult Americans regularly now use smartphone technology to gather information, make buying decisions, and initiate transactions. Today, consumers are fully engaged, connecting using mobile Web browsers and applications at home (93%), while on the go (87%), in stores (77%), at work (72%) and nearly everywhere else. Moreover, mobile Web customers are extremely responsive, with 9 out of 10 smartphone users taking direct action as a result of online searching. Smartphone consumer activity is exploding, but is your business ready and equipped to attract and serve this expanding market? There are new tools and techniques that can speed the development of your company’s mobile Web performance.* Think “Mobile Advantage.” Mobile credit card transactions… Swipe credit cards and process instant, secure online payment transactions anywhere using Square (SquareUp.com). Square provides a free tiny card swipe reader device that plugs directly into the audio jack of your smartphone. With the use the free Square mobile phone app, you may swipe credit cards and process individual payments that are later deposited directly into your designated checking account. For a low 2.75 percent flat rate transaction fee, you can collect unlimited payments immediately from any location with a cell phone signal. Instant touchpad ordering systems… Enhance your onsite order-taking capability by providing customers with the option to place menu-driven orders themselves, using the touchpad built into their own smartphones. At-a-glance menus can easily be presented through a mobile landing page and accessed when needed through the cell phone’s Web browser. Once submitted, the incoming order is posted on a receiving screen visible by members of your staff. Order and pricing confirmations along with estimated wait times can be returned back to the smartphone user via SMS text message. This same mobile Web process can be configured to accept online reservations, confirm available inventory, schedule a service call, preorder pick-up items, present status updates, or convey group-wide messages. Just-in-time coupon delivery… Over 70 percent of all mobile Web consumers use their phone while shopping in stores, providing numerous proactive onsite sales opportunities. To promote greater walkin traffic, offer smartphone customers the ability to access an on-screen coupon that may be redeemed at the register within the next 60 minutes. Encourage customers to register for a coupon, special gift or incentive while shopping, so that you may collect their contact information for future marketing purposes. Display special QR codes on store shelves that can link the smartphone shopper directly to special un-advertised, in-store incentives designed to encourage an immediate 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.

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

Price comparison shopping… Mobile Web shoppers often compare competitive product pricing online before they decide to complete a purchase at current given store location. To combat potential lost sales, consider posting a guaranteed price-matching policy in the store, allowing customers to present competitive prices that they locate using their smartphone to qualify for an immediate, matching in-store discount. An online tour-guide… Remember that a smartphone can instantly connect customers to a wide range of on-demand, self-guided sales presentations, even if you cannot be present to close the deal. Offer links to YouTube video presentations that feature testimonials, narrated walkthroughs or detailed product demonstrations at any time of the day. Display QR codes that directly prompt smartphones to display product information and self-service order forms. Post interactive touch screen questionnaires that are designed to prequalify and determine a customer’s specific interest to facilitate follow-up sales activities. *Statistics by Mashable.com and Mobile Movement Study (Apr-11) conducted by Google.com

Surf’s Up!

Catch the Mobile Browsing Wave What’s the next big kahuna among new marketing channels? Mobile browsing is the big surf, man. Check out these rising trends according to mobiThinking.com. ■ Mobile browsing will double in the next 5 years to 1 billion+ users as mobile overtakes the PC as the preferred way to access the Web. ■ 25% of U.S. mobile Web users are mobileonly, meaning they do not, or rarely use a desktop, laptop or tablet to surf the Web. ■ Mobile searches have quadrupled in the past year. For some items, 1 in 7 searches are now mobile. ■ 71% of smartphone users when viewing television will also select online ads or conduct a mobile search for more information. ■ 79% of large online advertisers do not yet have a website optimized for mobile.

What about your business? Are you ready to catch the wave? ~Kip Cozart

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w w w. g re a t e rc h a r l o t t e b i z . c o m

by heather head

[bizprofile]

Something S

ince Morton’s first opened in Chicago in 1978, they’ve had one vision: Quality, consistency and genuine hospitality. In the three decades since, over 75 restaurants have been added, while maintaining that exact vision. Every recipe is meticulously tested and adhered to, every steak is cut according to exact measurements, every lobster is weighed and inspected for quality before and after being shipped directly from Maine, every loaf of bread is baked to precise specifications and delivered to the table piping hot. Hospitality is maintained according to similarly exacting standards.

Morton’s the Steakhouse Turns a Night on the Town into a Remarkable Experience t was a cold and snowy night when Jerry Richardson and Ron Rivera sat down to iron out the final details that would bring Rivera to the Charlotte Panthers. Downtown, restaurants and retail establishments were gradually closing their doors and shutting down in answer to the weather. Loney Felder III, general manager for Morton’s the Steakhouse, had notified his staff to prepare to close early when he got the phone call: Richardson wanted to know if he could bring Rivera in. “Of course,” said Felder. Of course. For Morton’s the Steakhouse, hosting Charlotte’s movers and shakers is all in a day’s work. But for diners at the upscale restaurant, every visit is something special. The Experience When Felder holds staff meetings for Morton’s employees, he often asks everyone to write down who they think the most important employees are. He says you can tell who has been in the company for a while because they will list the dishwasher first, followed by the valet and the hostess. The manager and the servers certainly have an impact, he explains, but the dishwasher is responsible for ensuring that the diner’s experience is spotless in every regard. Likewise, the valet and the hostess are responsible for the guest’s first impression. From the valet who opens the car door with a smile, to the lively menu presentation featuring raw steaks and a live lobster (still wriggling its legs as it’s lifted from the silver platter), every moment of the Morton’s dining experience is remarkable. Felder says that’s especially important at Morton’s because they know they are not an everyday restaurant for many of their visitors, thanks to the upscale price point (starting at $50 a person for a dinner entrée). “We are not the least expensive place in the world to eat,” he admits. “We remind ourselves of that daily. It is a big deal for a person to make a decision to come in to us and spend the money. With what’s going on economically right now, we have to be as close as possible to perfect.” To deliver that perfect experience, Felder says every shift begins with a meal for the staff. Over the food, they discuss the upcoming evening: Who will be there, what significant events are being celebrated, and anything out of the ordinary. When a guest sits down in the richly appointed dining room (private rooms are available), the server already knows their name, why they are there, and whether it is their first visit. Each server assists only two or three tables at a time, and the manager visits each table regularly asking pointed questions regarding whether the food has been prepared to the guest’s taste, whether they would like help with the wine selec➤ tion, and if there is anything else they would like.

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The menu consists of highest quality foods from around the country. Morton’s famous steaks are cut thick in a surgically clean facility in Chicago and grilled fresh in the open kitchen where guests can watch their chef prepare the meal. Seafood is flown in daily to offer fresh, lighter fare. A warm, fragrant onion loaf served before every meal is baked daily by DePalo Bakery in Belmont. The restaurant’s succulent dessert menu includes true New York cheesecake (“not just NY style,” says Felder, “this really is flown in from New York”) and a Grand Marnier soufflé, prepared in-house, boasting an incredibly complex bouquet and smooth texture that melts in the mouth. Morton’s food quality has not gone unnoticed. From Consumer Reports “Excellent” ratings to The Steakhouse Spirit Award, and the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, Morton’s has garnered national recognition, even as each location gathers accolades from local publications. The Charlotte location received The Charlotte Observer’s Best Steak & Best Dessert commendation and Charlotte Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Best Steakhouse award. The Legend It’s no surprise that many of Charlotte’s most successful business people dine regularly at Morton’s. But many may be surprised to learn that the restaurant’s roots lie in the lowly hamburger, prepared for a Playboy Club in the 1970s. Arnie Morton and Klaus Fritsch were working at the Club in Montreal at the time. Fritsch prepared a hamburger for Morton to try, and was startled when Morton burst into the kitchen to demand, “Who cooked that hamburger?” The two opened their first Morton’s in Chicago in 1978 on a vision: Quality, consistency and genuine hospitality. In the three decades since, over 75 restaurants have been added, while maintaining that exact vision. Every recipe is meticulously tested and adhered to, every steak is cut according to exact measurements, every lobster is weighed and inspected for quality before and after being shipped directly from Maine, every loaf of bread is baked to precise specifications and delivered to the table piping hot. Felder says hospitality is maintained according to similarly exacting standards. Every new employee undergoes a two- to three-week training process before being given gradually increasing responsibilities. No server is ever asked to attend to more than four tables at a time, and usually it is kept to two or three. Every dish is inspected for absolute meticulous cleanliness before being brought to the table.

