Montgomery Business Journal - November/December 2009

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NOV/DEC 2009





Letter from the Publisher


Executive Editor’s Column




Investor Profile: BBVA Compass Bank


Q&A with MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson


Investor Profile: Balch & Bingham


Guest Commentaries – Bull or Bear?


Member Investor Profile: Beasley Allen


The Upside to the Downside


Member Profile: Seay, Seay & Litchfield


Taking Care of Small Business at the SBRC


Alabama Business Confidence Index


Huntingdon College Celebrates 100 Years


Alabama Business Hall of Fame


River Region United Way


Retailer of the Year


Business Buzz


New Members


Members on the Move


Ribbon Cuttings & Ground Breakings


Economic Intel

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16 November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal





David Zaslawsky COPY EDITOR

Michelle Jones DESIGN

Copperwing Design PHOTOGRAPHY

Jamie Martin ON THE COVER:

Barbara Thompson, Superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools

Montgomery Business Journal c/o Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Post OfďŹ ce Box 79 41 Commerce Street Montgomery, Alabama 36101 Telephone: 334-834-5200 Fax: 334-265-4745 Email: The Montgomery Business Journal is published monthly except for the combined issue of November/December, by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, 41 Commerce Street, Montgomery AL 36104, (334) 834-5200, Subscription rate is $30 annually. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Rates is Pending at Montgomery, Alabama. POSTMASTER send address changes to Montgomery Business Journal, c/o Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 79, 41 Commerce Street, Montgomery AL 36101, or email The Montgomery Business Journal welcomes story ideas from its readers. Email to: Subscriptions are a part of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce dues structure. Subscriptions can also be purchased for $30 per year at


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Letter from the Publisher

FULFILLING YOUR DREAMS For as long as most of us can remember, the ultimate fulfillment of the American Dream has been through entrepreneurship embodied by the small business. Thanks to our incredible system of free enterprise, if you can dream it, you can create it. The idea can start simply, perhaps in a garage, with money borrowed from friends and family. Long hours, creativity and perseverance can transform a humble startup into a Main Street storefront, with long-lasting economic impact for the owner, its customers and the community. This Chamber – like so many others across the U.S. – is an unabashed advocate of free enterprise because we believe it to be the best system devised to generate opportunity, jobs and economic growth. While the Chamber is largely known for its successes in attracting new and expanding industry, in this issue we celebrate our Chamber’s efforts in “bootstrap” economic development, in fostering the creation and growth of small businesses and the entrepreneurs who have made their dream of business ownership a reality. Be it a stay-at-home mom, a student , an experienced technician or the executive considering a small homebased business or a sophisticated business start up, the entrepreneur can find a myriad of support strategies at the Chamber’s Small Business Resource Center.

At the SBRC, entrepreneurs have access to professional consulting on typical business challenges as well as the development of a business plan. Through the Entrepreneurial University, a fledgling business owner can learn the essentials of successful business practice taught by skilled staff and volunteers in a 12-evening course. In the small business incubator, the more advanced entrepreneur will find a highly mentored business environment with affordable office space to help adapt to the demands of today’s workplace. Hopefully, this month’s quick tour will pique your interest and perhaps your entrepreneurial spirit. If you have a taste for the unique rewards and challenges that come with entrepreneurship, come and check out what might be one of the most important business resources available – your Chamber’s Small Business Resource Center.


November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


EXECUTIVE EDITOR’S COLUMN You may notice this issue is a little larger (16-pages larger) than previous issues. During the Total Resource Campaign (TRC), Chamber Volunteers sold Montgomery Business Journal ads for this issue, through the November/ December 2010 issue. As you can see, many members took advantage of the advertising opportunity. To this year’s TRC Volunteers, who supported Chamber initiatives and programs through their dedicated sales efforts: Gracias! If you are interested in purchasing MBJ ads after the TRC, go to for details on mechanicals, pricing and contacts for print ads or banner ads on the MBJ Web site. You can also contact Linda Drumheller at, or 334-240-9494. Remember, only Chamber members can purchase ads in the Montgomery Business Journal. If you are not a Chamber member, Linda can sign you up for membership as well! The year is drawing to an end. Any day now, you will receive an invitation to the signature Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce event – The 137th Annual Meeting. On Thursday, January 7, join us for an evening at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. Along with the ritual “passing of the gavel” from the 2009 Chairman of the Board of Directors to the 2010 Chairman, this evening event is perfect for socializing, seeing old friends, and networking with the River Region’s community and elected leadership. Did I mention that there is an inspirational “surprise” program planned? I didn’t? Good, because it is a secret. All I can say is that you do not want to miss it! Register now at Tickets are limited! On behalf of the MBJ Staff: May your Holidays and New Year be Safe, Happy and Prosperous! P.S. This is the last Montgomery Business Journal of 2009. The next MBJ publishes January 6, 2010.



Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Calendar Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Events


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WOMEN IN BUSINESS FORUM ANNUAL GATHERING Presenting Sponsor: Southeast Cherokee Construction, Inc. 5:30 PM @ Wynlakes Golf & Country Club 7900 Wynlakes Blvd., Montgomery Details and registration: BUSINESS AFTER HOURS Sponsored by Jackson Hospital 5:00 PM @ Jackson Hospital 1725 Pine Street, Montgomery Free event, exclusively for Chamber Members


8 9 16

CHAMBER 101 (formerly New Member Orientation) 8:00 AM @ Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Free event for Chamber Members – Registration Required Details and registration: Contact Deborah Pope 240-9298 or 60 MINUTE COFFEE Sponsored by Landmark Construction and Development, LLC 8:00 AM @ Landmark Construction and Development, LLC 4144 Carmichael Road, Suite 15, Montgomery Free event, exclusively for Chamber Members

Convention Calendar compiled by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau

NOVEMBER 8-14 14-16 20-21

River Region Military Appreciation Week


Alabama College Association Annual Conference

Alabama YMCA Youth Legislature Beasley Allen Law Firm Legal Strategies Conference


Alabama Education Association Delegate Assembly


Association of County Commissions Legislative Conference


Dance Masters of America Winter Workshop

JACKSON THORNTON PAYROLL TAX UPDATE 8:30 AM @ Embassy Suites Montgomery Hotel and Conference Center 300 Tallapoosa Street Montgomery Details and registration:



137TH MONTGOMERY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL MEETING 6:00 PM @ Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center 201 Tallapoosa Street, Montgomery

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Investor Profile


STORY BBVA Compass embraces corporate principle of social responsibility. by David Zaslawsky

BBVA Compass City President Bruce Crawford says, “What’s good for the community is good for business and vice versa.”

The BBVA Compass corporate office in Montgomery holds an annual toy breakfast event.

Each staff member draws a co-worker’s name and buys a child’s toy that reminds him or her of that co-worker. The bank’s corporate staff has been conducting the event for nine years, and as BBVA Compass City President Bruce Crawford says, “We’re encouraged to leave our feelings at the door because I’ve been Mr. Potato Head for nine years.” He was laughing.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009



The children’s toys are displayed at the corporate office, which also contains a branch office. Some of the bank’s customers also drop off children’s toys, which are given to the Family Sunshine Center and the Volunteer & Information Center, which distributes the toys. Crawford recalled one year when the toys went to Tuscaloosa families whose homes were damaged during the holiday season by a tornado. That’s just one example of how BBVA Compass employees support their communities. During a recent interview with the Montgomery Business Journal, Crawford’s executive secretary Jameko Thomas came into his office and asked if anyone needed anything; she was about to leave to deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly, one of the programs run by the Montgomery Area Council on Aging. Thomas delivers meals to about a dozen seniors twice a month, Crawford said. Employees and customers alike donate school supplies and money to buy supplies each year for Chisholm Elementary School, the company’s adopted school. Crawford said that several hundred dollars is donated. But it’s not just cash or supplies that are given away. They donate their time and elbow grease, too. This year, bank employees painted an interior wall at the school during the school clean-up program.



47 MILLION check was matched by an anonymous donor at the event, Crawford said.


“Obviously, it’s important for the organization to give to worthwhile organizations and groups, but (it’s important) that our employees are so involved in helping different groups and not just putting out money,” Crawford said.


That’s one part of the equation. There are also corporate contributions. Crawford estimates that the company donates annually “in the low six figures.” He said United Way is one of the major beneficiaries. Employees have money withdrawn from their paychecks and the bulk of that goes to United Way, but a portion goes into the BBVA Compass Charities fund, Crawford said. The money from the charity fund goes to needy people who may have been victims of a fire or flooding. Each year, the company also sponsors an Alabama Shakespeare Festival performance. Some that have been selected in past years include:

> “West Side Story” > “Cookin’ at the Cookery”

> Conducting two blood drives a year to collect 40 pints for blood bank.

> “Fair and Tender Ladies”

> Collecting 125 to 150 blankets for the Mid-Alabama Coalition of the Homeless.

> “Blues for an Alabama Sky”

> “Godspell”

> “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

> Collecting pounds of food and dollars in football-theme bags – University of Alabama, Auburn University, Alabama State University, Faulkner University, Troy University and Huntingdon College – and donating everything to the Montgomery Area Food Bank.

> “Beehive.”





camps), Child Protect and Central Alabama Opportunities Industrialization Center. “One of BBVA’s seven guiding principles is social responsibility and that is not delegated to a particular department or a particular group of people – all employees are involved with that,” Crawford said.

BBVA is Spain’s second-largest bank and BBVA Compass is one of the largest banks in both Alabama and Texas. BBVA Compass recently acquired Austin, Texas-based Guaranty Bank, which has 55 branches in California. Crawford said Guaranty is a $14 billion bank and now BBVA Compass will be in seven states.

> “Smokey Joes’s Cafe”

> Presenting 100 gift bags during the holiday season to shut-ins.


“Being a good corporate citizen is being a part of the community and helping the community grow any way that we can. There’s an old saying: ‘A rising tide floats all ships.’ What’s good for the community is good for business and vice versa.”

> “Ain’t Nothing but the Blues”

BBVA Compass employees support other organizations by:

- Giving a $5,000 check to the Boys & Girls Club of South Central Alabama during the BBVA Compass rebranding event at the corporate office. That $5,000


> “Always Patsy Cline”

Framed pictures and signatures from stars line one of the walls in Crawford’s second-floor office. For 21 years, the bank has sponsored the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra’s opening night performance. The company also supports Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Brantwood Children’s Home, Alabama Dance Theatre (scholarships for children to attend

“Our three main lines of business within BBVA Compass are wealth management, which includes banking for professionals and executives; retail (consumer-type credit, loans, deposits and small business); and corporate side, which handles companies with annual sales of at least $2.5 million. Contrary to numerous stories about banks not lending, Crawford said, “We’re open for business. We are in the money-lending business as well as offering other products and services.”

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Barbara Thompson is superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools. She was recently interviewed by Montgomery Business Journal Managing Editor David Zaslawsky. Montgomery Business Journal: The governor delivers an annual State of the State Address. Although you’ve only been on the job a short time, what is the State of the Montgomery Public School System? Thompson: Since I’ve been here, we have done some pretty exciting things for any school district, and one of those would be opening up two schools: Johnnie Carr and Jim Wilson. It would be talking about our AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) goals going up to 91 percent completion this year. In 2004, I believe, it was 48 percent. There are increases in our reading scores. We also had Brew Tech, which is recognized as one of the Blue Ribbon schools in the nation – one of 319. We also have 20 kids being recognized as National Merit Finalists, which means they are considered some of the best and brightest in the nation.




Those are our positives. Then you have to balance that with what I consider to be – the fact that we are in proration. We just found out it’s a 7.5 percent (cut), which for us is an additional $11.2 million. MBJ: What are some of the other challenges? Thompson: We also have a dropout rate that is an issue, and we still have some schools that are struggling with their AYP. So you have both sides of the spectrum. If I were to give you a status report, you would have certain segments that are doing very well and other segments that we still need to work to improve on. I think a large part of what I’ve seen as our challenge before us is to identify those issues that we want to improve and to have a plan to improve them, and that’s where the strategic plan comes in. We are planning to do zoned hall meetings starting in November at each of the seven areas related to the school board members because the


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

strategic plan has not really been shared with the community. It has been shared more with the business and corporate group. MBJ: Are you talking about town hall-type of meetings? Thompson: Yes. What I’m planning to do is talk about what’s going on in those areas and celebrate some of the achievements in those specific areas and how it relates to the strategic plan and get some feedback. For example, probably I’ll ask for graduates for that particular zone and (say) what some of those kids are doing. MBJ: As superintendent, you are the CEO of a $311 million budget, 32,000 students and 4,500 employees. What are your priorities? Thompson: Basically, moving the school district forward so we are considered one of the No. 1 school districts in the state. Making sure that our students are successful and that they have skills that will allow them to compete in what I consider a global society. My priority is to make sure first and foremost that we have kids in the classroom – so we have to tackle that dropout rate. MBJ: What is the dropout rate? Thompson: Our graduation rate is about 75 percent. We are actually tackling the dropout rate by using monies from Montgomery Education Foundation with the Parker Study, which is going to look at characteristics that will predict which kids will be dropouts. It gives us that data that we really need to look at kids way before they drop out. We are pretty excited about that. MBJ: Any other initiatives? Thompson: The Career Academies is another way we’re looking at deterring our dropout rate. We hope that this gives our kids some idea of the light at the end of the tunnel; some skill set they can see and some jobs they can do. Potentially, we see (Career Academies) being a linkage for those kids for reasons why to stay in school because this can give you jobs – these are classes you can take while you’re in high school so when you graduate, you actually have a job. And the last component of that – that three-tier component that I consider -- is prevention. We increased seven pre-K programs because the other part of dropout prevention is that part. We added seven pre-K programs this year for a total of 21. The reason that is so critical is because one of the reasons kids drop out is because they don’t have the skills

that they need. We’re trying to increase giving the kids skills as 4-year-olds so when they come into kindergarten, they are caught up. That’s part of that three-pronged approach. MBJ: What are some of the things that you learned about MPS since you took over in August, and what has surprised you? Thompson: I learned a lot about the commitment that this community has towards education, particularly the business (community), work force development and the chamber. They are very committed to making sure that the public schools in Montgomery are successful. I guess I was surprised at the Career Academies. They are cutting-edge in terms of what you want to be doing in the school district and the involvement that we have in the chamber in the (Career Academies) is exciting and unusual.

Barbara Thompson, superintendent of Montgomery Public Schools, wants the district to be one of the best in the state.


