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June 22 - July 19, 2020

Employees and executives at Palmetto Gourmet Foods, which opened a Saluda County manufacturing facility last October, recently donated 4,000 cups of ramen noodles to local hospitals helping fight COVID-19 (above and cover, top left and right/Photos Provided). Workers at Lexington County Medical Center were among those who received the noodles (cover, bottom/Photo Provided).

Sharing its success

Saluda-based Palmetto Gourmet Foods donates 4,000 cups of noodles to hospitals By Melinda Waldrop



ohn Fox never knew ramen noodles could be so satisfying. Fox, director of public relations and government affairs for Palmetto Gourmet Foods, has been in the food business most of his life. But he only developed an appreciation for the college dorm staple, from both a taste perspective and a community service standpoint, in recent weeks. Palmetto Gourmet Foods, which established its Saluda County manufacturing facility last October and currently employs around 70 people, will soon launch a pair of instant ramen noodle lines: Ramen Express and a plant-based brand called Chef Woo. It’s also on track to employ 200 people by the end of 2021, Fox said, and is in the process of installing a third production line at a facility which can accommodate up to seven. “It will be a force in the ramen business,” Fox said. The company’s success left it in a position to be able to share its good fortune just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to grip the country. “In the period of time that we were ramping up, training people and so forth, we made over three million meals that we

were able to sell to places throughout the United States that needed it when the pandemic started,” Fox said. “There were shortages of paper towels and toilet paper and that sort of thing. There were also shortages of food. “This was one of those items that we were producing to train our people and to bring them along, and we were able to support that.” As the Ramen Express line — already being distributed in Albertsons grocery stores and preparing to launch, along with Chef Woo, in a division of Walmart in July — came online, the company saw a chance to contribute closer to home. Representatives identified and contacted three hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, including Lexington Medical Center, and donated 4,000 cups of ramen noodles to those facilities last month. “When we started producing our own brand, Ramen Express, we felt like it was a great opportunity for us to be able to give back to the community and to share with the health heroes in our areas,” Fox said. Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood and Augusta (Ga.) University Medical Center also received donations. “Our staff made the product. We put a little flyer inside thanking the health workers for their efforts, and delivered them,”

Fox said. “They (the hospitals) were great. They appreciated it. … They were very excited about it and we had a great reception, not only from the staff but from people who were coming in and out of the hospital.” Fox accompanied the noodles on the deliveries, as did Sal Totora, director of operations for Palmetto Gourmet Foods. “We are also very thankful to our employees who are our frontline heroes,” CEO Reza Soltanzadeh said in a news release. “Palmetto employees are helping to keep America fed and shelves stocked with tasty, affordable noodles made right here in the U.S. We’re so proud of their efforts, and it was a proud moment when they hand-delivered the Ramen Express donations to the hospitals.” The distribution efforts were the latest chapter in a fortuitous story, Fox said. The Canada-based owners of Palmetto Gourmet Foods, fresh off the development of the Chef Woo product with its plant-based protein, were casting about for a manufacturing facility when the Saluda plant, previously home to Roya Foods, became available. “It made sense,” Fox said. “To build something like this either in the United States or Canada could cost millions of dollars, and so it made sense for the company

to acquire this, and we did.” As facility upgrades were made, employees were hired and trained this winter. And though Fox had not previously shared his four children’s enthusiasm for ramen noodles, he became an instant convert to the Chef Woo brand, made with organic flour and sunflower oil, which he describes as “excellent.” Both noodle lines will begin to be distributed throughout the Southeast within the next three to four months, Fox said. “We have to grow slowly and methodically. That way we can maintain our quality and provide the product that we’re looking to grow with,” he said. “It’s a process. It takes time for any type of company like this to start up. It does not happen overnight.” Saluda County proved an ideal fit for Palmetto Gourmet Foods for several reasons, Fox said. “Primarily, it’s in the central part of the state of South Carolina. It’s close to ports that we needed to do any exporting,” he said “It has a good labor force from the point of view that it will be a major employer in the area. We raised wages and we offered benefits to our employees. “It made it an attractive place for people to want to go to work.” And for folks who don’t mind lending a helping hand.


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Vista businesses board up windows, return to work after protests Melinda Waldrop


New nosh spot

Mediterranean restaurant Kairos comes to Columbia. Page 4

Mason Crowson, owner of The Aristrocrat, outside his Vista bar on Washington Street May 31. (Photo/Melinda Waldrop)

T.P. Tuesdays

Hotel Trundle celebrates reopening with giveaways. Page 6

Stepping down

DHEC director cites family, medical concerns. Page 8

Lending a hand

Nephron donates custom hand sanitizer to USC. Page 19


week and a half after a night of civil unrest left some shop and restaurant owners in the Congaree Vista with broken glass and boarded-up windows, evidence of turmoil remained, but most merchants were once again open for business. “Everybody’s back open and operating,” said Abby Naas, executive director of the Vista Guild. “There are some places that have taken

longer to get things replaced.” The guild, a nonprofit, member organization which promotes Vista businesses, dealt with its own damage after a van belonging to the organization was one of several vehciles set on fire the night of May 30, when a Saturday afternoon I Can’t Breathe march protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis moved from the S.C. Statehouse to 1 Justice Square in the Vista. At Columbia Police Department See PROTEST, Page 18

Be Pro Be Proud

Program aims to drive interest in skilled trades at S.C. schools By Melinda Waldrop



ears ago, there was no doubt in Leslie Clark’s mind. Clark, vice president of operations and director of government relations for construction trade association Carolinas AGC, would have said with confidence that her sons were going to college to obtain four-year degrees.

Now she’s not so sure, and she’s fine with that. Her oldest son attends Lexington Technology Center and is interested in pursuing a career in a skilled profession such as construction, welding or electrical work that may mean less time in the classroom and more plying his trade. “I went to college. Probably 10 years ago, I would have said, ‘Oh, my children are going to college,’ ” Clark said. “He’s a hard worker and he likes to work See PRO, Page 28


Upfront................................. 4 SC Biz News Briefs................. 5 In Focus: Architecture, Engineering and Construction ...................... 21 List: General Contractors.....26 At Work...............................29 Viewpoint............................ 31

The Be Pro Be Proud truck from Arkansas’ program made an appearance at the S.C. Statehouse in 2017. (Photo/Carolinas AGC)

Back to campus

Area colleges setting schedules, emphasizing safety measures for students’ return. Page 16



A LA CARTE Photo/Xxxx

Mediterranean restaurant opens location in Columbia

Comparing regional job markets


aybe if we don’t look at every single statistic and data point through the lens of the coronavirus, we can start remembering what life could be like outside of a global pandemic. However, since before COVID-19 took a swipe at humanity, the U.S. Census Bureau’s data divers have kept tabs on the employment, payroll, health and wealth of our local, regional and state economy. Even though South Carolina isn’t the largest state in terms of numbers of employees and total payroll, even by Southeastern standards, our average pay keeps the Palmetto State in the economic ballpark with larger states, such as Georgia and North Carolina. Inside the state, Charleston, Greenville and Richland counties have close to the same average pay, within a few hundred dollars per year, though Greenville County has the most workers and highest overall payroll at nearly $11 billion annually.

Employees, payroll in the Midlands County



Average pay



$7.3 billion




$3.9 billion




$123 million


Employees, payroll in the largest S.C. counties County



Average pay



$10.7 billion




$9.3 billion




$7.3 billion


Employee data for selected Southeastern states State



Average pay



$191.9 billion


N. Carolina


$175.7 billion


S. Carolina


$76.7 billion


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017



“When you talk about where Be Pro Be Proud actually goes and who it interacts with, it’s the pipeline. It’s middle school students. It’s high school students. It could be that freshman in high school who doesn’t know what they want to do.” — Ted Pitts, president and CEO, S.C. Chamber of Commerce

WEBSITE: www.ColumbiaBusinessReport.com



A new Mediterranean restaurant opened its first Columbia location on June 12 at 4600 Devine St. Kairos Mediterranean offers fast, causal fare including pitas, grain bowls, platters and salads. The restaurant opened a location in Mount Pleasant in 2017 and has another Lowcountry location, as well as two in the Upstate, in Greenville and Simpsonville. The new restaurant, near the intersection of Devine Street and Fort Jackson Boulevard, is the first in the Midlands. “After hearing from Columbia residents asking to bring Kairos to their neighborhoods, we are excited to finally be opening our first location here,” owner Cary Chastain said in a news release. The dining room will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. The restaurant will have several safety measures in place in addition to sanitizing measures, according to the release. A commercial air purifier designed for larger, high-traffic areas will provide high-efficiency particular air filtration, while an in-duct air purifier with dual ionizers will be installed in the air handler. “Customer and employee safety is very important to me, which made the decision to upgrade our measures very easy,” Chastain said. “We’ve installed the purification systems in the new Columbia location and we’re in the process of doing the same at our other four locations.”


June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 5

SC Biz News Briefs

moving business forward with people.

BMW’s Spartanburg County plant has now produced 5 million vehicles. The plant’s milestone car is a red X5 M Competitition equipped with a 617-horsepower M TwinPower Turbo V-8 engine. (Photo/Provided)


GSA Business Report

BMW Manufacturing passes production milestone

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MW has made 5 million vehicles in Spartanburg County. The milestone U.S.-made BMW is a red X5 M Competition equipped with a 617-horsepower M TwinPower Turbo V-8 engine, according to a news release. It was completed June 5 and will remain at the factory to become part of the BMW history collection. Others in the collection include the first car made at the plant. “You cannot be successful in business if you do not have great products and great people,” Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, said in the news release. “This BMW X5 M Competition is a symbol of the success of our products and the commitment and dedication of our associates and supplier network. Every BMW X5 in the world comes from Plant Spartanburg. We are proud to call South Carolina home.” More than half of the BMW vehicles sold in the United States are built at Plant Spartanburg, according to Bernhard Kuhnt, president and CEO of BMW of North America. “We cannot overstate the importance of Plant Spartanburg to our sales network,” he said in the news release. “BMW Group has long considered the United States to be our second home and we are proud to say that the U.S. is in fact home to the biggest BMW plant in the world. We congratulate our colleagues on this historic achievement.” BMW celebrated 25 years of manufacturing in the Upstate last year, when it built a record 411,620 vehicles. Nearly 70% of the plant’s production was exported from 20102019. Last year’s value of exports was $9.6 billion, more than any other U.S. carmaker for the sixth consecutive year, according to the news release. The plant has expanded seven times, with $10.6 billion in investment, and has 11,000 workers on site. “BMW changed the very fabric of our state’s economy when it decided to locate in South Carolina nearly three decades ago,” Gov. Henry McMaster said in the release. “That this great company built its 5 millionth American-made vehicle in Spartanburg should be a source of great pride for our people and a reason for celebration. It’s one more example of South Carolinians sharing in the success of a company that has become an integral part of our state because of its dedication to our people.” BEST ADVICE

