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MAY 2010

24 Letter from the Publisher

Executive Editor’s Column




Investor Profile: AT&T Alabama


Q&A with Neal Wade


Member Profile: Aldridge, Borden & Co.


Montgomery Public Schools Update


Alabama Business Confidence Index


Event Spotlight: 2010 Business Expo & After Hours


Cover Story: Hyundai Dealers’ Convention


Alabama Manufacturer of the Year


A Great Place to Start: The Chamber’s Montgomery Area Visitor Center


Experts Help Business Owners SCORE


Business Buzz


Members on the Move


Ribbon Cuttings & Ground Breakings


New Members


Economic Intel

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal





David Zaslawsky COPY EDITOR

Michelle Jones DESIGN

Copperwing Design PHOTOGRAPHY

Jamie Martin ON THE COVER:

Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office ADVERTISING:

Robert Edmonds 334-221-7948

Montgomery Business Journal c/o Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Post Office 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 May 2010

Letter from the Publisher

AS A DESTINATION, WE’VE ARRIVED Tourism always has played an important role in the Chamber’s economic development strategy. After all, Montgomery is Alabama’s capital city and a center of government and military activity, so it is a natural destination for school children, tourists, and individuals with state agency or lobbying interests.

The Chamber has proudly promoted Montgomery as the home of two of the most revolutionary events in America’s history: The Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. These two events, with their accompanying museums, attractions and historical places, are complimented by the River Region’s world-class arts, culture, music, entertainment and sporting activities – all which help make Montgomery a popular tourism destination. Little known outside the world of professional tourism development is the importance of conventions. This component is extremely lucrative for the community since conventioneers will typically spend hundreds of dollars on lodging, entertainment, food and retail purchases. Those expenditures are meaningful additions to the businesses community’s bottom line and to the region’s tax base. In the past, Montgomery’s convention development was restricted by its limited supply of full-service hotels and convention space. But now, the growing downtown riverfront entertainment district is within easy walking distance of more than 800 quality hotel rooms, anchored by the Four Diamond Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center and its accompanying Performing Arts Center.

Hyundai’s recent national dealers’ convention is a prime example of why conventions offer an enormous opportunity for the River Region. Conventioneers filled the Renaissance and spread across nine area hotels, booking 4,000 room nights region-wide. Even though it was a downtown convention center event, guests “overflowed” to other hotels across the city. Hyundai’s convention, like so many others, “spreads the wealth” regionally As this market segment continues to grow – and it most certainly will – more entrepreneurs will discover and invest in niche markets created by this tourism and convention activity. As more visitors sample our culture and are rewarded with a rich and enjoyable stay, we fully expect their pockets to be a little lighter as they leave for home – providing significant returns to our business community and our tax base. Hey, there’s no sense letting our visitors have all the fun. Let’s get out, enjoy the atmosphere and show our guests some of Montgomery’s famous Southern hospitality.


May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


EXECUTIVE EDITOR’S COLUMN We receive more and more press releases every day, and sometimes I have to let someone know we cannot run it in the Montgomery Business Journal. Why? Because only Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Members are included in the Business Buzz and Members on the Move. Only Members are featured in the Member Profiles and Investor Profiles. Only Members can purchase ads in the MBJ. And yes, I have informed companies that they cannot purchase an ad if they are not a member. In this economy we turn down MONEY? None of this would be a Member Benefit if non-member companies had the same opportunities. Happy to say, once the non-member company talks to Linda Drumheller, Senior Sales Associate, and they realize that the MBJ is a small portion of the many Member Benefits we offer, they usually join. I have also talked to Members at the 60 Minute Coffees who do not realize everything Chamber membership has to offer. Not leveraging these benefits is like throwing away money. How much would it cost to... ...Have a Ribbon Cutting? Promotion of the event, photographer, staff to greet and assist, ribbon and giant scissors and finally having business leaders attend and a color photo and your business information published in a local magazine? As a Chamber Member, $0. ...Post your job opening online where qualified candidates will see it and respond? As a Chamber Member, and the Job Board, $0. ...Have your business searchable by category in an online database where 1,000 people go each month to find a reputable company? PLUS be included in a printed Member Directory that is distributed to every Chamber Member and sold as well? As a Chamber Member, $0. ...Run your business events, sales, workshops and specials on an online calendar viewed by an average of 700 unique visitors every month? As a Chamber Member, $0. Go to for member benefit information. If you are currently a Member, leverage everything you can to grow your business! If you are not a Member, call Linda Drumheller at 334-240-9494 and enjoy all the benefits membership has to offer! And one more thing... Receiving the Montgomery Business Journal in your mailbox the first Wednesday of each month? Priceless.



Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Calendar Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Events





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SMALL BUSINESS LOAN WORKSHOP Noon @ The Small Business Resource Center 600 S. Court St., Montgomery Registration: MINORITY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT NETWORKING MIXER Presenting Sponsor: State Farm 5 PM @ The Convention & Visitor Center 300 Water Street, Montgomery Registration: 60 MINUTE COFFEE Sponsored by City of Montgomery Riverfront Facilities 8 AM @ Harriott II on the River Free event, exclusively for Chamber Members MONTGOMERY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE/ AIR UNIVERSITY GOLF CHALLENGE Presenting Sponsor Performance Support @ Cypress Tree Golf Course, Maxwell AFB INVITATION ONLY BUSINESS EXPO AND AFTER HOURS 1 PM Seminars; 4 PM EXPO & After Hours @ Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center 201 Tallapoosa Street, Montgomery SEE PAGE 22 for details! CEO ROUNDTABLE BREAKFAST Presenting Sponsor: IKON OfďŹ ce Solutions 7:30 AM @ The Small Business Resource Center 600 S. Court St., Montgomery Registration:

CHAMBER 101 Sponsored by Heartsill Payroll Professionals 8 AM @ Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce 41 Commerce Street Reservations are required Free Event, register at 240-9298 or


60 MINUTE COFFEE Sponsored by Alfa Properties 8 AM @ Location TBD Free event, exclusively for Chamber Members


CHAMBER CLASSIC SPORTSMAN SHOOT 2 PM @ Lower Wetumpka Shotgun Sports Club 4758 Lower Wetumpka Road, Montgomery Registration:


LUNCHWORKS ETIQUETTE SERIES Noon @ The Small Business Resource Center 600 S. Court Street, Montgomery Registration:


BUSINESS AFTER HOURS Sponsored by Alabama Shakespeare Festival 5 PM @ Alabama Shakespeare Festival 1 Festival Drive, Montgomery Free event, exclusively for Chamber members.


BUSINESS TAXATION WORKSHOP Two sessions: 3 PM & 6 PM @ The Small Business Resource Center 600 S. Court Street, Montgomery Registration: SAVE THE DATE! DIVERSITY SUMMIT SEPTEMBER 16, 2010

Convention Calendar

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

MAY 2-4 16-20

State Farm Insurance Meeting AFCEA Technology Conference

JUNE 2-4 8-11 17-19

Alabama FFA 81st ASTA Summer Conference Annual State FFA Convention Alabama A&M Alumni Association Conference

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


Investor Profile

AT&T Alabama Regional Director Ty Fondren.


PEOPLE AT&T Alabama pumps millions into nonprofits by David Zaslawsky


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010




When AT&T Alabama Regional Director Ty Fondren spoke at a Non-Profit Resource Center of Alabama seminar recently, he had no idea how motivational his speech was. At the seminar, participants learned how to convince corporations to donate to nonprofit organizations. Fondren was a presenter. He was so effective that he later received a visit from two-term Montgomery City Councilwoman Martha Roby and Veronica McKenzie, executive director of the Successful Living Center. McKenzie, who learned her lessons well from the seminar, sought and received a corporate donation from Fondren. “I’ve committed to $15,000 over three years and we are in the third year of that commitment,” Fondren said. It’s also the age of the organization, which pairs senior adults with debilitating illnesses to young, special-needs children, Fondren said. He said that the intergenerational-support approach helps stimulate brain activity for the senior adults while the adults provide a “nurturing atmosphere and environment” for the young children, Fondren said. The center provides elder care and childcare for ages 4 months to 5 years in separate facilities, but there is also a common area for structured activities, according to the organization’s Web site. For Fondren and AT&T Alabama, that is just one of the many donations the company makes in the River Region. “In my 20 years with the company, we have invested in nonprofit organizations and charitable organizations $3 million-plus as well as hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours, primarily through our volunteer service organization – the AT&T Telecom Pioneers,” Fondren said. “The AT&T Telecom Pioneers have put in millions of hours’ community service over the years in Alabama.” He said that the AT&T Foundation now funds United Way directly. The regional AT&T Alabama office donates to Jubilee CityFest, Alabama Shakespeare Festival,










Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Arts Council of Montgomery, to name a few. Meanwhile, AT&T unveiled a $100 million education program a couple of years ago, called the Aspire program, to address the high dropout rate across the nation. One aspect of that initiative is the High School Success Grant program. “We have made an award to Auburn University for $400,000 over five years and they in turn have partnered with several school systems in Central Alabama to address some of the dropout issues that occur in grades eight through 12,” Fondren said. The Bullock County school system benefits from the $9 million program. “AT&T and its predecessor companies have always been extremely community minded,” Fondren said. “It’s what we call one of our core values – strengthening communities.”

Strengthening communities is part of the company’s six-prong approach. The other aspects are: investing in people, leading with integrity, minimizing the company’s environmental impact, connecting people and business, and leading innovation and technology. “We strengthened our communities by providing good jobs; by donating our time and talents; supporting underserved populations; and promoting educational programs that improve the community and promote economic development.” AT&T Alabama has been investing heavily in the state to add cell sites and upgrade existing ones. The company announced earlier this year it was adding 75 cell sites in Alabama and upgrading 250-plus cell sites to 3G. That’s in addition to the 30 new cell sites in 2009 and the 60 that were upgraded to 3G. “What it means is better service and better coverage for our customers as we look to expand and cover on a statewide basis, whereas years ago we focused on the wireline business,” Fondren said. He said the upgrades to 3G equate to faster downloads. AT&T Alabama has invested $1.2 billion in the state in the wireless and wireline networks from 2007-2009. “It’s part of our commitment to move where the business is moving, which is to wireless and to constantly and continually improve our network; improve the quality of service for our customers and to offer them as good an experience as possible,” Fondren said. “Our mantra at AT&T is we’re committed to continuous innovation to connect people everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.” Fondren said the parent company invested $55 billion in infrastructure nationwide. “The telecommunications industry is an evolving animal,” he said. “You can’t sit still. You have to continually improve not only your infrastructure, but you have to innovate and put new products and new services in the pipeline in order to compete.” •

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office, said the agency has shifted its focus to concentrate more on existing companies.

Neal Wade is the director of the Alabama Development Office. He was recently interviewed by Montgomery Business Journal Managing Editor David Zaslawsky

MBJ: You mentioned trade, and on a chalkboard are the names of some foreign countries. Why are those countries on the chalkboard?

Montgomery Business Journal: What are your primary responsibilities as director of the Alabama Development Office (ADO)?

Wade: Well, that’s where we’ll be this year. I just got back from China yesterday and we will be back in China in June. My trade director is in Vietnam right now. We’ll be in London, India and Russia. The governor will also travel to Ireland.