MBJ: How is it unusual? Thompson: Usually that is an initiative that is led more by the school district and I would call this a genuine partnership, which is pleasantly surprising. The depth that people are willing to go in terms of looking at adjunct professors and certification for people to work with our kids; putting them in situations like in the health care (academy), kids will actually work with simulators. That stuff is pretty exciting for kids. That to me has been surprising – that we can offer that at a high school level and that we have professionals who are willing to give time to do this for our kids. That’s really been a pleasant surprise. MBJ: Have there been other pleasant surprises?














Thompson: In my previous school district, we were responsible for the buildings and grounds. This year, businesses and the Chamber came in and did a beautification project for all of our schools. That was phenomenal. I think it makes a difference even if you have an older building. If you walk into it and it’s been freshly painted, the lawns and the landscaping have been taken care of – I think that gives our kids a feeling that they are important; that they are special. MBJ: What do you see as the business community’s role in education?









Thompson: I think the role of businesses is really to be supportive of the school district. I think the mayor has said it very well: ‘So go CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



the schools, so goes the community.’ The reason people typically move into a school district or out is because of the quality of the schools. If you are in a business community and you want your businesses to thrive, your role in my opinion is to be supportive and make sure that the schools are getting the things they need in terms of resources. Certainly right now, I would say this just isn’t physical resources or fiscal resources, it’s also human resources. We have a mentoring program that we’re trying to get off the tracks and often people think you just want money. Often what we want, too, is some time for our kids, and we want volunteers who can come in and connect and push those kids and say, ‘We know you can succeed.’ Sometimes, that isn’t a parent; sometimes it’s a community person who’s in business and sees something in that child that maybe no one else sees. That’s really what we need from the businesses in the community. MBJ: This school year the estimated school attendance was up by nearly 400 students, breaking a trend of declining numbers. What does that mean to the school system? Thompson: I think a couple of things. One, we have some schools that are doing very, very well in our system. We also opened two new schools this year and I think some of that has to do with the fact we have new schools (with the latest) technology. Also, I think (it’s a sign) of economic times. I think maybe some people who were putting their kids in private schools have now decided that, ‘Gee, we should consider the public schools.’ I think all those factors were impacting that. For us, it means more money for our school district potentially because you get so much money per student, but it comes out of a pot. Of course, that pot is dwindling in the state so we never know exactly how much that is going to be. However, having said that, it’s always good to be growing and we have bucked that trend of decreasing enrollment.


MBJ: Please elaborate on the importance of leadership training for principals and administrative staff directors. Thompson: One of the things we’re doing this year is training for our entire administrative team, which I don’t think has happened in this district previously. The focus is on what is leadership and what is followship. We are also having them do an assessment, where they are going to learn about their own leadership style. This assessment is not coming to me – it’s not an evaluation. It’s only for personal growth so they can develop as leaders. Often, you are isolated so you don’t really know your leadership style. This assessment will give them the idea of what leadership is. It’s an all-day training and we are going to do another all-day training in January. It’s so important because you (need to be) on the same page when you talk about leadership so you’re using the same terminology. At this point, we don’t have that – we don’t have that common language. MBJ: Please talk about the Gallup teaching assessment program and what you hope to accomplish with it? Thompson: One of the things that makes the biggest difference in any school district is the high quality of your teaching staff, and that was one of the things that I mentioned to the board – we needed to have a way to better screen teachers and future administrators. The Gallup is an assessment that really looks at what I call the soft skills. It looks more at how you relate to kids – your interpersonal skills. Those sorts of things that really are what your good teachers have. It’s a screening tool that we are now using. I think it’s a critical thing because we are looking for people who not only just have the skills, but also can relate to our kids and nurture them in a way that will make them be successful and help them to be successful. It was something I instituted because teacher quality is critical.

MBJ: What type of leadership qualities do you look for in job candidates?

MBJ: You told the Montgomery Advertiser that the magnet schools have done a good job, but you want to focus on bringing up the other schools. Please elaborate.

Thompson: I look for people who are thinkers; who are highly creative; and certainly (have the necessary) skill set, but most important, I want people who are compassionate and care about kids; and who are focused on all kids achieving and have a track record proving that.

Thompson: The belief is that all of our best teachers are at the magnet schools and that’s where you send your kids. My concern is that we have 57 schools. They all are not magnet, which means we have to pull up the quality of our teaching staff in all those other schools. We have to improve the quality

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

of our teaching staff throughout the district, not just in certain schools or the perceived certain schools. We have good teachers across the district and we have to get out that message that we do have good teachers and the people that we are hiring are the bestquality teachers that we possibly can hire. MBJ: Can the Montgomery Public Schools system be successful without a strong commitment from the business community? Thompson: I think without (that commitment) from the business community, I think it makes it very difficult for a school district to be successful. I think it’s a critical component because that means everybody is focused on what’s good for schools and what’s good for this community at large. Usually education and having more people educated and better educated – usually improves the quality of life for the community. One of the components that goes along with this is called WorkKeys. It’s an assessment the state has set up. When our kids go through the Career Academies, there is an assessment they can take and it will be given to employers (giving them confidence) that these students have certain skills based on these skill sets. The employer knows, as opposed to guessing, (the skills) a kid has. I think that’s critical, that kind of connection, and we’re putting that in our Career Academies. Also, if you do a pretest it tells us a kid may need to take more math or a bit more of this. It’s really a preparatory thing for the job that you want; it’s related to certain jobs and they (students) can get a gold certificate, a silver certificate – it tells you the level you’re at regarding those skill sets. That’s the kind of communication we need to have in place. It tells the kids what kind of skills you need; it tells employers what skills the kids have; and it gives employers some confidence that they are hiring skilled employees. MBJ: I know it’s early, but what is the impact of the Career Academies? Thompson: I think the IT Academy is definitely having an impact. I would say there is excitement about the (other academies) and we have not fully developed them. But I think given the fact there could potentially be a job, internships and those types of things connected to the academies, I think they are going to generate lots of excitement. Kids really want jobs and they really want to earn money – at least they want to have money. The hope is that that connection CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



will be a pretty powerful one. The job we’re going to have to do is we are approaching this a little bit differently in middle schools. We are meeting with parents and giving them a good orientation of what’s available in high school, and those are systems we have to put in place to make sure that this truly is a system that works. We’re looking at increasing the Career Academies – adding architecture and landscaping. We are really excited that we are trying to connect Career Academies with jobs. I think it’s really, really important for kids who don’t see their future as a four-year college kid. It gives them some options and it also gives options to those kids who are going to a four-year college. We need to make those connections for kids who don’t see themselves as a traditional student. I think the Career Academies do that because you have hospitality, you have health care, advanced manufacturing, law enforcement and fire. You have some areas that will appeal to a wide variety of students.

charge of these goals. For the last six months, we’ve had a little languishing that happens in transition and now we’re back on that. MBJ: What are your long-term goals for MPS? Thompson: To make this a No. 1 school district in the state. We are the Capital

Superintendent Barbara Thompson reads the book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” to Thelma Morris Elementary School kindergarten students.

MBJ: The logo on the Web site for MPS, states: “One focus … preparing students for life.” How is MPS performing? Thompson: The fact that before I arrived this district started the strategic plan, tells me they are seriously on the path because that gives you goals and steps you’re going to take and it identifies people who are responsible for doing it. At this point, because of the significant transition that we had and losing people, we are still reassembling that group that is in


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

City, and we should really be a premiere school district that when people come to visit, they can be proud of. And we want our state to be proud of. That’s really our goal and that we are actually fulfilling our logo: “Preparing students for life.” •

CAREER ACADEMIES: GROOMING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOR FUTURE EMPLOYMENT Nearly 350 students are participating in the five Career Academies offered at Montgomery Public Schools. Two more academies are planned for next year.

therapy, pharmacy, surgery, surgical intensive care and after delivery. Students will also learn about safely moving patients, taking and reading vital signs and feeding.

Students enrolled in the academies take up to seven courses in that field during their high school career to prepare them for both college and jobs in those areas.

The information technology academy is offered at Robert E. Lee High School and about 40 students are enrolled in the program. Each of those students will have a laptop in class. The mission of the IT academy is to “provide students with the technical, personal, logical and communication skills needed to succeed in today’s digital workforce.”

The Career Academies are schools within schools designed around a career theme. The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Career Academies Task Force worked with Montgomery Public Schools and the business community to develop the Career Academies. The business/finance academy at Sidney Lanier High School has the highest participation with 120 students. The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Career Academies Task Force worked with Montgomery Public Schools and the business community to develop the Career Academies. About 80 students attend the teaching career academy at Jefferson Davis High School, which is divided into two areas of study: early childhood education and secondary education. Another 80 students are participating in the health science/medical career academy at the same school. Students will receive hands-on clinical training in physical therapy, radiology, respiratory

Almost 40 students participate in the law and public safety academy at Sidney Lanier High School. The career academy has two areas of study: fire and law enforcement. The two academies planned for next year are hospitality and tourism/culinary arts and advanced manufacturing. Both will be at George Washington Carver High School. Nancy Beggs, director of education programs for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, said the goal is having 180 students in each academy. Students must meet admission requirements to enroll in a career academy and maintain a prescribed grade-point average to continue in the course work. The curriculum and instruction meets or exceeds college entrance requirements. Each academy student takes at least two core academic classes and one careertheme class each year. Those academic classes include math, science, English language arts and social studies. The curriculum is integrated between those academic classes and the career class. - David Zaslawsky

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Member Profile

The law firm Balch & Bingham is riding out the recession by shifting some of its resources. From left: Charles Paterson, Riley Roby, Pete Cobb, Jo Moore and Jim Edwards.

Legal Ease Balch & Bingham adapts to changing environment by Tom Ensey

Law firms have had to roll with the economic punches just like any other business during the economic downturn. Corporate firm Balch & Bingham is more than ready for the changing times.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Balch & Bingham is a broad-based and diverse firm, and its managing partner in Montgomery said the same versatility that allows their attorneys to provide comprehensive service to clients has helped the company battle through the financial storm.


A glance at the multiple practice areas the firm offers is a little short of mind-boggling. They range from mergers and acquisitions to gaming to financial services; labor and employment; civil rights legislation; energy transactions and regulations; water law; consumer financial services – the list goes on and on.


Nevertheless, the atmosphere is laid back and small-town in the firm’s picturesque suite of offices on Tallapoosa Street, across the street from Riverwalk Stadium where the Montgomery Biscuits play baseball. It’s just a few doors down from the new Dreamland Bar-B-Que restaurant, which perfumes the offices with mouth-watering smoke when the wind blows just right. But Balch & Bingham, despite the down-home ambience, is part of a Southeast-spanning regional firm with about 250 highly specialized attorneys working out of offices in Mississippi, Georgia and Washington D.C. as well as Montgomery. “We can bring the firepower of a major law firm when our clients need it,” said managing partner Charles Paterson. The firm has lawyers who specialize in the various, intricate disciplines that confront all manner of businesses these days, he said. “Just this morning, I had a client with an environmental problem,” Paterson said. “I called a partner in Birmingham. Environmental law is his specialty. That’s what we’re able to do – we have somebody with vast experience and expertise in the areas our clients need. We’re able to do a lot of different things to serve a lot of different needs.” They can do more than make a phone call to a colleague, too. The firm has full teleconferencing capability and attorneys in constant communication via technology and computers. Every attorney in every office has access to each other’s skills and expertise, as needed. That same versatility has helped the firm adapt in the grips of the sour economy. As the recession has transformed the business landscape, the demand for certain kinds of lawyers changed with it. Paterson talked about the upheaval in real estate law as the financial tsunami crested and broke. The thousands of home foreclosures that sent the economy of the U.S. and the world into a tailspin led to bank failures, tight money and record unemployment. “The banks weren’t making as many loans, people weren’t borrowing,” he said. “Developers put things on hold.” To use a football analogy, it was time for the law firm to call an audible – to change the play at the line of scrimmage. At Balch & Bingham, that meant shifting real estate lawyers into financial services, consumer rights, bankruptcies and “workouts” – working out problems between lenders and borrowers. “We recycled attorneys out of real estate into the financial services arena,” Paterson said. “We adapted our manpower to the type of disputes that were out there – to where the demand changes.” Unlike many other firms in the nation, Balch & Bingham hasn’t been forced to lay off any employees. Paterson cites good management by the executive committee in Birmingham.









That doesn’t mean service to the clients has been compromised in any way. The firm still provides full service, and just as important, conducts seminars and provides consultations and education to keep its clients out of trouble and away from conflict. “Court is the last place you want to settle a dispute,” Paterson said. “What we do is like preventive medication – we’re into repeat business, and if you have kept your clients out of court, you have done them a real service.” The firm also stresses that its employees participate in public service, charitable causes and community involvement, whatever form it may take. “We encourage them not just to be a member, but be part of the leadership,” said Paterson, a past chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “Be on the board.” Paterson believes the economy is showing signs of improvement and the firm will be ready to change along with the demand for services as the times change. “We’re very optimistic,” he said. He believes the River Region, for all it’s been through, has been relatively blessed through the hard times. The downtown area where the firm is located is beginning to pick up – Balch & Bingham made a leap of faith moving into its current location four years ago, when the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center was under construction, The Alley project was on the drawing board and the employees didn’t have their own parking lot. “We’ve seen a lot of growth around us,” Paterson said. “We’ve been blessed with good leadership in the River Region. We’re seeing good things happen right now, in the midst of this economy. I’ve had friends who haven’t been to Montgomery in years come here recently and they can’t believe what they’re seeing. “If we’re seeing such good things happening now, imagine what it’s going to be like when things turn back around.”