Part of the

By Molly Hulsey

In Focus

Midyear forecast

Economist Bruce Yandle looks at where we were and where we’re going. Page 31



s South Carolina’s small businesses feel the economic crush of COVID19, Facebook’s Diana Doukas argues that they have found an unlikely ally in the social media giant. “Facebook has long been in the business of small business, and it is our job to support the community,” said Diana Doukas, Facebook’s economic impact director and former White House Business Council director. “As soon as we even had an indication that COVID-19 was going to impact the small business com-

munity as it has — even though I’m not sure any of us could have predicted how bad — we knew that we needed to act.” Features of Facebook’s small business promotional campaign include a “Support Small Business” sticker added to Instagram’s roster in early May (Facebook owns Instagram) and a “Businesses Nearby” tab that filters posts and deals from venues within 1 to 500 miles away from a location. A business resource hub relays sector-by-sector guidance for the pandemic, a resiliency tool kit and curriculum on how businesses can best leverage Facebook marketing platforms. In late May, the platform also unveiled

Angela Craig, executive director, Charleston County Public Library

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Facebook sets up shop, serves as barometer “Facebook Shops,” a feature that allows business owners to create and customize their digital storefront as a number of retailers are forced to prioritize e-commerce over brickand-mortar sales. “I think it’s a matter of helping facilitate that transition, if businesses choose to do so, and making it as easy as possible,” Doukas said. Still, Facebook’s analytics and data collection capacities may play an even larger role in helping small businesses chart their next leaps into an ever-expanding online marketplace. Adding to the slew of Facebook’s joint archival projects with the World Bank and the See FACEBOOK, Page 12


Ready for liftoff

Joint Base Charleston supports flight to space station with C-17 rescue crews on alert. Page 7

Kontane Logistics opens warehouse facility in Berkeley County to serve Volvo. Page 14

Paper on a roll

Charleston Digital Corridor opens incubator in WestEdge. Page 12

Greenville apparel company eyes post-panedmic mask market. Page 8

Marley McAfee and Carolyn Henry operate the Tryon Mountain Farm booth at the TD Essential Market. (Photo/Ross Norton)

MEET THE CLASS OF 2020 We’re excited to honor the 2020 Women of Influence! SEE PAGE 14


See LEASING, Page 12

Nonprofit donations increase despite COVID-19 pressures By Alexandria Ng


Saturday market brings ‘near tourists’ to Greenville’s Main Street

See story on Page 10

Upfront ................................ 2 SC Biz News Briefs ................ 3 Best Advice .......................... 4 Vantage Point ..................10-11 In Focus: Architecture, Engineering and Construction ............... 19 List: Homebuilders .............32 At Work ..............................35 Stephen Slifer..................... 36 Viewpoint .......................... 38


By Andy Owens


Incubating life sciences


JUNE 15 - 28, 2020 ■ $2.25

Landlords, tenants told to be ‘human’ in renegotiations ven with the state slowly reopening, the coronavirus pandemic has rendered certain commercial space less valuable for many small businesses — but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay your rent, according to a Mount Pleasant attorney. Alex Juncu, an attorney who specializes in contract law, including landlord and tenant issues, said landlords and tenants can save a lot of time when renegotiating a lease by knowing what’s in the lease and by remembering the “human component” in each transaction. “Exercise patience, but also be ready to make some concessions,” he said. “When you do collaborate, you’ll make a lot more progress than when you’re in an adversarial position.” He said landlords and tenants must

Industrial partner

Oobe forms new medical division



Kion North America names new CEO for the company’s U.S. headquarters. Page 17

Hoowaki to make medical device by the millions through injection molding. Page 6

Leading Off .......................... 2 SC Biz News Briefs ................ 3 C-Suite ................................ 4 In Focus: Midyear economic forecast ............................. 31 LIST: Largest Employers .....34 At Work ..............................37 Viewpoint ...........................39


New chief exec

Greenville firm creates new swab

Paper companies report brisk business. Page 9

Part of the

Many storefronts were damaged on King Street during the protests in late May. (Photo/Shawnda Poynter)

After a night of smashed windows, a car fire, looted inventory and questions about how public officials handled protests and curfews, Charleston-area companies try to restore order to their businesses once again.

Page 6



he COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the economy, bringing national unemployment numbers to 13.3% in May and shutting down some businesses permanently. But donors across the country are rallying around nonprofits at a time when some say they are most needed. Tim Winkler is CEO of the Winkler Group, See NONPROFITS, Page 5

Economic upheaval S.C. industries respond to unprecedented shutdown

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With publications in the Upstate, Columbia and Charleston, as well as a statewide magazine, SC Biz News covers the pulse of business across South Carolina. Above are excerpts from our other publications.

CHARLESTON UNDER CONSTRUCTION Who is building what in the Charleston area? Projects, companies, prices, projected timelines, photos and stories. Page 19

County Spotlight: Dillon | Trending: COVID-19 in S.C. | S.C. Delivers




Clarke & Company Benefits builds informative relationships with our clients. Our experienced staff provides proactive, day-to-day employee benefit management that moves business forward.


At The City Of Forest Acres, we believe that neighbors care and do for their neighbors. This belief extends to every part of the community. The City of Forest Acres would like to salute all those serving in the military as well as all of our Health Care Heroes. Thank you for all you do!



MIDLANDS NEWSROOM Editor - Melinda Waldrop mwaldrop@scbiznews.com • 803.726.7542

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

Hotel partners with other businesses to offer ‘normalcy’ By Melinda Waldrop



pen again after COVID-19 concerns led it to close its doors for a month, Hotel Trundle is sharing its happiness with the community — in the form of toilet paper. The downtown boutique hotel at the corner of Sumter and Taylor streets is partnering with other businesses to launch Toilet Paper Tuesdays. Every Tuesday in June from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., hotel team members will distribute a case (about 80 rolls) of toilet paper among the first 80 drive-up requesters. “We still see the toilet tissue aisles bare in the grocery stores, and we are able to help out a little by providing the community a free roll or two,” Rita Patel, Hotel Trundle co-owner, said. “It can offer a little normalcy in a world where nothing is normal right now.” Patel said the hotel is able to get toilet paper easily and cheaply through its vendor and wanted to share its bounty. Patel and Marcus Munse, Hotel Trundle co-owner and Patel’s husband, are also offering local businesses a chance to include coupons or promotions with the TP giveaways. “Sometimes it’s just the little things that make the biggest differences,” Munse said. “As we slowly open back up, we want to include as many small businesses as possible, because we need each other now more than ever.” Hotel Trundle reopened May 11, a little more than a month after temporarily closing its doors a few days before its second anniversary on April 9 amid decreasing reservations and growing health worries. Patel said business started off slow but has steadily increased, with 18 rooms currently booked. “I think we made the right decision,” she said. “We did it because people were starting to inquire more about if we would be opening. That was a sign that maybe people felt like it would be safe to travel.” April data from the U.S. Department of

Hotel Trundle, a boutique hotel at the corner of Sumter and Taylor streets, reopened May 11 after temporarily closing because of COVID-19 concerns. Its owners are celebrating being back in business by giving away toilet paper rolls each Tuesday in June. (Photo/Melinda Waldrop)

Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the hospitality industry lost 7.7 million jobs as the pandemic shuttered businesses and kept people at home. South Carolina’s leisure and hospitality industry lost 125,300 jobs from March to April as the state’s unemployment rate soared to 12.1%, according to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. Patel said Hotel Trundle took advantage of available small-business assistance, including a loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, and was able to retain all its employees, though hours have been reduced. So have room rates as the hotel tries to lure guests. A standard room with two queen beds, normally $189, can now be booked for $109, she said. “We’re doing that because the market needs it right now,” Patel said. “Everybody’s being very conservative with how

they’re spending. I understand it because I’m a consumer too.” Hotel Trundle’s reopening has come with changes, including enhanced cleaning procedures detailed on its website. Its fitness facility is currently closed (guests can use the nearby YMCA), and when it does reopen, Patel said guests will likely reserve individual time with equipment wiped down between each use. “It’s like we’re reopening, just dealing with a completely different set of challenges and things to work through and different processes, which there’s no precedent for,” Patel said. “There’s so much communication that has to happen seamlessly between front of the house, back of the house and guests, but people have been, for the most part, very understanding.” Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

DHEC director cites health issues, family concerns in resignation


Staff Report

ichard Toomey said recent health problems, coupled with a desire to spend more time with his first grandson, led to his decision to resign as director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control in the midst of the state agency’s battle against COVID-19. Toomey, 65, took a medical leave of absence in late March, citing chest pain that sent him to the hospital and ongoing blood pressure issues. “With my recent health experience that is under control and doing well, it made me take a step back to assess where I want to be in my life at this point in time,” Toomey said in announcing his resignation at a May 27 DHEC board meeting. “ … It is a very difficult decision, because I have grown to love, to admire the effort and the individuals that make up DHEC.” Toomey, who said he verbally informed the agency of his decision on May 24, also said he wants to spend more in time in Beaufort, where he resides, with his first grandchild. Toomey announced he was taking a leave of absence in a letter to the DHEC staff that referenced cardiac tests and elevated blood pressure. He wrote that

“With my recent health experience that is under control doing well, it made me take a step back to assess where I want to be in my life at this point in time.” Richard Toomey Former director, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control

medication had “not achieved the desired results.” DHEC officials said Toomey’s leave of absence was not related to new coronavirus concerns. In his resignation, Toomey acknowledged DHEC efforts during the past three months to fight COVID-19 and praised its response. The agency has completed testing of all residents and staff in state nursing homes for the virus, Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC director of public health, said on June 11, and spearheaded a series of mobile clinics that allowed it to meet its goal of testing 2% of the state’s population, or 110,000 people, by the end of May. Duwve said during a June 11 DHEC board meeting that the agency intends to test as many people this month. During that meeting, she also announced a

then-record single-day total of 687 new cases of COVID-19. On June 13, DHEC announced 770 new cases, and on June 14, the agency announced 799. As of June 14, 600 COVID-19-related deaths had been reported in South Carolina, with 18,795 cases of the coronavirus recorded even as the state continued to lift restrictions on businesses and entertainment venues. On June 12, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order lifting restrictinos on occupancy in retail establishments and allowing bowling alleys to reopen, among other measures. Duwve said during the June 11 board meeting that 40% of the state’s new cases had been diagnosed in the past three weeks. Toomey’s last day at DHEC was June

10. Marshall Taylor, DHEC’s chief counsel, will run the agency until a new director — DHEC’s fourth since 2012 — is found. “The agency is in a great place with great leadership, great individual employees,” Toomey said in the live-streamed board meeting on May 27. “We’ve gone through — the state has, the nation has — gone through some really challenging times over the last three months. “We are in a better place today than we were a month, two months ago. We still have a long way to go.” Toomey was named DHEC director in December 2018. The agency was without a permanent director for more than year after Catherine Heigel stepped down in July 2017. Toomey, a Greenville native, served as CEO of Beaufort Memorial Hospital from 2007 until 2016 and is the past chairman of both the North and South Carolina Hospital Association boards. “You’ve been an outstanding individual,” Mark Elam, DHEC board chair, told Toomey during the May 27 board meeting. “We’ve relied on your advice and your service and it’ll be a tough time to find someone capable of replacing you, but we’ve got to go forward.”