Wade: By law, the Alabama Development Office is established to be the coordinating agency inside the State of Alabama for economic growth, to create jobs. It was created as an industrial development agency, but it has really changed dramatically because we’re very much involved in trade, creating jobs related to high-tech, headquarters – any kind of job creation we’re involved in – not just industrial. MBJ: Would you please elaborate? Wade: To illustrate that, the Legislature last year passed new incentives; where we had statutory incentives that were for industry or industrial, we now have statutory incentives – the same incentives – to create white-collar jobs, financial jobs, headquarters, research and development. It’s a much broader agency because job creation is broader now than it was when it was created under Gov. (Albert) Brewer.

MBJ: Are you looking to cement relationships with those countries or discuss new opportunities? Wade: In the trade missions, we want to take Montgomery and Alabama companies who want to grow businesses in these particular economies. We have 14 companies who are in Vietnam this week. We got back from Colombia last year. There were 14 Alabama companies that went on that trip, and every one of them did business – either signed contracts or… we are seeing a major part of job creation is to create jobs from within. We want to work with our existing companies and one of the ways to do that is help them find new markets that they can sell their services or sell their products. MBJ: What is the ADO staff size? Wade: Thirty-four and it’s down significantly from probably 20 years ago. MBJ: How large was the staff then? Wade: Almost 60 at one time. We are in an economic downturn, but we also learned how to do more with less. We also work very closely with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and they handle some of the research and working with us on delivering proposals to projects. We reach outside of ADO to get the job done. The other thing that I think is really important… if you look at the Montgomery Chamber


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

– they are one of our partners. When we work a project in this region, we work it as a partnership and it’s not an ADO project. It is a partnership and we tackle the project with other state agencies such as the Alabama Industrial Development Training program; ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation). We look at a project as a partnership between the state and the local economic development organizations. I think that’s how we’ve been able to reinvent the agency by making sure we go outside the agency and we use as many resources as we can to effectively work a project. MBJ: What is the annual operating budget? Wade: It depends on what happens over there (State Legislature). During this administration, the budget has been plus or minus in the $4 million range. But if the cuts being proposed go through, we are going to be cut significantly. MBJ: As we talk today in late March, what is the overall climate for economic development and how has it changed from a year ago? Wade: We’re as busy as we’ve been in probably three years. We are seeing project activity, but the good thing is we’re seeing good project activity. MBJ: How does good project activity differ from project activity? Wade: Good project activity is well-known companies that are financed. They have a very definitive game plan for what they want to establish in this state. Some other projects that we’ve been seeing over the last couple of years – some you really have to peel the onion back and you really have to be sure that you are working with companies that can accomplish and do what they say they want to do. MBJ: We heard at the mayor’s one-year anniversary celebration that Montgomery made the cut in five projects. Do you know the range of jobs in those projects and the sectors involved? Wade: I don’t know all the projects, but they are significant projects. MBJ: Do you how many jobs could be created? Wade: I will say in the hundreds. MBJ: And the sectors?

Wade: In the manufacturing (sector). MBJ: Statewide, in how many projects has Alabama made the cut and what are the potential number of jobs and the types of sectors involved? Wade: We are very busy right now; we are seeing a lot of projects; and we believe we are going to be competitive in most of those projects. Sometimes you are brought into a competition for various reasons. They may want to get their situation worked out in their home state. We believe that (with) most of the projects we’re working we have a chance to win the project. We’ve always said when we meet with a prospect or we go visit with consultants, ‘Look, just put us in the hunt.’ That’s all we want to do is get in the competition and then we’ll do everything we can to win that. We also recognize that every company has to make a good business decision. When we go back and we analyze what we think are the reasons we won or lost, we hope that the answer is they made a decision to go elsewhere because it was the right business decision. MBJ: Do you anticipate any job announcements from these projects in the near future? Wade: Yes, we’ll be having some announcements over the next 30 to 60 days and they are in a number of sectors: aerospace, automotive, financial. I think we’re also seeing that the economy is beginning to turn and companies are beginning to try to make their expansion decisions.

existing industry and helping sustain the jobs we have here; and third, we focus on recruiting. When we came into office, it was more focused on recruiting. People like to win projects; Americans like to win. There was more of a tilt toward that. What we tried to do was to make more of a balance between those three areas so that we are focusing more on the existing companies and helping them not only to expand, but we also help sustain what they have. MBJ: Would you please elaborate? Wade: We have taken all of our project managers and we have divided the state up. They have a requirement to go visit existing companies in their particular region. By doing that, No.1, we show that the state is interested in that company; we’re interested in the problems they have; and we’re interested in the issues they have. But we have also found companies that are considering expansion.

MBJ: Please talk about a shift from recruiting large out-of-state projects to retaining and increasing existing industry.

MBJ: I’ve heard that you said the cooperation between elected officials here in Montgomery is unprecedented. Please elaborate and what impact does that have in economic development?

Wade: It’s trying to reinvent and refocus the resources and direction of ADO. We have it now where we focus on three things: We focus on trade and helping Alabama companies find new markets; we focus on

Wade: One of the strengths of this region – Montgomery and Montgomery County – is that you have the elected leadership and the economic development leadership working very closely together. That is a CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal




strength in economic development because companies that are looking here or anywhere in the state recognize they will be coming into this community and they want to know how this community gets along. They want to know if the leadership works together. The quality of life and those soft factors have become increasingly important in economic development decisions.

competition process. In the speeches I give I basically end up saying the one thing you have to recognize is that economic development is the process of elimination. Just this morning before you got here, I dealt with an economic developer in this state and the leaders of a project trying to go from 10 sites to five sites. We’re trying to get into that five. It’s all about the elimination process.

MBJ: Please elaborate about quality of life and soft factors being more important in economic development decisions.

MBJ: I’ve heard it described many times as the importance of making the cut – staying alive in the competition.

Wade: It’s been an evolution. I think 20 years ago or 15 years ago it was really more tilted toward the incentives. I think it is now more tilted toward the soft factors: education, work force, cultural, shopping. What’s happening is company leaders are recognizing that they are going to be moving families from one location to another and those employees’ families. If they are going to be happy and they have children they are not going to take a step backward from an education standpoint or from a quality of life standpoint. We just learned that has become a bigger issue in the economic development

Wade: You’ve got to make the cut. You have to stay in the game to have a chance to win. Vince Lombardi said ‘winning is everything.’ But in this business, that’s not true – playing is everything. If you’re not playing in the game, you don’t have a chance to win. You have to figure out, how do I get into the next cut without giving away everything? You’re basically trying to figure out, is it going to take me to get to the next level so that I can play in that level and then can I move to the final level and I’ll be able to be competitive to win the project.

Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

MBJ: This year, as some of the major projects begin to come on line such as ThyssenKrupp, what is the impact in Central Alabama? Wade: ThyssenKrupp won’t have much impact because it’s located so far south. If you think about economic development in North Alabama, it could be a positive from a distribution standpoint for an area like Montgomery, where interstates converge and head toward the port if that’s what they will be using. We think the ripple effect of economic development in the state affects all regions of the state. One of the things you want to become is a hot area from the standpoint of the state. If Huntsville is being very successful or the Birmingham region is being very successful, and companies are happy they came here, that makes Montgomery get more looks because the word is out that Alabama is a place you need to look at. Alabama is a place that lives up to what it says it’s going to do; is fair from an incentives standpoint; has a great work force; has a good quality of life; and it’s a low tax base. MBJ: You just mentioned some of Alabama’s advantages that are listed on the ADO

Web site. There are also all the interstates, railroads, inland waterways and deepwater port. Would you please elaborate? Wade: I do think that the commitment that the state and the local governments have made for infrastructure in Alabama is now paying off a lot of dividends. We are geographically located where shipments to the Midwest, to the Northeast can be done in one to two days. You have both truck, rail – you have great transportation and it’s improving all the time. Lanes are being added in strategic areas of the state. It’s something that you have to keep focusing on – the infrastructure. We visited Austin, Texas, once and met with their mayor and their leadership. They basically said, “If we had it to do over again, we would have kept up with the infrastructure better than we did because we outgrew that part of the business.” That can hurt you in the long run and that was the message they gave us. You’ve got to keep up with the infrastructure if you want to stay competitive.

was $16 billion – a dramatic increase. When you look at the economy, they (exports) are continuing to grow when other things are not growing. That is a real strength we have. The port is a real key to have that level of exports. MBJ: Those trade missions have also played a role. Wade: The trade missions have been very good. We average 10 to 12 companies on every trade mission. When they go on a trade mission, they are going to do matchmaking either from services or products standpoint. We work with the U.S. Commercial Service

MBJ: What are your predictions for the second half of the year and 2011? Wade: If we can begin to lower unemployment below double digits and predictions say we won’t, that would be my No. 1 goal. That means we have to work harder at the local level, the regional level and the state level to do that. We will continue to see announcements this year, but what I want to see are companies coming on line. I want to see the ones that we won two years ago open up, like

You’ve got to make the cut.

You have to stay in the game to have a chance to win.

MBJ: I also read on the ADO Web site that 96 million people live within a 600mile radius of Alabama, and some of the state’s other advantages are quality of life, affordable housing, weather and exports. Wade: From an infrastructure standpoint and a geographical standpoint, think about the Tenn-Tom (Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway). We won ThyssenKrupp because we had that infrastructure in place with the Tenn-Tom. If that had not been in place at the port and that Tenn-Tom had not been there, we would not have been a player in ThyssenKrupp. You can get on the TennTom and take your product all the way to Chicago. When you look at it from a river transportation standpoint; from an air standpoint; and from a highway standpoint; and rails… the rails are actually growing because now Norfolk Southern is going to put a major terminal just outside of Birmingham. That is going to increase the opportunity for companies to ship their products faster.

and it’s called the Gold Key Service. They set up quality appointments for each of those companies, depending on what they are looking for. The companies pay for that service and we help pay for that service through grants. That has really been successful and we’re seeing companies who know that if they are going to be successful they’ve got to look at markets outside Alabama and outside the U.S. The world is flat from a trade and economic standpoint. We used to say we competed with Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi. Well today, we compete with India; we compete with China; we compete with Vietnam; we compete with Mexico. Our competition is now global – it’s not within the Southeast region.

ThyssenKrupp, where they start hiring 1,700 people and put those people back to work. We’ve just got to get Alabamians back to work as quickly as we possibly can. MBJ: One last question: What is the significance of the giant John Wayne cowboy poster in your office? Wade: I’m a big John Wayne fan. My wife gave me that for one of my birthdays. I love westerns. I love John Wayne. I love what he stands for. I also say he’s there to help keep the bad guys out, but that doesn’t always work. •

MBJ: Please talk about the Team Alabama concept in economic development. Wade: It’s absolutely essential. See (that story) on the wall, there’s nine players and that was the Honda (project). There was a story on ThyssenKrupp and there were eight photos in a newspaper article and all of those people played an integral part in winning that project. No one person wins a project. It is a team approach.

MBJ: Earlier you were talking about trade missions and on the ADO Web site it states that Alabama ranks 26th in the country in exports. That is very impressive for a state as small as Alabama. Wade: When we came into office (in 2003), trade exports were $8 billion. Last year, it

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


Member Profile

From left: Dave Borden, James Blake, Dane Floyd, Roger Spain and Cathy Mozingo of Aldridge, Borden & Co.