“We haven’t hired as many people,” he said. “We have been careful with our expenditures and, like any other company, have cut back on the things that are not absolutely necessary.” November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Making Th



I love the story of the New York City sidewalk hotdog vendor. Upon being told by Wall Street types that a recession was coming, he immediately began to cut back on ordering product. To save more money he began using a less expensive hot dog. The “sandwich board” advertising man he employed on weekends also got the axe. And finally, he discontinued the candy bars, because sometimes the last ones got a bit stale. And sure enough, it wasn’t long before the recession arrived. Sales fell and profit along with them. Before it was all over, the vendor wound up being the “sandwich board” man for another hotdog vendor who, upon hearing about the impending recession, had branched out and added gourmet coffee and polish sausages to his cart. Make no mistake about it – Gloom and Doom is powerful stuff. It sells. And that alone should tell you that there is a good argument to be made that being bullish about 2010 may just be the better perspective. What are the reasons to be optimistic about the economy and the market next year? First, there is the big global picture. Bill Gross, head of PIMCO, the world’s largest bond manager, made an observation several years ago about global macroeconomics. He compared the entire

world to North America in 1800. Because of Asia and India, the world has a huge population of fairly young, increasingly better educated people, who have never had much, are more free than they ever have been, are learning about the “better life” and are increasingly able to take their place at the table. That is a recipe for economic growth and expansion. Critics moan that may be true, but it leaves out the good ol’ USA. That’s like saying the research triangle in North Carolina is in trouble because they don’t manufacture or mine very much there anymore. The USA has for the world what the research triangle has for the U.S. – intellectual resources and the economic benefits that flow from them. The Economist magazine, on the cover of the recent Aug. 15th issue, spoke boldly about “Asia’s Astonishing Rebound.” The article went on to describe the amazing resiliency of emerging economies in Asia: China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore. These countries are sitting on a 20-year annual growth rate of nearly 8 percent — a phenomenal number. The catalysts for this growth – a more solid banking system, low consumer debt, and stronger government finances – will allow these economies to lead the world out of its current economic decline. CCONTINUED ON PAGE 20


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Guest Commentary

heir Case:


Do we see a light at the end of the tunnel or is it a train? I am an optimistic person; however, the current economic situation hardly gives most of us cause for optimism. The recent market rebound has brought hope that the worst may be behind us. While that is reason for celebration, it is the economy that drives the markets, and this is where my optimism fails me. From my view, we could be looking at a double-dip recession ... meaning the market could head right back down. Most people understand that residential real estate and the securities tied to the loans are the root cause of the current crisis. The simple fact is that a large number of people involved – from the person who bought the home to the person who created the sophisticated securities that were bought and sold on Wall Street – overextended themselves. This overextension caused many banks and Wall Street firms to go to the brink of bankruptcy or to fail completely. One of the most notable failures last year was Lehman Brothers. Its demise is the result of years – if not decades – of poor spending habits and a refusal to look at the longer-term risk. The failure of Lehman Brothers unleashed a series of rapid events

that caused the stock market to plummet. The failure of Lehman Brothers broke the confidence of most investors as the market began pricing for another Great Depression. Confidence is slowly being restored, but will it be maintained? Or has the public become numb to or blasé about our country’s current economic situation? Have we learned to accept as commonplace what would have normally destroyed our confidence? Our strategy at the beginning of this year predicted that 100 banks would fail in 2009, and there is little doubt we will meet that number by year’s end. Let me put that number in perspective. In 2006, there were zero bank failures. In 2007, three banks failed, and 2008 saw the closure of 26 banks. The failure of close to 100 banks by year’s end is enormous, and economically speaking, it simply cannot go unanswered. You can see for yourself on the FDIC’s Web site. This trend is accelerating, and has been confirmed by the FDIC.


November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal




3. A third reason to see promise in 2010 lies in understanding some of the longer effects the current recession will have on the U.S. economy. Business Week quotes experts who compare the current recession to a forest fire, clearing out dead brush and making room for new growth – and also as the needed catalyst to get Americans to rethink unsustainable habits on spending, saving, leverage and risk-taking. Reference is made to signs of stabilization in the U.S. housing market – a key step for the American consumer to regain confidence.

Irby J. Thompson is president of Wilson Price Wealth Management, LLC.

Business Week magazine devoted 24 pages in two late-August issues to similar themes. The following are some of the reasons cited for being optimistic: 1. Recessions are a natural part of economic life. They shake the assets of human and investment capital loose from older, dying companies and make them available to industries and businesses with better prospects. Innovation is one of the key drivers of these changes and it is an under-valued commodity right now, especially in the eyes of the media. In the Business Week article, Bill Gates reminds readers that both Microsoft and Xerox were launched during economic downturns. 2. Another factor fueling economic growth around the world is the ongoing expansion of education and technology. These things contribute to a growing middle class in the emerging economies and make them a force for economic expansion. The statistics aren’t perfect, but the number of students pursuing post-secondary education has more than quintupled since 1970.


4. The Business Week articles contained a column by the CEO of Thomson Reuters. In it he describes how the free-market principles of transparency, rule of law and market pricing are increasingly being adopted by the developing world. It takes certain types of citizens to make this happen, which is leading to the rise of a global professional class. As an example, historically patents didn’t exist in China – the country didn’t adopt patent laws until 1985. China now issues 30,000 patents annually, encouraging innovation by protecting property rights and providing work for 150,000 lawyers. Today, China ranks third in patent applications, behind only the U.S. and Japan – and is expected to pull into first place by 2012. Another instance is the rise of Islamic finance into a $1 trillion business that is growing over 10 percent annually. This was fueled by a skilled community of accountants, lawyers and financial practitioners. As these people continue to have more “skin” in the game of worldwide economic development and stability, they will serve as a counter to the destabilizing influence of radical Islamic militantism.

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

All of the above notwithstanding, perhaps the best reason to be optimistic about 2010 and beyond is simply the fact that economic history says it’s the reasonable position to take. Does this mean that the likes of Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Doom & Boom Report could not possibly be right? No, it doesn’t, but history suggests that the normal result of freedom, stability and technological advancement is betterment in the lives of people in general, and that has always included economic betterment. It’s never a linear progression, and the downturns can be brutal in specific areas. But to the degree that freedom, stability and technology continue their influence – particularly in the developing world – the ever more connected global economy will be better off. A difficulty most Americans have today is the same difficulty Englishmen had in the late 1700s, namely an inability to see beyond their own borders. As it turned out, those pesky, backward and troublesome colonies became their savior in later decades. Americans would do well to at least appreciate the possibility that parts of the world we know so little of today may, in our economic future, return the favor.

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal




less than is owed is not easily refinanced, creating a vicious cycle that feeds upon itself.

Fred Middleton is senior vice president, managing director for W.R. Taylor & Co., LLC.

Next year and into 2011 the banks will have to contend with a massive wave of commercial loan resets. Commercial loans were packaged into securities and sold just like residential real estate was. Properties will have to be refinanced and a large portion of them are worth far less than is owed. Adding to that problem is unemployment. Since companies are hiring fewer workers, or worse, if workers are being laid off, there is less spending. Earlier we noted how most things revolve around confidence. If you are not confident about your employment, I can assure you that you will not spend as much. Our economy is about 70 percent consumer driven. Fewer shoppers translates to slower growth and fewer shops opening -- not to mention stores that have to close because of the recession. If you ride through any town, you will see shopping centers that contain businesses and employ people. Now, count the number of vacant shops. Go to bigger cities and you can count the number of vacant shopping centers. The value of these centers, and any rental property for that matter, is based to a large degree on the occupancy of the building. Buildings with lower occupancy rates are worth less than the same center fully occupied. Values are based on cash flow, and since vacancies lower cash flow, the buildings are worth less. Any building worth

Unemployment, it is often pointed out, is a lagging indicator. This is still true. However, in today’s environment, it is also important to consider the “underemployed” and people who have given up looking for work. The official unemployment numbers don’t take this into account. In my view, we are talking about just one thing here – spending. My guess is just about everyone reading this article knows someone who has been affected by a layoff. Even if you are never without work, knowing people without work makes you more cautious about spending. Losing a job is bad enough, but there are other factors that play into spending as well. Downward pressures on wages, and freezing raises and retirement plan matches are often used by employers to keep from laying off more workers. All of these have an impact on spending and confidence. Right now, the average duration for unemployment is up to 25.1 weeks. This is the highest since records began in 1948. One in three workers has been out of work for 27 weeks or longer. We have a long way to go before the consumer will be confident enough to spend again. This recession is definitely causing consumers to be more thoughtful about spending. Unemployment, consumer spending and commercial lending are just a few of the headwinds facing our economy going into the new year. For these reasons, I find myself on the bear side of the equation late next year. I believe that the stimulus packages signed earlier this year will finally make their way into the economy and, as a result, will cause next year to start out very positively for the market. However, I don’t think the economy will have recovered enough to sustain the market rise, and therefore I’m bearish at year end in 2010.

What is an investor to do in an environment like this? The first thing I would do is double check my strategy — has anything changed in the way I’m investing from last year? One of the biggest mistakes I see investors make is holding on too long. I’ve sat in front of countless investors who still hold a tech stock they bought 10 years ago, thinking as soon as it gets back to even, they are going to sell it. Meanwhile, they have missed out on some wonderful investment opportunities. Usually, when I verbalize this strategy back to them, they realize how ridiculous it sounds. If I were working with an adviser, I would definitely want to know what his or her strategy is. I’m convinced that, for the most part, “buy and hold” has become “buy and hope.” Active markets require active management, and so I would consider taking a more tactical approach to investing. Becoming more tactical with your management style can help, but for it to work, your portfolio will need to be monitored on a consistent basis. Stay diversified, and never concentrate your assets in any one particular sector or asset class. Homework is going to be necessary to navigate this environment. So, be ready to do it or hire someone to do it for you. - Fred Middleton


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Investor Profile

Jere Beasley is founding shareholder of the law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.



Beasley Allen law firm ‘helping those who need it the most’ by David Zaslawsky


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

The Montgomery Biscuits have been drawing about 300,000 spectators a year to their home games at Riverwalk Stadium. The team and its fan base have been a catalyst for downtown and riverfront development by bringing all of those people downtown. More than 1.8 million people have attended Biscuits’ games the past six years. But the next time you walk through the turnstiles to watch a Biscuits game consider this: The baseball field was once owned by private individuals. Those private individuals were Jere Beasley, founding shareholder of the law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C.; and Greg Allen, a shareholder with the firm. Beasley said the firm had offices at the old railroad depot, which were converted into suites for the stadium. “We bought what is now the baseball playing field from the railroad,” Beasley said. “We had plans to construct a large building there.” Beasley said the City of Montgomery asked if he would sell the property. “We really didn’t want to sell it, but looking back I’m glad we did because the baseball team has been very important to Montgomery,” Beasley said. “It’s certainly been more important than our law firm, more important than the Renaissance (hotel) and more important than all these good things that have happened. Baseball was a catalyst for all this other activity,” he said, referring to the redevelopment of downtown and the riverfront. The Beasley Allen law firm has been instrumental in the resurgence of downtown. Beasley and Allen (not the law firm) own three buildings on Commerce Street and poured millions of dollars to renovate the buildings. One building that was so dilapidated had to be torn down and was converted into a parking lot, Beasley said. “People said we were dumb and maybe a little crazy to come down to an area that was dead,” Beasley said. He said that at one point, the law firm may have been the only business in that area. “We have a huge investment in downtown,” Allen earlier told the Montgomery Business Journal. “This is a unique place. For years it basically sat dormant, but when (then-Mayor) Bobby Bright came in with his plan to redevelop downtown, I told him that I would do my best – we would do our part – to help it grow.”

The law firm grew so quickly it went from one building to adding two more and renting one floor of office space in another building. Allen estimated that $2 million to $3 million was spent converting each of the three buildings into suitable office space for the law firm. On top of that huge investment, Beasley and Allen have invested $6 millionplus in Alley Station, which will feature restaurants, 16 loft apartments, rooftop garden, a banquet facility and some retail shops at the two buildings they own. That is just a small part of the law firm’s impact in the River Region. The firm itself is headquartered in Montgomery, with nearly 250 employees – 40 to 45 attorneys and 200-plus support staff, as well as temporary workers – depending on the firm’s caseload. “In this business, everybody that comes to see us has a problem,” Beasley said. “Nobody comes in here to get a will written or a deed drawn up – they have a problem. Even the companies that hire us have a problem and it’s usually the David and Goliath sort of deal. We don’t represent many Goliaths.” Even the State of Alabama has turned to the law firm for help, and the results have been monumental. The firm is representing the state in its lawsuit against 72 pharmaceutical companies accused of overcharging for Medicaid drug prescriptions. There have been settlements and jury verdicts that combined have topped $475 million. The money goes to the state’s General Fund for the Medicaid budget, which helps shore up the historically struggling budget. The law firm also represented the state in its lawsuit against ExxonMobil, which accused the company of underpaying royalties to the state. An $11.9 billion jury verdict against the company was later reduced to $3.5 billion by the trial judge. The Alabama Supreme Court further reduced the award to about $230 million, which included only compensatory damages – no punitive damages, Beasley said. The law firm so far has donated about $5 million since its founding in 1979 to various community organizations and groups. The firm’s motto is “Helping those who need it the most.” That applies to both clients and the community.

“It means we need to be actively involved,” Beasley said. “We believe that there are a lot of folks out there that need help that are not looking for a lawyer, but that just need help. Each year we select groups and charities that we support and I think we have an obligation to do it.” The firm has donated more than $1 million in the past three years to various organizations and groups, including Family Sunshine Center, Father Walter Memorial Child Care Center, Brantwood Children’s Home and Common Ground, a ministry in West Montgomery that assists children and “young people who badly need help,” Beasley said. The firm holds two blood drives a year and collects an average of 30 pints per drive. There are also food drives, toy drives and clothing drives. Playing an active role in the community also means that attorneys and staff volunteer a combined 1,500 hours per year. “You have an obligation to help people outside this law firm, and I believe we do,” Beasley said.







November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


The Upside to the Downside Businesses beat the odds by opening or expanding during a recession by David Zaslawsky

Let’s face it, opening a business during an economic downturn sounds crazy. But it doesn’t have to be. Four Montgomeryarea businesses prove that hard work and research – combined with a healthy dose of savvy and optimism – can position a recession-era startup for success. Case in point: The Mulberry District’s Craving for Fashion, which opened in June. IDENTIFYING A NICHE Leondra Lawery knew she had a good idea before she ever did the market research to prove it. After shopping for maternity clothes with her husband, Lawery complained about the lack of choices.

NEGOTIATING THE DEAL Lawyers Michael Fritz and David Hughes opened their law firm with startup costs of about $25,000. They were able to negotiate on everything from rent to office furniture to computers in order to drive down costs.

And what they did spend on furniture came at a reduced cost because items were purchased from a company that was either downsizing or relocating, Fritz said. He negotiated with Dell Computers to save another $1,000 on computers.

“In the down economy, you can find deals,” Fritz said.

“Our cash flow has been better than expected,” Fritz said. “We have about a $100,000 line of credit, but we haven’t tapped it all.”

Their law office is located at the former site of a real estate brokerage firm that shrank from two offices to one. The new tenants inherited a lot of the furnishings at no additional cost. Fritz estimates that they spent $5,000 on furniture “where it looks like we spent $50,000.”

And she had serious conversations with her husband about opening her own maternity clothes store. “We did a lot of research,” Lawery said. “I talked to a lot of people, did some marketing analysis and realized it was niche. It was something that was needed and I felt that regardless of the economy women will get pregnant and women will need maternity clothes.”