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June 22 - July 19, 2020

Upstate manufacturer Hoowaki prepares to make millions of COVID-19 swabs By Ross Norton

A 803.772.7715 Midlands 843.972.7777 Lowcountry CoolCareHVAC.com

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technology with a pedigree in tires may be the next big thing for medical swabs, as a Greenville company prepares to roll out COVID-19 testing supplies by the millions. Hoowaki LLC has developed a onepiece injection-molded design for a COVID-19 swab that company President Ralph Hulseman believes will close a gap in U.S. and global testing supplies. Hoowaki is a 12-year-old Greenville-based company that specializes in micro surface engineering. Its products can be found in medical equipment, packaging, grips and travel gear. Hulseman worked in research and development at Michelin for 25 years and managed many sponsored research projects. One of them never panned out for tire manufacturing, so Michelin turned it loose, he said, and that research became a launching pad for Hoowaki. Hulseman said Hoowaki makes surfaces that are as slippery or “grippy” as needed by utilizing friction. When the federal government called on American entrepreneurs in March to create supplies to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic, Hulseman and his team at Hoowaki knew micro surface technology could play a role. They already had explored designing medical swabs. “Normally people think of friction as a property of materials. If you want something slippery you use a slippery material like Teflon; if you want something grippy you use a rubber material,” Hulseman said. “Well, we discovered that that’s not entirely true. That is, if you make structured physical shapes in the micron size range — a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter — varying from 10 to about 200 microns in size is where the phenomenon of friction occurs. This means we can take the same two materials coming together and make them super grippy or super slippery.” Through its proprietary Hoowaki Microgrip surface technology, the company creates a thin surface for products that makes them slippery, or not. Because of increased friction created by Hoowaki, travel bags don’t slip off travelers’ shoulders, for example, and hammers don’t slip from damp hands; low-friction vascular catheters slide easily to make medical procedures safer and more comfortable. “In the case of the swab, you may not think of it as a friction problem but, in

fact, it is,” Hulseman said. The challenge is swabs need to both slip and grip. They need to slide into nostrils with little friction, but they need to grab and hold sufficient RNA for testing. Hoowaki’s solution is the Hoowaki NP Collection Swab. It combines the company’s technology to make a nasal swab more comfortable for the patient while meeting Food and Drug Administration requirements for extracting a sample. Because the swab is manufactured by injection molding, it can be produced at any facility that has medical-grade injection molding capability, and those facilities are plentiful, Hulseman said. It also means the product can be made fast and in large numbers. “Our design allows for production to be quickly scaled in communities around the world — rapidly addressing the rising demand for swabs, a critically important element of all COVID-19 testing,” Hulseman said in a news release. Hoowaki is making them in small batches now but is partnering with an Upstate plant to begin mass production in July. He expects Hoowaki to produce several million swabs per month. Keeping initial production in the Upstate has made it more convenient for Hulseman and his team to launch the run and also helped the partner plant preserve jobs that had been endangered by the pandemic-caused recession, he said. “We expect this to be a long-term opportunity for us,” he said. “One reason is the technology is something we can modify to make swabs for other uses. There are many, many uses for swabs. And if the market goes large and then crashes, we expect to come out the other side as the winners.” They will win, he said, not just because of scalability, but because lab testing — and field testing with the help of Prisma Health — has demonstrated the swab meets industry standards and is as good as the standard flocked filament swab in collecting RNA. Hulseman said several public-private partnerships helped provide funding for the swab’s development. “As is the case for many businesses in today’s environment, Hoowaki LLC adapted quickly to meet new challenges where demand is outpacing supply so we could remain not only viable as a company, but also pursue this pioneering technology,” he said. Reach Ross Norton at 864-720-1222 or @ RossNorton13 on Twitter.

June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 11



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June 22 - July 19, 2020

Attorney offers Paycheck Protection Program guidance By Molly Hulsey



ollowing the swirl of new Paycheck Protection Program stipulations released by the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Treasury two weeks ago, Burr Forman McNair partner George Morrison reiterated businesses can finance employee bonuses with the funding — as long as they leave a paper trail. “I think a lot of us were a little nervous about paying bonuses because it might be counter-intuitive to say ‘I need this money and I’m going to go pay bonuses with it,’ ” Morrison, based in the law firm’s Charleston office, said. “Hopefully, it means something more than it says when they say that bonuses are forgivable costs. Hopefully, what they also really mean, at least implicitly, is that they are not going to take the payment bonuses too heavily into account when evaluating whether a borrower truly needed a PPP loan.” A week after the SBA released its PPP Forgiveness Application on May 15, the U.S. Treasury and SBA clarified that employee bonuses and hazard pay was forgivable, funding could be used to pay

furloughed employees and any PPP loan could be audited by the SBA, according to a recent Fisher Phillips release. With these clarifications, employers can use the funding to pay for projects completed before the covered period so long as they are paid during the covered period, according to the release. Similarly, non-payroll costs from before the coverage period can be paid with PPP so long as these costs were incurred during that period. “Borrowers have eight weeks to spend their money and have it be forgiven, and this gives them, dependent on their circumstances, two different eight-week periods to choose from, calculating their payroll costs,” Morrison said. Also, as some employers grapple with bringing their employees back to the workplace because of COVID-19 concerns and high unemployment benefits, the recorded headcount will not be docked due to employees who were fired, requested shortened hours or resigned, according to the release. Still, employees who turned down an offered position must be reported to the South Carolina unemployment office within 30 days to avoid PPP penalty. “The sort of paramount piece of advice

“The sort of paramount piece of advice we’re giving everybody is to keep ... all of your books and records.” George Morrison Partner, Burr Forman McNair

we’re giving everybody is to keep … all of your books and records,” Morrison said, adding that some guidance suggests keeping documents on file for at least six years. Aside from $2 million enterprises that will be audited by default, Morrison doesn’t foresee a mass auditing of small businesses which expected a greater need for the funding on the front end, but he does expect spot auditing. “It remains to be seen,” he said. He imagines that an expected economic boom in the third quarter could be hampered by audits but said many businesses would have found it challenging to forecast the effects of COVID-19. A number of businesses had prepared for the worst.

“There’s this notion that you have to be Janus-faced — you have to be able to see both in the past and in the future from the need-certification standpoint — which is where I think a lot of the audit concerns come from as the economy rises and falls,” Morrison said, adding that no one could predict how the pandemic would pan out financially as business owners began applying for the program. In the meantime, Morrison is keeping his eyes on the H.R. 7010 Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 that was passed by an almost unanimous house vote on May 28. The house bill would allow employers to use up to 40% of PPP funding for non-payroll costs, he said. The bill also calls for a five-year minimum loan maturity, extends the covered period from June 30 to Dec. 31 and creates a penalty exemption if businesses are able to show that they couldn’t rehire qualified employees for open positions before Dec. 31. “I don’t know whether that proposal stands a ghost of a chance of pulling through congressional passage, but I think that there’s an understanding that the program may need some additional tweaks,” Morrison said.

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 13

Richland County collaborating with Prisma Health on reopening


Staff Report

ichland County is collaborating with Prisma Health to safely reopen county facilities to the public and nonessential employees. While no reopening date has been set, the county’s administrative staff is drafting procedures with appropriate safeguards in place, according to a news release from the county. The Prisma Health collaboration will focus on reopening protocols including infection rate data analysis; securing personal protective equipment for workers; and establishing screening procedures for employees and visitors. “At Prisma Health, we believe that collaboration with local governmental agencies makes our communities stronger and helps foster the best health outcomes, whether it’s during these unusual pandemic times or during our outreach to the community to improve their access to health care,” Mark O’Halla, Prisma CEO, said in the release. A committee made up of Richland County personnel is considering additional protocols including a staggered

schedule for returning employees and a limited number of employees allowed on-site at one time. “Forming a partnership with a major health care provider that knows the local community is extremely important as we explore best practices to reopen county facilities,” County Council Chair Paul Livingston said. “As we continue to listen to medical professionals, the business community and residents to meet the needs of the entire community, the expertise and insight from Prisma Health will be invaluable.” Richland County will continue to provide services online, by phone or fax, or through the mail, as well as to hold virtual public meetings. “While Richland County offices have been closed to the public, County Council, other elected officials, employees and our community partners have been doing great work to keep Richland County moving through this unprecedented health crisis,” County Administrator Leonardo Brown said. “I’m encouraged by everyone’s efforts and look forward to working with Prisma Health to take next steps to fully reopening county government.”

SCDOT projects $78M reduction in revenue


Staff Report

he S.C. Department of Transportation projects a $78 million revenue reduction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on gas tax and car sales receipts. The forecast predicts a $54 shortfall in gas tax revenue and a $24 million decrease in vehicle sales tax through July, according to a news release from SCDOT. Traffic volume across the state edged back up in May after dropping significantly in April, according to the release. Compared to 2019, March traffic volume dropped approximately 20% and April volume dropped 45%. May volume is down 25%. In 2017, the General Assembly passed legislation to increase the state gas tax by 12 cents, phasing in the increase at 2 cents per year for six years. “We expect traffic volumes to continue to climb as the state emerges from the pandemic, and we expect the

revenue gap to close over time,” Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said in the release. “Like everyone else trying to forecast the economic impact of this virus, it is unknown whether it will take six months or more than a year for revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels. “At this time, we are conservatively planning for a longer recovery period that may last as long as two years with a potential $293 million total impact. We will update that projection as we see what unfolds through this July.” SCDOT has cut its budget by 11% for the remainder of the fiscal year. “We are confident that the planning and preparation we have done will allow us to manage through this with no disruption to our core priorities including the road and bridge projects currently under construction,” Hall said. “We will closely monitor the situation over the next several months and plan to continue to advance our road and bridge program aligned to the revenue stream.”

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

Historic Columbia gardens reopen; market returns to West Columbia


Staff Report

istoric Columbia reopened its gardens at Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion, and Siebels House for public visitation on June 16. Limited hours and reduced capacity are among the safety measures in place for the reopening, according to a news release from the organization. A maximum of 35 guests will be allowed at one time in the Seibels gardens, which will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, while a maximum of 150 will be allowed at the Robert Mills gardens, open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. A maximum of 150 guests are also allowed at the Hampton-Preston gardens, open 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and on Thursdays until 7 p.m. Groups will be limited to three or fewer (10 or fewer if from the same household) and must maintain social distancing of six feet or more. Face coverings will be strongly encouraged, though not required, and restrooms will not be available to visitors.