It’s taxing work, but somebody has to do it by Tom Ensey

Taxpayers can now breathe a collective sigh of relief. We survived yet another dreaded tax season. But for some, crunching the numbers and deciphering the forms is exhilarating. That’s right – it’s actually fun.


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Aldridge, Borden & Co., an accounting firm, thrives during tax season. The 1040, the W-2, the 1099, Form 433-A? It’s cake to them. All that “put the lesser of the two amounts on line 5 and line 8 on line 29?” Bring it on, government. They eat that stuff for breakfast.


After buckling their chinstraps, digging in and knocking some heads, the accountants are relaxing a bit. Tax season is over, and it looks like a winning season for the firm.


If you paid them a visit at their offices on Commerce Street, you would see lots of highly qualified professionals doing what they do best: keeping the IRS and the Alabama Department of Revenue happy – and saving their clients every dollar. The firm has been doing just that since it was founded in 1918, shortly after the federal income tax was instated to help pay for World War I and became a part of American life. Aldridge, Borden became the 34th member of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, exactly one week after the organization was formed. The company’s founder, Meyer Aldridge, could be called the father of accountancy in Alabama. He was the first chairman of the State Board of Accountancy and was instrumental in the passage of the state’s uniform Certified Public Accountant Act, which stipulates the requirements to hold the position. Along with colleague George Rosson, Meyer wrote the Alabama CPA Examination and passed it, holding certificate No. 2. New accountants receive certificates numbered in the 14,000s these days. He was the first president of the state board of accountants, which regulates its members and advocates on their behalf. The firm now has 56 employees, give or take, and 30 are CPAs. Some are in the process of sitting for the exam. Many others have specialized training, which to the layman means they have more letters after their name. It also means they have specialized knowledge that benefits a wide range of clients.








Once the firm hires a new employee, Mozingo appoints them a mentor – a young accountant who is familiar with the same sort of experiences and challenges a new employee would face. The firm also keeps a close eye on what the youngster is good at and what he or she likes to do. “It’s part of our career counseling to see what areas they might be best at,” she said. The bosses at the firm also keep in mind that even accountants have families and a life outside the office. “We’re very flexible with our hours and our young people,” said James Blake, who has been with the firm for 34 years. “We try to keep a flexible schedule. Because of technology, many of them work from home. They can work from remote places and still be productive.” “When I came here, there were no such things as computers,” he said. “The business has changed,” he added with a straight face.

The broad range of disciplines in public accountancy is one of its attractions, said partner Dane Floyd.

No kidding. The first income tax form had “six or seven lines,” said Dane Floyd, a partner.

“You can be a generalist or pursue stuff you enjoy. Our firm has several generalists but we cultivate an atmosphere of expertise,” he said.

The first computer the company got was about the size of four or five Ford 150 pickups parked side-by-side. Laptops and new accounting software have changed everything.

Cathy Mozingo plays a big part in that. She oversees recruiting. She keeps an eye on major universities for talented fourth-year accounting students to locate potential interns. The interns work from January until April – the dreaded tax season. These kids don’t staple papers and run copies. They’re in there humping it just like everybody else.

The firm just weathers the storms, changing with the times – even economic downturns. Dave Borden, a partner whose father joined the firm shortly after World War II, said the firm has largely been unaffected by this recession. An unusually large consulting practice for a firm of its size “kind of insulated us,” Borden said. Consulting work is steady business, even when financial times aren’t good. It’s the kind of work that solves problems before they happen for businesses. It foresees and heads off situations and complications that an untrained person wouldn’t know what to do, Blake said. “We’ve been lucky,” Borden said. “Real lucky.” Yes, a little luck has had something to do with their success. But any business that has been around for almost a century must be doing something right. •

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


PREPARING NEW SPECIALTIES Superintendent advocates themed schools by David Zaslawsky

Of course, these are dreams. The harsh reality is money. There may be some $11.4 million in stimulus funds available, but the district won’t know until summer, Thompson said. She estimates the cost of a new eastside high school and K-12 school in the southern tier between $50 million and $60 million. The school district would need financial help from the city and county, Thompson said. The IB program “brings in an academic rigor to a level that we do not have in Montgomery,” Thompson said. “The students are earning college credits. It’s considered an accelerated, very advanced academic program.” She would like to see the IB program function similar to a Career Academy and allow students from throughout the district to apply.

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Thompson.

Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Thompson is an advocate of themed schools. “I really like themes; it helps to focus you in terms of your curriculum,” Thompson said. “It helps in your hiring process. It helps when you have a theme because then people that you are hiring understand where you are going.” Thompson would like to add two schools that both would feature themes. She would like to see a new high school built in East Montgomery that would have an international baccalaureate (IB) theme. Another goal is to combine DunbarRamer and Pintlala schools in the district’s southern tier into a K-12 school with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) theme. If the district would add a third school, Thompson would like to see a foreign language theme.


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

“For the IB, there’s an extensive training process that the teachers go through,” Thompson said. “The teachers are trained specifically on this curriculum so it’s very academically rigorous.” There has been talk about an eastside high school and several possible locations. Thompson said that former Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent John Dilworth was looking at a site off Ray Thorington Road. “You are talking about 35 to 40 acres in an area with water and sewer and you have to have at least two access points for a high school,” Thompson said. A STEM theme at a new southern tier school “gives you a different focus for the kinds of teachers you’re going to be hiring,” Thompson said. “You are going to be looking for people who have very, very strong science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds.” Thompson estimated that a new southern tier K-12 school would have about 1,400 students. But that’s only the beginning. She said she hopes to attract students at private schools in the surrounding area.

“I think we could offer them something really good – 21st century skills and technology and still keep the small, rural community roots they want to keep,” she said. “If we have a school, let’s say, like a Wilson (James W. Wilson Jr. Elementary), I think parents would love to have their kids come back to a new (public) school in the southern tier.” Thompson said there are about 1,400 students attending private schools in that area and during a difficult economic time, some of those parents may consider a public school for their children. She said a K-12 school would help give the students school pride and the community would support athletics. “If you build an elementary school in a neighborhood, typically that means that neighborhood is going to grow because families move there,” Thompson said. She said the district would need a 35- to 40-acre site “hopefully at a significantly reduced rate from a developer.” A school with a foreign language theme is probably a distant dream at best

for Thompson, who sees a critical role for that type of program. “With technology we’re going to be able to communicate across the world without leaving your desk,” she said. “You need to be able to communicate with people in a variety of different languages. “For me it is not just learning the language because whenever you learn a language, if it’s taught properly, you also learn some of the cultural (aspects). It’s that respect for different cultures and language that kids need.” The school district received a $200,000plus grant to offer Mandarin Chinese, which prompted some criticism.

“You need to be able to communicate with people in a variety of different languages.”

“China is the fastest-growing country in the world and it’s going to be dominating everything that we have,” Thompson said. “Our kids need to have that kind of language; that kind of exposure.” She said that children in China start learning foreign languages when they are 3 years old and by 10 years of age, a child has been exposed to three different languages. •

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May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


RISING FUTURES, GROWING PRIDE by David Zaslawsky People don’t always hear about all the awards, accolades and innovative methods in the Montgomery Public Schools district. If people only had a few talking points, they could communicate what is happening behind those classroom doors. Well, now they do. Those talking points have been printed on bright cards – the size of a business card. Called “elevator cards,” one lists school/student highlights; another details district highlights; and a third shows program highlights. “One of the reasons we did the elevator cards was I was hearing that people weren’t sure what was happening in Montgomery Public Schools (MPS),” said Barbara Thompson, the MPS superintendent. Some of the highlights include increasing the school enrollment by 350 students, which was the first gain in several years; graduating seniors who earned $15 millionplus in scholarship offers; and increasing pre-K classrooms from six to 22. And then there was the launch and enrollment of more than 500 students in seven career academies at Lee, Carver, Jeff Davis and Lanier high schools. “Our goal is to have options for kids and to have that fluid interchange between the schools,” Thompson said. “As a student, you might end up at a school that isn’t offering the academy you want.” She would like students to be able to travel between the high schools, but acknowledges there are major obstacles with schedules. Although probably a year away, Thompson said she would also like to add new academies, such as aerospace or engineering. She said it is

possible to combine architecture and engineering into a single academy. “We have to look at start-up costs, teaching and what kind of grant possibilities (exist),” Thompson said, but added that those academies would not nearly be as expensive to launch as advanced manufacturing was because of equipment. “Aerospace has some particularly interesting grants that go along with that,” Thompson said. “Architecture has a very strong local community group and I’ve heard they have money to help out. Engineering, I would expect, would have a similar group. It’s a matter of actually finding one we can afford.” Other ideas she shared with the Montgomery Business Journal include consolidating operations, including the central offices. Currently, there are 14. And when

MONTGOMERY PUBLIC SCHOOLS PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS > Launched seven new career academies. > Increased pre-K classrooms from six to 22. > Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis high schools and Floyd Elementary were named Alabama Math, Science, Technology Initiative Schools. > Students have read 500,000-plus books as part of the Accelerated Reader Program.

“I’ve been told if we move out of this building, this is a highly desirable piece of land,” Thompson said. Between 55,000 and 60,000 square feet are needed to accommodate those 14 offices, she said. “I want to make sure if we move, we move into a place that actually is a fairly intact building.” On other topics, Thompson recommends:

> All middle schools configured for 6th through 8th grade. > All high schools configured for 9th through 12th grade. > All Pre-K programs using the same standards and concepts; teaching the same skills. > School uniforms. > Enhanced security, which is ongoing, at all middle and high schools.

DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS > Fifty-two of the 57 schools in 2009 (91 percent) achieved annual yearly progress goals under the No Child Left Behind legislation. > Increased enrollment by 350 students. > Received $700,000-plus grants for academic purposes. > Implemented a new mentoring program for middle school students.

> Yung Thi Bui-Kincer named Alabama Teacher of the Year for 2009-2010 Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Consolidation would reduce the district’s average monthly utility bill of $650,000. It could reduce the number of maintenance and custodial staff. It could free up properties for leasing, including the South Decatur Street headquarters.

> Administrative assistants serving several people instead of just one.

> Opened two new schools – Johnnie Carr Junior High and James Wilson Jr. Elementary; plan to open two schools in the fall – George Washington Carver High School and Bellingrath Junior High.


there is an IT problem at the downtown headquarters, someone must walk over from across the street to see about it.

SCHOOL/STUDENT HIGHLIGHTS > Twenty students named National Merit and National Achievement Semifinalists; 13 students were named Merit and Achievement Finalists. > Loveless High School was named a Gold Medal winner and the 25th best high school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report; Booker T. Washington and Brewbaker Technology High were named Bronze Medal schools and were among the top 1,000 schools in the country. > Brewbaker Technology High and Forest Avenue Elementary were named Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education in the last two years. Source: Montgomery Public Schools

Looking Ahead, the Economy is Looking Up Alabama business leaders show more optimism by David Zaslawsky

It was a year ago that the quarterly Alabama Business Confidence Index (ABCI) was sitting at some dreadful numbers. The overall ABCI had an index of 32.0, where an index of 50 shows growth. All six individual components ranged from a low of 24.7 (national economy) to a high of 38.9 (industry sales). That was a year ago, at the height of the recession. Now, with the economy in a recovery mode – a slow recovery – those components have risen sharply. The index’s overall rating is up 17.5 points to 49.5 in the second quarter of 2010. The following are the individual components of the index, which is produced by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research: > National economy up 22.3 points to 47.0. > Alabama economy up 16.6 points to 49.8. > Industry sales up 17.5 points to 56.4. > Industry profits up 16.3 points to 50.5. > Industry hiring up 15.8 points to 47.3. > Capital expenditures up 16.7 points to 46.1.