But they believe they have identified a niche that is already paying off.

Michael Fritz

But opening a retail business during a recession? Of course, Lawery and her husband were hesitant about opening a store and taking on debt at a time when other retailers were going out of business. Opening her store also meant giving up her $30,000 salary plus benefits working as a personal assistant to a doctor, along with her flexible work schedule. To cover the startup costs, Lawery and her husband used some money from a line of credit and borrowed money from parents and her brother to raise about $20,000. So, she must have been pretty anxious when there were no sales the first day; or the second or third day. Actually, the first sale took a week, but it was a whopper for her: $248.


Both say they took a large gamble in stepping out on their own. Fritz gave up a six-figure income working for the Bankruptcy Administrator’s Office, and Hughes also gave up his position at a law firm.

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

David Hughes

Mike Watson

Fritz is a bankruptcy attorney who handles both business and

ADVICE FOR MANAGING YOUR DOWNTURN STARTUP On Sales: Downturns are actually a great time to sign up new accounts. That’s because companies are examining every expense for ways to save. If you can offer a better price than their current vendor, you will have a decent chance of winning their business. On Hiring: If a local company has layoffs, call its HR department. You may be able to work with the company or with its outplacement agency to identify seasoned workers who would be interested in joining your startup or working for you on a contract basis. On Bootstrapping: Barter. Existing businesses will be looking for ways to put their excess capacity to use and may be willing to work with you.

Online bartering exchanges, such as BizXchange (, have listings for services like IT help and logo design. On Pricing: Offer a discount to customers who pay up front. They save money, while you get what every startup needs, which is cash flow. (You may want to cut a deal with only one or two customers, however, to avoid being tagged as a discounter forever.) On Terms: If you can afford it, offer customers generous terms. If they are used to paying their vendors in 30 days, offer 60-day terms. Their current suppliers are unlikely to be as flexible, which means you will be offering the client something unique. Source:

personal bankruptcies. And during a recession, there are a lot of those.

EastChase in East Montgomery and one at The Exchange in Prattville.

Hughes handles commercial and residential real estate, which has taken a major hit in this recession. But he also handles bankruptcy cases, and those have become the firm’s current focus.

The Montgomery store employes 125 people, while the Prattville store employs closer to 170, including seasonal help. Both stores are about 75,000 square feet.

“We feel like we have a recession-proof business,” Fritz said. “We figure that as the economy goes south, we’ll push our resources toward the bankruptcy (side) and when the economy grows, then we’ll push our resources toward the (real estate) closing markets.” SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY A large retailer which opens about 12 stores per year saw what was happening to the economy and decided those changes solidified plans that were already in place. Academy Sports + Outdoors operates 100plus stores in the Southeast and Midwest with about 13,000 employees, according to Sandy Thompson, regional marketing manager. The company opened three stores in Alabama this year, including one at

Why is the Katy, Texas-based company expanding while other retail firms are cutting back or have gone out of business? “We had the opportunity to be a strong position for growth as we headed into some economic challenges,” Thompson said. “We were already at a point where we knew we were going with these stores in some new markets as we grew to the east. “Those processes were already in place and the economy almost solidified some of those decisions because it was easy to get contractors; and property was less than it typically had been.” She said that some of the company’s “competitors looking to enter the marketplace along with us chose not to. You are going to come out on top by not having to split the pie with some of our competitors in those same markets.”

Craving for Fashion owner Leondra Lawery saw a need for trendy maternity apparel. Although Academy Sports + Outdoors is considered a sporting goods store, the company has worked feverishly to change that image. It recently completed an aggressive back-to-school sale, and also promotes Academy Sports + Outdoors as your place for jeans. “We are letting people be aware that we would love to see you for all of your hunting and fishing needs, but we have a whole lot more stuff going on,” Thompson said, referring to footwear, women’s casual wear and office wear.

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



“Our shopper has changed from the maledominated shopper,” Thompson said. “Now we have the mom with two kids coming in and she is buying her back-to-school stuff.”

Academy Sports + Outdoors opened two stores in the River Region this year.

of downtown Montgomery as an entertainment district.” He said the city leaders realize the importance of having a healthy downtown to survive. But Watson did invest about $500,000 in his business, although he said about one-half of that amount was actually at risk if the business failed.

POSITIONING FOR THE FUTURE Alley Bar owner Mike Watson is president and chief executive officer of 2WR HolmesWilkins architects. For him, opening another business during a recession was a slightly different scenario. He already owned the building where the Alley Bar is located in downtown Montgomery, he had cash for the investment, and he was not dependent on an instant cash flow from the bar because it is not his primary business. Much of the furniture, fixtures and equipment for Alley Bar had also already been bought. “My decision to open the Alley Bar during rough economic times was


primarily driven by the timing of the construction of The Alley project and by my civic obligation to make sure that there was a vibrant entertainment venue opened at the epicenter of the district in the first phase of development.” Watson, who opened his business in early June, said that he had “complete confidence in the future vitality of the Riverwalk area

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

“The Alley Bar is forced to work and plan smart and make sure that our operations are efficient and that our products and services are top notch,” Watson said. “High-quality performance now can only mean higher profits when the Great Recession winds down. “If you are successful with the product you are delivering and other businesses are not, then obviously the competition is diluted and your base for customers increases.” •

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Member Profile

Seay, Seay & Litchfield Architects has been in business since 1970. From left: Frank Litchfield, Greg O’Neal, Wes Osmer, Jimmy Seay and Platt Boyd.

Quality by Design Seay, Seay & Litchfield runs its business like it does its projects: with planning and precision by Tom Ensey

It’s a truth so simple, so obvious, it sounds downright corny: before you start any project, have a plan. And that plan better be carefully drawn, detailed and considered, or you’ll be battling one mess after another every step of the way.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

That adage may be truer in the profession of architecture than any other. Buildings must be planned from foundation to ribbon-cutting. Properly designed buildings, ideally, should be enduring works of art that must last for generations, a place where people live, work and grow every day. Poorly designed buildings, well, they fall apart.


The programming – or planning – phase of an architectural project is the most crucial, said Jim Seay Jr., one of the partners of Seay, Seay & Litchfield, whose home office is located in a shady nook of Montgomery’s Garden District.


“It’s like an algebra equation,” he said. “If you mess up at the beginning, it’ll be wrong all the way through.” Frank Litchfield, another principal, grinned when he broke down the process in layman’s terms: “Determine what you need, how big you want it, what you need it to do and how much it’s going to cost,” he said. That sounds a lot simpler than it is, of course – but Seay, Seay & Litchfield has decades of experience making a very difficult process look easy. A short list of the jobs it has completed over the years bears that out: > Renovations of historic treasures such as St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Montgomery; the state Capitol; the Alabama State Department of Archives and History.






METRO FITNESS CENTER, TROY UNIVERSITY’S HAWKINS HALL, MONTGOMERY CANCER CENTER do more with the interns than stick them in a corner in the back at a drawing board. We want them to learn how to do this job.”

> Striking, functional, modern facilities such as Metro Fitness in East Montgomery and the Senior NCO Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base; and Montgomery Academy.

It’s an educational process, like a workshop that allows the interns to contribute to the work at hand.

> Cheaha State Park, where a traditional rustic look blends with comfort, elegance and function.

The legacy of Seay Sr.’s leadership goes further than that – it’s an old lesson from the Bible that everyone has heard repeated, but at Seay, Seay and Litchfield, putting it into practice is company policy.

The list goes on. Any employee of Seay, Seay & Litchfield is quick to tell you their firm is firmly devoted to sustainability – a much-used word in the business of building these days. As “green” homes, buildings, work spaces and living area become increasingly important in today’s climate, architects, engineers and contractors try to use technology to create structures that are energy efficient and non-polluting, that allow humans to live as part of, not in opposition to, the environment. More than 70 percent of the firm’s employees are accredited professionals in L.E.E.D., which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design – an education and training program that makes leaders out of architects who are spearheading the profession’s move into the future. Seay, Seay & Litchfield is also focused on the sustainability of its firm, on carrying its principles and commitment to excellence into the future. The partners have planned for the future, and they have devoted themselves to upholding the principles of the firm’s founder, Jim Litchfield Sr. He was a civil engineer and an architect who taught at Auburn University. In keeping with his background as an educator, the firm actively recruits the best architectural students it can find to work as interns – and it hires quite a few. For the internship program, they hold a program called “lunch and learns” that immerse the budding professionals into every aspect of the business. “This is one of the last remaining generalist professions,” explained partner R. Platt Boyd. “Everybody has to know about everything. We

“Dad has a notion of treating people the way they want to be treated,” said Seay, who worked alongside his father in the early days of the firm. That meant employees, clients, colleagues and friends. His motto was “Quality by Design.” That meant if you treated people right, worked with them to make sure they got what they wanted, if you planned accordingly, the quality would take care of itself. Litchfield said the company is now in its second generation of ownership – he and Jim Seay Jr. After that, it will be principles Platt Boyd and Greg O’Neal and most recently appointed principal Wes Osmer. The lines of succession don’t translate into a chain of command. Each of the men has his own responsibility, each has his own skills and strengths, and each shoulders his load of the responsibility – they, along with the 20 or so employees – are a team. But as they work together and the senior members pass on their ideals to the younger ones, the ideals of the firms will live on, and those are just as important as the aesthetics, the technical knowledge and the day-to-day hard work of just running a business. Just constructing a building must be planned with complete care and carried out with precision every step of the way. Seay, Seay & Litchfield has sought to bring that same process to the construction of their company. Properly designed and operated businesses ideally should be something like a well-designed and executed building -- a work of art, planned carefully, one that will last for generations, and a place where people live, work and grow every day. November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


TAKING SMALL BU The Small Business Resource Center is a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and existing companies by David Zaslawsky

Leland Talbert had an idea for a business, but he had no idea how to operate one. He had no role models to follow. No one in his family had run a business. He did realize that cash flow was important, but that was about the extent of his business knowledge. Talbert took his business concept and enrolled in the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Resource Center’s 12-week intensive Entrepreneurial University. That’s where Talbert got his business know-how. He was proud of his accomplishment and proud about the business plan he submitted. “I remember turning in my business plan and felt all nice and happy – a little gleam was on it,” Talbert said. Those feelings of nice and happy vanished when he saw his business plan a week or two later after Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) staff reviewed it. “It (business plan) was all marked up with a lot of red strokes on it. I felt like I was back in school. It made me rethink how I was going to approach my business plan.” He has come a long way since then. Talbert is president of Transcendence Inc., which provides services, solutions

and information technology-based equipment to the government including computers and network printers. Business has been so good for Talbert, who formed his company in October 2003, that he moved from his original 300-square-foot office space at the SBRC to his current 900-square-foot office. Meanwhile, his sales have surged from around $250,000 in 2004 to $2.2 million last year. The SBRC “has been a godsend,” Talbert said. “If I would have done my original plan, I would have been in a very nice office building with no real support and probably would have folded.” Instead, Talbert and others like him have taken advantage of a host of free or reduced services offered for clients at the SBRC. Some of those services include: • Affordable space and shared services • Mentoring • Seminars, workshops • Low overhead • Shorter-term leases for rent CONTINUED ON PAGE 34 Steve Goldsby, CEO of Integrated Computer Solutions Inc. is the president of the Small Business Resource Center Board of Directors.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

CAREOF USINESS November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal




• No utility deposits • Electricity included in most office spaces • Shared resources • Administrative support • Fax and postal services • Audio-visual equipment • Copying equipment • Meeting rooms • Low-cost telephone and Internet offered on a month-to-month basis • Free and adequate parking • On-site security • 24-hour access to office Those free or greatly reduced services can reduce a company’s expenses by 20 to 50 percent, said Douglas Jones, executive director of the SBRC and vice president of business services for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. A small business owner can lease a 215square-foot office for $225 a month or a 400-square-foot office for $385 a month. The largest spaces are geared for light industrial and a 1,900-square-foot office costs $851 a month (electricity not included, but all other services and amenities are). “Where else or what else is there (beside the SBRC)?” asked Andy Martin, president of Square Root Interactive, who entered the SBRC’s incubation program in April 2000. “They are the best place to plant a business seed in town – in the region. We probably would not be as successful today had we not had that experience.” Square Root Interactive offers Web site design, development and consulting services. The company, which stayed three years in an office at the SBRC, began with just two employees – Martin and Mark Cline, co-founder and vice president. The company recently added its 13th employee and has seen annual sales jump from about $60,000 in its second year (lost about $60,000 in its first year) to the $1 million to $5 million range the past three years.

Leland Talbert, president of Transcendence Inc.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

“When I first came to SBRC, I moved to a 300-square-foot office, rent was around $225 a month,” Talbert said. “That’s all that you pay here. You don’t have to pay for electricity. You don’t have to pay for trash pick-up. You have access to fax, printer, copiers. “If you need anything, they have it here. Even if you want to have a secretary to answer your phone, they have that here as well. And that changes the dynamics of running a business. When you have all of that and at the time you are only paying $225 a month – that’s a lot for $225 because you would not normally get that anywhere else.” That’s the idea – keep a company’s expenses as low as possible during the start-up stage. “It’s below market-rate rent, but it’s not just low-cost office space,” said Steve Goldsby, chief executive officer of Integrated Computer Solutions Inc., which was at the SBRC for two years. Goldsby talked about the shared resources in the center as well as access to counseling services, other entrepreneurs and startup companies and outreach programs from universities located at the SBRC. “If you add all that up, the total is greater than the sum of the parts,” Goldsby said. “If I had to sum it up, they removed a lot of the distractions that would normally slow your growth. I didn’t have to worry about managing a lot of things that didn’t add value to my business. When I was there, (the services) freed up a lot of capital to actually grow my business. It really is a one-stop shop.” Goldsby began Integrated Computer Solutions, an information security consulting firm, in his house and “when it got to the point that we needed actual office space, I CONTINUED ON PAGE 36


The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors usually holds its monthly meeting in the Blount boardroom. A recent board of directors meeting was moved to the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) in a room one Chamber member played a significant role in creating, the Business Development Training Suite. The need for additional training and meeting space at the SBRC was great, but the budget was not. Originally designed for light industry, the room had no technology, no ceiling and lights that hummed and hummed and hummed all day long. Clients were running out of space for training. And potential participants were being turned away from the Entrepreneurial University due to lack of space. Whenever the SBRC held larger events, other venues in the community had to be used. The SBRC had just $40,000 to convert the space into a state-of-the art training suite. But it would cost a lot more than that – an estimated $130,000.