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Loney Felder III General Manager Morton’s/Charlotte LLC

Additionally, Felder says he experienced something at Morton’s he had never experienced as a manager at any other food service organization. He was asked by his superiors to please spend more money on staff. Usually, he says, it’s the other way around—your executive management wants you to cut costs. But at Morton’s, the customer experience is primary, and the organization requires GMs to ensure the floor is well covered at all times. “We want everything to be perfect. We want people to know that we care and that we appreciate them coming in,” he says. “There should never be a guest who hasn’t been 'wowed.'” Joining the Corps Morton’s is unusual in the food service industry, where turnover is generally high. Many members of the Morton’s staff have been with the company for several years, some as long as 17 or more. The organization has won multiple “Great Places to Work” awards including Chain Leader’s Best Places to Work and People Report’s Best People Practices Award. Felder’s bio includes stints with three of the armed forces (Army, Marines, and National Guard) as a medic, strategist and intelligence analyst, as well as an extensive food service experience. He has dreamed for a long time of running his own restaurant but says that Morton’s has changed his mind: “I feel like this is a family I want to hang on to.” Felder’s roots reach south, to New Orleans, where he grew up loving food. Out of high school, he entered the Marines Special Operations and later switched to the Army

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“We want people to know that we care and that we appreciate them coming in. There should never be a guest who hasn’t been ‘wowed.’ No one does it like Morton’s does it—from a service standpoint, a quality standpoint, and from the standpoint of giving back socially.” ~Loney Felder III General Manager

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where he cross-trained as a medic and fought in Desert Storm. “I was involved all over the world,” he recollects. “Doing things I never thought I’d do. It was quite an experience.” When he left the Army, he attended the University of New Orleans where he met “the love of my life,” to whom he has been married 18 years. In addition to his three children from an earlier marriage whom he helped to raise, he and his wife have two children together. After their first was

staff is dealt with and the way the staff deals with the customers,” he remembers. “And I’m looking at a lot of smiles. People are enjoying themselves.”

So when the general manager asked him to come on full-time as a server, he decided to make the leap. It represented a pay cut for his growing family, but he knew Morton’s was a place he could feel good being a part of. Felder’s hopes in the company were not disappointed, but in 2009 the SouthPark location closed due to the recession, and it was several

born, he looked around at the dangerous neighborhoods he had grown up in, and decided he wanted to take his children some place with more opportunity for education and success. Charlotte fit the bill. So in 1998, he and his wife jumped at a chance to come north and help open a Cajun restaurant called Copeland’s. Although it opened with a bang, the restaurant didn’t last long in this market (“the Charlotte palette just wasn’t ready for that level of Cajun cuisine” says Felder), but the Felders stayed on. Among other things, Felder became assistant foods manager for Aramark at the Wachovia Center, where he ensured that thousands of people were fed high quality food every day. The hours were tough—4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday—and the stress was tougher. More significantly, management began to ask Felder to make decisions he didn’t feel good about making. Felder credits his wife with encouraging him to make the difficult decision to look elsewhere. He took a part-time position at Morton’s in SouthPark as an expeditor. “I went in there, and I’m looking at product quality and the way the

Felder says that Morton’s makes community involvement a major part of its mission in every city it enters. As general manager, he is responsible for overseeing and guiding the direction of the restaurant’s involvement in Charlotte. Currently, the organization directly supports the Make a Wish foundation, raising funds and providing free meals to participants who come through Charlotte, making their evening on the town a memorable one. Additionally, Morton’s celebrates “Philanthropy Week,” creating a special threecourse dinner and donating $25.00 from each menu as well 10 percent of all bottled wine sales during to a charitable organization chosen specifically for that week. Future Felder says he has high hopes for the future of both the restaurant and his own career within it. “It’s a difficult market out there,” he concedes. “But Morton’s is committed to its brand, to exceed everyone’s expectations, to blow them away, to wow them. Give them more than they expect.” The restaurant has been on the ground floor of the Carillon Building on Trade Street for 17 years, and Felder expects it to be there for at least as many more. As for himself, he wants to become the best GM at Morton’s and perhaps someday take on other roles in the organization. “Our current CEO, Chris Artinian, started at the bottom. I look up at that and say, nothing should stop us from reaching our dreams.” Wherever Felder’s dreams eventually take him, he and the staff at Morton’s are providing Charlotteans and their guests a truly distinguished dining experience while adding substantial value to the fabric of our community. biz Heather Head is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

months before Felder was able to come back to the company, this time at the downtown location, where he worked as a server. In 2010, he was asked to take the position of assistant manager, and then in July 2011 he was offered the general management position he currently holds. “It was a natural fit for me,” he explains. “It allowed me to do something I liked with a company I felt comfortable with. No one does it like Morton’s does it—from a service standpoint, a quality standpoint, and from the standpoint of giving back socially.”

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Morton’s/Charlotte LLC 227 West Trade Street Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Phone: 704-333-2602 Principals: Christopher Artinian, President and CEO; Loney Felder III, General Manager Charlotte Headquarters: Chicago, Ill. Employees: 40 at Charlotte location In Business: 17 years in Charlotte, 33 years in Chicago Business: Upscale steakhouse restaurant. www.mortons.com/charlotte

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[bizprofile]

by lauren whitmore

That’s how Brian Wrasman describes the iMap interactive Web application. In reality, it is anything but. What he and his team of coders have developed may be child-like genius. It is a location-based interactive mapping tool which might best be described as “not your father’s yellow pages” and “not your father’s map.” It is truly the best of both of those rolled up into one easy-to-use interface. With the increasing use of GPS making local maps especially hard to find, and “location-based searches” yielding plain vanilla results, Wrasman’s technology, referred to as the iMap, brings together the most essential results to a query, presented in an incredibly inviting and easy-to-use interface, with physical location including all the benefits of mapping technology like directions and choices of routes to travel. Combine that forward-thinking technology with a business plan that allows area attractions, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, health care, personal services, and commercial and residential products and services, to put their information on the map for the benefit of area visitors, consumers, other businesses, and even relocations, supported by the local media partners, and you have…well, you have one heck of a powerful portal called iMapCharlotte. Why the iMap? Asked about the “i” in iMapCharlotte, Wrasman responds enthusiastically, “It stands for so many things…the fact that anyone can use iMap easily (‘I’ map) so that they are truly mapping it for themselves, that it is the most ‘intelligent’ way to map utilizing all of the benefits of our digital technology thus far, that it is ‘Internet’-based and always the most up-to-date and comprehensive ➤ ‘information’ available…you name it.

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Explore Navigate Discover

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• Corporate • Advertising • Industrial • Editorial

“It is ‘I’-centric, showing you all of the community resources available for your queries in an engaging and dynamic fashion, helping you make choices by bringing otherwise disparate information together in one place. It turns ‘searching’ into a picture showing the user what they are looking for relative to other community resources—truly the way real people think and plan their activities. With the help and benefit of our community media sponsors, we like to think of it as a onestop-shop for a true community-based discovery.”

• Web Images • Architectural • Interiors & Exteriors • Professional Portraits

wayne@wmphoto.biz www.wmphoto.biz

704.545.7001

Architectural Interior & Exterior Services Piedmont Behavioral Health in Kannapolis

iMapCharlotte.com

Wrasman explains, “In a world of digital consumption, businesses are searching for ways to move their advertising messages online. This new focus often brings the opportunity to target consumers in a way not previously available with traditional media ad buys. Add on top of that a need for relevancy, and the digital advertising landscape can become difficult to manage. “In the past, broadcast was the way to attract new clients. Broadcast your message to the masses

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iMapCharlotte iMap Dashboard

iMapCharlotte iSite 1. Logo. Your company’s logo can be featured on the map in addition to “billboards” and traditional banner ads. Clicking on the logo will bring up your company’s iSite which can be managed through the iMapDashboard. (A)

Basic Info

A

2. Info. Your company’s name and contact information and description are prominently displayed and changeable through the iMapDashboard 24/7/365; you can even move the pinpoint to a more accurate position on the map! (A) 3. Website. Users can easily access your website for additional information. 4. Directions. Drive customers to your front door! With easy to navigate turn-by-turn directions, customers can find their way to your location through their computers or mobile devices.