Keep in mind that just three of the components are in that 50-point and above range, but the survey of Alabama business executives shows a much more optimistic second-quarter outlook despite two of the components having declined from the first quarter. The overall index is up just slightly for the quarter (0.7 points), but has reached its highest level since the fourth quarter in 2007. That means something. The following is a breakdown of the six individual components: NATIONAL ECONOMY – This component fell 1.5 points from the first quarter. About one-third of the survey respondents expect the second quarter to remain the same as the first quarter. Almost one-third are expecting a somewhat worse quarter compared with 28 percent who anticipate an improved quarter. ALABAMA ECONOMY – The component dropped 2.7 points from the third quarter. About 25 percent expect the second quarter to perform somewhat better than the first quarter, but an almost equal number are forecasting the quarter to be somewhat worse. Meanwhile, 44 percent of the respondents expect to see no change in the quarter.

INDUSTRY SALES – This is the strongest individual component of the index at 56.4, which showed a powerful 3.6-point gain from the first quarter. One of the most dramatic aspects in the component is the nearly 3-to-1 difference between those who expect an increase in sales (42.9) vs. those who are forecasting a moderate decrease (15.3). Thirty-five percent of the respondents are expecting no change in the second quarter. All sectors except health care anticipate increased sales in the second quarter. The manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate, transportation, information and utilities sectors are all projecting sales to increase more than the component’s 56.4 average. INDUSTRY PROFITS – The component gained 4.1 points from the first quarter and is the only other component at 50. It is the first time in nine quarters that the component is in the growth territory. Almost 70 percent of the respondents expect profits to be the same or improve from the first quarter compared with about 24 percent who are forecasting declining profits. The transportation, information, utilities and manufacturing sectors are anticipating the best profit growth while the health care and construction sectors are expecting profits to decline. CONTINUED ON PAGE 20

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


















































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

INDUSTRY HIRING – The component gained 0.5 points to 47.3 and is one of the lowest-rated of the six. Almost 25 percent of the respondents expect a decline in hiring compared with about 20 percent expecting an increase. The rest – about 55 percent – expect second-quarter hiring to remain the same as the previous quarter. The sectors expecting to add jobs are manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, information and utilities.


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

INDUSTRY CAPITAL EXPENDITURES – The component has the lowest rating at 46.1 and remains unchanged from the first quarter. About nine percent of the respondents expect a strong decrease in capital spending and 19 percent expect a moderate decrease. About 50 percent anticipate no change in spending from the first quarter. The sectors expecting to increase spending are manufacturing, transportation, information and utilities while the sectors forecasting declines in spending are finance, insurance, real estate, construction, professional, scientific and technical. •

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273-RIBS May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


Event Spotlight




Don’t miss the 2010 Business Expo & After Hours at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. The business seminars are conducted by experts who will give you information and tools to help you build your business!

Adams Drugs

LogoBranders, Inc.

Advanced Restoration, LLC

MAX Credit Union

AKD Screenprinting & Embroidery

Maximum Efficiency Squared (MAX E2)

Alabama Technology Network

MetLife Financial Services

American Family Care

Montgomery Airport Authority


Montgomery City-County Public Library

Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar as you check out the many businesses. Here is a partial list of the diverse organizations you will find at the Business EXPO & After Hours.

Auburn Montgomery Outreach

Panamerican Consultants, Inc.


Party Station

Bou Cou

Primary Eyecare Associates

Capital City Club

Professional Billing, Inc.

Centaur Building Services, INC.

Rexel Southern Electric Supply Co.

Chappy’s Deli

Rodan + Fields Dermatologists

Charter Communications

Ronald Blue & Company

Clean City Commission

Royal Cup, Inc.

Complete Practice Management, LLC

ServiceMASTER by Averill

Converged Networks, Inc.

Saint James School

Cook’s Pest Control


DJ @ Large

Skyline Alabama LLC

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

Southern Development Council, Inc.

Drury Inn & Suites - Montgomery


Elmcroft of Halcyon

State Farm Insurance Agency Recruiter

Embassy Suites Montgomery Hotel and Conference Center

Success Unlimited Academy

Equisouth Mortgage, Inc. Hackbarth Delivery Service, Inc.

Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

The Cedars Specialty Care Assisted Living

Heartsill Payroll Professionals

The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center

Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front

The Montgomery Academy

Holy Cross Episcopal School

The Oasis Hotel at Victoryland


tw telecom

Jackson Thornton Technologies

Viva Medicare Cafe

JLH Energy Conservation

WVAS-FM Radio Station

Knology of Montgomery

Window World of Montgomery, LLC

Larry Puckett Chevrolet


Superior Bank

1 PM – 2:15 PM FEDERAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS FOR MINORITY AND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES This session is for minority- and womanowned businesses who want to find out how to get the certification credentials needed to bid on contracts with the federal government. PRESENTER Dinora Gonzalez Small Business Technical Advisor General Services Administration

BEG, BORROW OR SCROUNGE… FINANCING YOUR BUSINESS Get an overview of federal and private loan opportunities for your business. The Small Business Administration (SBA) and commercial banks have increased the availability of capital through aggressive government programs. PRESENTERS: David Ramp Lender Relations Specialist U.S. Small Business Administration Jennifer Seymour Business Development Officer Southern Development Council Wanda Wright Senior Credit Officer BB&T Angie Winter Vice President Alabama Small Business Capital

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM FEDERAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAMS FOR MINORITYAND WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES This session is for minority and womanowned businesses who want find out how to get the certification credentials needed to bid on contracts with the federal government. PRESENTER Dinora Gonzalez Small Business Technical Advisor General Services Administration

WOW IMAGE BRANDING – 5 WAYS TO ATTRACT MILLIONDOLLAR CLIENTS Get the tools you need to create and drive brand success. Learn the 5 secrets of attracting million-dollar clients: Personal Branding, Setting the Foundation, Color Psychology, Brand Awareness, Brand Maintenance, and building Brand Equity.

One price gets you into two seminars of your choice! Three seminars to choose from for the 1 PM - 2:15 PM Session. Two to choose from for the 2:30 PM - 3:35 PM Session. Chamber Members: $35; Non-Members: $45

A few booths are still available! Call 334-230-8354 now! Seating is limited for the seminars – register today at www.

PRESENTER LaVon Lewis President Pencilworx Design Group

NETWORKING WITH PURPOSE You will learn how to hone your personal goals and focus when networking. Discover how to find and connect with people you need to meet. Learn how to connect and develop lasting relationships that will improve your business’ bottom line. PRESENTER Stacia Robinson Principal, The Benechoice Companies Franchise Owner, BNI-Business Network Int’l.

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



BIG STUFF National convention impacts entire River Region


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

by David Zaslawsky

“It means an awful lot to the city. If you bring a big convention, the impact is a significant amount of money,” said Lloyd Faulkner, finance director for the City of Montgomery.

PCH Hotels & Resorts is also known as the Resort Collection of Alabama Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The resort collection features eight hotels, ranging from 90 to 400-plus rooms. One of those properties is the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center, which was the host site for the national Hyundai dealers’ convention. “That convention is the largest individual piece of business this hotel will do all year,” said Renaissance General Manager Mike Eveleth. “And I would dare say it is the largest one that any hotel in PCH will do this year, individually, from a revenue standpoint. So that’s how big the Hyundai convention is.” Such a large, national convention packs a region-wide wallop. Hotels from Prattville to East Montgomery to Hope Hull hosted conventioneers. The two largest downtown hotels – Renaissance and Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center – were filled. Conventioneers and the meeting’s support staff stayed at nine area hotels, which translated into 4,000 room nights during a slow economic recovery. “People who may have been staying downtown for government, business or whatever are going to be bounced to another hotel,” said Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. “They (conventioneers) are not replacing business – they are expanding it throughout the city.” Conventioneers pay convention fees, buy food, liquor and gasoline, and they pay a lodging tax. Every time they purchase something, they pay sales tax. The convention’s mammoth economic impact is estimated at between $3.5 million and $5 million – a significant amount that ripples across the region.

The city receives 8.5 percent of the lodging tax, with 6 percent going to the general fund. The remaining 2.5 percent is used to make bond payments for the Montgomery Biscuits baseball team’s Riverwalk Stadium as well as help fund infrastructure improvements in the downtown Entertainment District, which in turn is used to attract conventions. Lodging taxes comprise a small percentage of the city’s operating budget – about $5.5 million from a $210 million budget, but as Faulkner said, “As small as it is compared to the whole, it’s a lot of money. If I lost it tomorrow, we would be cutting $5 million out of the operating budget and that would be difficult.” The largest chunk of the city’s operating budget comes from sales tax – those dollars spent by conventioneers and those displaced downtown hotel guests. Those displaced downtown hotel guests may stay at an East Montgomery hotel, and guests are much more likely to eat, drink and shop closer to where they stay because of the convenience, according to Hathcock. The hotel guests in East Montgomery are likely to shop at The Shoppes at EastChase or EastChase Plaza or EastChase Market Center and dine in the area. Those staying at Montgomery Marriott Prattville Hotel and Conference Center at Capitol Hill may opt to play golf there and possibly shop or eat in Prattville. CONTINUED ON PAGE 26


2007: $5.4 MILLION 2008: $5.5 MILLION 2009: $5.2 MILLION 2010: $5.4 MILLION* *ESTIMATE Source: City of Montgomery



EMBASSY SUITES HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTER: 237 ROOMS MADISON HOTEL: 170 ROOMS HAMPTON INN & SUITES: 86 ROOMS TOTAL: 835 ROOMS Source: Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



That scenario pads not only the sales tax revenue in Montgomery and Prattville, but also helps the bottom line of all those businesses. Some of those businesses are located in Hope Hull, near the Hyundai manufacturing facility.

Lloyd Faulkner, finance director for the City of Montgomery.

‘GOING THAT EXTRA MILE’ by David Zaslawsky Among Montgomery’s competition for the Hyundai national dealers’ convention were sites in California and Atlanta. Hyundai’s U.S. manufacturing facility may be in Montgomery, but its sales arm is headquartered in Fountain Valley, Calif., and its research and development facility is in Irvine. In Atlanta, the 1,600-plus room Atlanta Marquis was being considered because all conventioneers could stay in one hotel. The largest hotel in the River Region is the Renaissance, with just 342 rooms. Why would Fountain Valley-based Hyundai Motor America pick Montgomery? The answer lies in many of the “soft” features that Montgomery offers. “Montgomery was selected because of all the excitement going on here,” said Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. “They loved the Entertainment District.” The meeting management company made a site visit to Montgomery before choosing the convention site. Hathcock said they loved the special attention they received, and they were impressed by “how all the right people were there” to answer any question. Mike Eveleth, general manager of the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center, said that Renaissance sales manager Jessica Methier started working on securing the convention about a year ago. “Our team here at the hotel… really did a phenomenal job in selling,” Eveleth said. “A


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

national convention doesn’t roll around every year, especially when you have a 350-room hotel. A lot of people did a lot of work.