Enter Design Build South and Payne & Associates Architects. “They stepped forward and volunteered their services to manage the project at no cost and to leverage their relationships to secure labor and materials at a greatly reduced cost or at no cost,” said Douglas Jones, executive director of the SBRC and vice president, business services for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. Dave Payne, construction administrator for Payne & Associates, and Dave Branch, project manager for Payne & Associates, directed the project. Payne was still doing some painting at 3:30 in the morning – just hours before the board of directors meeting. For that meeting, the 1,500-square-foot Business Development Training Suite seats up to 90 theater style. The suite can accommodate about 60 people plus tables in a classroom setting -- and that excites Lisa McGinty, director of small business programs for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

McGinty and Jones both teach classes for the SBRC’s Entrepreneurial University. Now there will be room for more students and the technology in the room “is newer and better” than what is available at other sites at the resource center, according to McGinty. “Business Development Training Suite is for training purposes and to support the Small Business Resource Center and the Chamber mission,” Jones said. The suite also features an overhead projector with a power drop-down screen that is about 10 feet by 13 feet and there is a 60-inch plasma TV. The Business Development Training Suite is already booked for events in November. “Dave Payne Jr. put his personal sweat equity into the project,” Jones said. “We could not have done it otherwise.” McGinty: “They went out to their clients and said this is a project we believe in. They were incredibly generous and showed such incredible ownership.”

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



Steve Goldsby said the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) is “the best-kept secret in town.” He will do everything he can to change that. “We found that there are a lot of folks who don’t know about the Small Business Resource Center,” said Goldsby, who is president of the SBRC board of directors. “Given the number of small businesses in the region, we found a lot of people just weren’t aware of all the services that are available.” The board launched an aggressive marketing campaign, including purchasing about 100 radio ads, according to Goldsby. Goldsby, along with Douglas Jones, executive director of the SBRC and vice president, business services for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, have been promoting the SBRC to various groups including Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. Goldsby and Jones are getting additional exposure for the SBRC by being interviewed by radio and television personalities. That’s the big push – get the word out about the SBRC and all the services it has to offer. “Given the economic downturn and people being displaced from their jobs, we’re finding that there are a lot of folks who are at the decision point of possibly starting their own business,” Goldsby said. Another goal is increasing the occupancy rate of the incubator program at the SBRC. There are currently five openings. “We have improved our occupancy marginally, which is good, considering the amount of vacant office space in the town has gone through the roof,” Goldsby said. “We’ve held our ground and actually made a little progress while everybody else around us is losing significant ground.” The SBRC hopes to fill its vacancies with an incentive program for both commercial Realtors and new clients. Commercial



started looking around and tripped over the SBRC. I found out that it was like office space on steroids.” When he first moved his company to the SBRC, Goldsby had 10 employees and was doing about $1 million in annual revenue. The company’s annual revenue grew to between $4.5 million and $5 million at the SBRC. Now he has about 80 employees and annual revenue just less than $10 million. The incubation program is just one aspect of the SBRC.

Steve Goldsby, chief executive officer of Integrated Computer Solutions Inc., is a former Small Business Resource Center client.

Realtors will receive an upfront commission equal to two months’ rent for referring a client who signs a lease for office space at the SBRC. Jones said that commission is $1,000. The commercial Realtors would also receive a 5-percent commission of the annual rent up to two years for clients who renew their annual lease. The incentive for clients is two months free rent. The Small Business Resource Center is providing some additional resources to clients there and other businesses in the River Region. Those resources include additional training events such as tax seminars, small business seminars and a seminar on contracting with local, state and federal government. There are also plans next year for two, 12week Entrepreneurial University sessions, which “moves participants much further down the timeline toward growing a viable business than one-hour seminars,” Goldsby said. “When I was there (at the SBRC), the free services freed up a lot of capital to actually grow my business,” said Goldsby, who is chief executive officer of Integrated Computer Solutions Inc. “Eighty percent of our costs are probably people. If we can save significant amounts of capital, we can reinvest that in our people in terms of training, salary and benefits.”

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

“I would categorize the services as entrepreneurial training, counseling/mentoring and the incubation program,” Jones said. “As part of our mission for small business development, we’re charged with developing and protecting the creation and preservation of jobs within the small business sector of the economy,” said Lisa McGinty, director of small business programs for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. “We service the public at-large. We service chamber members, nonmembers, for-profits, not-for profits.” Alabama Dumpster Service was having trouble hiring truck drivers and talked to SBRC officials, who contacted H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College. Now Trenholm offers a truck driver training course, which is designed to prepare students to operate vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license. On Trenholm’s Web site it shows that experienced truck drivers can earn from $10 an hour to $20 an hour. When Dreamland Bar-B-Que was preparing to open at The Alley in downtown Montgomery, the company leased space at the SBRC. They held job interviews there and used the facility’s meeting space for training, Jones said. Whether someone walks in from outside or it’s one of the current clients, the SBRC will do whatever it can to help solve an issue. There are resource service providers, including the Service Corps of Retired Executives

(SCORE). Clients and non-clients alike have access to Jones, McGinty and Harold Boone, vice president of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s Minority Business Development. All three teach classes in the EU and that instruction is augmented by SCORE representatives, Small Business Administration representatives, attorneys, marketing professionals and certified public accountants. But the SBRC resources do not end at its door. If the SBRC staff is unable to answer a question, there are always the 2,000 chamber members who may be able to resolve an issue. That consultation may not be free, but it is readily available. One of the most important features of the SBRC is the client interaction, which is critical for start-ups. Those company officials bounce ideas off each other and share similar experiences. “The start-up mind is all over the place,” Martin said. “Seasoned business minds will give you fantastic advice, but what someone who is going through a start-up scenario is really thinking about is smaller scale and a lot more cautionary. A decision that costs $6,000, $8,000 or $10,000 to an established 10-year or 12-year company is perhaps not a big deal, but to a start-up you’re making probably one-third as much as you were working for somebody else. You’re making that much less money and every decision is much more critical. “We had a couple of product ideas that very honestly never went to market because of the advice we got. A lot of times those are hard decisions because when you are a small business you want to say yes to everything. But sometimes learning to say no or when not to move forward with a product or an idea could be as critical and as advantageous (as saying yes).” Goldsby said he appreciated being able to walk down a few doors to get answers to questions or advice. “You short-circuit this whole decision-making process and you didn’t have to go to 10 different places in town.” Talbert said, “When you listen to your peers and hear what they are doing with the federal government and (compare that to) what you’re not doing with the federal government, it allows you to make adjustments to your business and you can also ask questions.”

Douglas Jones is executive director of the Small Business Resource Center and vice president of business services for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jones said the bottom line is helping an entrepreneur start a business that will be successful. “If we have someone interested in coming here who doesn’t have a business plan, we have a workshop and EU to help them devise a business plan. We don’t say, ‘Go home and put together a business plan.’ ” “We teach them how to do it,” McGinty said. Daniel Hughes, chairman and chief executive officer of Summit America, LLC, and chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, told a recent board of directors meeting “that the odds of a successful start-up increase by a factor of nine if they begin in something like the Small Business Resource Center.” •










November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Alabama Business Leaders Cautious About Fourth Quarter by David Zaslawsky

Alabama business leaders have not been this optimistic about the economy since the first quarter last year. But they are still forecasting a slow recovery. The most recent Alabama Business Confidence Index (ABCI) showed improvement in the outlook for the upcoming quarter in five key areas – the national economy, the state economy, industry profits, industry hiring and capital expenditures. Those improvements resulted in an overall confidence rating of 47.3, a 1.3-point increase since last quarter. The ABCI measures economic expectations for the upcoming quarter gathered from a broad group of business executives across the state. An index above 50 indicates expansion. The only Alabama component to rise above 50 was the outlook for the Alabama economy as a whole, with a rating of 51.8. Montgomery outperformed three other metro centers in the state – Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile – with its industry profits rating of 51.8. The other areas fell below 50. Montgomery’s industry sales rating of 56.2 was also second only to Huntsville, while Birmingham (46.0) and Mobile (45.8) each had negative outlooks. But for all the good news, business leaders “do not see a broadly defined recovery beginning in the fourth quarter,” according to the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research, which conducts the quarterly survey. The following is a component-by-component outlook for the fourth quarter: NATIONAL ECONOMY Overall, the fourth-quarter survey showed a significant increase in the U.S. economic outlook, gaining 4.0 points from the third quarter. Although the national outlook is still less than 50 (49.1), about one-third of the panelists expect the fourth quarter to be better than the third quarter and almost one-third expect it to remain the same. That 38

continues a positive trend, considering that component was 24.7 in the second quarter of the year, and at the time, 79 percent of the panelists were forecasting a decline. Now, in the fourth quarter, only one-third of the panelists are anticipating a decline.

retail trade sectors the most pessimistic. INDUSTRY PROFITS The component gained just 0.8 points from the third quarter to the fourth quarter for an index of 45.8. Almost 40 percent of the panelists expect profits to decline in the fourth quarter compared with less than 27 percent of the panelists who predicted profits to improve. Thirty-five percent of the panelists expect fourth-quarter results to be the same as the third quarter. Construction and other services were the only sectors calling for an improvement in profits while manufacturers, transportation, information and public utilities sectors all forecast declining profits.

ALABAMA ECONOMY Panelists have consistently been more optimistic about the state economy than the national economy, and the fourth-quarter survey showed that trend continuing. The state economy index rose 3.0 points to 51.8 and is the only one of the six components to top 50. It is also the first positive component after six straight negative quarters. Panelists forecasting growth top those expecting the economy to contract by a 35.1 percent to 26.5 percent margin. A modest difference of opinion, but a full one-third of the respondents had a positive outlook for the fourth quarter and nearly 2 percent are calling for a much better quarter. Almost 40 percent expect the quarter to remain the same as the third quarter.

INDUSTRY HIRING This component also rose slightly from the third quarter, increasing 0.8 points to 44.5. More than half of the respondents (56.2 percent) expect no change in the fourth quarter while twice as many panelists expect a decrease (29.6 percent) compared with those forecasting an increase (14.2 percent. The index was less than 50 for all sectors.

INDUSTRY SALES This is the only one of the six components that declined (1.1 points) from the third quarter. The index was 49.2, which actually makes it the second-highest ranking behind the state economic outlook. The panelists were nearly equally divided between sales staying the same (31.0), and showing moderate increases (32.9) and moderate declines (30.6). About 4 percent are predicting a strong decrease. Panelists in the finance, insurance, real estate, other services and construction sectors were the most upbeat while those in the manufacturing and

CAPITAL EXPENDITURES The component increased 0.7 points from the third quarter, but with an index of 43.5 this category ranks last. Once again, sentiment is much more negative (31.4 percent) than positive (16.5 percent). Almost 52 percent of the panelists expect capital spending to remain the same. The most optimistic sectors were finance, insurance, real estate, construction, professional, scientific and technical services, while the manufacturing, retail, transportation, information and public utilities sectors were the least optimistic.

ALABAMA BUSINESS CONFIDENCE INDEX BY YEAR AND QUARTER A rating of 50 or higher indicates growth. 2002












































Source: University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Member Profile

Huge oak trees line East Fairview Avenue, cars dot the curbside and history is on display here. Huntingdon College has been situated in midtown Montgomery for 100-plus years.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION Students learn to serve the world at Huntingdon College by Rebecca Flatt

Huntingdon College President Cameron West, photographed on campus, has made retaining the college’s historic ‘sense of appeal’ a priority.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

With restaurants, boutiques and nightlife within walking distance, the 58-acre campus nestled in the heart of Old Cloverdale has an appeal that can’t be found anywhere else. In 1854, the college was founded in Tuskegee as Tuskegee Female College, the first of four names the college has called itself. The charter was signed by then-Alabama Gov. John Winston. After the Civil War, it became apparent that the college would only survive in a more populous environment. In August, 1909, it relocated to the River Region, and has survived 10 decades in its current location. Frederick Law Olmstead Jr., son of the designer of New York City’s Central Park, designed the campus. Flowers Hall was the first building, and set the architectural style for the now 18-building Collegiate Gothic tradition campus. The beauty of Huntingdon is breathtaking, reminiscent of a quiet English village tucked away in the core of a city. “The most beautiful time on campus is the first three weeks of November and the first three weeks of April,” said Cameron West, president of the college. “The color of the leaves is truly magnificent, both in the spring and fall.” While Huntingdon’s campus has retained its beauty, the college has faced many challenges in the past few years. During the spring of 2003, the student body shrunk to approximately 500 students. West began his tenure during this time, and had a strong desire to bring the school back to the core of its mission. His goal was for Huntingdon students to become educated in the liberal arts so they can think critically and morally, and extend themselves in service far beyond the usual spectrum.

In the past seven years, significant changes have taken place, including the renovation and refurbishing of several buildings. A renovated science facility, a new football stadium, a new gym, Roland Arena, and the Seay Twins Art Gallery are a few of the facelifts. Several majors that had been discontinued in past years have been reinstated. “The reason the number of students plummeted was that we had lost our sense of appeal,” West says. “So we reclaimed our mission and motto to grow in wisdom, and go forth to provide that wisdom into service.” The academic core curriculum was redesigned to emphasize written and oral communications, religion, Western civilization, American and British literature and the natural sciences. Recently restored degree programs include accounting, elementary education and religion, along with new programs in physical education and youth ministry. One of the main goals of Huntingdon in the next three to five years is to implement a master’s program. Currently, the college offers accounting majors a fifth-year extended study. “We hope the fifth-year option in accounting will morph into a master’s program, then we hope to add a master’s program in religion as well,” West says. West believes that one of the biggest misconceptions is that Huntingdon is a college for the wealthy. But in reality, there is a broad range of class and race that make up the now more than 1,000 students, who generally hail from Alabama and Florida.

an international travel program, which is included in a student’s tuition. Also, each student receives a laptop computer. While these reasons are very appealing for potential college students, it is the college’s accessibility and feeling of home that attracts students to the college. “I chose Huntingdon because the first time I stepped on campus, it felt like home,” alumnus Erin Dixon says. “The dynamics felt more like a family than a college, and I was not another number, but had a name and an identity on the campus and in the classroom.” As it always has been in the South, attending football games is a favorite pastime of any college student, and Huntingdon’s football team has gotten stronger since the program started six years ago. The team participates in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. West knows that interscholastic athletics is important to young people, and the college proudly claims several NCAADivision II men’s teams, including baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women’s sports teams include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball. Mark Colson, who graduated in 2007 and was the first quarterback for the Huntingdon Hawks football team, now works for the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), coordinating the operations of the president and the more than 100 board members of the BCA. “Huntingdon offered me the opportunity to do something I love, playing football, while furthering my faith and education,” Colson says. Or, as West puts it: “Students learn to serve the world – heart, mind and spirit.” •

He says that now the school has a real identity, and is not only academically excellent but is also competitive on a financial basis with the likes of Auburn University and the University of Alabama. “We will work with students regarding a financial plan that will be fitting for each individual situation,” West says. “We have endeavored to make Huntingdon just as affordable as our competition.” There are many benefits to enrolling at Huntingdon, including a fixed-tuition and

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Mike Jenkins IV inducted into Alabama Business Hall of Fame MONTGOMERY - On the Jenkins Brick & Tile Co. Web site, the company asks, “What do we value?.” The company, which operates 27 locations in five states, values customers, quality, people, honesty and suppliers. “We are a first name company and we are all associates,” it states on the Web site.