West Columbia market returns

The Meeting Street Artisan Market returned June 13 to the Interactive Art Park at 425 Meeting St. in West Columbia, with vendors selling art, crafts, foods and produce among the park sculptures. Soda City Market, a large weekly gathering of produce and arts and craft vendors on Main Street in downtown Columbia, announced in a social media post that it would return on June 27. West Columbia vendors will be widely spaced to promote social distancing, and the market will have a hand washing station, according to a news release from the city of West Columbia. Hand sanitizer will also be placed throughout the market. The market will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. The vendors for the reopening week included: • Agusalve • Art that Works - Cathy Kline • AudreyJames Candle Co. • Big Sid’s Happy Place Designs • Downstairs Stitchery • Faithful Foods Inc. • Fluid Art by Joni Trezza • Neo Monster Island • Seminole Candle Co.

The gardens at the Hampton-Preston Mansion (above) reopened on June 16 (Photo/File), while West Columbia’s Meeting Street Artisan market (right) returned June 13 (Photo/Provided). Additional safety measures were implemented in both places.

• Sips, Dangles & More • State Street Trading Co. Vendors for the West Columbia market change weekly, and participant information is available at https://westcolumbiasc.gov/meeting-street-artisan-market/, by calling market manager Colleen Otte at 803-622-8598 or emailing cotte@westcolumbiasc.gov.

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 15

Landlords, tenants told to be ‘human’ in renegotiations By Andy Owens



ven with the state slowly reopening, the coronavirus pandemic has rendered certain commercial space less valuable for many small businesses — but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay your rent, according to a Mount Pleasant attorney. Alex Juncu, an attorney who specializes in contract law, including landlord and tenant legal issues, said landlords and tenants can save a lot of time when renegotiating a lease by knowing what’s in the lease and by remembering the “human component” in each transaction. “Exercise patience, but also be ready to make some concessions,” Juncu said. “When you do collaborate, you’ll make a lot more progress than when you’re in an adversarial position.” He said landlords and tenants must remember that everyone in a transaction likely has a family and, quite often, employees whom they are trying to keep employed. “It’s very likely your landlord might have a mortgage on the property,” Juncu said. “As a landlord, remember who your tenant is. “They might be elderly; they might have children. Consider what kind of business they have.” Juncu was part of an online panel discussion presented by the Charleston Area Small Business Development Center about dealing with commercial and residential leases during the COVID-19 era. He was joined by Nicole Paluzzi, a housing attorney with Charleston Pro Bono Legal Services. Juncu said S.C. courts presume that commercial leases involve sophisticated parties, so litigating from a position of ignorance isn’t going to impress many judges. It’s also one reason commercial leases are so detailed and lengthy and residential leases are so simple, he said. A business with a $12,000-a-month lease on King Street recently asked Juncu what their options were for renegotiating. The first thing he advised them to do

was look at their lease. “You have to know the document,” Juncu said. “We presume you were an active part of negotiating that lease.” Juncu said many tenants also often miss the exhibits section of leases, and that can really influence how a lease is read. He said the lease must be seen as an entire document, with each part influencing the whole, including clauses that might stipulate how to handle conflicts. “Is there a dispute resolution clause?” Juncu said. “Normally these clauses will be called disputes, arbitrations, anything that has to do with how you communicate a dispute,” he said. He also said everything must be looked at through the lens of shortterm pain because of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, if a business has been happy with a five-year lease for three years, then it’s not reasonable to say the terms are no longer acceptable because of a health crisis. Juncu said many landlords have been understanding during the coronavirus pandemic and are working with tenants in good faith, but it’s important to understand the temperament of the person you’re dealing with. For example, if a landlord says, “I’m entitled to my rent, and that’s it,” you might not have a great deal of common ground to work from, but at least you will know where you’re starting and can save time. Juncu suggests that litigation should be a very last resort, especially when a crisis like the pandemic is causing short-term cash-flow issues for businesses that likely will need each other once the crisis passes. Some of the contracts that he writes include a stipulation that principals must meet to iron out issues before anyone walks into court. “If you are willing and able to explore other options, I would encourage you to do that,” he said. “That mutual understanding will be much more powerful and much more beneficial than attempting to initiate legal action that may or may not end up in your favor.”

Juncu said lease renegotiations are a “zero-sum game,” meaning if you’re getting relief by not paying, then someone is losing, and that can have a ripple effect. He said tenants and landlords must be creative to get through the pandemic together. For example, he said, a landlord could reduce rent and a tenant could reduce risk for a landlord by continuing to pay for some of the obligations a landlord cannot avoid.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a relationship that endures through the term,” he said. Juncu also said one rule must be followed in any negotiation, regardless of how easy someone is to work with or the circumstances surrounding the transaction: “If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist,” he said. Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3142.


After 25 years of service, First Community would like to congratulate founding member Mitchell M. “Mitch” Willoughby on his retirement from our board of directors and offer special thanks for his guidance as Chairman for the past 11 years. With Mr. Willoughby’s retirement, we are pleased to announce that J. Thomas “Tommy” Johnson and Chimin J. “Jimmy” Chao will assume the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the board, respectively.

“Exercise patience, but also be ready to make some concessions. When you do collaborate, you’ll make a lot more progress than when you’re in an adversarial position. ” Alex Juncu Attorney Member FDIC FCB Board Ad-GSA-CRBR.indd 1

5/29/20 4:52 PM



June 22 - July 19, 2020

Area colleges set reopening timetables, establish safety protocols By Melinda Waldrop



wo Columbia colleges have different timelines for reopening their campuses amid ongoing COVID19 health concerns, but they share the same goal: getting students back on track toward earning their degrees and beginning their careers as quickly as possible. Midlands Technical began a threephase reopening process June 1, when some students will return for lab work. Faculty and staff began returning in phases June 15, while students will return to campus for the fall semester on Aug. 24. “When I walk around campus without seeing students, it feels empty. It really will be great to have them back on campus, for a number of reasons,” Ron Rhames, MTC president, said. “I think certain students want to be on campus and they want to see their classmates. They want to interact with their instructors face-to-face. That will give us a true sense we’re moving in the right direction.” At ECPI University, some students have already resumed in-person classes, with safety protocols including temperature checks and face coverings in place. “Our students didn’t want to be sidelined or have their careers sidelined during this epidemic,” Jim Rund, ECPI Columbia campus president, said. “They want to actually be a part of the solution. They want to get out there with their careers.” Though concerns about the new coronavirus are not going away — South Carolina announced a record one-day total of 512 new cases on June 6 — Rhames said the nature of many of the college’s programs make online simulation challenging. “While we know that it (COVID-19) may or may not be around or we may have surge during the fall term, we believe that for our students, for our college, it is best that if we can get as many students in the classroom taking classes,” Rhames said. “It’s much better. That’s because many of

Students and personnel at ECPI University are having their temperatures checked as part of safety protocols involved in reopening the Columbia campus. Other area schools, including Midlands Technical College, are preparing for the return of students to campus in August. (Photo/Provided)

our programs require hands-on learning. When you think about a technical college like us, programs require field experience, the lab experience. Those kinds of things are critical.” That said, Rhames, who praised MTC faculty and staff for a seamless transition to online learning when the school closed in March in response to the pandemic, said the majority of the college’s classes will be offered online in the fall when possible. “If you’re taking welding, you may have to come to campus,” Rhames said. “But when you come to campus, we’ll have the social distancing in place. We will assure you that you won’t be within six feet of people. We will be cleaning, sanitizing areas and equipment. We will be strongly encouraging people to wear face coverings.” Such measures are in place at ECPI’s Columbia location at 250 Berryhill Road, which reopened late last month. Faculty, staff and students are entering through designated entrances, disinfecting personal areas at the beginning and end of day, and having their temperature checked. Face coverings are being worn in all common areas and provided for those who do not have one. Elevators are limited to two passengers at a time, signage is in


place to remind people to practice social distancing and classrooms and labs have been reconfigured to allow for more space between workstations. “You constantly have to have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the pandemic in our area,” Rund said. “If we didn’t think it was safe at all, we wouldn’t do it, and if we have a resurgence of the virus in our area, I’m sure we’ll start closing things up. “But we’re gradually opening things and allowing students to come back and get those skills and training.” Like MTC, ECPI smoothly transitioned to online learning, never canceling a class, Rund said. He said instructors had past experience with that format when hurricanes or floods closed campus. “We have a pretty good infrastructure, (but) we didn’t want to compromise the hands-on side of it,” Rund said. “We understand that the students really have to get that tactical learning if they’re going to be out there as a nurse or a medical assistant or even as network security, putting routers and switches together.” While eager to welcome students back to MTC’s seven campuses, Rhames is proud that the college’s online partici-

pation has swelled from a few hundred students a few years ago to “thousands of students taking online courses at any given moment. That’s been a national trend as well as a regional one at MTC. I think this will certainly cause more students to want to take online courses, especially in the short term, until people are more comfortable coming to classes. “But for a certain amount of students, a certain type of students, that on-ground, in-the-classroom experience will really make a difference. Not all students can succeed in the online environment. I think that we will always have a significant amount of students taking classes on grounds.” Both presidents say the changes brought to the workplace by the pandemic, from an increased need for workers in certain industries to new ways of doing business, will make their colleges and their students even more sought-after going forward. “We’re committed to continuing our primary mission of workforce development,” Rhames said. “I think after all of this is over with and all is said and done, a college like MTC is going to be needed even more by businesses starting to ramp up. As new economies emerge, our college will be prepared to develop and prepare the workforce for our employers going forward.” Rund, who said enrollment at ECPI’s Columbia campus is up 15% from last year, takes motivation from those students’ determination. “Most of the students were very eager to get back into the swing of things. They were very understanding of the situation, and they’re anxious to keep their education moving forward,” he said. “They’ve inspired all of us, just because of their dedication and commitment. They’ve really hung on. “I tell them, you guys are the pioneers into a new workforce. You’re going to have to find how that workforce is going to be established due to this pandemic.” Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.