B Coupons

5. Video or Image. Introduce your business through video or image to give customers an “inside look” into what you have to offer. Changeable 24/7/365 through the iMapDasboard. 6. Social Media. Connect with customers through your social media links. 7. Recommend. Consumers can give your business a “thumbs up” and share you with others.

Tracking

C

8. 3D Building View. Visitors can explore your business in 3D on Google Earth. 9. Coupons. Drive customers to your business with special coupon incentives. Manage coupon campaigns through iMapDashboard (B). All available on Community Coupon Board as well. 10. Info Requests. When users request more information about your business you will be notified through email so that you can follow up with them directly. All emails are saved to your iMapDashboard!

Community Coupon Board

11. Analytics. Tracking information is available on your iMapDashboard to help you analyze traffic to your iSite! (C) 12. QR Code. A QR code is provided that will help you drive traffic directly to your iSite. The QR code can be used on business cards, brochures and flyers, tee shirts and promotional items, and shared by smartphone and posted absolutely anywhere!

Info Requests/Email Storage

and hope that your message sticks with enough consumers to justify your ad buy. This shotgun approach doesn’t seem to cut it in today’s online and mobile media consumption. Even traditional media outlets are finding themselves scrambling for a relevant platform to give their advertisers a connection with their audiences who are flocking to Web and mobile interfaces. “iMapCharlotte is a way to provide consumers with an interactive platform to explore, navigate and discover everything that Charlotte has to offer. Through its unique location-based marketing opportunity, local businesses have a new connection point with residents and visitors on a digital platform. Sponsored in part with local media partners, like Clear Channel, iMapCharlotte provides a user-friendly way to interact with the city. “Residents and visitors are able to find what they’re looking for through a map interface that gives the geographic reference points throughout the area. Whether they’ve lived here their entire life or are just visiting for the weekend, iMapCharlotte gives them the tools they need to discover shopping, area attractions, places to eat, local accommodations, and much more. And for local businesses, it’s a great way to show off your business.” A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words Using the iMap could not be simpler. Users open the map by relevant category of what they are looking for, and explore by clicking on pinpoints and logos. When they click on a business logo, all of its information pops up. iMapCharlotte makes it possible to view area attractions, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, health care, personal services, and commercial and residential products and services—virtually any type of business—on the map of the community. Taking an afternoon to see a Discovery Place exhibit and want to investigate nearby attractions, restaurants and shopping? No problem. Click on the layers. Need to find that specialty meat shop for that more-important-than-average dinner party? No problem. You can see if the butcher himself has some choice words for you on a video. Even if the location is across town, you can figure out some other errands to combine it with. Looking for a plumber but want someone located near you (who may be more accountable) and someone who personally appeals to you to have in your house? No problem—there’s even a video of them to gain some familiarity. Once you access the map at Charlotte www.iMapCharlotte.com, and choose what categories you would ➤ like to see, you are presented with

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Examples: Charlotte

Larner’s Office Furniture

Charlotte

a series of pinpoints and logos showBallantyne Center for Dentistry ing the locations of businesses in your search parameters. Pinpoints show location, name and phone number, and logos show the enhanced listings which bring up a popup box, an “iSite” (double entendre intended), which immediately displays detailed company information, and Web site or other link, video or image of their choosing, and provides click-throughs to driving directions, coupons, social media connections, and even direct communication with the business. The iMap is scalable; that is, you can even zoom into neighborhoods. View the city as a region or as a collection of communities. By scrolling into or out of a location, you can change your viewing sites pertinent to your search in that area. This allows infinite scalability to include as many businesses as want to be on the map. iMapCharlotte is free to users; businesses can currently be listed on the map free of charge with a pinpoint, but can upgrade to an enhanced presence (Web link, driving directions, social media sharing, info requests, dashboard analytics) at one of three annual levels. “Billboards,” or advertising icons created to look just like billboards, and banner and block advertisements on the iMap are also available. The True Nut of the Experience It is one thing to be “wowed” by the iMap— but you don’t truly appreciate it as a “work of art” until you have experienced its other side—the user interface. So easy, so streamlined, so straightforward. Accessible by the individual user 24/7/365. It not only allows for direct uploads, but also coupon creation and campaign management, correspondence tracking, analytics tracking, etc. It even has a community coupon board bringing together all coupons on the site. Perhaps its most welcome feature are the stepby-step video instructions for all of its functionality. It almost feels like an infomercial…“But wait…

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compared to 99 percent of ‘local search.’ It is important to us to be embraced by community media partners—those entities who already have a vested interHampton Inn SouthPark est in the community and vehicle with which to promote it and who already have customers that could benefit from this type of mapping application,” explains Wrasman. Charlotte

There’s more…” iMap users can actually direct traffic to their iSite through the use of QR codes. Combining this feature and the information request email tracking, the iSite really amounts to a secondary website—or for smaller entities—a primary website. The QR code can be used on business cards, brochures and flyers, tee shirts and promotional items, shared by smartphone and posted absolutely anywhere to direct customers and potential customers directly to the company’s information. In a lot of ways, the business presentation is a lot like a website itself, bringing together the essential information about the business in one place, quickly and easily accessible, or as Wrasman says, “Bringing traffic to your door.” Wrasman and his team have contemplated one particularly special usage and that is the events of the DNC Committee’s convention here in Charlotte in August 2012. As a matter of fact, there’s even an www.iMapDNC2012.com map in the works for events and locations during the weeklong political caucus. In this way, the iMap lends itself to a true community experience, not an impersonal Internet experience. And it becomes truly supported by community resources pumping specific community information into it with a flavor that the Internet-at-large does not really allow. “This community aspect of the iMap product is extremely important to the business model. It’s where we really shine

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Who Is This iMap? Appropriate you should ask, “Who is this iMap?” iMap is a team of developers well-versed in the various programming languages and coding interfaces, headed by Wrasman. Wrasman, himself, is point man for the user interface of the coding and the user experience. Although he is a native Hoosier, Go QRazee! A QR Code to the iSite provides a direct connection to your company information! Use it on business cards, brochures and flyers, tee shirts and promotional items, share it by smartphone and post it absolutely anywhere to direct customers and potential customers directly to the iSite!

tte arlo

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he chose Charlotte to launch the iMap product because of the wealth of intellect, opportunity, and “openness”—openness to using new technology. He is very amiable, charming, personable, down-to-earth—just what you’d expect of someone proficient in creating user interfaces. He prides himself on his group of coding compatriots: “We have a kick-ass team of expert coders and programmers that are cutting-edge in the industry. Andrew Westberg, who heads up the behindthe-scenes development, is one of the foremost Flash/Flex developers in the country. He regularly attends seminars around the world and has even obtained patents on some of his work. We are very fortunate to have such a tight-knit group and so anxious to engage on the forefront of technology.” Wrasman began developing the iMap product as a captive portal for member-based organizations. There are now over 40-some across the U.S. iMapCharlotte is enhanced with feature sets that are more robust and designed with larger geographic areas in mind. Wrasman and his team are also looking other markets like Indianapolis and St. Louis but Charlotte is the flagship product. Current iMapCharlotte media partners include Clear Channel Broadcasting’s five area radio stations and Galles Communications Group, which is also acting as exclusive reseller in the Charlotte area. “We have made great associations here in Charlotte already with both radio and business magazine media partners. The community has been very welcoming and hospitable—and helpful in streamlining the product for this community. With the upcoming DNC Convention, there are so many uses we can develop in the coming year!” biz

SPECIALISTS IN VOICE NETWORKS FOR 32 YEARS.