Mike Jenkins IV

Mike Jenkins IV, who leads the company as the chairman and chief executive officer, was recently inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame. He worked his way up in the company, beginning in sales. He was a plant manager and in 1974 became the CEO. At that time, Jenkins Brick operated three distribution locations. Today, the company produces more than 326 million bricks annually. Jenkins helped revolutionize the brickmaking process in 1998 by using landfill gas instead of natural gas to fire the kilns. The company is one of the largest users


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

of earth-friendly methane gas in the brick industry. The company also harvests storm water from the roofs of its manufacturing plants for use during production. The company built its St. Clair County facility near a landfill to reduce greenhouse gases. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented the 2006 Project of the Year award to Jenkins Brick. Jenkins has received numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Brick Institute of America. He is a former chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and one the founders of Leadership Montgomery. Jenkins has served as a director, chair or vice chair of numerous business organizations and has also been involved with River Region United Way, Red Cross, Montgomery Area YMCA, Nature Conservatory of Alabama and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Federation.

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Area Businesses and Organizations Dig Deep & Reach Out United Way campaign stresses increased needs in community by David Zaslawsky

The news of Colonial Bank’s failure had a major ripple effect in the River Region. The bank, which was a subsidiary of Montgomery-based Colonial BancGroup, has 4,500-plus employees and 354 branches across five states. That ripple effect hit the River Region United Way, which already was battling an economic downturn during the 2009 campaign. The campaign goal is $5.6 million. Guy Davis is vice chair of this year’s River Region United Way campaign.

“Colonial Bank had historically been one of our larger Pacesetter companies,” said Guy Davis, who is vice chair of this year’s United Way campaign. The Pacesetter companies are the first companies to turn in their pledges to the United Way, and without Colonial Bank there were worries. “We were very concerned about the status of that particular gift from the company as well as the employee campaign they were going to have,” Davis recalled. But at the campaign’s kick-off event, North Carolina-based BB&T, which had acquired Colonial Bank, presented a $100,000 check to the United Way. That corporate donation was more than twice what Colonial Bank had contributed. Donta Wilson, president of BB&T in Alabama, told the Montgomery Advertiser, “Colonial donated about $40,000 and we wanted to do at least that and more.” Corporate contributions are critical this year because the recession has forced companies to cut back and the unemployment rate is hovering near 10 percent. The United Way funds 48 agencies. Davis said that the United Way staff and volunteers learned from the Pacesetter companies that the impact of the economic downturn “is going to be a mixed bag.” Some industries have been impacted more than others, Davis said.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Another key factor is a company’s leadership, according to Davis. “We’ve really worked hard this year to make sure we made the personal connection with the leadership of every company and entity of a certain size,” Davis said. “We want to make sure the (leadership) are aware that just because the economy has slowed down doesn’t mean the needs of the United Way have dropped. Really, the inverse is true. The slower the economy gets the more the needs increase in the community. That’s the message we have been trying to get out to everyone.” Although the Pacesetter companies were reduced from about 60 in last year’s campaign to around 25 in 2009, they have contributed almost $1.7 million to the campaign. Those contributions include: > A 35-percent increase from Caddell Construction. > A 29-percent increase from ServisFirst Bank. > An 8-percent increase from Summit America. > A 5- to 10-percentage increase from three of the region’s largest accounting firms: Jackson Thornton; Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley; and Aldridge, Borden & Co. Davis said that Alfa Insurance also increased its contribution from last year by 1 or 2 percent, which is significant because the company’s combined corporate and employee contribution is $800,000-plus. “The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce was the first organization in our community to turn in their package from the Pacesetter campaign. They had 100 percent contribution, and their gifts were up 6 percent,” Davis said.

AGENCIES FUNDED BY RIVER REGION UNITED WAY A.C.T.S. (Association of Christians in Tallassee for Services)

Goodwill Industries of Central Alabama

Aid to Inmate Mothers Inc.

Health Services Inc.

American Cancer Society Montgomery County Unit

Hospice of Montgomery Inc.

American Heart Association American Legion Auxiliary #2 American Red Cross of Central Alabama The ARC of Eastern Elmore County Autauga County Family Support Center Boy Scouts of America Tukabatchee Area Council

Janice Capilouto Center for the Deaf Easter Seals Junior Achievement of East AL & W. Georgia Inc. Lighthouse Counseling Center Inc. Louise M. Smith Developmental Center (AWE/ARC) MANE (Montgomery Area Non-Traditional Equestrians) Maxwell-Gunter Youth Activities

Boys & Girls Clubs of Montgomery

Medical Outreach Ministries

Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Alabama

Mental Health America in Montgomery

Brantwood Children’s Home

Montgomery Area Council on Aging (MACOA)

Catholic Social Services Chemical Addictions Program Child Protect, Inc. Children’s Center of Montgomery Easter Seals Camp ASCCA Easter Seals Central Alabama Rehabilitation & Career Center Elmore/Autauga Community Action Committee Elmore County Family Resource Center Elmore County Partnership for Children

Montgomery Association for Retarded Citizens Nellie Burge Community Center Inc. PASS: Peers are Staying Straight (THE NOBLE IDEA) The Salvation Army SAYNO IN THE MONTGOMERY AREA INC. The Second Chance Foundation Sickle Cell Foundation of Greater Montgomery Volunteer & Information Center, Inc.

Family Guidance Center of Alabama

YMCA of Millbrook

Family Sunshine Center

YMCA of Montgomery

Gift of Life Foundation

YMCA of Prattville

Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama Inc.

YMCA of Wetumpka

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Montgomery Retailer Named One of the Best in State Montgomery store owner George Wilder was recognized as one of the top retailers in the state. Wilder, president and owner of The Locker Room and TLR Outdoors, which specialize in men’s clothing, accessories, sportswear and shoes, received the Silver Award in the annual sales $1 million to $5 million category. The Alabama Retail Association (ARA) in cooperation with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) recognized the “Retailers of the Year.” George Wilder, left, owner of The Locker Room and TLR Outdoors, was nominated by Bob Akers, vice president of Davis Direct.

“George Wilder is a retailer of the year every year to his employees and the Montgomery area,” said ARA President Rick Brown. The Locker Room, a 6,500-squarefoot store in Cloverdale, opened in 1977. TLR Outdoors is a 2,800-squarefoot store in East Montgomery.


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

“(The Locker Room and TLR Outdoors) plan to be survivors and stronger when the longest recession since World War II is finally over,” Wilder said in his award entry. Managing inventory and margins has been crucial to minimizing the steep decline in consumer spending, he said. “Our success has come with promotions, not necessarily price driven or markdown driven, but working with our key vendors to offer great values on outstanding products,” Wilder said. Bob Akers, vice president of Davis Direct, a Montgomery printing operation, nominated Wilder for the prestigious award. “George has been able to achieve that balance between running two highly successful retail businesses while also being involved in the life of his community,” Akers said.

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Member News

BUSINESSBUZZ MILLBROOK OFFICE SUPPORT & TRAINING CENTER OFFERS IT CERTIFICATION TESTING SYSTEM MILLBROOK - Millbrook Office Support & Training Center announced that it has signed an agreement with Pearson VUE to provide information technology certification test delivery using the Pearson VUE Testing System. The Pearson VUE advanced computer-based testing system administers exams for leading IT certification programs such as Cisco, CompTIA, Citrix, Novell and others through a global network of quality test centers. “We’re very excited about our new partnership with Pearson VUE,” said Cathy Tomlin, owner of Millbrook Office Support & Training Center. “The Pearson VUE Testing System is the most powerful available. We’re pleased to partner with a company whose breakthrough technology and passion for service will allow us to provide even greater service for our customers.” Among the technological advances of the Pearson VUE system is the ability of test candidates to register and reschedule their tests at the test center, on the Pearson VUE Web site or through a Pearson VUE call center, all in real time via the Internet. “The Pearson VUE Testing System gives us unparalleled control and flexibility over our ability to manage our business our way,” Tomlin said. “With


so many options, we will be able to experiment with testing hours and number of testing stations. We can easily offer same-day testing or bring testing to our customers’ locations. Everyone benefits.” The growing list of IT certification tests accessible through the Pearson VUE system are delivered directly from the test sponsors. Test results are quickly transmitted back, ensuring the candidate’s certification status is promptly updated. Pearson VUE is the global leader in electronic testing for regulatory and certification boards, providing a full suite of services from test development to test delivery to data management.

Goodwill’s Bowl-A-Thon drew some heavy hitters including (from left) Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr., Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon, CBS 8 reporter Jenna Deery, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and Goodwill President Cecil Robins.

GOODWILL’S BOWL-A-THON PROVED TO STRIKE SUCCESS MONTGOMERY – Three mayors were among the nearly 100 bowlers who participated in Goodwill’s second-annual “Bowling for Jobs” Bowl-AThon at Ace Bowling Center.

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. and Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon all bowled at the event. Several anchors, reporters, and members of the sales team from CBS-8 News also bowled. There was also a surprise visit by state Sen. Wendell Mitchell. Local businesses and organizations fielded teams in the event such as Hyundai Motor Manufacturing of Alabama, WSFA 12 News, Alabama Education Retirees Association, MAX Community Credit Union, Sterling Bank, River Bank & Trust and many others. “The event far exceeded my expectations,” said Kristen Sherer, public relations director for Goodwill. “We doubled the amount of bowlers this year, and above all, we had three mayors participate in the event. “The money raised from this Bowl-A-Thon goes to support Goodwill’s Workforce Development Department with the mission of changing lives for people around the River Region,” Sherer said. “Goodwill Industries has been around locally since 1968, providing training and job opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and it’s a great feeling knowing that everyone came out to support Goodwill and the mission,” Sherer said. Goodwill offers various programs for individuals with disabilities to get them back into the workplace. Goodwill Industries

is the largest nonprofit provider of employment services for people with disabilities and other job seekers. TROY UNIVERSITY BREAKS GROUND ON BIBB GRAVES HALL RENOVATION TROY - Troy University officially broke ground on the first major renovation of historic Bibb Graves Hall in more than 30 years. The renovation will add more than 40,000 square feet to the building. The expanded space will include additional classrooms with upgraded technology, computer labs, large, open student lounge areas and an auditorium with more than 250 seats. The renovation will also include a new wing along the back of the building that will house the university’s Center for International Business and Economic Development (CIBED) and the Confucius Institute. Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr. called Bibb Graves Hall Troy’s signature building and one of the university’s most enduring symbols. “Bibb Graves Hall is symbolic of our vision for Troy University – a reverence for our rich history even during an era of change,” Hawkins said. “Bibb Graves Hall is a place where the traditional and the transformational will intersect. It will house our College of Business, which has produced CONTINUED ON PAGE 50

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


BUSINESS BUZZ (CONTINUED FROM PAGE 48) outstanding graduates for more than 50 years. It will also house two of our more innovative initiatives, the Confucius Institute and the CIBED.” The renovation was funded in part by $8 million in bond money secured by Gov. Bob Riley, according to Hawkins. Bibb Graves Hall was built in 1929 as the centerpiece of the Troy Campus.

Alvin Dees, MetLife agency sales director, presents a $20,000 grant to Wallace Community College President Linda C. Young for use in the college’s nursing programs. Attending the presentation ceremony (from left) are Sidney Payne, MetLife investment adviser; state Sen. Harri Anne Smith; Donna Morris, MetLife financial services representative; and Kathy Buntin, coordinator of health sciences for WCC.

WALLACE COMMUNITY COLLEGE RECEIVES $20,000 GRANT FROM METLIFE FOUNDATION DOTHAN - Wallace Community College (WCC) is one of 15 community colleges nationwide to receive a $20,000 grant for caregiver training from the International Longevity Center with support from MetLife Foundation. Alvin Dees, MetLife agency sales director, presented the check to WCC President Linda C. Young for use in the college’s nursing programs. The 2009 Community College Training Initiative grants are part of the Caregiving Project for Older Americans, a partnership of the International Longevity Center and the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education. The initiative is focused on addressing a growing care giving crisis by encouraging the expansion of caregiver training programs for 50

family caregivers and in-home care workers. Since 2007, the initiative has awarded 39 grants. The funds will be used to develop a training video to complement the existing curriculum, according to Ashli Boutwell, director of the WCC office of grants and external funding. “Forty-two percent of the current Wallace student population is enrolled in a health-care program,” Boutwell said. “Approximately 60 participants will be tested and trained with the initial funds, and the video will be available as a permanent resource for future students.” Production of the video was scheduled to begin in October. Boutwell said the project will also help students financially. “The project helps to offset the exam cost of $95 per student. The cost factor is a hindrance for many students who seek this certification on their own when they are struggling to meet expenses of their educational coursework.” Alabama Labor Market Statistics for Region 10 indicate a need for 3,950 health care workers by 2016. Informal research suggests Wallace provides more than 80 percent of the current allied health and nursing work force in Southeast Alabama. More than 6,100 nurses have graduated from Wallace Community College and more than 600 are currently enrolled in WCC nursing classes. NEW TROY UNIVERSITY PROGRAM WILL AID FACULTY DEVELOPMENT TROY- Troy University has launched a new program to provide professional support and training for its faculty and has appointed a faculty member in the College of Education to direct the effort.