It is hard to underestimate the impact of the Hyundai national convention on the Renaissance. The hotel added staff for the dealers’ convention, which was followed by a smaller convention of sales, parts and service personnel. Eveleth said the hotel planned to hire 30 to 40 more people to help on the culinary side, housekeeping and service staff. Hyundai booked 1,500 room nights in the 342-room Renaissance, and planned to feed up to 1,200 people at some events.

“The CVB (Convention & Visitor Bureau) did a lot of the legwork with local hotels. The CVB did a lot of this. They went out and found where the 1,200 guest rooms were coming from.”

That is why the hotel expected food and beverage sales to be three times the room sales. Eveleth said room sales for smaller groups usually exceed food and beverage sales. But Hyundai does things big, and does them first class.

It was our enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile that may have sealed the deal, Hathcock said.

Per person, Hyundai will spend $150 to $200. Dinners for a convention could begin at $35 per person, he said.

In short, Montgomery was able to compensate for its fewer hotel rooms (835 within walking distance of the convention center) and less meeting space with a little bit of Southern hospitality – and a lot of old fashioned customer service.

The hotel works with a wide variety of vendors, many of which use local outlets with local employees. All beverages consumed at the Renaissance come from local distributors and that includes soft drinks as well as beer, wine and liquor.

“It’s how you treat them while they’re here and make them feel special,” Hathcock said. “One thing that is unique about the selling job we have to do – we’re not in control of the sale. I can’t control hotel room rates and availability. We bring them (hotels) the lead and work with them to close it. Customer service is something we can control.”

“We use a food purveyor that employs people from Montgomery,” Eveleth said. “You’re talking about the purchasers; the people who load the trucks. The economic impact just spreads out.”

Mike Eveleth, general manager of the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center.

The impact actually begins with the Hyundai conventioneers arriving at Montgomery Regional Airport or driving into the city. Travelers were greeted at the airport by the Hyundai manufacturing plant’s 1 millionth vehicle – a 2010 Sonata produced on Nov. 30, 2009. That vehicle is next to the redesigned 2011 Sonata. The conventioneers toured the Hyundai manufacturing facility and drove the redesigned Tucson on an autocross course adjacent to the test track. They also drove the new Sonatas. Rick Neal, vice president legal and general counsel for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, said three new vehicles were to be unveiled in the plant’s visitor center, including the South Korean automaker’s U.S. version of its luxury car – Equus. Meanwhile back at the Renaissance, it’s show time. “Hyundai has rented the entire hotel,” Eveleth said. “They have every meeting room; they have the MPAC (Montgomery Performing Arts Centre); they have the convention center; they have the ballroom.” At the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre, wings will come out over the audience and there will be vehicles that will come out there, according to Eveleth. People supporting the convention arrived days early to work on the set-ups, Eveleth said. “They (vehicles) are literally coming out of the orchestra pit,” Eveleth said. “A hydraulic lift will be lifting one of the new vehicles and they are going to float up a Sonata above a fountain. “This is big stuff.” •

Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau.


Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center General Manager Mike Eveleth said he has already been approached by other automakers “who have said, based on how this turns out, they are really going to take a serious look at Montgomery.”

by David Zaslawsky

That is why he and his staff met the challenge of hosting the national convention with a “bring-it-on” attitude.

It was a big deal to host the Hyundai dealers’ national convention in the River Region. But an even bigger deal is ensuring that the convention is a success. Our national convention future could depend on it. Hyundai worked with a meeting management company to handle the logistics of the convention. That company has other clients, who may look to the company’s experience in Montgomery when deciding to book a convention for their clients. “If we do well, they may say, ‘We really like Montgomery and want to go back there,’” said Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. “The more we can get a buzz (from the Hyundai convention), the better off we’ll be.”

“We’re a service business,” he said. “I think we do a very good job day-in and day-out. That’s what we do. I think it’s good to kick the tires every now and then and just see what the extremes are and what we can do.” After all, this could be the start of something big. “What’s important is that we do everything we can to make the convention as smooth as possible so they will want to come back,” Hathcock said. “It reiterates the fact that we’ve got to make a great impression.”

Doing well with Hyundai could mean landing their repeat business, and the business of other automakers.

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



The Renaissance frequently served 1,000 people at a time during the Hyundai convention.

MONTGOMERY CAN MAKE BIG SUCCESS CONVENTIONAL by David Zaslawsky It was a big deal to host the Hyundai dealers’ national convention in the River Region. But an even bigger deal is ensuring that the convention is a success. Our national convention future could depend on it. Hyundai worked with a meeting management company to handle the logistics of the convention. That company has other clients, who may look to the company’s experience in Montgomery when deciding to book a convention for their clients. “If we do well, they may say, ‘We really like Montgomery and want to go back there,’ ” said Dawn Hathcock, vice president, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. “The more we can get a buzz (from the Hyundai convention), the better off we’ll be.” Doing well with Hyundai could mean landing their repeat business, and the business of other automakers. Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center General Manager Mike Eveleth said he has already been approached by other automakers “who have said, based on how this turns out, they are really going to take a serious look at Montgomery.”


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

That is why he and his staff met the challenge of hosting the national convention with a “bring-it-on” attitude. “We’re a service business,” he said. “I think we do a very good job day-in and day-out. That’s what we do. I think it’s good to kick the tires every now and then and just see what the extremes are and what we can do.” After all, this could be the start of something big. “What’s important is that we do everything we can to make the convention as smooth as possible so they will want to come back,” Hathcock said. “It reiterates the fact that we’ve got to make a great impression.”

During the opening night of the Hyundai dealers’ convention, the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center had to feed about 1,200 people in 45 minutes. During a breakfast buffet, 18 omelet stations were being prepared for 1,000 people. And a catered lunch would be served to 800 people at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama auto plant parking lot. Other meals, including buffets and plated dinners, were being served to conventioneers as well. “We are preparing a lot of food to order,” said Mike Eveleth, general manager of the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. Just how much food was prepared? Take a look: Shrimp: 400 pounds. Hors d’oeuvres: 6,000 pieces. Top Round of Beef: 550 pounds. Crab Meat: 200 pounds. Sister Schubert Rolls: 1,000 pieces. Stuffed Cannolis: 1,000. Bacon: 225 pounds. Sausage: 250 pounds. Eggs: 500 pounds. Potatoes: 400 pounds.

A Leaner Approach STERIS Corp. embraces new philosophy, wins manufacturing award by David Zaslawsky

About six years ago, the STERIS Corp. manufacturing facility in Montgomery began changing how it conducts business – and never stopped. Moving towards what is known as a “lean process,” the company has transformed how it approaches processes, cost structure, inventory and employee productivity and morale. It was that big of an overhaul. “‘Lean’ is a process; it’s not a program that has a start and a stop,” said Mac McBride, director of operations for STERIS, which manufactures a wide variety of products for the surgical suite. “It’s a continuous improvement process.” The company’s transformations have not gone unnoticed by the business community. STERIS was recently named Alabama Manufacturer of the Year for mediumsized companies (100-399 employees). The award is presented by the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), Alabama Technology Network (ATN) in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and the National Association of Manufacturers. Improvements in STERIS’s processes have resulted in some impressive numbers: > A 56 percent improvement in productivity. > A 38 percent reduction in floor space. > An 88 percent reduction in workin-process inventory. > A 28 percent increase in ontime delivery to customers. > A 44 percent improvement in the cost of goods sold. “It’s a great honor for our employees,” McBride said about the award. “It

Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (left) presents the Alabama Manufacturer of the Year Award for medium-sized companies to STERIS Corp. Director of Operations Mac McBride.

recognizes our employees for all their hard work, dedication and their commitment to our lean principles. They are the ones that have so graciously accepted these philosophies, adapted to them and have really changed the culture in how we do business today.” McBride said the company has conducted 200-plus Kaizen events, which he describes as a rapid improvement event. By the end of a week, a small group of employees actually implement improvements and report their results. Those Kaizen events saved the company $860,000 last year, McBride said.

lights, warming and storage cabinets, equipment management systems, surgical scrub sinks and accessories. They make good products, sure, but McBride said that’s not their No. 1 asset: It’s their employees. The company invests about 40 hours per employee in training every year. They are a central part of the continuing improvement process. “ It’s all about making them more knowledgeable about our business and the changes in our business.”

“A lot of people think that lean means reduced inventory and that’s not the case,” McBride said. “It’s having the right inventory at the right place at the right time. It is really nothing but continuous improvement. There are a lot different aspects to this.” The Ohio-based STERIS employs about 260 people in Montgomery. The local facility produces surgical tables, surgical

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



This is the second year Business Council of Alabama has partnered with the Alabama Technology Network to recognize manufacturing excellence, said BCA president and CEO William J. Canary. Awards are presented in three categories: 1-99 employees; 100-399 employees; and 400-or-more employees. The winning companies are selected by an independent panel of judges. Two local businesses were finalists for the Large Manufacturer of the Year Award: Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HHMA) and Rheem Water Heaters. HMMA spokesman Robert Burns said the award just confirms for them they are performing well in a difficult economic climate. “A year ago, HMMA was named the Emerging Manufacturer of the Year because we had been in operation a little under five years,” he said. “This year we were named a finalist as manufacturer of the Robert Burns


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

year, which just demonstrates that our team members and our facility continue to be a top performer in the state of Alabama and the manufacturing sector.” Peter Reynolds, vice president and general manager of Rheem Water Heaters, said the company started improving operations five years ago in order to “challenge Peter Reynolds the perception that we were as good as we could get.” Like STERIS, Rheem refocused on employee development, and began using contemporary manufacturing concepts, including Lean and a few others. The award is proof, Reynolds said, that all 1,100 employees in three Montgomery facilities welcome the challenge of being the best in the state. “It reinforces that we are doing the right things in developing our employees and making investments in our facilities,” he said. - David Zaslawsky

A Great Place to Start Visitor Center helps tourists find their way by Michelle Jones

“Hey, y’all!” To the staff at the Chamber’s Montgomery Area Visitor Center, that is music to the ears. That’s because the Center’s sole mission is to bestow a little Southern hospitality on visitors to Montgomery and the River Region. Located downtown at historic Union Station, the Visitor Center is the gateway to all that is uniquely Montgomery. From tourists, to locals, to corporate visitors, the Visitor Center might be the most important stop on a tourist’s journey – and it is the only one of its kind in the city. “If you have corporate clients, or even friends and family in town, and you don’t know what to do with them, start here and venture out,” said Dawn Hathcock, vice president of Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau. The Visitor Center offers four unique services to visitors: attraction tickets, Civil Rights audio tour, trolley rides and a gift shop packed full of merchandise commemorating or originating in Alabama. If the first stop on your journey is the Visitor Center, your first activity should be to watch the award-winning 12-minute video showcasing all the top attractions and destinations. Jina Clark, MACC Convention & Visitor Bureau marketing director, said the video can be the best way to pinpoint what might interest a visitor most. “Even if you’re from Montgomery, you might discover something you’ve never seen before,” Hathcock said. Still don’t know where to start? Great. The Visitor Center staff can put together an itinerary for you, with attractions grouped around one of five themes: Arts & Theater, Confederate Trail, Historical, Civil Rights and Family. Itineraries can be designed free of

The lobby of the Chamber’s Montgomery Area Visitor Center located in historic Union Station.

charge for a single person, an entire family or a large group. And the best part is that you can buy attraction tickets right there at the Visitor Center. “If you want, we can build an entire vacation. Or, if you arrive here just before everything closes, we can help you find rooms and restaurants,” Clark said. Even if you’re not a visitor to Montgomery, the Visitor Center offers a beautiful, historic facility that is a testament to Montgomery’s past and future. The entire center can be rented for events, such as receptions or corporate off-site events. Or, you can just rent the theater room, which accommodates about 35 seated people.