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June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 17

USC engineering professor earns national distinction


Staff Report

amy Harik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Carolina, has been named one of the 20 most influential educators in the field of smart manufacturing. The recognition by nonprofit manufacturing organization SME highlights Harik’s Future Factories laboratory, which facilitates the sharing and analysis of data between robots and companies at different stages of product production. Harik works in advanced composites and industries of the future at USC’s College of Engineering and Computing

and will co-chair the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo in Florida in September. “Ramy is building on the impressive base of manufacturing that has appeared in South Carolina over the past couple of decades,” Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, said in a news release. “He is elevating the state to a position of leadership in smart manufacturing, which Gov. (Henry) McMaster has often referred to, saying that we want to be the smart manufacturing state. Ramy is leading that charge.” Harik’s work has led to funded partnerships with manufacturing leaders

including NASA, Siemens, Boeing, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. and Toray, according to the release. “The whole world wants robots to work together with drones, they want data to come and flow from different equipment, they want to be able to interpret data, they want to be able to make sense of the data. Nobody knows how to do it at large industrial scale,” Harik said. “What we are trying to do in our Future Factories is dig deep into the convergence of multiple aspects of the research fundamentally needed to understand how to do this and enable future manufacturing.” Harik has plans to grow his Future Factories platform to introduce robotics

to middle schoolers, create an undergraduate industrial manufacturing systems-based program at USC, and to allow retirees to share knowledge with future generations, according to the release from the university. “It’s no surprise that Ramy earned this recognition from SME,” USC President Bob Caslen said. “His Future Factories platform at UofSC continues to redefine manufacturing and encourages collaboration among industry leaders, researchers and students. Ramy is leading South Carolina toward new and innovative possibilities in manufacturing that will transform our state, nation and world for years to come.”

USC among top 100 worldwide for patents received by faculty


Staff Report

he University of South Carolina ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide for number of U.S. utility patents received by faculty members in 2019, marking the eighth consecutive year the university made the

top 100. USC ranked 90th in the world in 2019 with faculty named as the lead on 31 patents, according to a news release from the university. USC is the only S.C. institution to make the list. The annual list (.pdf) has been published by the National Academy of Inven-

tors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association since 2013. Rankings are based on the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that list a university as the first assignee. “Our faculty’s ability to create new technologies and innovate year after year

is one of our great strengths as a university,” said Bill Kirkland, executive director of USC’s Office for Innovation, Partnership and Economic Engagement. “Their continued contributions to scientific discovery ultimately improve the quality of life not just our state, but all over the world.”

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

PROTEST, from Page 3

headquarters, an event that participants described as an initially peaceful took a turn. Water bottles and rocks were thrown, police cars burned and a state of emergency restricting movement in parts of downtown issued from 6 p.m. May 30 until 6 a.m. June 1. Columbia police chief Skip Holbrook told The State newspaper that four police officers and a firefighter were injured and multiple people were arrested, including an individual who allegedly fired a weapon. “It was definitely kind of two different J.P. Walters of the Vista Guild’s Clean and Safety team takes a break to accept coffee and doughnuts from scenes pretty quickly,” said Columbia res- passersby. Walters was one of several Vista Guild workers cleaning up broken glass and boarding up ident Thom Harman, who attended the windows in the Vista on May 31 after a night of civil unrest in the area. (Photo/Melinda Waldrop) May 30 march. Mason Crowson spent a long Saturday the bathroom.’ ” guson, Mo., as well as rallies to remove the night passing out water bottles to protestHarman said he felt officials should Confederate flag from atop the Statehouse. ers and police officers alike. Crowson owns have addressed the crowd as protesters “Those were well-attended, but I don’t The Aristocrat, a cocktail bar and music gathered at police headquarters late Satur- remember the same level of anger there,” venue located at 1001 Washington St., day afternoon, but he also praised police he said. close to police headquarters, and did what restraint. “For what they were up against, I On May 31, bits of glass sparkled in the he could to provide calm amid the nearby do think they showed a lot of restraint,” he Sunday morning sunshine a block from chaos. said. “There’s a lot of anger out there and The Aristocrat on Lady Street. Broken win“I set up an outdoor table out here and people don’t feel like they’re being heard.” dows stared from one storefront, which probably took care of 1,000 people yesterThe May 30 protests were the first of appeared vacant, while further down the day in regard to water, bathroom, a cool nine days of activity organized by area street, workers from the Vista Guild boardfloor to lay on,” he said on the morning of activists, representing the nearly nine min- ed up other damaged businesses, including May 31. “We were hosing people down if uets (8:46) Floyd lay on the street with Sandler’s Diamonds & Time jewelry store they got (pepper) sprayed.” Minneapolis police officer Derek Chau- and Vista dining fixture Blue Marlin. Crowson collected signs as he cleaned vin’s knee on his neck. Crowds gathered J.P. Walters, a member of the Vista up debris around the establishment, bear- regularly in front of the Statehouse and, on Guild’s Clean and Safe team, took a break ing slogans such as “No Justice No Peace” June 5, marched there from the governor’s from sweeping up glass to accept coffee and “Stop Killing Us,” and propped them mansion, demanding reforms including a and doughnuts offered by passersby. He against the windows of The Aristocrat. state law requiring the use of police body said he’d been working most of the mornCrowson, who had yet to leave his bar and dashboard cameras as well as regular ing to repair damage unlike anything he’d as of 10 a.m.,  said he offered assistance police training in the use of force. seen in his two years with the organization. for “solidarity. … Food and water went to Columbia resident Allen Wallace parNaas spent a restless Saturday night police, too. This wasn’t a one-sided agenda ticipated in each of the nine days of pro- watching media coverage of the area to any degree. This was just making sure tests. “For the most part, it was peaceful,” unrest. “It’s not good, especially when all everybody was safe. with exceptions mainly occurring that first these businesses were just trying to get “We were just out here doing whatever Saturday night, he said. “But there’s no reopened with the pandemic and kind of we could. … When I saw people shirtless question that everybody’s pretty pissed.” getting started again, and now having to and laying on the ground, I was like, ‘Come Wallace attended area protests after the face this,” Naas said on May 31. get some water, come lay inside, come use shooting death of Michael Brown in FerNaas said 10 to 20 businesses up and

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down Gervais and Lincoln streets were left needing repair. On June 10, boards were still in place on several business on Gervais, from Mellow Mushroom to PNC Bank. “Everybody was chomping at the bit to get back open from COVID” before the damage, Naas said. After the damage, “I think maybe everybody was probably a little sad and maybe a little anxious, but now it’s full steam ahead and trying to get back to business as usual,” she said. On Columbia’s Main Street, fewer businesses showed signs of damage. A notable exception was Sylvan’s Jewelers, where plywood covered the store’s windows. Jenna Bridgers, vice president of recruitment for downtown development organization City Center Partnership, said the jeweler was damaged, but “it was relatively peaceful on Main Street,” she said. In the Lowcountry, businesses were boarded up in Charleston and Summerville on May 31. Government officials called emergency meetings and passed curfews to keep people off the streets Sunday night. Police were a quiet but visible presence, as were firefighters. On King Street in Charleston, the cleanup began early Sunday morning with people scrubbing painted profanities from the doors of businesses, many of which had smashed windows and other damage. One business, CBD Social, had placed a sign on the door pleading to be spared from damage: “Black Owned Business!! RIP George Floyd. Black Owned Business.” The business didn’t appear to have a lot of damage inside, though the plate glass window was shattered. The city made 62 arrests over the weekend of protests, mostly on Sunday night, but Mayor John Tecklenburg said that other arrests would be made if evidence warranted it. Charleston Regional Business Journal editor Andy Owens contributed to this story.

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June 22 - July 19, 2020

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 19

Nephron donations aim to aid S.C. health and career concerns By Melinda Waldrop



s part of its ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. is donating more than 100,00 bottles of hand sanitizer to the University of South Carolina. Five thousand of the bottles, featuring a custom-made private label, were hand-delivered on June 8 by Nephron president and CEO Lou Kennedy, a 1984 USC graduate, to a group of student leaders on the university’s Horseshoe. “No matter how tall the challenge is, Gamecocks step up,” Kennedy said in a news release. “Our company is proud to do our part to help the university make sure it is ready to welcome students, staff and faculty back to campus.” USC, which closed its campuses in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is resuming in-person instruction in mid-August. “We’re grateful to Lou and Bill Kennedy and the entire team at Nephron Pharmaceuticals for this generous gift,” Bob Caslen, USC president, said. “This donation helps support the safe return of our students and employees to campus and exemplifies what the Gamecock spirit is all about: making our communities better through selfless service and caring for others.” Nephron is a West Columbia-based manufacturer and developer of generic respiratory medication including inhalation solutions used to treat COVID-19. The company also operates a 503B outsourcing facility which produces prefilled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals nationwide. In March, Nephron began making its own hand sanitizer, and previously donated 50 liters to the William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The company added a production line in April to be used in the manufacturing of bronchodilator albuterol as demand for its products soars during the pandemic. Last month, the company announced an expansion of its COVID-19 testing capabilities through a partnership with medical technology company One Medical. Kennedy told the Columbia Regional Business Report that Nephron’s on-site clinical lab began testing company employees in early June and planned to process samples collected during a drive-thru testing clinic June 19 and 20 at Benedict College. “We are trying to be a good partner with DHEC, a good partner with the local hospitals, and see how we can take some of the stress off of their labs for testing,” said Kennedy, who said Nephron has also developed, in partnership with Lexington Medical Center, a transport medium for nasal swabs used in the testing process. Nephron has hired its own nurse

practitioner and installed a chief medical officer, Kennedy said. She said the department-by-department testing of employees will continue through this week. “The more we test, we’re going to find people that are asymptomatic, but it’s important for us to get this contact tracing thing figured out, get a baseline, get people home and get them well,” she said. Nephron also donated manufacturing equipment to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College this month in a move Kennedy said could affect the company’s own production process down the road. The company gifted the school with an orbital welding machine, similar to those used in making Nephron equipment which must be precisely calibrated. Orbital welding is a method of connecting piping using a continuous, 360-degree rotating process aimed at reducing operator error. “When we make the medicine in a big tank, you have to move it from the tank to the filling equipment,” Kennedy said. “So anywhere there are pipes that are used to process the medication, you have to have these perfect welds. Imagine this: if you had a little divot in the pipe, then microorganisms could collect, so the piping has to be completely, utterly smooth.