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

Called the Quality Enhancement Institute (QEI), the program will focus on supporting faculty and staff in continuous quality improvement of academic and administrative programs, according to John Dew, associate vice chancellor of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness. Dew said that Iris Saltiel, associate professor of education on the Phenix City campus, will serve as the institute’s first director. “The Quality Enhancement Institute is expected to grow to provide a Web site with information for faculty on enhancement of teaching methods in Troy’s diverse course delivery modes,” Dew said. “Over time, the QEI will expand to include information on continuous quality improvement for administrative areas and educational support programs.” Saltiel will work with Mac Adkins, staff member for Institutional Research, Planning, and Effectiveness, to develop a survey for faculty to provide their perspective about their developmental needs. Saltiel, who lives in Midland, Ga., joined the Troy University faculty in 1998. She received a doctorate degree in education, administration and supervision from Fordham University and a master’s degree in adult education from Rutgers University. JACKSON THORNTON TECHNOLOGIES BECOMES MSPALLIANCE MEMBER MONTGOMERY – Jackson Thornton Technologies, LLC has become a member of the MSPAlliance. The MSPAlliance is the oldest managed services group and the only accrediting and standards based body for the managed services industry. With 9,000plus members worldwide, the

MSPAlliance is a powerful and influential global organization, working to promote the managed services industry to the business consumer. Danny Jeter, senior manager of Jackson Thornton Technologies, said, “As a Managed Service Provider in the Central Alabama market our main goal is that our existing and prospective clients can rest assured that their IT needs are in the hands of a professional managed services organization that provides the highest levels of stability, reliability and capability. “We are very proud to belong to an organization that promotes the highest level of professionalism, reliability and integrity within the managed service industry.” “We are honored to have Jackson Thornton Technologies, LLC as a member of our association,” said Charles Weaver, MSPAlliance president. “By upholding the Managed Service Provider’s Code of Ethics and high technical standards, Jackson Thornton Technologies, LLC will help ensure the integrity of our profession.”

Glyn Ed Newton of Glyn Ed Newton & Associates Inc. received the Dorothy Carnegie Award. (From left) Newton; Peter Handal, chairman and chief executive officer of Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc.; and Ollie Crom, vice chairman

LONG-TIME CHAMBER MEMBER RECEIVES DOROTHY CARNEGIE AWARD HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. - A 37-year member of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has been awarded the Dorothy

BUSINESS BUZZ Carnegie Award for outstanding contributions to the company. Glyn Ed Newton of Glyn Ed Newton & Associates Inc. has presented Dale Carnegie Training in South Alabama for more than 37 years. Newton retired in September and Dale Carnegie Training is now being presented by Emerald Coast Leadership, Len Williams, managing partner. The award is named for the late Dorothy Carnegie, who is credited with taking the company worldwide after her husband began the training in 1912 as a public speaking course for businessmen. “The Dorothy Carnegie award is presented to an individual who is responsible for continuing growth of the company while living by the principles Mr. Carnegie taught,” said Peter Handal, chairman and chief executive officer of Dale Carnegie & Associates. “The Dale Carnegie business has provided me with an opportunity to hire and develop people and to achieve measurable results for organizations and individuals,” Newton said. “Seeing people develop potential has been particularly rewarding to me.” Six franchisees have come from the Newton organization. Newton began his Carnegie career in Knoxville, Tenn., after graduating from the University of Tennessee. He moved to Montgomery to buy the South Alabama Dale Carnegie franchise. He became a franchise owner in 1975 and later expanded his operations to include franchises in parts of Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and Middle and East Tennessee.

Barbara Witt

NURSING ASSOCIATION HONORS RETIRING AUM/ AU DEAN OF NURSING MONTGOMERY - The Alabama State Nursing Association (ASNA) named its annual conference after Barbara Witt, dean of the Auburn Montgomery and Auburn University Schools of Nursing. “Her brilliant academic record, outstanding leadership in nursing education and long string of successes at both Auburn University and Auburn Montgomery made this an easy choice,” said Joe Decker, ASNA executive director. “In celebration of her retirement this year, we could think of no better way to recognize her long and distinguished career than to dedicate the convention to her,” Decker said. Witt will retire in February after serving 11 years with the AUM/AU family. She is the longest serving dean of the AU School of Nursing. ALABAMA DUAL PARTY RELAY BOARD HELPS FUND TROY UNIVERSITY’S INTERPRETER TRAINING PROGRAM TROY – Troy University and Alabama Dual Party Relay Board officials jointly announced a partnership that will provide additional funding for the university’s Interpreter Training Program. The program provides a bachelor’s degree in education to students seeking to become interpreters for the deaf. Eventually, the College of

Members of the Alabama Dual Party Relay Board presented Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins Jr., with the first installment of a five-year grant. (From left) John Teague, Penny Buckalew, Hawkins, Judy McLean, Jerry Renfroe and John Garner.

Education will house a Center on Deafness on its Troy Campus. The Alabama Dual Party Relay Board will provide $300,000 per year for five years to help provide the degree program to interested students. Included in the program is a technology initiative to equip a language learning laboratory. “The Alabama Dual Party Relay Board is excited about the opportunity to establish this partnership with Troy University and invest in an academic program that will increase the number of interpreters in our state,” said Judy McLean, the board’s chairperson. “Alabama’s deaf and hardof-hearing citizens will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this long-term investment.” The 120 semester-hour program, approved by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education in March 2008, began accepting students into the program this semester. “This partnership will have a great impact on the quality of life and educational opportunities that our deaf citizens enjoy,” said Jack Hawkins Jr., the university’s chancellor who served as president of the Alabama Institute for the Blind and Deaf for 10 years before taking over the helm at Troy. Hawkins said the grant will help solve the “acute problem” created by a shortage of qualified interpreters, as

Dr. Christopher R. Duggar (right) of Central Alabama OB-Gyn Associates and chief of staff at Jackson Hospital, performed the hospital’s 100th robotic procedure. He is joined by Don Henderson, president and CEO of Jackson Hospital.

Alabama has approximately 40,000 deaf or hard-of-hearing citizens and only 204 licensed interpreters to serve them. 100TH ROBOTIC PROCEDURE PERFORMED AT JACKSON HOSPITAL MONTGOMERY - Jackson Hospital recently performed its 100th robotic procedure using the daVinci S HD surgical system. The daVinci system was implemented last fall in an effort to offer patients the most comprehensive minimally invasive surgical option. The system has been used for numerous gynecologic and urological procedures. “Not only are we excited about reaching this milestone, we are also celebrating new achievements as the first trachelectomy using our robotic system was performed,” said Don Henderson, chief executive officer and president of Jackson Hospital. “This robotic system is one of the latest evolutions in robotics technology and we are proud to offer it to patients in the tri-county area. But more importantly, we are encouraged by the tremendous results we have seen thus far.” Dr. Christopher R. Duggar of Central Alabama OB-Gyn Associates and chief of staff at Jackson Hospital, performed the CONTINUED ON PAGE 52

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


BUSINESS BUZZ (CONTINUED FROM PAGE 51) 100th breakthrough procedure, which entailed removal of the cervix. He is also anticipating another first using the robotic system – removal of fibroids. “The results have been amazing,” Duggar said. “The quick recovery time, often 24hour release from the hospital and five- to seven-day recovery as opposed to two to four weeks, along with less bleeding, less post operative pain, and the cosmetically pleasing aspect of using the robot, make this a very appealing option for many of our patients. And it’s exciting to take it to the next level and offer additional procedures using this system.” The daVinci system places a surgeon’s hands at the controls of a state-of-the-art robotic system allowing surgeons to perform the most complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions.

Charles Stewart

appointed as vice chair of the Defense Research Institute’s Product Liability Committee.

and with the merger provides Prattville with the convenience of a local showroom.

Stewart has extensive litigation experience in several states defending national and international corporations in product liability, employment, toxic tort, and large personal injury cases as well as commercial and intellectual property disputes.

Greg Shafer and Pat Atkins, co-owners of AKD, are excited about becoming part of the Prattville community.

He is listed in two categories in Best Lawyers in America - Bet-The-Company Litigation and Commercial Litigation - and is included in Alabama Super Lawyers 2008 and 2009. Scott Burnett Smith from the firm’s Huntsville office has been appointed chair of the Appellate Advocacy Committee of the Defense Research Institute (DRI). “We congratulate both Scott and Chuck on well-deserved appointments, which reflect tremendous leadership within their fields of practice.” said John B. Grenier, chairman of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. “Both of these attorneys represent the best of what our firm is about.” The DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee consists of appellate specialists from around the country with the mission to improve the quality of appellate lawyering. With 3,200 members, DRI’s Product Liability Committee is one of the largest committees within DRI.

Scott Burnett Smith

BRADLEY ARANT BOULT CUMMINGS PARTNERS APPOINTED TO LEADERSHIP POSITIONS BIRMINGHAM - Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP announced that partner Charles “Chuck” Stewart III of the firm’s Montgomery office has been 52

ARTESIAN CITY MARKETING MERGES WITH AMERICAN KLASSIC DESIGNS PRATTVILLE - AKD of Montgomery is expanding its company into Prattville and enhancing its online store capabilities by merging with Artesian City Marketing. AKD is a leading screen printing business in the River Region

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

“We’re looking forward to providing more convenience to our existing Prattville customers, and hope to win over more people with our local service,” Shafer said. “Artesian City is also a great fit for us because of their experience with online store programs.” Gary Smith, manager of Artesian City, will continue with AKD as the Prattville manager. “I think everyone will be amazed at what AKD can do for the Prattville community,” Smith said. AKD has been in business 22-plus years. In addition to screen printing, AKD also provides embroidery and promotional products. JACKSON THORNTON ANNOUNCES COMPLETE PRACTICE MANAGEMENT DIVISION Jackson Thornton announced a new division, Complete Practice Management, LLC (CPM), which caters to physician practices. CPM offers outsourced medical billing with an integrated Electronic Health Record (EHR) system as an additional service to complement existing accounting and consulting services offered to physicians. “Today’s physicians are inundated with constantly changing insurance and government regulations, as well as personnel and billing issues,” said Jackson Thornton Principal Patti G. Perdue, CPA. CITP. “We take care of the administration of the business so physicians can take care of their patients.” The new division comes just as the health care industry is converting paper records into EHR in anticipation of

government funding for software and implementation costs under the Federal Economic Stimulus HITECH Act. Complete Practice Management is among the first professional service firms in the area to assist physicians in securing this funding. “Never before have there been such monetary incentives to implement an electronic medical records system,” said Jackson Thornton Principal Mark Baker, CPA, who leads the new company. “Now is the time for physicians to take advantage of government funding to cover software and implementation costs before penalties for nonuse of EHR begin in 2015.” Complete Practice Management also offers physicians fee schedule reviews, coding reviews, benchmark and “best practice” analysis, review of accounts receivable, internal controls, staff utilization and recruitment and ongoing monthly monitoring of practice performance. Physicians just beginning their practices can use the firm’s practice startup services to help with credentialing, establishing business accounts and lines of credit, procuring and implementing technology needs, and establishing internal controls. With 29 years experience in public accounting, Perdue is a Certified Public Accountant who maintains requirements for Certified Information Technology Professional. Baker, also a Certified Public Accountant, has more than 12 years experience. The Complete Practice Management core team also includes Will Ivey, a Certified Professional Coder (CPC); and Kelli Morgan, also a CPC. Established in 1919, Jackson Thornton serves more than 4,000 clients from five locations in Alabama and Tennessee.

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


New Members AccountingTax Returns

Associations/ Non-Profit

FAMILY TAX & BOOKKEEPING SERVICE Marie Witte 2349 Cong. Dickinson Drive Montgomery, AL 36109 334-279-8611

CHILDREN’S CENTER OF MONTGOMERY Cynthia McCaghren 310 North Madison Terrace Montgomery, AL 36107 334-262-4850

Advertising Specialties

CHILDREN’S HARBOR Jim Ray 1 Our Children’s Highway Children’s Harbor, AL 35010 334-857-2133

CLEAR CHANNEL INTERSPACE AIRPORT Devon Pychinka 4635 Crackersport Road, Allentown, PA 18104 800-628-6800 Ext 317

Audio-Visual Consultants & Designers

MARKETING WORKS, INC. Brigitte Flurry 3219 Eastern Valley Road Leeds, AL 35094 800-995-1195 Ext 802

SOUTHERN AUDIO & VIDEO Sean Key 4444 Wetumpka Highway Montgomery, AL 36110 334-408-1558


Automobile Dealers & Services

VINTAGE MEDIA Tim Allen 130 Forest Drive Deatsville, AL 36022 334-220-6015

BREWBAKER MOTORS, INC. Dick L. Brewbaker 300 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117-2012 334-279-0174

Air/Water Purification

DODGE CHRYSLER JEEP Dick L. Brewbaker 250 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117 334-271-4111

NATURAL HEALTH CHOICES Terri Wohlscheid 1739 Miriam Street Montgomery, AL 36107 334-220-4555

Arbitration/ Mediation MCGRUDER & ASSOCIATES Sandra McGruder 612 Pimblico Road Montgomery, AL 36109 334-324-0194

REINHARDT MOTORS, INC. Ed Reinhardt 720 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117-1913 334-272-7147

BuildersCommercial/ Residential W.W. COMPTON CONSTRUCTION Paul Gordan 1648 Robinson Hill Road Montgomery, AL 36107 334-262-1505

Cancer Care

CANCER CARE CENTER OF MONTGOMERY Angela Benton 300 St. Luke’s Drive Montgomery, AL 36117 334-273-8877 CANCER CARE CENTER OF MONTGOMERY - JACKSON Angela Benton 1758 Park Place, Suite 301 Montgomery, AL 36106 334-261-3148

Dance STRICT TEMPO BALLROOM Linda Glass 436 Coliseum Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36109 334-318-9061


INFINITI Don Rickard 222 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117 334-279-0174

129 COOSA STREET Kyle Kyser 129 Coosa Street Montgomery, AL 36104 334-262-8859

INGRAM MOTOR COMPANY Reed Ingram 2900 Eastern Bypass Montgomery, AL 36117 334-288-5595

Financial Planner/Advisor

KIA Don Rickard 222 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117 334-271-4111

RAYMOND JAMES FINANCIAL SERVICES Patrick Mullen 7051 Fain Park Drive, Suite 114 Montgomery, AL 36117 334-481-6900

Information Technology Firms EXETER GOVERNMENT SERVICES, LLC Robert Weighall 3325 Kessinger Drive Montgomery, AL 36116 334-532-3662

Janitorial Service/Supplies J&B JANITORIAL SERVICE James Jones 2921 Marti Lane, Suite 1F Montgomery, AL 36116 334-288-1936 VIRGINIA’S CLEANING SERVICE Ana Kent 491 County Road 191 Union Springs, AL 36089 334-319-5809

Legal Services Attorneys BURR & FORMAN, LLP Warren Matthews RSA Tower 201 Monroe Street, Suite 1950 Montgomery, AL 36104 334-241-7000 LAW OFFICE OF DARRON C. HENDLEY Darron C. Hendley 323 Adams Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104 334-300-5836