Like everything else in the world these days, technology is changing the way visitor CONTINUED ON PAGE 32

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal




1. UK 2. CANADA 3. GERMANY 4. AUSTRALIA 5. FRANCE Source: Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau

The Visitor Center gift shop sells dozens of items that are indicative of the River Region’s charms.


centers nationwide do business. With the advent of inexpensive GPS and mapping devices, many tourists are designing their own tours, with little assistance from the locals who know their communities best. “Now, it is really important that visitor centers become destinations in themselves,” Clark said. To do that, the centers must be able to provide unique services and experiences – with a little local flavor. And that’s where the Visitor Center gift shop comes in. It is a great place to start if you’re looking for Montgomery-centric gifts for a client, relative or co-worker. You can find ornaments and replicas of landmarks, copies of historic documents, prints of old maps, books about the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, cook books and figurines made from Alabama clay. “We also make these great gift baskets with Alabama items, and the basket is shaped like the state of Alabama,” Clark said. The baskets are available in three sizes, and can be assembled in just a few minutes. If you decide to pick up a gift basket, make sure to stuff it with one of theVisitor Center’s best-selling T-shirts, its message expressing the South’s particular brand of hospitality: “Bye, y’all.” •


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Gift baskets are available in three sizes and come in the shape of the state of Alabama.

Experts Help Business Owners SCORE Counselors provide insightful, free advice by David Zaslawsky

A small business owner was having a cash-flow problem. She was counseling children with behavioral issues, but was not receiving payments in a timely manner. She called Isaiah Sankey, a counselor with the Service Corps of Resource Executives (SCORE) for some advice – make that free advice. “Having had some experience in billing for services and not getting your receipt in a timely manner, I suggested that she (develop) a relationship with someone in that company’s finance department. I said that it helps to get to know that person on a first-name basis so when your money is late, you can call up and ask for help.”

Isaiah Sankey

With her new point of contact in the finance department, there have been no more distraught calls to Sankey. “I also advised her to join professional organizations that represent your trade. They might be able to help you.” Another small business owner, who wants to open a clothing store, had written an impressive business plan, according to Rick Williams, a SCORE counselor. During a counseling session, the SCORE advisers recommended displaying some art in the window to attract shoppers.

“You have the art in an area, where the customers have to walk past and maybe they are going to see something they like,” Williams said. “She thought that was a wonderful idea.” That’s what SCORE does – counsel entrepreneurs, start-ups and existing small business owners. And the service is free. Williams, a financial adviser with a Fortune 500 firm, calls SCORE “one of the best-kept secrets in Montgomery. People have a resource in SCORE that a lot of times is not getting used. Sometimes nobody is calling for counseling.” At a Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce event, Williams took an informal poll about SCORE. He asked the attendees if they had heard of SCORE. Every hand was raised. He then asked if anybody had actually used SCORE services. Not a single hand went up, much to his surprise. “I thought, ‘You are faithfully coming out to Chamber events and things like that, and you have SCORE that can give you all this good information and you don’t take advantage of it,’ ” Williams said. “I think it is something people really need to take advantage of.” Earl Heath, the president of Montgomery’s SCORE chapter, said the organization provides a wide variety of services for small business owners having a problem, from someone considering starting a business to someone considering an expansion. There are pamphlets and guides and Web sites packed with information as well as numerous programs at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Resource Center. SCORE volunteers can provide simple advice, become mentors or work with clients for a couple of years. Montgomery’s 13 active SCORE volunteers have a wealth of experience from a variety of

Rick Williams

sectors: sales, retail, government, finance, marketing, budgets, etc. Sankey said SCORE clients often don’t have experience in running every aspect of a business. “I would be the first one to tell you (that just) because you have a good idea about a business, (that) doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful business.” Sankey owns Isaiah’s Restaurant and The Butterfly Inn Bed & Breakfast. Sankey said his client who was having difficulty collecting fees thought that because she understood how to relate to parents and small children that the business side would take care of itself. “But she didn’t have a business plan and the business plan is a roadmap to a successful business. That’s what we find a lot – people have not taken the time to write a business plan,” he said. And that often spells trouble. Williams said that an entrepreneur without a business plan will not be taken seriously by financial institutions. Another common issue with startup companies is financing. Heath said it is critical for prospective entrepreneurs to ensure their personal financial house is in order: good credit score, savings and low debt. CONTINUED ON PAGE 34

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



Would-be small business owners tend to overestimate their potential income, Heath said. It’s common to see some rosy and exaggerated projections. Williams said that entrepreneurs “are very idealistic and they need to be idealistic, but at the same time, you have to have a pragmatic side.” Williams recommends his clients consider the following: > The importance of employee benefits in attracting and retaining workers. > Financing opportunities. > Business liability insurance. > Key-person insurance to protect a silent partner who may not understand the operational side of the business. > Buy-sell agreements if there are partners. > Personal retirement planning and not counting on a business as a retirement vehicle. “From my perspective, you really have to understand the products or services that you’re providing,” Sankey said. “That is absolutely essential. If you don’t understand the products or the services that you’re providing, then you may not be in the right business.” •

ADDING TO THE SCORE: MORE COUNSELORS WANTED by David Zaslawsky The Service Corps of Resource Executives (SCORE), which bills itself as counselors to small business, is looking for counselors. Earl Heath, the president of the Montgomery chapter of SCORE, said there is a need for counselors with expertise in the following areas: marketing, bookkeeping, accounting and retail. The basic job requirements include attending a monthly, 90-minute meeting and participating in counseling sessions at least once a month for one to two hours. And why would anyone want to give up their free time for free? It’s all about helping others.

“It’s extremely rewarding,” said, Heath, who has been advising clients for eight years. “I enjoy doing this. I enjoy talking with people and making sure that they are not up to their neck in debt. I would rather have them be up to their neck in profit. There’s (one thing that) is rewarding to me and is rewarding to all of our counselors, and that’s seeing positive results.” Rick Williams, a financial adviser with a Fortune 500 firm, said he is a SCORE counselor who joined because he is volunteer-oriented. “The only thing I really get out of it is a sense of doing something good for someone else. I learn from sitting down with others. There is no monetary gain. It helps to enrich my life.” Isaiah Sankey, owner of Isaiah’s Restaurant and The Butterfly Inn Bed & Breakfast, enjoys being a SCORE counselor. “I just like talking to people, sharing my experiences with others. Any time you start a business there are going to be some experiences you wish you could have avoided. I want to make sure that others do not suffer some of the same pitfalls I encountered when I started a business.”

Earl Heath



Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Member News

BUSINESSBUZZ Douglas Thiessen


Federal Land Bank Association of South Alabama) has been a reliable source of financing for Rural America. Alabama Ag Credit is a $660 Million customer-owned cooperative that offers a wide variety of loan programs including agricultural and recreational real estate, rural homes, operating, and agribusiness loans.

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Ag Credit, ACA, the premier ag-lender in Alabama, is pleased to announce an all-cash patronage payout of $3 million to its customers/stockholders. Due to the excellent financial position of the association, the board of directors voted to return this cash payment to customers from Alabama Ag Credit’s 2009 earnings. This patronage payment not gives customers cash, it also effectively lowers their interest rate by one half of one percent. “This cash distribution not only benefits the customer, it also benefits our local communities.” said Douglas Thiessen, CEO. “Customers can spend this distribution however they wish, whether it be new farm equipment, paying bills, put into savings, or shopping in our local stores. Since 1996 we’ve sent back $30 million in cash to the people of central and south Alabama, and we’re very proud of this.” For more than 90 years, Alabama Ag Credit (formerly the

and Huntsville, all larger markets than Montgomery. “Adam’s knowledge of sports and passion for reporting is evident with a statewide award like this in such a short time on the job,” said station General Manager Jesse Grear. As the station expands its 9 and 10 p.m. news operation, Bagni will play a bigger role in the sports segment, Grear said.

Adam Bagni

ABC 32’s BAGNI NAMED JUDGE’S TV SPORTCASTER OF YEAR MONTGOMERY – Adam Bagni, Sports Director at ABC 32 WNCF-TV in Montgomery, has won the Judge’s Merit Award for Television Sports Anchor of the Year from the Alabama Broadcasters Association. “I can’t tell you how appreciative I am of this award. There are a lot of talented sports broadcasters in this state, so it really is an honor to be considered among the best,” Bagni said. Bagni came to Montgomery in 2008 after working in production at New England Sports Network. He was honored over veteran broadcasters in Birmingham, Mobile

Blake Brazeal

SUMMIT HOUSING PARTNERS, LLC ACQUIRES TWO PROPERTIES MONTGOMERY – Summit Housing Partners LLC announced two recent property acquisitions. The company has acquired Elm Ridge, a 130 unit multi-family property in Austin, Texas, and Country Place, a 150-unit multi-family property in Hebron, Ken. “The Elm Ridge acquisition reflects our continued confidence in the Texas economy, particularly Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin,” said Blake Brazeal, president of Summit Housing Partners. “We intend to invest a significant amount of funds

into the rehabilitation of this property and expect Elm Ridge to generate property level funds from operations during 2010,” said Brazeal. “The Country Place acquisition is in line with our belief that northern Kentucky will continue to grow, particularly those suburban areas south of Cincinnati, Ohio,” said Brazeal. “We also expect this acquisition to contribute to earnings in 2010 and intend to continue to look for additional opportunities in this area.” Headquartered in Montgomery, Summit Housing Partners was founded in 1995 and is an owner and operator of approximately 13,000 multi-family units located in 85 properties in nine states. The company has approximately 500 employees and also maintains offices in Birmingham and Houston.

SYNOVUS SECURITIES RECEIVES AWARD OF EXCELLENCE MONTGOMERY – Montgomerybased Sterling Bank, a Synovus affiliate, announced that Synovus Securities, Inc. was recognized for its bank brokerage programs at the Bank Insurance & Securities Association (BISA) Annual Convention Awards ceremony in Hollywood, Florida. Synovus Securities won the 2009 Award of Excellence (CONTINUED ON PAGE 36)

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


BUSINESS BUZZ (CONTINUED FROM PAGE 35) for Large Institution Program of the Year for its business mix of brokerage and managed accounts, and for providing clients with customer-focused investment management solutions. “We are honored by this award, because it represents solid evidence of the high quality of our programs and honors our staff, financial consultants, sales assistants, and leaders who are dedicated to providing the best service and products for our customers,” said Bart Singleton, Synovus executive vice president and president of Synovus Financial Management Services. Synovus (NYSE; “SNV”) is a financial services holding company with approximately $33 billion in assets based in Columbus, Georgia. In Montgomery and Prattville, Synovus Securities Financial Consultants can be reached through any Sterling Bank branch or through the bank’s Private Client Services Group.