NOT YOUR T YPICAL ACCOUNTING FIRM

Lauren Whitmore is a Charlotte-based freelance writer

iMapPlaces, LLC dba

iMapCharlotte 7300 Carmel Exec. Park Dr., Ste. 115 Charlotte, N.C. 28226 Phone: 877-823-4123 Principal: Brian D. Wrasman, Chief Marketing Officer Employees: 5 full-time, staff of subcontractors Software Development: C/C++, Unix, Linux, .NET C#, Java, Adobe Flex/AIR, various scripting languages Experience: Web-based interactive mapping applications since 2009; Web design and video production since 2007 Business: Easy-to-use interactive platform through which to explore, navigate and discover everything that Charlotte has to offer. www.imapcharlotte.com

AUDIT & ATTEST SERVICES ACCOUNTING SERVICES GOVERNMENTAL & A-133 AUDITS MERGER & ACQUISITION PLANNING

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Accountants First, Advisors Foremost 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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[bizprofile]

Center Stage Wake Forest Emboldens Its Presence in Charlotte

After 16 years in the SouthPark area, the nationally ranked Wake Forest University MBA for Working Professionals Programs in Charlotte will move to a new expanded campus in the heart of Uptown. Wake Forest’s part-time MBA program was recently ranked in the top 10 percent in the nation and the #1 program of its kind in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report. Its new facility, set to open next month, is located in 30,000 square feet of the former International Trade Center at 200 North College Street, and will be named Wake Forest University Charlotte Center. “Our students, faculty and alumni are the thought leaders of Charlotte. It’s only fitting that we move to the center of this vibrant business community,” says Wake Forest Dean of Business Steve Reinemund. “We want to be at the center of business thought leadership in Charlotte,” he continues. “There’s currently no dominant force filling that need.” Reinemund joined the University in 2008 after retiring from a 23-year career with PepsiCo, Inc. where he served as chairman of the board and prior to that, CEO. He is also currently a member of the board of directors of American Express, Exxon, Walmart and Marriott. “We feel a move to the center of the city will allow us to better meet the needs for executive education in Charlotte,” adds Dr. Yvonne Hinson, Dean of Charlotte Programs. “We also want to be centrally located for both student and business access.” Hinson, who has been a faculty member at Wake Forest’s main campus for 14 years and is a PricewaterhouseCoopers Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor, was appointed dean earlier this year because of her “strong track record of performance” according to Reinemund. Hinson also has personal ties to her new position. She is a Charlotte native who received both her B.S. in accounting and her MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The new location will also be a gathering place for Wake Forest alums,” Hinson says. “Charlotte has the largest concentration of our alumni in the country—more than 6,000 graduates. We want this facility to be a place they can call their second home.” The Uptown campus is built for flexibility. Classrooms allow for break outs into group work and two lecture rooms are equipped to stream video back and forth with the Winston-Salem main campus. Other features include a state-of–the-art boardroom, atrium, catering kitchen and interactive learning labs. The emphasis on group ➤ learning is encouraged outside classrooms with laptop workstations and seating areas grouped for discussion.

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Dr. Dan Fogel, executive professor of strategy and winner of the 2010 Teacher of the Year for the Charlotte Evening, Saturday and WinstonSalem Evening MBA Programs, believes the new campus will give the University greater visibility and better support the programs. “The new location is dynamic and demonstrates our commitment to Charlotte,” he says. “It will help us attract new opportunities. In addition to the new technology, it’s also designed with the University’s emphasis on personal attention in mind. The study spaces, the social spaces, all facilitate communication between the faculty and the students and among the students as well.” The campus was also designed with the community in mind. Portions of the facility will be available for rental by local groups and the new center city location will afford the Charlotte business community greater access to the University’s acclaimed “Leading Out Loud” Broyhill Executive Lecture Series. “Recently we’ve hosted Jeff Inmelt (chairman and CEO of GE), Mike Duke (president and CEO of Walmart), Marilyn Carlson-Nelson (chairman and former CEO of Carlson), and Dean Kamen (founder of DEKA research and the inventor of the Segway, iBot, and many other revolutionary devices),” notes Reinemund. “We have the chairman of Novartis AG, Dan Vasella, speaking this month. We bring in speakers who are practitioners in the marketplace—who are actually out there doing the work. We hope to provide our students and the Charlotte business community with outstanding speakers.”

“We’d like to increase to 240 students total within the next two years,” says Hinson. “But to maintain the personal interaction among students and faculty, we plan to keep each class section to no more than 60 students.” “It’s a ‘cohort’ program. Students coming into the program will all graduate together. We demand a lot from them and the students bond with each other. Each graduating class is further broken down into teams, usually of five. We make sure the students in the teams have diverse backgrounds. In this way, they learn not only from their proComing Into Its Own fessors but also from each other.” And not just for two years, Wake Forest University began as Wake Forest The Saturday and evening Institute in 1834 in rural Wake County, 16 miles but for the rest of your life. programs will continue in the new north of Raleigh. It was recharcampus, but with twice the space of tered in 1838 as Wake Forest the SouthPark facility, the University has College, and finally as Wake room to expand. You’re always going to be Forest University in 1967. “The current programs are a base to develop other offerSince 1956 the school has been ings,” offers Reinemund. a Wake Forest alum.” located in Winston-Salem and “The goal is to meet a market demand,” says Hinson. “Health care now is comprised of Wake is the primary employer in Charlotte and financial services is No. 2. So, ~Dr. Yvonne Hinson Forest College, Graduate School in January, in addition to general management, our MBA program will Dean of Charlotte Programs of Arts and Sciences, School of Divinity, School of offer career track specialization in these two areas while maintaining Medicine, School of Law and Schools of Business. the general track with student-selected electives. Wake Forest offered its first MBA program in 1969 “Now that we have the space to grow, we’re also exploring other degree and non-degree programs. and is now ranked among the world’s best graduWe’re looking into certificate, open enrollment and continuing education programs. Right now we’re ate business schools by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, working on a Certified Financial Planner certificate program in conjunction with Dalton Education The Economist, Entrepreneur, Financial Times, Forbes that we’ll offer next year to students and alumni as well as the general public,” Hinson explains. and U.S. News & World Report. “We also have a Private Capital Markets Certificate program that will run for two days in February The Working Professionals MBA program and a Digital Marketing Series that will run for three Saturdays in February. Not all of the programs began in Charlotte in 1995 as one program with will be business-oriented, though,” she adds. “We’ve contacted other areas in the University to see 30 students. Currently, the school has 180 stuwhat things they would like to offer in Charlotte as well.” dents in its two Charlotte MBA programs—one “We want to listen to Charlotte community leaders,” Reinemund says, “and see in what areas meeting evenings, the other on Saturdays. they want us to focus or even to come in and run their own company’s educational process. We can

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It’s not just a degree. It’s an experience.

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partner with a company to customize a program specifically for them. We’re already in initial discussions with a couple of Charlotte companies regarding that option.”

“Our students, faculty and alumni are the thought leaders of Charlotte. It’s only fitting that we move to the center of this vibrant business community. We want to be at the center of business thought leadership in Charlotte.”

Wake Forest University Charlotte Center Interior

~Steve Reinemund Dean of Business

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Built on Ideals T.J. Eberle, a 1998 graduate of the Evening MBA program, is senior vice president and president of U.S. IT solutions for hiSoft Technology International Limited. He assumed this position in July 2011 when NouvEON Technology Partners, Inc., a business and technology consulting company that Eberle started in 2003 for less than $100,000, was purchased by hiSoft for an initial consideration of $5.5 million with substantial payments to follow. “I had a degree in Industrial Engineering and was working in the information technology industry,” says Eberle, “but after working for 10 years, I realized I needed a more wellrounded background. I needed to know how businesses operate. My MBA education not only gave me that, but what I learned helps guide me even now in my day-to-day decisions. It also taught me entrepreneurial skills. I’m not sure if I would have started my company if I hadn’t learned what I did in the MBA program.” “I came to Wake Forest on purpose,” Reinemund reveals, “because I share a common passion with the University’s president that each student find who they are here, that they find their calling, and that we help match that passion with the right vocation. We want to make that the hallmark of Wake Forest. “We have a dedicated resource for career ➤ services. At the Career Management Center,

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“We want to listen to Charlotte community leaders, and see in what areas they want us to focus or even to come in and run their own company’s educational process. We can partner with a company to customize a program specifically for them. We’re already in initial discussions with a couple of Charlotte companies regarding that option.”