Lobbying KIM & COMPANY COMMUNICATIONS Kim Davis 8143 Nunn Trace Montgomery, AL 36117 334-538-3427

Nursing Homes/ Assisted Living THE CEDARS SPECIALTY CARE ASSISTED LIVING Melody Phillips 3300 Lynchburg Drive Montgomery, AL 36116 334-281-0808


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009



EXTENDED ARM PHYSICIANS, INC. Irene Lewis 1725 West 4th Street Montgomery, AL 36106 334-262-2071

DOWN THE STREET CASUAL DINING AT EASTCHASE Fred Barnett 7078 Eastchase Parkway Montgomery, AL 36117 334-356-8860

Plumbing Equipment


THOMPSON SUPPLY COMPANY Steve McIver P.O. Box 70126 Montgomery, AL 36107-0126 334-264-7371

SA ZA SERIOUS PIZZA Ken Register 130 Commerce Street Suite 101 Montgomery, AL 36104 334-495-7292

Private Schools PRATTVILLE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY Ron Mitchell 322 Old Farm Lane South Prattville, AL 36066 334-285-0077 Ext 29

Radio & Broadcasting Companies

RestaurantsPizza DOMINO’S PIZZA Melanie Clark 3585 Trotters Drive Alpharetta, GA 30004 770-777-2217 Ext 20


BLACKSMITH MULTI-MEDIA, INC. Sharon Black P.O. Box 201451 Montgomery, AL 36120-1451 334-239-7151

MOE’S SOUTHWEST GRILL Jess Rawls 2900 E. Zelda Road Montgomery, AL 36106 334-273-9198

Real EstateClosing

Roofing Companies

MASOOD & GRUBBS, LLC A. Greg Masood 25 South Court Street Montgomery, AL 36104 334-834-4660

CAPITOL CITY ROOFING, LLC Robbie Pelt 1520 Ann Street Montgomery, AL 36107 334-277-3311

PROFESSIONAL CLOSING & TITLE, LLC/PROCLOSE Lynda Branch 5748 Carmichael Parkway Suite C Montgomery, AL 36117 334-356-7600

Tutoring Services ASCEND TUTORING SERVICES, LLC Norma Stephens P.O. Box 11455 Montgomery, AL 36111-0455 334-239-0652

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



MONTGOMERY - Turner Insurance & Bonding Co. hired commercial account producers Joan McDonald and Chandler Hopson for the Montgomery office.

McDonald brings more than 25 years experience in the insurance industry as a commercial account manager and commercial account producer. She holds a property and casualty license as well as certified professional insurance agent and certified insurance service representative designations. Chandler Hopson

Hopson has almost two years experience in the insurance industry. He has a property and casualty license.

her duties included working on internal audit reviews, coordinating quarterly retail branch audits and producing quarterly audit and risk presentations. She also worked for Regions Bank for nine years in the telecommunications department as a business systems analyst. “I am excited to be back in an IT environment where I can utilize the latest Web site technologies that will elevate our clients’ Web sites,” Paige said. The Montgomery native has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Troy University’s Montgomery campus. “Michele’s talents in the area of business and test analysis are an ideal fit for Square Root Interactive and our customers,” said Andy Martin, co-founder and president of Square Root Interactive. “We are pleased to have her on the team.” Square Root Interactive is a Montgomery-based, full-service Web site design and development agency and Ektron ELITE Partner. OASIS HOTEL AT VICTORYLAND NAMES FIRST EXECUTIVE CHEF

Both graduated from Auburn University Montgomery with bachelor’s degrees. Turner Insurance & Bonding Co. was founded 75 years ago to provide construction professionals insurance and surety products. The firm is a fullservice insurance agency providing construction insurance, surety bonds, group benefits, financial products, and personal and commercial insurance. The Montgomery-based firm has offices in Birmingham, Decatur and Greenville. SQUARE ROOT INTERACTIVE HIRES TEST ANALYST MONTGOMERY – Square Root Interactive announced the Michele Paige appointment of Michele Paige to the role of business and test analyst. In her role, Paige is responsible for project traffic, quality assurance testing and training documentation. Most recently, she was employed by Colonial Bank as a corporate risk coordinator where 56

SHORTER - Jim Herd, a 15Jim Herd year culinary professional who has served several hotels and restaurants on the East Coast, has been named executive chef for the Oasis Hotel at VictoryLand Greyhound Park. Herd most recently served as the executive kitchen manager for the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, N.Y. In his new role, he will oversee the menu planning and food preparation for the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, as well as meals and hors d’oeuvres for banquets and receptions. The 300-room Oasis Hotel, which was scheduled to open Nov. 1, will feature a fine-dining restaurant called Whitfield’s Steakhouse, O’s Lobby Bar and the O Brew cafe’ offering Starbucks’ coffees. An 80,000-square-foot conference center will open in late 2010. “I am delighted to join the Oasis Hotel as the first executive chef,” Herd said. “My goal will be to provide the best meals

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

available in the Southeast. The hotels and restaurants in Lake Placid and the Adirondacks are famous for that.” Herd spent the past two years with Lake Placid’s High Peaks Resort Hotel. Before that, he was the executive chef for Charlie’s Restaurant in Lake Placid; kitchen manager for Schue’s Adirondack Bar & Grill in Saranac Lake, N.Y.; kitchen supervisor for Lake Placid Lodge; and sous chef for the Hotel Saranac of Paul Smith’s College in Saranac Lake. He began his career as the assistant kitchen manager for Outback Steakhouse in Jupiter, Fla. Herd received an associate’s degree from Palm Beach Community College in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. He studied culinary arts at Paul Smith’s College and earned his Service Safe certification at High Peaks Resort in 2008. “Jim is one of the most respected culinary professionals in the Adirondacks region, and we are excited that he has decided to join the Oasis Hotel as executive chef,” said hotel general manager Rusti Price. “Under his leadership, Whitfield’s Steakhouse will quickly become the premier fine-dining option in Central Alabama. He also will oversee the preparation of banquet meals when our conference center opens next year.” JACKSON HOSPITAL HIRES MARKETING SPECIALIST MONTGOMERY - Jackson Hospital hired Rebecca Rebecca Flatt Flatt as the new marketing specialist. Flatt is a graduate of Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She joined the staff at Jackson after working for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce as communications manager. Her previous experience included working for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Flatt also is a freelance writer for Montgomery Living magazine. “We are excited to have Rebecca on board with our marketing department,” said Peter Frohmader, marketing director for Jackson Hospital. “Her previous work experience and strong writing and communication skills will be a vital part of our organization.”



MAC SIM BUTLER MONTGOMERY COUNTY DETENTION CENTER 205 S. McDonough Street Montgomery, AL Grand Opening for new building

WINTZELL’S OYSTER HOUSE 105 Commerce Street Montgomery, AL 262-4257 Frank Hall, General Manager Restaurants

RIVER BANK & TRUST 7075 Halcyon Park Drive Montgomery, AL 396-6565 Jimmy Stubbs, President Banks

MR. POOL 875 N. Eastern Blvd. Montgomery, AL 271-7665 Ryan Williams, Owner Swimming Pools/Spas

CANDLEWOOD SUITES 9151 Boyd Cooper Parkway Montgomery, AL 277-0677 Luke Heim, General Manager Hotel/Motels -Extended Stay Lodging

JAMES W. WILSON, JR. YMCA 1445 Wilson Park Drive Montgomery, AL 356-8471 Jeff Knox, Director Travis Roques, Associate Director Associations/Non Profit

RUBBER & SPECIALITIES 4860 Westport Blvd. Montgomery, AL 286-9393 Tim Taylor, Branch Manager Industrial Equipment and Supplies

DOWN THE STREET CASUAL DINING AT EASTCHASE 7078 Eastchase Parkway Montgomery, AL 356-8860 Fred Barnett, General Manager Restaurants

PARTY STATION 6538 Atlanta Highway Montgomery, AL 467-3133 Patrinia Debardelaben, Owner Party Supplies

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 4334 Carmichael Road Montgomery, AL Grand Opening for new building

EASTERN OAKS CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER, INC. 500 Arba Street Montgomery, AL 265-0779 DeShowne Harris, Owner Child Care Centers

VIRGINIA’S CLEANING SERVICE 491 County Road 191 Union Springs, AL 319-5809 Ana Kent, Owner Janitorial Services/Supplies

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal



Declining Pork Prices Drive Down Food Costs MONTGOMERY - Leaner pork prices and savings on dairy products pushed the average cost of 20 basic market basket items lower, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation’s monthly food price survey. The survey, conducted by volunteer shoppers, showed the market basket averaged $50.80, down 64 cents, or 1.2 percent from a month earlier. The description of the H1N1 flu earlier in the year as a type of “swine flu” created havoc for pork producers, as China and other countries banned pork imports from certain regions of the United States and Mexico. Although agriculture and health officials later confirmed that H1N1 is not present in U.S. hogs and is transmitted by human-to-human contact, farmers are still feeling the effects of a downturn in


demand. Hog prices fell 44 percent from their peak last year, and while the federal government agreed to buy surplus pork for feed assistance programs, it may take months for the market to fully recover. Meanwhile, consumers are beginning to see the effect of lower pork prices at the grocery store. Bacon was down 33 cents to $3.99 a pound, and pork chops were down 9 cents to $3.33 a pound. Boston butts, however, were up a dime to $1.58 a pound. Beef prices were mixed as T-bone steaks increased to $8.14 a pound, up 3 cents, while ground beef was down a penny to $2.27 a pound. Chuck roasts were up 20 cents to $3.38 a pound. Chicken breasts fell 25 cents to $2.08 a pound, but whole fryers were up 1 cent to $1.17 a pound. On the produce aisle, tomatoes posted a seasonal increase while other staples

Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

were less expensive. On average, tomatoes were $1.55 a pound, up 17 cents; red potatoes were down a penny to 86 cents a pound; and lettuce was down 8 cents to $1.29 a head. Sweet potatoes were unchanged at 96 cents a pound. In the dairy case, milk was up for the first time since January, but other dairy products continued to decline. A half-gallon of milk averaged $2.73, up 8 cents, but a halfgallon of brand-name ice cream was down 19 cents to $3.69. Cottage cheese was down 4 cents to $2.48 a pound and butter was down 12 cents to $3.34 a pound. Regional reports collected throughout the state show the market basket averaged $49.35 in Northeast Alabama, $49.66 in the northwest corner of the state, $50.88 in the central counties and $54.45 in South Alabama.

Unemployment Data Metropolitan Area

Civilian Labor Force

Unemployment Rate

SEP p 2009

AUG r 2009

SEP r 2008

SEP p 2009

AUG r 2009

SEP r 2008

Montgomery MA


































Birmingham-Hoover MA







Huntsville MA







Mobile MA




















Alabama U.S.

p Preliminary r Revised The numbers are not seasonally adjusted. Estimates prepared by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations in Cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on 2008 benchmark. Montgomery MA is Augtauga, Elmore, Lowndes and Montogmery counties. Birmingham - Hoover MA is Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby and Walker counties. Huntsville MA is Limestone and Madison counties. Mobile MA is Mobile County .

Montgomery Building Starts Building Permits

Building Valuations

Current Month SEP 09

Last Month AUG 09

Last Year SEP 08

Current Month SEP 09

Last Month AUG 09

Last Year SEP 08

New Construction







Additions & Alterations




















Total Source: City of Montgomery Building Department

Montgomery Metro Market Home Sales Current Month AUG 09

Last Month JUL 09

Month/Month % Change

Last Year AUG 08

Year/Year % Change

Statewide AUG 09







Median Selling Price







Average Selling Price



















Total Home Sales

Average Days on Market Total Homes Listed

Source: Alabama Center for Real Estate (ACRE), The University of Alabama

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Montgomery Regional Airport Current Month SEP 09

Last Year SEP 08

Year over Year % Change

YTD 2009

YTD 2008

Year over Year % Change







Total Operations





















Total Passengers







Air Carrier Operations

Source: Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) Dannelly Field

Airline Fares Roundtrip airfare comparisons from Montgomery, Birmingham and Atlanta airports to key destinations. Destination

Courtesy of Montgomery Regional Airport

Hyundai Sales




Baltimore (BWI)




Boston (BOS)




Charlotte, NC (CLT)




Chicago (ORD)




Cincinnati (CVG)




Dallas/Ft Worth (DFW)




Denver (DEN)




Detroit (DTW)




Houston (HOU)




Indianapolis (IND)




Las Vegas (LAS)




Los Angeles (LAX)




Memphis (MEM)




Miami (MIA)





Sep 2009

Sep 2008

Ytd 2009

Ytd 2008





















Nashville (BNA)




Santa Fe





New Orleans (MSY)








New York (JFK)








Orlando (MCO)




Philadelphia (PHL)









Pittsburgh (PIT)









St Louis (STL)









Seattle (SEA)












Tampa (TPA)




Washington DC (DCA)




Azera Tucson

Source: Hyundai Motor America

Seoul, Korea (SEL)

Date of travel: Dec. 7-13. Date of pricing: Oct. 11, 2009. Source:


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

National Retail Sales

(Monthly and Quarterly)

Retail Store






Target Sears Sam’s Club Costco Family Dollar


Sep 2.0%





























2008 Dollar General Best Buy Home Depot Lowe’s JCPenney Kohl’s Gap CVS Rite Aid Walgreens AutoZone
























McDonald’s Burger King Wendy’s






































2008 Advance Auto Parts




















2008 Arby’s



2008 U.S. same store sales compiled from 10-Q and 10-K forms (excluding fuel sales). Source:

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


Quarterly Reports Name

Quarterly Revenues

Net Income

Earnings Per Share

Earnings Estimate

Year-ago Revenues

Best Buy







Bed, Bath & Beyond







Quarterly profit increased 13%

Darden Restaurants







Profit climbed 16%








Net earnings declined 6%

Family Dollar







Profit rose 13%

Marriott International













(Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse)

Dominio’s Pizza

Year-ago Notable Net Income Same-store sales fell 3.9%

Revenue per available room fell 23.5% worldwide International same-store sales increased 2.7%

Source: PR Newswire and Charles Schwab wire services

Sales Tax Collections Current Month SEP 09

Last Year SEP 08

Year over Year % Change

YTD 2009

YTD 2008

Year over Year % Change

Montgomery County







City of Montgomery







Pike Road







Autauga County













Elmore County






















Sources: Montgomery County Commission, City of Montgomery, City of Pike Road, Autauga County Commission, City of Prattville, Elmore County Commission, City of Wetumpka, City of Millbrook


Montgomery Business Journal November/December 2009

November/December 2009 Montgomery Business Journal


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