“If you were bottling milk or anything that you want to remain sterile, it requires this type of piping.” Kennedy also hopes the donation, which she estimated will total around $60,000 once accompanying parts and equipment are included, helps Orangeburg-Calhoun Tech students compete for jobs in South Carolina’s growing advanced manufacturing industry. “Almost all the tech schools have welding programs, but this is a really specific niche technology, and so we wanted to support that,” said Kennedy, whose company operates a warehouse in Calhoun County. “I know at least five or 10 other companies that will benefit from having a good supply chain of orbital welders.” In the last 10 years, manufacturing employment has increased 16% in the state, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce website. From 2011 to 2019, 70,000 manufacturing jobs were created in S.C. Manufacturing made up 14% of S.C.’s major industry jobs in 2019, according to U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, and those jobs can be lucrative. Welders earn a median hourly wage of $19.63 in South Carolina, according to a May study by ecomonicmodeling. com, while the average annual nation-

al wage for an orbital welder is $83,450, according to online job site ZipRecruiter. Annual salaries for orbital welders, which can top $148,000, average $78,525 in Columbia, based on ZipRecruiter’s analysis of its database of millions of active jobs in the U.S. The orbital welder Nephron is donating to Orangeburg-Calhoun Tech is from N.C.-based Liburdi Dimetric Corp. and is used in stainless steel piping. “Lou Kennedy and Nephron have been good corporate partners in South Carolina for many years, and OCtech is excited to be among them,” Walt Tobin, president of Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, said in a news release announcing the donation. “We have a long history of preparing our students for good jobs and great careers, and the addition of the orbital welder helps our college continue that legacy.” Kennedy readily admits there are pragmatic concerns in her company’s altruism. “We can recruit out of their really good degree program,” she said. “It’s a wonderful school. … We are trying to be a part of empowering these skill trades that don’t have enough employees to go around.” Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.



The expert in your industry is you.

June 22 - July 19, 2020


No. 8 | Volume 12, May 13, 2019

Book of Experts is an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate its specialized knowledge to our readers. Each business featured will be exclusive in their area of expertise. The narrative format is a great way to share complex information that goes beyond the usual advertising display. Your “expert story” told in an article with photograph can help businesses and consumers make wise decisions. Share the expertise of your company in the Business Report’s Book of Experts.

PUBLICATION DATE: July 27, 2020 | ADVERTISING DEADLINE: June 29, 2020 For advertising information, contact Lucia Smith at (803) 726-7547 or lsmith@scbiznews.com

In Focus



NEXT ISSUE’S FOCUS: Residential Real Estate

The view from the rooftop at the site of Savage Craft Ale Works in West Columbia includes the Columbia skyline in the distance. The brewery is slated to open in late September. (Photo/Provided)

Savage Craft Ale Works on track for late September opening despite delays, manufacturing challenges and a pandemic By Melinda Waldrop



orkers laboring to turn a former jail into the kitchen that will supply food for a new West Columbia brewery unearthed an interesting — and prescient — discovery. A decades-old newspaper article liberated from the small, dusty rooms that were once jail cells detailed the confiscation and pouring out of moonshine on the grounds of the jail, built in 1908. During Prohibition, the area then known as New Brookland saw a steady stream of bootlegger traffic across the Congaree River. Historical accounts also chronicle efforts to steal liquor stored in the 800-square-foot jail, feet from where revelers will down a variety of brews by the end of September if the construc-

tion of Savage Craft Ale Works continues on a schedule that has soldiered through several significant disruptions. Financed by a core of investors who are active-duty members of the U.S. Army Special Forces, the brewery began to take shape in the fall of 2018, when Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors drafted plans for a two-story brewery, complete with rooftop seating and a spacious beer garden, to expand a 3,200-square-foot, two-story building at 430 Center St. that has been a city hall, a fire station and a residential building since its 1925 construction. Plans then called for a summer 2019 opening, but that date proved too ambitious as red tape involving a shared parking lot with the city of West Columbia as well as other municipal minutiae had to be navigated. A 54-inch drainage pipe to deal with storm and sewer issues in the low-lying

area had to be approved and installed, and the original company the investors chose to manufacture brewing equipment went bankrupt last summer. Oh, and a global pandemic caused supply chain issues and led to some internal second-guessing. “Certainly, there were a few moments early on where I think some of the team was questioning the sanity of what we were doing,” said the principal of the Baumer Holdings LLC investment team who, because of his active-duty special forces status, prefers not to divulge his name. “There were some questioning times of what kind of environment we were opening up into and whether this made sense. We had a few broad discussions about that and decided that we still really wanted to move forward with the project.” The investment team, which

includes the principal’s father-in-law, John Karlovec, and Karvolec’s son and Savage Craft marketing manager Clay Karlovec, kept faith in the project moving forward. “Anytime you come to a city, you deal with different interests,” John Karlovec said. “Things never happen as quickly as you hope. In a way, that’s sort of been a blessing.” Karlovec pointed out that Savage Craft, unlike businesses which opened before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, doesn’t yet have an inventory to worry about. And adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines such as social distancing is also not a problem for a brewery still under construction. “Hopefully, when we open in the fall, all of that (COVID-19 concerns) See SAVAGE CRAFT, Page 27



June 22 - July 19, 2020



YOU 30



SCMEP has equipped small and medium-sized manufacturers with the resources to grow. In order to help South Carolina’s manufacturers survive and thrive, SCMEP has introduced an online learning platform which provides critical training in a wide array of operational disciplines. To learn more about how SCMEP Online can streamline your training program, visit our website.

Cavanaugh & Thickens Law Firm 1717 Marion St., Columbia Developer/owner: Cason Development Group, Columbia Architects: Seed Architecture, Columbia General contractor: Boyer Commercial Construction, Columbia Engineers: The Landplan South, Columbia (civil); Felkel & Hastings (mechanical and plumbing); John Ray Williams PE (electrical) Kimberly Laney with Laney Interiors, Columbia (interior design) Estimated completion date: July 2020 Project description: This project is located in Columbia’s central business district and has parking lot entrances on Marion Street and Laurel Street. The building is on an elevated slab and features an exterior of Olde Jefferson brick with large windows with shutters. The floorplan consists of two floors of offices, conference rooms, and workstations. An extra-large twostory porch fronts Marion Street and helps blend the residential and commercial feel of the surrounding historic area.

Industry Training from Industry Professionals


SCMEP is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization affiliated with The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a network of more than 60 MEP centers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Columbia Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant 1200 Simmon Tree Lane, Columbia Developer/owner: City of Columbia General contractor: M.B. Kahn Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: AECOM Estimated completion date: November 2020 Estimated total cost: $28,488,500 Project description: Aeration improvements to the plant have resumed after an eight-week interruption because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Courtyards at Lowman 2102 Dutch Fork Road, Chapin Developer/owner: Lutheran Homes of South Carolina Inc., Irmo Architects: RLPS Architects, Lancaster, Pa. General contractor: McCrory Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: Snell Engineering Consultants, Sarasota, Fla. (structural); Reese Hackman Engineering Inc., State College, Pa. (electrical, mechanical, plumbing); Reese Hackman Engineering Inc., State College, Pa. (civil) Estimated completion date: Fourth quarter, 2020 Estimated total cost: $4 million Project description: A new pocket apartment concept arranged around a central courtyard with lush landscape design. The apartments feature livable porches to enhance outdoor recreation and interaction among neighbors. Each pocket neighborhood includes seven onebedroom and three two-bedroom apartments ranging from 740 to 1,018 square feet.

Express Oil Change 2719 Clemson Road, Columbia Developer/owner: GRG Investments Architects: AHO Architects, Alabama General contractor: Master Construction Co. Inc., Chapin Estimated completed date: summer 2020 Project description: New construction of oil change and automobile service station. Features pull-in oil change service. Exterior wall using quik-brik stretcher and paint CMUs. Storefront glazing and full glass overhead doors, blue medallion-lok metal roof panels and site work. First Citizens Bank 1015 Lady St., Columbia Developer/owner: First Citizens Bank, Raleigh, N.C. Architects: Studio 2LR Architects + Interiors, Columbia General contractor: McCrory Construction Co., Columbia

June 22 - July 19, 2020

Engineers: Kimley-Horn and Association, Raleigh, N.C. (civil) Estimated total cost: $700,000 Project description: This project is a complete parking lot renovation for the First Citizens Bank Call Center. It involved extensive coordination and relocation of the site utilities and access. Fountains of Edenwood 1200 N. Eden Drive, Cayce Developer/owner: WRH Realty Services Inc. Architect: Pate Design Group Inc., Marietta, Ga. General contractor: Mashburn Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: Contineo Group, Decatur, Ga. (civil); William J. Peltier & Associates, Lawrenceville, Ga. (structural); FW Keeney and Associates, Atlanta (plumbing, mechanical and electrical) Estimated completion date: October 2020 Project description: Construction of a 2,900-square-foot clubhouse as well as a pool. The project includes wood framing, brick, concrete, siding, windows, doors, flooring, sitework, and landscaping.

Golden Corral 2370 Cherry Road, Rock Hill Developer/owner: Cason Development Group, Columbia Architects: National Restaurant Designers, Morrisville, N.C. Project manager: Cason Development Group, Columbia General contractor: John W. Abbot Construction Co. Inc., Asheville, N.C. Engineers: Isaacs Group (civil); National Restaurant Designers (mechanical, electrical and plumbing); Britt, Peters & Associates Inc. (structural) Project description: New construction single-story, 10,416-square-foot building with 6,000-square-foot dining room. Building sits 25 feet tall. Exterior façade includes plank, wood and perma-stone; dining area features with oversized windows; flooring features vinyl, carpet and tile throughout. This project is part of the redevelopment of the former K-Mart center on Cherry Road.

Paul Mitchell The School 1008 Meeting St., West Columbia Developer/owner: Cohort VI Architects: David Firth, Laguna Beach, Calif. General contractor: Master Construction Co., Chapin

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 23


Estimated completion date: summer 2020 Project description: Interior renovation upfit consisting of metal framed walls, sprinkler system, floor tile, millwork, interior glazing, acoustical ceiling tile, electrical, HVAC, audio and data, and interior wood doors. QuikTrip Five Chop Road and Millenium Drive, Orangeburg Developer/owner: QuikTrip, Tulsa, Okla. Architects: Tobin PLLC, Charlotte General contractor: McCrory Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: Norton & Schmidt, North Kansas City, Mo., (structural); Hoss & Brown, Lenexa, Kansas (electrical, mechanical, plumbing); Freeland & Kauffman Inc, Greenville (civil) Estimated completion date: Fourth quarter, 2020 Estimated total cost: $7 million Project description: This 8,292-square-foot travel center will be the first in the Midlands area. The project includes both gas and diesel canopies, industrial kitchen facilities, highend finishes throughout, and a full landscape package.



Rambo’s Fat Cat Biscuits 2430 Main St., Columbia Developer/owner: Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors, Columbia Architects: Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors, Columbia General contractor: Sacon LLC, Elgin Engineers: GWA Engineering LLC (electrical); Swygert & Associates Ltd. (mechanical); Mabry Engineering Associates Inc. (structural) Estimated completion date: August 2020 Estimated total cost: $178,500 Project description: Buildout at new twotenant building for a breakfast-serve restaurant.

Reign at Williams-Brice Stadium 1087 & 1115 Shop Road, Columbia Developer/owner: Reign Living, Florida Architects: Miller Architecture, Charlotte N.C. Project manager: LCK Construction Services, Columbia General contractor: McCrory Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: IDE Intelligent Design Engineering, Charlotte (structural); C2 Engineering Solutions, Charlotte (electrical, mechanical and plumbing); Cox and Dinkins, Columbia (civil) Estimated completion date: Third quarter, 2020 Estimated total cost: $22,255,000 Project description: The student housing project consists of 126 townhome-style apartments totaling 504 beds. Amenities include a clubhouse, lazy-river style pool, spa, volleyball court, fitness center, grills, and pavilions. Parking accommodations will be surface parking.