JACKSON HOSPITAL INTRODUCES ANIMAL THERAPY PROGRAM MONTGOMERY – Jackson Hospital has introduced an Animal Therapy Program, a therapeutic program which uses animal visits to help patients combat feelings of isolation and loneliness, and to provide laughter and companionship. Handlers have undergone extensive training and will visit the hospital weekly. The program is limited to dogs, of which there are currently 10. According to the press release, the animal-human bond has been proven to provide enhanced quality of care and healing experience for patients during their hospital stay. “Jackson Hospital… recognizes the emotional and psychological


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

needs of patients are as important as physical needs.” Research shows that animal visits may significantly improve morale and possibly lower blood pressure levels in some people. The unconditional love from animals meets an array of individual humanistic needs. The mother of a young cancer patient raved about the effects the animal therapy program had on her son. “Knowing that the dogs were coming to visit made a real difference in Ethan’s time at Jackson,” says Sue McCarron, his mother. “He looked forward to it each week.” “Since I was at Jackson for a chemo treatment, which is miserable, the dogs brought variety and life to my stay,” Ethan said.

MONTGOMERY REMODELER WINS ALABAMA REMODELING EXCELLENCE AWARD MONTGOMERY – Lisenby Construction, Inc., a member of the Greater Montgomery Home Builders Association, was honored at the Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards banquet held March 20 at the Marriott Legends at Capitol Hill in Prattville. The company won first place in the category of Universal Design for its Mossy Oak master bath remodel. The Alabama Remodeling Excellence Awards were presented by the Home Builders Association of Alabama. The awards were given to remodelers, contractors, kitchen and bath designers, and other building professionals who exhibited outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail in projects throughout Alabama.

BUSINESS BUZZ FILET & VINE OPEN NEW BOTTLE SHOPPE Filet & Vine Inc. announced the opening of its new Bottle Shoppe and banquet room. The addition combines a classic wine room with additional seating. The room, which seats 50, can be used for business meetings, PowerPoint presentations, film screenings and special events. Located at 431 Cloverdale Road in Montgomery, Filet & Vine Inc., also known as Dirk’s, has the largest wine and beer selection in Central Alabama, premium hand-cut steaks, and one of Montgomery’s most convenient and delicious lunches.

Bettie B. Borton

DOCTORS HEARING CLINIC MOVES TO NEW LOCATION MONTGOMERY – Doctors Hearing Clinic in Montgomery has moved to 7025 Halcyon Park Drive, and will become the largest and most comprehensive private audiology clinic in the tri-county area. The new clinic opened April 1. Its new surroundings feature a larger lobby and front office, larger clinical space and increased parking. Special offers commemorating the new location are available through May. “The staff of Doctors Hearing Clinic and I are very excited about our new location, and our new practice affiliation with Audigy,” said Dr.

Bettie B. Borton, owner of DHC. “Both will enhance our ability to provide patients with exceptional service and unparalleled technology while offering greater value than any other dispensing facility in the tri-county region.” Borton was the first audiologist in Montgomery to hold certification by the American Board of Audiology, and is the only audiologist with such certification in private practice in the area. In July, Borton will begin her third term on the board of directors for the American Academy of Audiology.

WMRK CELEBRATES ONE YEAR ON THE AIR MONTGOMERY – WMRK News Talk 107.9 celebrated its oneyear anniversary April 2 and celebrated with a live broadcast by Bluewater Broadcasting from its parking lot at 4101 Wall Street. Listeners were invited to come by for refreshments and to meet the local hosts. WMRK was the first station of its kind in Montgomery, offering local content, local and national talent and talk radio on an FM dial. News Talk 107.9 has the River Region’s only local news department. WMRK is owned by Alexander Broadcasting and is operated under a local marketing agreement by Bluewater Broadcasting.

SERVISFIRST BANCSHARES, INC. COMPLETES THE SALE OF $15 MILLION IN MANDATORY CONVERTIBLE TRUST PREFERRED SECURITIES BIRMINGHAM – ServisFirst Bancshares, Inc. announced that it had completed the sale of $15 million in Mandatory

Convertible Trust Preferred Securities, including the full exercise of a $3 million over-allotment option. These securities were sold in a private placement primarily to existing shareholders.

requires body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises, while engaging the brain and the imagination.

“This capital will be used to support our plans for continued profitable growth in our four regions of Alabama,” said Tom Broughton, President and CEO. “We are gratified that the offering was oversubscribed by 100 percent in one month, thanks to our great base of shareholders.” ServisFirst Bancshares, Inc. is a bank holding company that provides business and personal financial services through locations in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Dothan.

Past recipients of Wii systems in 2009 and 2010 include the Jimmie Hale Mission, Harriet’s House, Camp ASCCA, Brantwood Children’s Home and Common Ground Montgomery.

Brian Handley

COPPERWING ADDS NEW INTERACTIVE DESIGNER MONTGOMERY, AL – Copperwing has announced that Brian Handley will join the firm as interactive designer in digital media services.

BEASLEY ALLEN NAMES THIRD WINNER OF ‘Wii GIVE BACK’ CAMPAIGN MONTGOMERY – Beasley Allen Law Firm has selected the Alcazar Wiregrass Shrine Club in Dothan as the recipient of the third gaming system it will give away in its year-long “Wii Give Back!” campaign. The system will be used at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, S.C., a 50-bed pediatric orthopedic hospital that delivers care free of charge to children in the Southeast. “The Wii gaming system will hopefully provide patients with additional therapeutic effects and smiles for a long time to come,” said Tom Methvin, Beasley Allen managing shareholder. The law firm’s “Wii Give Back” campaign provides a Wii gaming system to a deserving Alabama charity each month in 2010. The game console’s unique, motion-sensitive controller

Handley will design, develop and maintain commercial and ecommerce web sites for Copperwing’s diverse client base. An illustrator as well as a designer, he also creates rich Internet applications (RIAs), mobile applications, Flash, and web banners. A Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of Auburn University in graphic design, Handley has had his work recognized by the Millennium Awards; with a Gold at the American Advertising Federation’s District 7 ADDY Awards; with an ADDY for “Best In Show” in the broadcasting category; and in the publication Creativity Annual Awards 38. Formerly a graphic designer and web developer for an advertising agency in LaGrange, Georgia, Handley has contributed in crafting logo designs (CONTINUED ON PAGE 38)

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


BUSINESS BUZZ (CONTINUED FROM PAGE 37) and identities for numerous brands in areas such as the arts and financial services. Copperwing is a creative consultancy offering design and integrated brand management services. Copperwing plans and develops strategically driven communications through creative design and writing, providing a full spectrum of capabilities, from interactive design and programming to print, broadcast, outdoor and other campaign media. Based in Montgomery, Alabama and founded in 1999, the firm serves local, regional and national clients. For more information, visit

Carol Andrews

ARONOV REALTY BROKERAGE OPENS NEW OFFICE MONTGOMERY – Aronov Realty Brokerage, Inc. announced the opening of its new East Montgomery office at 7027 Halcyon Park Drive. “We are excited about the new office,” said Carol Andrews, qualifying broker and vice president of Aronov Realty Brokerage, Inc. “Our new office will accommodate our expanding team of real estate agents for our continued growth and its modern and comfortable design provides our clients with greater convenience and easier face-to-face service.” The new office was designed with sellers and buyers in mind and includes a large client conference and screening room, along with


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

other new technologies for improved customer service.

Taylor Blackwell

WALKER360 SIGNS BUSH HOG Montgomery-based advertising agency Walker360 has been named “agency of record” for Bush Hog, Inc. of Selma. Bush Hog is the market leader and largest manufacturer of rotary cutters in the world. They also manufacture farming, mowing and other agricultural and construction equipment. The 60-year-old company has approximately 1,500 dealers nationwide and sells its products around the world. “We’re very pleased and excited to be working with a company whose name is synonymous with clearing land and rugged performance,” says Taylor Blackwell, president of Walker360. “Bush Hog is a legend, and we look forward to helping them grow their brand and reaffirm their position as the market leader.” Walker360 is a printing and advertising company that offers a range of services, from marketing plans and strategies, to graphic design and copywriting for radio, TV, print, outdoor, direct mail, websites, and packaging. The company has offices in Montgomery and Atlanta and has been in business for over 60 years, serving local, regional, national, and international clients.

MEMBERS ON THE MOVE STRICKLIN PROMOTED TO VICE PRESIDENT MONTGOMERY – W. Alan Worrell, president and CEO of Sterling Bank, announced Donna V. Stricklin the promotion of Donna V. Stricklin to vice president. Stricklin began her career with Sterling Bank in 1999 and currently serves in the private banking department. She is a graduate of Troy University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She has 16 years of banking experience. Stricklin serves on the boards of The Family Guidance Center and the Montgomery Ballet.

GOODWYN, MILLS AND CAWOOD BRINGS NEW TALENT TO ARCHITECTURE DEPARTMENT MONTGOMERY – Goodwyn, Mills JD Haas and Cawood, Inc. is proud to announce the hiring of JD Haas in its architecture department. Haas joins GM&C with more than five years’ experience in designing residential and commercial buildings. Haas received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Colorado, Denver, and completed his undergraduate studies in architecture at the University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

He is LEED-accredited and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. Currently, Haas is working on designs for the new Jackson Hospital Training Facility in Montgomery and RSA’s GM Building in Mobile. Montgomery-headquartered Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood is one of the Southeast’s largest privately held engineering and architecture firms. It has offices in Huntsville, Birmingham, Mobile, Vernon, Andalusia, Fort Walton Beach, Nashville and Greenville, S.C. With almost 300 employees, the firm was ranked No. 1 four consecutive years by Business Alabama magazine as Alabama’s largest architecture/engineering firm. (CONTINUED ON PAGE 40)

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



SUMMIT HOUSING PARTNERS LLC ANNOUNCES CFO MONTGOMERY – Montgomerybased Summit Housing Partners, R. Gregory Fox LLC (SHP), an owner and operator of 85 multi-family properties in the southeastern and southwestern United States, has named R. Gregory Fox chief financial officer. Prior to joining SHP, Greg Fox was an executive director of Morgan Stanley from 2003 to March 2010 and served as the CFO of real estate fund accounting and treasury for the global Morgan Stanley real estate fund business. He served as CFO of Post Properties, a New York Stock Exchange-listed multi-family housing Real Estate Investment Trust, from 1996-2003.

Fox is a Certified Public Accountant and received his bachelor of science degree in business management from Murray State University. He completed post-graduate studies in accounting and finance at Georgia State University and the Goizueta Executive Program at Emory University. “We are pleased to have Greg join our growing company,” said Daniel Hughes, chief executive officer of SHP. “His industry experience and perspective, along with his management capabilities, will complement our senior management team nicely.”