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students can get counseling to figure out what they want to do or they can take advantage of our workshops or the networking opportunities through our alumni nationwide. Our graduates are extraordinarily helpful. In today’s marketplace, you have to question the value of going back to get an MBA if you don’t have that type of network to support you in advancing your career.” “And a graduate of Wake Forest has free lifelong access to career services,” adds Hinson.

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“The other piece of career services is employer relations,” Reinemund points out. “We just hired someone from Stanford to make calls on companies at the senior management level to understand their needs. We like our Career Management Center to be the ‘matchmaker’ between the needs of employers and the goals of our students. We want every one of our students to graduate with a job they are passionate about.” “I believe an MBA is no longer just an added benefit but a requirement at a certain level in business,” says Owen Hernandez, a 2009 graduate of the Charlotte Evening MBA Program. Hernandez looked at several online MBA programs before choosing Wake Forest. “I wanted the social and networking aspects that a classroom setting provides and I wanted the national name recognition that Wake Forest has.” Hernandez, manager of investment analysis at Delhaize America, was chosen to develop a Hispanic marketing and merchandising strategy for Food Lion. The strategy is currently in place in 25 stores. “My MBA was an important factor in the choice,” he acknowledges. “One of the things I’ve found most rewarding about teaching at Wake Forest is that the

Educating Leaders “Two types of individuals can benefit most from the MBA program,” Reinemund shares. “Those who want to Steven S. Reinemund advance their careers and need skills, Dean of Business Dr. Yvonne Hinson experiences and relationships that Dean of Charlotte Programs they don’t now have, and successful Wake Forest University individuals who are not happy in their Charlotte Center current field and want to break into a new field that their life story wouldn’t support without a logical transition in an educational environment. “The commonality is that both candidates have to have meaningful experience in the marketplace to be accepted and successful in the program.” “We did something with our most recent graduating class that we had

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not done in a few years,” Hinson says. “We looked at their salaries when they came into the program and then again when they graduated. Their salaries increased an average of $30,000 while they were in the program. And you know corporate America wasn’t handing out increases like that in the recent past. “That says to me that students are taking the knowledge they’re getting from the program and using it immediately in the workplace. Also employers are experiencing the value of those MBAs while students are in the process of earning their degrees and they’re rewarding them for it.” “There’s a need for leadership more now than ever,” Reinemund comments. “Our goal is to produce leaders that are not only competent but also ethical; leaders that will go out and make a difference in the companies they join and communities they live in.” “The differentiating aspects of our program from others are quality and connection, “says Hinson. “Connection to business, connection to the not-forprofit community and connection to our students. I consistently hear from students how our process here is so personal. In addition, our rankings and highly regarded faculty speaks for itself in relation to quality. “It’s not just a degree. It’s an experience. And not just for two years, but for the rest of your life. You’re always going to be a Wake Forest alum.” biz

Raising The Bar

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Photo: Wayne Morris

University motto Pro Humanitate (for Humanity) is actually lived at Wake Forest,” says Hinson. “I’m passionate about helping in the community and the University assisted me in securing a grant to develop the Forsyth Working Families Partnership in conjunction with the local United Way and other leaders in Winston-Salem. “Students worked with the Internal Revenue Service to help prepare tax returns for lower income families and counsel them on how to best use the resources they had. I’m really excited about bringing the University’s Pro Humanitate spirit to Charlotte.”

Barbara Fagan is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Wake Forest University Charlotte Center 200 North College St., Ste. 150 Charlotte, N.C. 28202 Phone: 704-365-1717; 888-WAKE--MBA Principals: Nathan O. Hatch, University President; Steve Reinemund, Dean of Business; Yvonne Hinson, Dean of Charlotte Programs; Leslye Gervasi, Director, Charlotte MBA Programs Founded: Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem in 1834; Executive MBA Program in Charlotte in 1995 Personnel: 9 full-time staff members; faculty as needed from more than 100 Schools of Business faculty; 180 students in Charlotte Accreditations: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB); Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Business: Charlotte branch of private, coeducational institution offering part-time MBA programs for working professionals. www.business.wfu.edu/charlotte www.uptownmba.com

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[bizprofile]

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by casey jacobus

Flexibility Key to Morgan Chair Success urniture manufacturing has been important to North Carolina’s economy since the early colonial era when artisans began producing simple yet functional furniture from the woods native to the North Carolina landscape: walnut, cherry, cypress, oak, yellow pine and poplar. In the 19th and 20th centuries, manufacturers focused on the Piedmont area because of its numerous hardwood forests, its above average railway and, later, highway transportation opportunities and the availability of cheap labor. By the 1980s, when North Carolina was producing approximately one half of all the furniture sold in the United States, the city of High Point acquired the nickname, “Furniture Capital of the World.� During the second half of the 20th century, there were more than 600 furniture manufacturers in the North Carolina, producing more than $6 billion in furniture and furnishings and employing more than 70,000 people. Taking a Seat It was in the late 1970s that Billy and Sue Morgan moved from the small town of Stanfield in Stanly County to the bustling furniture capital of High Point. Training in the top factories, including Henredon and Clyde Pearson, Billy and Sue quickly learned the furniture trade and fell in love with the art and trade of upholstery. In 1983, the Morgans decided to move their family, including their two-year-old son Jesse, back to Stanfield to open their own business.

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For the next 20 years, Morgan Chair, Inc. was a two to three-man operation, focusing primarily on residential reupholstery. Billy Morgan would pick up someone’s grandmother’s chair and fix it up. Never advertising, Billy relied on word-ofmouth praise to grow the business. “We really take pride in what we do,” says Billy Morgan. “It’s a special thing to hear the story of an old rocking chair or antique sofa. People like to reminisce, and we like to hear their stories and help preserve those memories.” Jesse Morgan grew up in Stanfield, a town of 4.5 square miles, with a population of 1,100. He went to Chapel Hill and studied business at the University of North Carolina. He was headed to Wake Forest to study law when he decided to defer his plans for a semester or two and help with the family business. He quickly fell in love with the trade. That was 2003 and he is still there, as an owner of the business. “They’ll have to fire me to get me to leave now,” he grins. His father, Billy, is delighted to have Jesse in the family firm. “I wished for that for so long, but never said anything to him,” says Billy Morgan. “I envied my friends who had businesses big enough for their sons to join and was sorry that ours was so small. Now that Jesse has come, we have grown so much.”

Jesse and his wife, Ericka, have settled on a small farm in Monroe where they raise pet longhorn steer and a miniature horse, along with two small children. Jesse intends for Morgan Chair to be around if and when his now three-year-old son wants to join the family business. Honing Their Craft When Jesse joined the business in 2003, Morgan Chair’s focus began to change. In addition to reupholstering old furniture, the company began to create new custom pieces. Word had drifted to Charlotte about the quality of work being done at the family firm in the small town east of the city, and requests for

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custom pieces accumulated. Residential customers, designers and architects were coming to Morgan Chair with ideas for sofas, beds, or chairs that would fit a particular space or concept. “We helped a customer design a sofa that incorporated antique suzani fabric into a modern sofa,” says Jesse. “Suzani, a style of fabric from Central Asia has elaborate needlework. To create this sofa, we had to reinforce the fabric. Then we upholstered the outsides of the sofa with a distressed leather, accented by nail-heads. Combining an antique, handmade fabric with a contemporary frame style resulted in a stunning sofa.” Jesse noticed that no local upholstery shops were manufacturing their own frames—nor did anyone have the capabilities to do so—so Jesse set up a woodworking shop within Morgan Chair that was able to quickly produce custom frames for customers, both commercial and residential. The company began to attract new customers in the custom furniture business—ones who knew what they wanted and came in with sketches on ➤ paper—customers

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like Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s designer who wanted cowhide barstools for his new uptown restaurant, Whisky River. It caused the business to grow faster than expected, and necessitated its move to the current location, a larger facility with a separate area for upholstery and woodworking. Jesse, himself, doesn’t know how to do upholstery although he knows the process. His parents remain hands-on in the business, training new employees and maintaining the quality of the product. Jesse runs the front office. He is the sole sales person on staff and just recently hired his first secretary. However, he is the person who interacts with the furniture dealers, architects and designers who partner with Morgan Chair and he is fast becoming the face of the company. “People are starting to know me,” he explains. “They know I will be around for a long time. While sales people at other companies come and go, I’ve got skin in this game.” While Jesse struggles to keep up with the new marketing tools which depend so heavily on technology, he believes nothing will replace good oldfashioned public relations and networking. “There is nothing more important than building personal relationships,” he asserts. “I spend a lot of time meeting with customers.” For all the Morgans, business is personal. Each product is unique with problems that require individualized solutions. The company’s personal touch elicits similarly personal responses. One recent customer wrote Jesse a note after the Morgans refurbished her old sofa: “Thank you so much for reupholstering our sofa (or should I say, reconstructing our sofa)! It was such a huge blessing for us and we absolutely love it! It’s our favorite thing about our new place! We love telling people that it’s the same sofa recovered and watching them react in disbelief.”