At Stevens & Wilkinson we create sustainable environments that are culturally and socially significant, projects that have a lasting and positive impact on our communities. #smartdesignsolutions 1501 Main Street, Suite 730, Columbia, SC 29201 - stevens-wilkinson.com



June 22 - July 19, 2020


JOIN US FOR THE 2020 ICONS & PHENOMS AWARDS VIRTUAL EVENT We’re excited to spotlight the 2020 Icons and Phenoms! Please join the Columbia Regional Business Report as we honor these established leaders and rising stars who are shaping the Midlands. Our virtual event will be full of fun surprises and words of inspiration from our honorees. Proceeds from registration will be donated to the Central Carolina Community Foundation’s Midlands Community Response Fund: COVID-19. Register online today: bit.ly/crbr2020ipregister

EVENT DETAILS: 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m

Wednesday, July 29

Presented by:

For sponsorship information, call Lucia Smith at (803) 726-7547.

Virtual Event

Sponsored by:


June 22 - July 19, 2020

Sacon 749 Kirkland Circle, Elgin Developer/owner: Sacon, Elgin Estimated completion date: Sept. 30, 2020 Estimated total cost: $500,000 Project description: Construction of new 7,000-square-foot facility that includes new office, shop, fabrication area, tool storage and equipment yard.

Savage Craft Ale Works 430 Center St., West Columbia Developer/owner: Baumer Holdings LLC, Columbia Architects: Studio 2LR Architecture + Interiors, Columbia General contractor: Hood Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: GWA Inc., Columbia (electrical); Mabry Engineering Associates, Columbia (structural); Swygert & Associates, Columbia (mechanical); ADC Engineering, Columbia (civil) Estimated completed date: fall 2020 Project description: Site development and historic restoration of New Brookland Fire Station, circa 1925, with tap room, multi-purpose room and office; New Brookland Fire Station addition with brewery, roof top terrace; and historic restoration of the Brookland Jail, circa 1908, into a commercial kitchen for the brewery. Outdoor amenities include a stage, brew garden, and access to the West Columbia Riverwalk.

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 25


Walmart 2240 W. Dekalb St., Camden Developer/owner: Walmart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark. Architect: SGA Design Group, Tulsa, Okla. General contractor: McCrory Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: Wallace Engineering, Tulsa, Okla. (structural); RTM Engineering Associates, Springfield, Mo. (electrical, mechanical, plumbing); Bowman Consulting, Alpharetta, Ga. (civil) Estimated completion date: Fourth quarter, 2020 Estimated total cost: $1.75 million Project description: The project entails relocating the photo lab, a customer service remodel, addition of pickup and pickup storage area, significant renovations to include interior and exterior demolition, repairs to fencing, walls, flooring and ceilings, modifications to fire protection, plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems and site work to include new parking, re-grading of interior slabs and removal and replacement of sidewalks.

Ziebart of the Midlands 10070 Broad River Road, Irmo Developer/owner: Bob Morris Architect: Architectural Concepts General Contractor: Hill Construction Co., Columbia Engineers: Vista Engineering, Columbia (mechanical); Crescent Engineering, Columbia (civil); Timmerman Structural Engineering Group, West Columbia (structural); Brell Foster, Columbia (electrical) Estimated completion date: fall 2020 Project description: New design-build project to build a 10 bay auto detailing shop. The project includes new construction and site work for a single-slope 6,000-square-foot pre-engineered metal building. Ziebart of the Midlands will offer a full line of appearance and protection services for both the interior and exterior of vehicles, including professional detailing, window tint, sprayed-on bed liners and more.


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June 22 - July 19, 2020

General Contractors Ranked by No. of Contracts in 2019 Company

Phone / Website / Email

Top Local Official(s) / Year Founded

Contracts: No. / Value


Rumsey Construction & Restoration 2630 Shop Road Columbia, SC 29209

803-764-0222 www.rumseycr.com

Brendon Rumsey, Tony Rumsey, Clint Griffith 2011

187 $2,036,877


Full-service construction and restoration; commercial projects; specializing in fire, water, smoke and storm damage restoration

Mashburn Construction Co. Inc. 1820 Sumter St. Columbia, SC 29201

803-400-1000 www.mashburnconstruction.com lculley@mashburnconstruction.com

Lee Mashburn, Paul Mashburn 1976

42 $78,300,000


Healthcare, historical renovation, hospitality, industrial, upfit, institutional and church construction markets

Solid Structures 2548 Morningside Drive West Columbia, SC 29169

803-926-0298 www.solidstructures.info sbrazell@solidstructures.info

Sandi Brazell 2008

36 $5,040,213


New construction, pre-engineered metal buildings, renovations, design-build

Sloan Construction Co. 645 Rosewood Drive Columbia, SC 29201

803-376-1240 www.sloan-construction.com

Paul Edwards, Jackie Williams 1933

26 $55,730,000


Airports, bridges, highway, streets and minor roads, tunnels and other structures

M. B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. 101 Flintlake Road Columbia, SC 29223

803-736-2950 www.mbkahn.com jmorris@mbkahn.com

Robert A. Chisholm, William H. Neely 1927

24 $316,351,720


General contracting, construction management, construction management at risk, design-build

McCrory Construction 522 Lady St. Columbia, SC 29201

803-799-8100 www.mccroryconstruction.com info@mccroryconstruction.com

Allen B. Amsler 1918

24 $65,000,000


Commercial, industrial, multifamily, retail, office, construction management

Sumwalt Associates Inc. 3800 Forest Drive, Suite A-101 Columbia, SC 29204

803-787-8717 www.sumwalt.com admin@sumwalt.com

Ford Tupper, James L. Tupper, Mike Metzger 1978

18 -


Retail, commercial, office, medical, institutional, industrial

Hill Construction Co. LLC 108 Park Terrace Drive Columbia, SC 29212

803-720-9225 www.hillconstructionllc.com rhill@hillconstructionllc.com

Ray Hill 2010

17 -


Unlimited commercial new construction, renovations, upfits, historical renovations, multifamily

Remodeling Services Unlimited Inc. 3127 Forest Drive Columbia, SC 29204

803-765-9363 www.remodelingservicesunlimited.com tony@rsu-acc.com

Tony Thompson 1977

16 -


Commercial and residential remodeling; all types of projects; over 40 years in business; licence general and residential builders on staff; planning through design to scheduling to completing projects

Sacon 749 Kirkland Circle Elgin, SC 29045

803-513-5020 www.sacon.us mailbox@sacon.us

Doug Hunt 1986

16 -


Commercial general contractor, plumbing, HVAC, electric

Chapin Commercial Construction 573 Chapin Road Chapin, SC 29036

803-771-0454 www.chapincommercialconstruction.com chat@chapincommercialconstruction.com

Caroline Lindler, Chad Lindler 2018

15 $6,536,129


Design-build commercial contractor; retail centers, pre-engineered metal buildings, restaurants, religious and athletic facilities, office buildings and other general commercial construction

Landmark Builders of South Carolina 1118 Shop Road Columbia, SC 29201

803-661-9920 www.landmarkbuildersofsc.com ccampolong@landmarkbuilders.com

Glenn Williams, John F. Bartlett 1975

15 $12,000,000


Healthcare, industrial and distribution, office, senior living, upfit and renovation, resort

Master Construction Co. Inc. 218 St. Peters Church Road Chapin, SC 29036

803-345-8088 www.masterconstructionco.com dcayton@masterconstructionco.com

Eddie Fulmer 1992

15 -


Pre-engineered metal buildings, design-build, conventional buildings, medical, retail, mini storage, industrial, manufacturing, office space, renovations

Buchanan Construction Services 2800 William Tuller Drive Columbia, SC 29205

803-695-2123 www.buchananconstructionservices.com bmcdonald@buchananconstructionservices.com

Betsy McDonald, Davis Buchanan 2004

8 $8,000,000


Midmarket commercial construction projects

G. Meetze Construction LLC 1720 Dutch Fork Road, Suite G Irmo, SC 29063

803-345-5888 www.gmeetzeconstruction.com geraldmeetze@yahoo.com

Mac Johnson, Gerald D. Meetze 1998

5 $1,000,000


Residential and commercial renovations

Murphy Contracting Inc. 111 Reed Ave. Lexington, SC 29072

803-957-4541 murphycontractinginc@sc.rr.com

Robert F. Murphy, Brad D. Murphy 1995

4 $4,000,000


Churches, banks, shopping centers, offices, carwashes, family life centers, warehouses, pre-engineered buildings

Cohn Construction Services LLC 1556 Main St., Suite 300 Columbia, SC 29201

803-699-1325 www.cohncorporation.com info@cohnconstruction.com

Beth Frost, Harris Cohn, Brian Pattison 1993



Manufacturing and industrial, adaptive re-use, health care and general commercial

Hood Construction Co. Inc. 1050 Shop Road, Suite A Columbia, SC 29201

803-765-2940 www.hoodconstruction.com juliebartels@hoodconstruction.com

Julie Bartels, Samuel M. Hood 1986



Design assist, CM-R, construction, project management and consulting in healthcare, higher education, K-12, historic, hotel and restaurant, industrial, office, religious, retail and commercial housing

Because of space constraints, sometimes only the top-ranked companies are published in the print edition. View the full list online at www.scbiznews.com/buybusiness-lists. Although every effort is made to ensure accuracy, errors sometimes occur. Email additions or corrections to lists@scbiznews.com.