WHITNEY PROMOTES NEW BUSINESS BANKER MONTGOMERY – Whitney Bank Region President Gene C. Crane announced the promotion of Chase A. Chambliss as business banker in the Prattville market of

Whitney National Bank. In his new position, Chambliss is responsible for all business banking in Prattville, and is located in Chase A. Chambliss Whitney’s main office in downtown Prattville. Chambliss received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University. He is an Ambassador with the Prattville Chamber of Commerce and is active in the EMERGE Montgomery Torchbearer Leadership Class. Whitney Holding Corporation, through its banking subsidiary Whitney National Bank, has more that 150 banking locations in the five-state Gulf Coast region stretching from Houston, Texas; across southern Louisiana and the coastal region of Mississippi; to central and south Alabama; and into the panhandle of Florida to Tampa. •




GROUP HOMES FOR CHILDREN 1905 South Court Street, Montgomery 334-241-9604 Amy Rode, Director of Public Relations Associations/Non-Profit

NANCY’S ITALIAN ICE 7976 Vaughn Road, Montgomery 334-201-4627 Dorie Autrey Restaurants and Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt

WIREGRASS HOSPICE 6985 Halcyon Park Drive, Montgomery 334-271-1293 Beth Williams, Account Executive Hospice Services

TALLAPOOSA LAKES/LAKESIDE SPORTS GRILL 1501 Dozier Road, Montgomery 334-260-4900 Penn Scott, Manager Golf Courses/Restaurants-Bar/Grill

ARONOV REALTY BROKERAGE, INC 7027 Halcyon Park Drive, Montgomery 334-277-2700 Carol Andrews, Vice President Real Estate/Residential

SKILSTAF 854 Airport Drive, Alexander City 877-234-5119, ext. 41 Ashley Aaron, Vice President Human Resource Management/Payroll Preparation Services

Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

New Members AccountingTax Returns EXPRESS TAX, LLC Kimberly Parker 3026 Buckboard Road, Suite F Montgomery, AL 36116 334-272-8282

Associations/ Non-Profit DISMAS CHARITIES, INC. Moszetta Nix 125 E. Fleming Road Montgomery, AL 36105 334-281-0322

ComputersConsulting INLINE Michelle Peek 1772 Taliaferro Trail Montgomery, AL 36117 334-819-1025

Construction THOMAS CONSTRUCTION, LLC Arthur Coleman 217 S. Court Street, Suite 317 Montgomery, AL 36104 334-676-9143 O&W GENERAL CONTRACTORS, LLC Orbuty Ozier 2247 Blue Hill Road Hayneville, AL 36040 334-548-6299

Consulting Services STRICKLAND TECHNOLOGIES & SPECIAL SERVICES, INC. Fred Strickland 7272 Waters Edge Montgomery, AL 36117 334-201-7065

TARELLA, INCORPORATED Paul Hamrick 407 South McDonough Street Montgomery, AL 36104 334-262-3443

Event Planner LILLIEPAK’S PERSONAL CELEBRATION & EVENT PLANNING Pakeania Alexander P.O. Box 4311 Montgomery, AL 36103 334-546-1645

Hearing Aids/ Instruments DOCTORS HEARING CLINIC Bettie Borton 7025 Halcyon Park Drive, Suite A Montgomery, AL 36117 334-396-1635


Human Resource Management Consulting SKILSTAF Ashley D. Aaron 854 Airport Drive Alexander City, AL 35010 877-234-5119 Ext 41

Information Technology Firms ACCENTURE James Trowhill 4001 Carmichael Road, Suite 305 Montgomery, AL 36106 334-239-4178 DILIGENT CONSULTING INC. David Cerminaro 901 N.E. Loop 410, Suite 600 San Antonio, TX 78209 210-826-9300

LA QUINTA INN Steve Hopkins 1280 Eastern Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36117-1621 334-271-1620

Medical Equipment/ Supplies

LA QUINTA INN & SUITES Steve Hopkins 5225 Carmichael Road Montgomery, AL3 6106-2904 334-277-6000

HAUSTED PATIENT HANDLING EQUIPMENT Jerry Silvertooth 2511 Midpark Drive Montgomery, AL 36109 334-215-5151

RED ROOF INN Ashley Shields 5601 Carmichael Road Montgomery, AL 36117 334-270-0007

Office Equipment/ Supplies

Hotels/MotelsExtended Stay VALUE PLACE HOTEL George Sanders 5031 Woods Crossing Drive Montgomery, AL 36106 334-396-3505

Paint & Painting Supplies OLD HOUSE SPECIALISTS, LLC Hilda Dent 1019 S. Lawrence Street Montgomery, AL 36104 334-220-5375

Plants/Flowers JENILYN’S CREATIONS Jenilyn Mercer 57 Virginia Dale Road Wetumpka, AL 36092 334-567-3325

Real EstateAgents TERRI MARTIN, REALTOR, DAVID KAHN & CO. REAL ESTATE Terri Martin 2157 Taylor Road Montgomery, AL 36117 334-246-5025

RestaurantsChinese EAST BUFFET Steve Wang 2875 E. South Boulevard Montgomery, AL 36116 334-281-2810

Uniforms-Retail SERENDIPITY UNIFORMS Tyson Eaves 5085 Virginia Loop Road Montgomery, AL 36116 334-288-4555

OFFICE DEPOT #163 Joel Anderson 5070 Vaughn Road Montgomery, AL 36116-1149 334-279-6633

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal



A Good Month for Grocery Shoppers MONTGOMERY – With the extra savings that grocery shoppers found this month, they could afford to pick up a few extra food staples. According to the latest results from the Federation’s monthly food price survey, Alabama shoppers noticed a savings of 2.6 percent, or $1.38, this month for 20 basic market items, which had a total average cost of $51.70. A significant portion of the savings came from several items found in the meat case. Pork chops were down 17 cents to $3.20 a pound; bacon was down 2 cents to $4.13 a pound; chuck roasts were down 2 cents to $3.44 a pound; and ground beef was down a penny to $2.40 a pound. Shoppers found the greatest savings, however, on T-bone steaks and chicken


Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

breasts. T-bone steaks were down 40 cents a pound to $7.67, while chicken breasts were down 27 cents to $1.91 a pound. Though most meats were more affordable, whole fryers and Boston butts increased slightly. Fryers were up 2 cents to $1.23 a pound, while Boston butts were up 9 cents to $1.66 a pound. Eggs were priced at $1.55 a dozen, a savings of 23 cents from an earlier survey.

Prices in the dairy case decreased for the second consecutive month, down nearly 3 percent from the previous month. Butter decreased a penny to $3.59 a pound, cottage cheese decreased 3 cents to $2.52 a pound, and milk decreased 8 cents to $2.81 a half-gallon. Shoppers in the market for ice cream noticed the largest dairy savings; ice cream was down 25 cents to $3.86 a half-gallon.

Good news also extended to the produce aisle, as prices decreased 4 cents on average. Though the price of tomatoes increased 11 cents to $2.12 a pound, the savings on red potatoes, sweet potatoes and lettuce made up for the difference. Red potatoes were down 8 cents to 71 cents a pound, while sweet potatoes were down a penny to 92 cents a pound. Lettuce was down 16 cents to $1.26 a head.

Regional reports collected by volunteer shoppers throughout the state March 1-10 showed the market basket averaged $50.05 in Northeast Alabama, $50.98 in Northwest Alabama, $52.21 in Central Alabama and $54.82 in South Alabama. Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state’s largest farm organization.

Unemployment Data FEB



Civilian Labor Force




Unemployment Rate




Autauga County








Elmore County




Lowndes County




Montgomery County




City of Montgomery








Civilian Labor Force




Unemployment Rate







Civilian Labor Force




Unemployment Rate







Civilian Labor Force




Unemployment Rate




City of Mobile













City of Birmingham HUNTSVILLE MSA

City of Huntsville MOBILE MSA

Estimates prepared by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations in Cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on 2009 benchmark.

262-2946 May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


2010 Montgomery Building Starts Building Permits

Building Valuations

Current Month MAR 10

Last Month FEB 10

Last Year MAR 09

Current Month MAR 10

Last Month FEB 10

Last Year MAR 09

New Construction







Additions and Alterations





















Source: City of Montgomery Building Department

Montgomery Metro Market Home Sales Current Month FEB 10

Last Month JAN 10

Month/Month % Change

Last Year FEB 09

Year/Year % Change

Statewide FEB 10







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

Quarterly Reports NAME GameStop




















Shoe Carnival







Revenue rose 9%







Same-store sales up 10%














Profit rose more than sevenfold








Prescription revenue up 3.2%








Sales declined 3.6%

Dollar General







Revenue increased 12%







Profit more than doubled







Had tax benefit of $9.9M

(Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse)







Olive Garden revenue rose 5.2% to $870M

Pier I Imports







Reduced cost of sales by 16%

Ruby Tuesday







Cut operating costs $23.3M to $281.4M

Family Dollar







Profit climbed 33%







Revenue fell 33%

Ross Stores Stein Mart

Fred’s CKE Restaurants (Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s)

Darden Restaurants




Montgomery Business Journal May 2010

Same-store sales fell 7.9% Profit surged 84%

Cut expenses from $117.2M to $86.7M

Montgomery Regional Airport Current Month MAR 10

Last Year MAR 09

Year over Year % Change

YTD 2010

YTD 2009

Year over Year % Change

Air Carrier Operations







Total Operations





















Total Passengers







Source: Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) Dannelly Field

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




Baltimore (BWI)




Boston (BOS)




Charlotte, NC (CLT)




Chicago (ORD)




Cincinnati (CVG)




Dallas/Ft Worth (QDF)




Denver (DEN)




Detroit (DTW)




Houston (QHO)




Indianapolis (IND)




Las Vegas (LAS)




Los Angeles (LAX)




Memphis (MEM)




Miami (MIA)




Nashville (BNA)




New Orleans (MSY)




New York (JFK)




Orlando (MCO)




Philadelphia (PHL)




Pittsburgh (PIT)




St Louis (STL)




Seattle (SEA)







Tampa (TPA)




Washington DC (DCA)




Seoul, Korea (SEL)

Hyundai Sales VEHICLE

MAR 2010

MAR 2009

YTD 2010

YTD 2009





















Santa Fe

































Azera Tucson

Source: Hyundai Motor America

Date of travel: May 17-23. Date of pricing: April 11. Source:

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


Sales Tax Collections Current Month MAR10

Last Year MAR 09

Year over Year % Change

YTD 2010

YTD 2009

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

National Retail Sales YEAR Wal-Mart Target Sears Sam’s Club Costco Family Dollar Dollar General Best Buy Circuit City

(Monthly and Quarterly) JAN























Gap CVS Rite Aid

























Walgreens AutoZone Advance Auto Parts McDonald’s


Burger King -11.3%



YEAR Kohl’s


2008 Home Depot











Wendy’s Arby’s









Montgomery Business Journal May 2010


































































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

May 2010 Montgomery Business Journal


PRSRT STD US Postage PAID Permit # 423 Montgomery AL

Post OfďŹ ce Box 79 Montgomery, AL 36101

Profile for Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

Montgomery Business Journal – May 2010  

Montgomery Business Journal – May 2010