Because the skill sets of reupholstering old furniture and manufacturing wood frames translates well from the residential to the commercial arena, Morgan Chair has been able to shift its focus easily from one to the other. Under Jesse’s guidance, Morgan Chair has forged partnerships with firms doing business with local hospitals, banks, restaurants, and schools as well as residential homes throughout the area. “The Charlotte area is a great place for commercial furniture,” asserts Jesse. “Hospitals, big banks, restaurants, they all have to have seats. Even in this down economy, the health care industry is booming.” Morgan Chair has partnered with a health care group to provide the daybeds for patient rooms in new facilities. A large retailer based in Concord with over 1,700 stores nationally has contracted with

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(l to r) Billy Morgan Sue Morgan Jesse Morgan Morgan Chair, Inc.

Morgan Chair for ottomans and lounge chairs. Morgan Chair is also producing tables and banquettes for local restaurants and country clubs. In the six years since Jesse joined the company, Morgan Chair has grown from five to six employees to 18. At the same time, its revenues have grown many times over. Just last year, sales increased 43 percent alone. “We’ve been able to grow so much so quickly because of our flexibility,” explains Jesse. “As a small firm we have the flexibility to shift focus quickly.” That flexibility has given the company the ability to move from an almost exclusive residential focus to concentrate on a growing commercial market. “A larger company can take months to make changes,” says Jesse. “We can switch gears and do anything. When the residential market is down, as it is currently, we can concentrate on the commercial market which is strong now.” And, when the economy puts a greater value on restoring or reupholstering old furniture rather than replacing it, Morgan Chair is again quick to respond.

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“We can save customers 50 percent or more by restoring the furniture they already have,” states Jesse. “Plus the old furniture isn’t discarded in landfills, giving companies a green alternative to purchasing new furnishings.” Being small, Morgan Chair can do some of its work on site. Moving into a bank lobby for a few days may cause less disruption for a customer than doing the work at the shop. A recent request sent a Morgan Chair crew to New York City to do a high-end residential job on-site for Charlottebased Bossard Design Group.

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~Billy Morgan President Getting Comfortable Morgan Chair has achieved its success, growing rapidly even through tough economic times, because of its flexibility. As a small company, it now faces the challenge of staying small and continuing to grow. “We can’t sustain 43 percent growth,” says Jesse, “but we can add employees, expand facilities, and grow geographically.” Jesse would limit the company’s growth to not more than 50 employees. He believes that is the point at which the company would lose its flexibility and dilute its strength as a small firm. For the past 28 years, the company has been a family busi➤ ness in which everyone knows everyone else.

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“We’ve been able to grow so much so quickly because of our flexibility. As a small firm we have the flexibility to shift focus quickly. A larger company can take months to make changes. We can switch gears and do anything. When the residential market is down, as it is currently, we can concentrate on the commercial market which is strong now.” ~Jesse Morgan Vice President

There are currently several relatives working at the company and everyone eats breakfast together in a local restaurant every Friday. Morgan Chair is known in the small community of Stanfield as a good place to work and Jesse intends to keep it that way. At the same time, the company is looking for ways to expand its facility. It moved into the 10,000 square feet it now occupies six years ago

and already it needs more space. And, while most of the company’s work currently comes from the greater Charlotte area, Jesse believes the company will be doing more work throughout the Carolinas in the future. This future growth will come, Jesse believes, as its partners, particularly those in the health care industry, also continue to grow and to provide new opportunities for Morgan Chair. These partners are

designers, architects and contractors who enjoy working with a small family business dedicated to doing quality work. “I’ve worked with Morgan Chair providing waiting room furniture to dental offices in the Charlotte area,” says Rosa Dest of Rosa Dest Interiors. “Not only is their workmanship outstanding, but also their ability to brainstorm in finding the best health care designs to work within the client’s budget.” What Jesse Morgan is forging at Morgan Chair, building on his parents’ skill and reputation, may be a new model for the North Carolina furniture industry. After the “golden age” of the 1980s, globalization of the furniture industry and an increase in free trade resulted in a large decrease in furniture production and employment in North Carolina. Forty-seven furniture companies closed during the 1990s and dozens more after 2000. China replaced North Carolina as the leading furniture manufacturer. Turning away from the tradition of mass producing stylish but inexpensive furniture for everyone, Morgan Chair is dedicated to producing unique, high quality products. When a customer needs a sofa eight feet long and can only find one six feet long, Morgan Chair will build what he wants. When a customer’s chairs are rubbing against a table and ruining the upholstery on their arms, Morgan Chair will adapt a new covering to solve the problem. If a customer needs built-in furniture, Morgan Chair will work onsite to make what he needs. “We’re not into mass producing,” explains Jesse. “We are into producing small quantities of furniture where we can pay attention to the details.” biz Casey Jacobus is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Morgan Chair, Inc. 104 W. Stanly Street Stanfield , N.C. 28163 Phone: 704-888-4912 Principals: Billy Morgan, President; Jesse Morgan,Vice President; Sue Morgan, Secretary/Treasurer Employees: 18 Founded: 1983 Business: Family-owned and operated company providing custom designed furniture and reupholstery for residential and commercial clients throughout the Southeast; full service upholstery shop. www.morganchair.com

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Seamless and Endless Support The options and combinations of today’s call center services are seemingly endless. Examples in the sales support arena include capturing and qualifying leads from advertisements, handling requests for information packages and catalogs, setting appointments, making reservations, and taking orders and subscriptions. Customer service support may include screening service calls and open work orders, dispatching field sales and service personnel or making outbound calls for customer satisfaction surveys, invitations or service reminders. Call center representatives can act as a full-time, part-time or overflow receptionists depending upon a client’s needs. Leonard, together with co-owner and partner, Ty Leonard, who also happens to be her mother, acquired Suite 1000 in 1993 when the business was 10 years old. Leonard had become aware of the company’s search for a general manager and referred her mother, who accepted the job. Leonard herself took on some sales consulting for the company. “Within two years, we made an offer to buy the company,” remembers Leonard. Ty Leonard now serves as its chief financial officer. “The whole call-center industry has changed dramatically over the years,” says Leonard. “You’ve heard General Motor’s tagline ‘It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile anymore.’ Well; the same thing applies to our industry. It used to be a simple, paper-based business. You were just a glorified message-taker. ➤

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“That has completely changed with the rise of the Internet. Now, we can interact with our clients’ own software applications. We can become an actual extension of their company so when our clients close up shop for the day, have emergencies, meetings or utility outages, we can continue with their business as though it had never closed.” Suite 1000 clients come from all over the United States as well as from the United Kingdom, Canada and France. They represent diverse industries with very individualized service needs but, as a common thread, they usually have experienced a problem in some area of communications. “Honestly, we tend to get clients after something bad has happened—they’ve lost a big sale, ticked off a major client, or worse,” says Leonard. “One North Carolina company that sells gas-powered equipment came to us after an after-hours service call regarding a gas leak went unaddressed. The leak resulted in an explosion that leveled three buildings and killed seven people. Service calls can be a very big deal.” Leonard recounts other examples: a heavy equipment rental company lost an after hours service call that would have meant a quarter of a million dollar contract; a law firm missed out on a multi-million dollar case due to a missed call. Companies tend to fumble an important call for one of two reasons. Either no one was available to take the call or there was no process in place to determine how to prioritize and escalate an urgent call. Communications overload is another challenge companies face, according to Leonard. “They come to me because they are barraged by dozens of phone calls, hundreds of emails and text messages. Trying to handle all of that has made them less and less productive. Some of them are almost at a standstill.” In such situations, Suite 1000 provides a front-end filter to determine the nature of the communication, how urgent it is and who the right person is to receive it. The Nucleus of the Nerve Center When a call comes in to the Suite 1000 call center, it is accompanied by a computer screen popup which automatically pulls up an account customized for each client. The account provides the call center reps with information on how to answer the phone; it opens forms and provides the appropriate questions to ask for each type of call. Based on the answers, the software guides representatives in different directions, allowing them to facilitate very elaborate work flow. “What makes us different from other answering services is that we actually work with software developers to design software that pushes the process and eliminates errors,” says Leonard. “The system can keep up with very complex instructions

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Laurie Leonard President and Co-owner Suite 1000

so our reps can focus on assisting the caller.” Familiarity with each client’s business and their industry terminology is also important. Suite 1000 spends a lot of time and attention on training and preparation for each new client. “Callers need to feel that they are talking with someone who is professional, knowledgeable and can truly help them with their inquiry.” Every prospective client is provided with what Leonard calls the Value Interview: “Our job is to map out their processes and determine where we can add genuine value. Where can we help them save more money or make more money? Saving money might include helping them avoid the need to hire additional staff or incur overtime. Making money could mean capturing more sales leads, taking orders or identifying up-selling opportunities.” Suite 1000 also offers a unique No Surprises Pledge: “We don’t just give prospective clients pricing. We share what they can expect the cost of entire billing to be before they even start working with us. It’s our job to help them track their usage and put them in control of their budget,” explains Leonard, who adds that the pledge is another offering that sets the company apart from their competition. The Internet has had a spectacular impact on the call center industry, according to Leonard. Suite 1000 has its own proprietary software and access to a whole plethora of hosted software applications that can be used in tandem with a client. “The Internet gives us a pipeline that lets Suite 1000 and our clients interact with each others’ applications. Now it’s

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Unified Communications Synaptic Synergies Strategic partnerships and vendor relationships have become increasingly important, according to Leonard. “Industries are changing really quickly and my clients need tools to cope with that. My success and the success of my customers are very dependent upon how well I surround myself with smart innovative partners.” When clients need a communication and process solution, they need it ASAP. “Now, we can partner with experts in specific areas of concern and develop something in a flash,” says Leonard. “In the next five years, the speed at which you will need to respond to business demands will be ➤

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unprecedented. We’ll have to have more and more of these strategic partnerships to package the solutions that our clients will need.” Suite 1000 often partners with consultants and vendors in specific industries to solve client’s problems. One example is Internet marketing firms. Says Leonard “They often get frustrated because they can do a great job for a client but if the client doesn’t have a support system in place to capture leads, qualify them, track them and schedule appointments, it can make a good campaign fail. That’s where we come in,” says Leonard. Inevitably, with thousands of calls coming in each day, representatives will encounter the occasional irate customer. “Telephone reps need specific training in the proper techniques required to satisfy upset callers,” according to Leonard. “You also need to give your reps the authority to step outside of normal instructions when the situation requires it. Protecting our clients and their relationships with their customers is our number one priority. We have had to deal with many unusual situations and even emergencies as serious a chemical spill, a fallen elevator and a four-alarm fire.” Leonard welcomes the great diversity

among her clients: “There is a lot of crosspollination and we learn a lot. What is normal operating practice in one industry can be a revelation in another. Plus, there are issues with ebb and flow. Different industries have different needs at various times of the day and night. If we didn’t have multiple industries, it would be extremely difficult for us to staff shifts efficiently. Having clients that operate in different time zones also helps to even out the load.” Leonard comes from a family of entrepreneurs including her mother, father and grandfather. Suite 1000 is her second company. She grew up in Rock Hill, S.C., and graduated from Winthrop University in 1984 with a degree in business. A job in the printing business “What makes us different from other led her to Florida where she later ran her answering services is that we actually own printing brokerage business. work with software developers to design With a special fondness and empathy software that pushes the process and for entrepreneurs, Leonard spends consideliminates errors.The system can keep up erable time supporting them. As a member with very complex instructions so our reps and former president of The Entrepreneurs Organization, she networks with and councan focus on assisting the caller.” sels entrepreneurs. She has also served on ~Laurie Leonard the Mayor’s Small Business Task Forces and President and Co-owner participates in several industry groups. She sums up her business succinctly: “The first thing that I have to sell is trust. You’re asking people to turn their business over to you for a period of time. We’re best suited to NAVIGATING THE SEA clients that want a real partnership. The more they OF TECHNOLOGY are willing to share about their strategic goals, the more helpful we can be.” biz e Companies

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Zenda Douglas is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

Custom Call Response, Inc. dba

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Suite 1000 4801 Chastain Avenue Charlotte, N.C. 28217 Phone: 704-523-1000; 800-818-9411 Principals: Laurie Leonard, President and Co-owner; Ty Leonard, CFO and Co-owner Established: 1983; acquired by present owners in 1993 Employees: 20 Revenue: $1 million Business: Business answering service and customer service call center providing telephone answering solutions to national and international clients; operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; provides integrative services to clients in the areas of telephone sales support and telephone customer service. www.suite1000.com

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Michael Crippen President Elizabeth S. Crippen CEO Commercial Flooring Solutions, Inc.

W

alk into the recently enlarged Charlotte headquarters of Commercial Flooring Solutions, or CFS as they are more commonly known, and you will be immersed in an environment that appears clean, fresh, modern, welcoming and efficient…just the attributes the company prides itself on providing to its clientele. Cleaning office flooring and textiles is what CFS does, but beyond that, owners Elizabeth and Michael Crippen want their company to be known as the ‘concierge of clean.’ “We believe in doing far more than just cleaning people’s floors,” asserts CFS CEO Elizabeth Crippen. How is the moniker “concierge of clean” manifested? The people at CFS not only anticipate a client’s needs and preferences, but also respond with solutions anything/ anytime “with pleasure,” as employees are trained to say. Many customers have stated their deep appreciation for how CFS has repeatedly demonstrated that mantra through performance beyond expectations. 40

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Clean to the Core Such “yes” behavior and speedy response coupled with enthusiastic attitude, is the essence of CFS’s company culture, reports Michael Crippen, president. Employing and training staff, rather than contracting to outsiders, ensures that desirable behaviors consistently happen and the terms of each contract are met. Drivers of company vans are even trained to allow merging cars to get in front of them on the road. The tagline Anything/Anytime/Anywhere captures their service orientation and both principals firmly believe that is what has sustained their company’s growth. The culture they have developed at CFS is very strong; something that is nurtured and cultivated internally.

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by Suzanne Fulton

We’re in the customer-delight business. Building, nurturing and maintaining lasting relationships everywhere — locally, regionally, globally. We do what is responsible for our clients, on their terms.

[bizprofile]

Anything. Anytime. Anywhere. CFS’s Concierge of Clean Approach Defines Their Success

They consider themselves ‘solutionists,’, and their philosophy of ‘Yes’ is an allusion to the fact that meaningful customer experience is what they are in business to deliver, and what every associate is focused on. “Truly world-class service is vanishing in today’s business environment”, says Michael. “We seek to make every interaction with our clients a positive one, and to consistently go above and beyond the call. We are not in the customer satisfaction business; we are in the customer delight business!” Comments Greg Scharlemann, property manager of Childress Klein Properties, a large firm that has many millions of square feet under property management, “The CFS/MilliCare team exemplify the anytime,

anywhere motto. From last minute phone calls to odd ball requests.” The core services of CFS are: hard surface maintenance, grout restoration, disaster recovery, flooring consultation and—in partnership with MilliCare—cleaning of carpets and textiles (furniture, cubicle walls, drapes), odor remediation and protection of fibers. The company is unique in their industry by providing an online tool to customers where they can plan, manage and view their floor cleaning schedule and completions. This tool also allows the user to quickly demonstrate accountability as well as be proactive. They can produce and share plans, status reports, and any program data with their superiors. Property managers and human resource

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managers especially appreciate that using this software reduces their administrative load so that they may tend to other tasks sooner. Cleaning schedules at one or more sites can be planned or viewed on the Web 24/7 and, likewise, customers can use the system 24/7 to place requests or have their questions answered. The software system, called CFS Enterprise Solutions, is an example of going beyond cleaning floors. The impetus for its development was a request from a major client who asked CFS for a “data capture” system for scheduling and tracking maintenance completions at its multiple locations. The sophisticated software that CFS developed met not only the needs of that client, but also propelled CFS to a national ➤ operating level. Presently, all customers can

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Coffee stain on the CEO’s carpet? We’re there. Task seating a little dingy? On it. Stale panel fabrics creating not-so-fresh cubicles? Breathe easy. Stone floors scuffed? Let us shine. Scummy grout? Got it out. Boardroom doors scratched? We’ll help them heal. Need your service data stored, accessed or managed? Been there, done that. Glass need cleaning? Crystal clear. Holidays over? Let us un-trim the tree.

Your whatever whenever wherever clean resource. use the Enterprise Solutions program, but it is especially beneficial for large, national scope companies. “No other flooring solutions company offers such a comprehensive management system,” claims Michael. In fact, he reports that many clients have said, “You really don’t have any competition in this industry!” The appreciative comment of Betsy Hidalgorojas, manager of corporate services of Coca-Cola, is another illustration of how CFS routinely performs beyond expectations. “I want to thank you and your team for coming out at the last minute to help us. I stopped by on Sunday afternoon (Mother’s Day) to find your team busy cleaning our entire executive office and auditorium area…We had a water leak the day before, and after being repaired, there was debris everywhere…Our shareholders meeting is tomorrow, being held in this same area. Your team not only came in on Mother’s Day to help us out, but they did a wonderful job. You would never know that any construction/repair had been done. I want to express my gratitude for a job well done…

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Textiles are revived by cleaning with a solution that is sprayed on. The droplets that form act as little scrubbers, which are subsequently removed by the technician along with allergens and stains. This allows budget-conscious owners to keep rather than toss and replace furnishings. MilliCare provides CFS and its other franchise partners with regular training and state-of-the-art information about how to best serve a wide assortment of commercial and industrial workspaces. In turn, CFS ensures that its 140 employees, who are spread throughout the country in nine sites, receive regular training in person and via online video sessions.

CFS practices and procedures embrace the Carpet And Rug Institute’s message, Anything, Anytime, “Proper, consistent Anywhere is more than carpet maintenance is just something we critical to extending the life of the carpet, say—it’s the driving Your customer sersustaining an optiforce behind how we act vice is absolutely mum performance and and how we talk about the BEST…Thanks appearance level, and ourselves with customers. again!” maintaining a healthy indoor environment It’s the attitude we arrive Clean Technology within your facility.” with. It’s what we deliver CFS uses CFS products and how we deliver it. MilliCare propriand services are also etary dry-centered designed to be ecotechnology for friendly. CFS recycles cleaning carpets and all packaging and textiles. This dry components, and their system is very much cellulosic polymer is on trend and has many advantages for use in biodegradable. Polymer will soon be shipped in busy sites. It is structured to prevent unwanted recyclable bags rather than pails, which results pollutants from becoming airborne, impacting in dramatic size and weight reduction in freight employees. After preparing the carpet with a transportation. Likewise, to reduce shipping spray, technicians apply MilliCare’s proprietary volume, primary pre-spray chemistries have polymer to the carpet and work it in. The polybeen reformatted into dissolving tablets. Also, mer absorbs soil from deep inside the carpet, the dry-centered technology used allows for less then the technician removes both. As a bonus, energy to be expended and less water wasted. because this is a dry cleaning method, the area The CFS/MilliCare proprietary system can be returned to normal traffic in short order. directly supports four of the six LEED-EB The process uses no client water and 89 percent (Existing Buildings) categories for certification: less energy than typical hot water extraction. using water efficiently and conserving energy;

It’s about making clean happen.

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reducing ozone and exploring renewable energy sources; using recycled materials whenever possible; and greatly extending the life of textiles and carpets to keep them out of landfill. CFS can help clients qualify to earn specific points in an additional LEED category, Indoor Environmental Quality. Additionally, all primary carpet maintenance chemistries are Green Seal certified. “Our entire franchise organization is certified carbon neutral by the non-profit Leonardo Academy,” Michael adds.

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A Growing Enterprise Since formation in 1996, CFS has been expanding in a steady process—by acquisition of existing MilliCare franchises or by start up. Their pattern has been to study information about growth history and predictions concerning certain geographic areas, and then consider purchasing a franchise that is for sale or establishing a new one. CFS operates nine franchises across the U.S.—in Charlotte, Baltimore/Washington, D.C./ Northern Virginia; Raleigh, N.C.; Greenville, S..C; Charleston, S.C.; Miami; San Francisco; and Los Angeles. The Crippens are quick to point out that their expansion could not have been accomplished without the partnership of Bank of America, who has acted as the financial engine for their growth and expansion. Not surprisingly, ➤ the bank is also a customer.

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If a customer needs cleaning service in another locale, CFS can seamlessly provide services by subcontracting to another MilliCare franchise. Michael says that they developed this unique subcontracting model to provide consistency in training and methods, and guarantee a customer identical service and results anywhere they do business. “It mitigates the risk for the client,” he added, in reference to subcontracting to companies in the same franchise family. By using CFS, customer property managers facing a logistics dilemma can come up smelling like roses. Reports Mike Shoe, facility manager of Jones Lang LaSalle Americas/Citygroup Account, “I was in need of a carpet maintenance plan at one of my sites in northern Kentucky. CFS was able to provide this plan and connect me to another MilliCare rep in the area. As a result, my client was very complimentary of my ability to mobilize a solution from 500 miles away.” Elizabeth Crippen, formerly a successful restaurant entrepreneur, switched directions after having two children. She sold the restaurant and its land and invested the proceeds into CFS. In 2002, she joined Michael at the firm and expansion began. Michael, the founder, had long been in this industry, having begun his career selling for Milliken Carpet. There he learned about the chemistry of the dry method of cleaning carpet and of the need for ongoing maintenance to ensure client satisfaction. Elizabeth and Michael, both of whom have business degrees, attribute their success to their drive to grow the company and do whatever it takes to make each client’s experience fulfilling. This, in part, entails serving as knowledgeable counselors. With 15 years’ experience, there are a lot of flooring maintenance issues or needs that they can anticipate for a customer. They listen to their customers, and, if necessary, bring in other resources to address specific issues. Satisfied customers are many. One of those is Carolina Panthers/Bank of America stadium,

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which has used the carpet cleaning services of CFS for 15 years. They originally asked CFS for an eight-year life for their carpet, and have realized nearly twice that. Michael attributes that to the CFS commitment to proactive maintenance. In addition to running a growing company, the Crippens are parents of three young children. “It’s been a whirlwind 10 years,” she says, since she joined the firm. The Crippens plan to continue to grow their business nationwide and are looking to expand into new markets. Also, venturing slightly off path, they are now launching an enterprise that complements their existing business. Named CFS Holiday, this division offers environmentally sound and cost-effective holiday décor. Services include concept creation, design, production, logistics, support, set up, take down, removal and storage of holiday decorations. All in all, what began as an opportunity to help out a client has turned into a significant growth opportunity. That’s “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere” thinking for you! biz

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Suzanne Fulton is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.

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Commercial Flooring Solutions, Inc. 3820 Rose Lake Drive Charlotte, N.C. 28217 Phone: 704-423-0260 Principals: Elizabeth Crippen, CEO; Michael Crippen, President Employees: 140 in nine cities In Business: 15 years Business: Global surface care specialist and flooring solutions company offering comprehensive management software system. www.commercialflooringsolutions.com

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Greater Charlotte Biz 2011.12