Area of Specialization

Researched by Paige Hardy

June 22 - July 19, 2020


Construction continues at Savage Craft Ale Works in West Columbia, on track for a late September opening after delays which included approval and installation of a 54-inch drainage pipe in the low-lying area off Center Street. The site includes a former fire station and city jail. (Photo/Melinda Waldrop)

SAVAGE CRAFT, from Page 21

will be gone, and people will be able to enjoy it the way it was meant to enjoyed,” he said. With the pipe installed, the shared parking lot freshly paved and marked and a new brewing equipment manufacturer — Marks Design & Metalworks out of Vancouver, Wash., secured — Savage Craft is back on track. A steel skeleton, flanked by a bulldozer and other heavy equipment, extends out of the back of the original building, more than doubling the space. Construction workers in hardhats crisscross a narrow dirt path between the brewery-on-tap and the old jail, which is next to another building on the property for which a use is still being determined. The project involves several Columbia companies in addition to Studio 2LR, including general contractor Hood Construction Co., electrical engineers GWA Inc., structural engineers Mabry Engineering Associates, mechanical engineers Swygert & Associates and civil engineers ADC Engineering. “You’re finally seeing some real tangible progress on the site, so we’re happy about that,” the investment team principal said. Though he said the subterranean work that caused the biggest delays this winter is now wrapped up, supply chain effects from COVID-19-related business closures and slowdowns are now being felt. The Washington-based equipment manufacturer’s workforce has been reduced, dropping from 60 onsite workers to six at one point, the principal said. “There’s been every challenge under the sun,” he said. The principal said pandemic concerns have caused brewery investors to consider ramping up the timeline for getting an in-house canning line up and running in order to vary revenue streams. Where that move had been considered 18 months or so after opening, now it’s a fairly immedi-

ate priority, he said. John Karlovec, a “reformed lawyer” originally from Cleveland, recently relocated to the West Columbia area as progress on the brewery picked up. He said he had been looking for a project his children — Clay, daughter Maggie and son John Jr. — could work on together, and Savage Craft fit that bill. A frequent vacationer to Amelia Island, Fla., all Karlovec previously knew of the Midlands was what he saw when exiting onto Interstate 26, catching a glimpse of the Columbia skyline and Williams-Brice Stadium. “I always thought I would take that right someday,” he said. The area reminds him of Cleveland, with a river bisecting its east and west sides and city officials working to make West Columbia appealing to new businesses such as Savage Craft, he said. Area retail and residential momentum is evident in the nearby mixed-use Brookland development, home to apartments as well as French-inspired restaurant Black Rooster; in the FLOW Townhomes across Meeting Street; and in new restaurants on State Street. Karlovec hopes that activity, as well as Savage Craft’s arrival, lures more investors, and he is also counting on “pentup demand” for beer, food, music and friends when the brewery does open its former firehouse bay doors. Savage Craft will continue to build on the property’s rich — if occasionally lawless — history, he said. Site excavation has also produced old photographs of firefighters who worked out of the building. Community members have helped identify those people, and plans are afoot to honor them somehow. “We want to be a part of this community,” Karlovec said. “This is going to be a destination place in the river district. It’s going to be a wonderful experience.” Reach Melinda Waldrop at 803-726-7542.

www.columbiabusinessreport.com 27

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with his hands and he’s ready to kind of get out in the world and make some money. I’ve said, ‘Have at it.’ Now’s a great opportunity.” Making sure word about such opportunity gets out is the idea behind a new workforce development program called Be Pro Be Proud launching in South Carolina this fall. The initiative features a custom-built, 53-foot 18-wheeler outfitted with video game-quality simulations of in-demand trades that often require a two-year degree or certificate instead of a four-year degree. “We’re just excited to be able to feature the trades in a different way,” said Clark, whose association is one of four professional organizations partnering with the S.C. Chamber of Commerce to bring the program-on-wheels to locations throughout the state, particularly rural or underserved communities. Be Pro Be Proud, modeled after a program in Arkansas, hopes to attract talent to the aforementioned fields as well as diesel technology, transportation and logistics and utility work, among others. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show available jobs in those sectors are projected to increase by as much as 25% in South Carolina in the next 10 years, according to a news release from the S.C. chamber. “When you talk about where Be Pro Be Proud actually goes and who it interacts with, it’s the pipeline,” said Ted Pitts, president and CEO of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s middle school students. It’s high school students. It could be that freshman in high school who doesn’t know what they want to do. “You’re building the pipeline.. … It helps high school and middle school students and their parents get introduced to the skilled trades and understand you can have a great, successful career, and it’s financially rewarding.” According to online job site ZipRecruiter’s analysis of employment listings, construction workers in S.C. earn an average of $32,582 annually but can make up to $60,000. Journeyman electricians average $26 an hour, while truck drivers make an average of $48,324 a year and can earn nearly $70,000. “This is a really great way to empower the kids to make more money for their families,” said Lou Kennedy, president and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp., a West Columbia-based manufacturer and Be Pro Be Proud corporate donor. “I like the idea of doing that in a rural county because if a person wants to stay close to home but wants to find a way to support their family in a larger way, this is a good way to introduce these skills, these trades that can help them support their family in a better way.” Pitts discovered the Arkansas program several years ago and began trying to bring it to S.C. in 2017, when the Arkansas truck made an appearance at the S.C.

Statehouse to mark the initiative’s introduction. But $950,000 earmarked for the program was cut from S.C.’s state budget that year. Last year, the state appropriated about $600,000 to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce to administer the program, Pitts said, and the private sector pledged to raise $2 million. Be Pro Be Proud is supported by the Associated Industries of South Carolina Foundation, which includes the chamber and Carolinas AGC as well as the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, the S.C. Trucking Association, and the Forestry Association of South Carolina. South Carolina will become only the second state in the country to feature program, according to the release. “The beauty of Be Pro Be Proud is it doesn’t require kids to have their parents bring them to see it or have a field trip bring them to see it. You can take the trailer to them,” Pitts said. “All communities across the state will have this opportunity to interact with the modules and participate in Be Pro Be Proud. It’s something that you take to the kids where they are, and whether that’s in a diverse environment, or a rural environment, or an urban environment, the entire state is going to get to see the investment that’s made by the private sector.” For Kennedy, the motivation to support Be Pro Be Proud is personal as well as professional. “My father is a really good machinist. He inspired me always along the way of how important these trades are,” she said. “He always said to me, ‘Lou, you have to have a degree and you need to be educated, but you also need to have a skill.’ To me, this is a way to promote that sentiment that he shared with me when I was a little girl.” It’s also a way to expand a workforce pipeline that benefits companies including Nephron, which develops and manufactures generic respiratory medications and also produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags for U.S. hospitals. “I’m also hoping to highlight the sterile pharmacy tech program, because this is an area I feel that’s growing, and we don’t have nearly enough of them in South Carolina,” Kennedy said. “We have to be supportive of what’s going on in the classroom if we expect to have the right employees to hire.” Pitts said private-sector fundraising is ongoing, with the program recruiting companies to join the Be Proud 100. Companies which contribute at least $15,000 will have their logos included on the 18-wheeler and be part of the program’s August kickoff celebration. More details are available at www. sctrucking.org/be-pro-be-proud. “We by no means are saying don’t get a four-year degree if that’s what you want to do,” Pitts said. “This is a way to introduce them (students) to other opportunities, and opportunities that we think abound and are plentiful here in the state.”

At Work


S.C. feels impact of industry-wide April job losses


Staff Report

outh Carolina lost 6,100 construction jobs from March to April 2020 as the industry saw job losses in every state except South Dakota, losing a total of 995,000 jobs in April. The industry rebounded in May, gaining 464,000 jobs, but remained 596,0000 jobs below its latest peak in February, according to an analysis of federal employment data by the Associated General Contractors of America. The 12.7% unemployment rate in construction for May was the highest since 2011 and represened nearly 1.2 millon idled former construction workers, according to a new release from the AGC. The industry lost 65,000 jobs in March. “The huge pickup in construction employment in May is good news and probably reflects the industry’s widespread receipt of Paycheck Protection Program loans and the loosening of restrictions on business activity in some states,” Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist, said in a news release. “Nevertheless, the industry remains far short of full employment, and more layoffs may be imminent.” Simonson urged increased federal funding for infrastructure, including highway, bridges, waterways and airports, to offset expected future job losses. The AGC analysis found the industry lost 975,000 jobs — a drop of 13% — from March to April. New York lost a nation-leading 166,200 construction jobs, while Vermont saw a decline of 46.3%. South Dakota alone added construction jobs, seeing an increase of 500. South Carolina has lost 3,600 jobs from April 2019 to April 2020, a decrease of 3.4%. Leslie Clark, vice president of oper-


ations and director of government relations for Carolinas AGC, said the biggest effects on the state’s construction industry are still 12 to 18 months away from being truly felt, though she is cautiously hopeful that the industry has enough work in the pipeline to help sustain it. “I don’t know if confident is the right word. We’re optimistic, based on the fact that our members have had some good years and have a backlog that will sustain them as we go forward,” Clark said. “Right now we just don’t know, especially dealing with universities that might be planning to be build dorms or any schools that might be in production — you never know where you are from a money standpoint. That’s going to be key going forward.”

An AGC survey found that 44% of 742 respondents had halted a project that was underway in April, while 16% canceled a project scheduled to start in April. Thirty percent of firms had furloughed or terminated workers, but an equal amount added employees, including some that had laid off workers earlier. “Our latest survey indicates that the paycheck loan program has enabled some companies to retain or add workers for now, but that relief will expire soon if not extended,” Simonson said. The AGC also found that construction spending shrank 2.9% in April. The month’s seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.35 trillion was its lowest since last November as each of the major categories tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau saw

drops: public construction 2.5%; private nonresidential 1.3%; and private residential 4.5%. Simonson said 10 out of 12 public and 10 out of 11 private nonresidential construction categories saw spending declines, including a drop of 5.2% in highway and street construction. “Although there have been scattered reports of acceleration in highway spending, many state and local transportation departments have been postponing or canceling projects as fuel-tax and toll revenues plummet,” Simonson said. “The highway construction downturn is likely to intensify in future months because, in many states, April is normally the first month of significant highway spending following winter shutdowns.”

Bobbit names construction industry veteran Denisar new CEO Columbia-based commercial construction firm Bobbitt has named Brian Denisar its new CEO. Denisar, previously in charge of business development and marketing for Samet Corp., has more than 18 years of construction and real estate leadership experience. He also led the Washington, D.C. corporate interiors team for HITT Contracting and served as senior vice president for that company’s South Florida region, where he grew HITT’s


territory by more than 300% during a three-year period, according to a news release. Denisar later oversaw the startup of HITT’s Raleigh office. “Throughout his career, Brian has demonstrated

his ability to help companies enter new markets and take decisive steps for sustained growth,” Josh Menold, Bobbitt CFO, said in a news release. “Under his leadership, we look forward to expanding our capabilities to meet comprehensive customer needs and strengthening the value of our employee ownership culture.” A New York native, Denisar earned his bachelor’s degree in business management and administration from

Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. He has served on executive board of directors for the Alamance Chamber of Commerce as vice president of economic development and has been active in The Global Association for Corporate Real Estate, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the N.C. Economic Development Association and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors.



June 22 - July 19, 2020

People in the News EDUCATION

Target your market in an upcoming issue of the Columbia Regional Business Report


RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE List: Mortgage Companies Advertising Deadline: July 6 AUGUST 17


List: Accounting Firms Bonus List: Credit Unions Special Section: Women of Influence Advertising Deadline: August 3 SEPTEMBER 14


List: Executive Recruiters Bonus List: Industrial Staffing Advertising Deadline: August 31 JULY 20

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE List: Mortgage Companies Advertising Deadline: July 6

For advertising information, call Lucia Smith at (803) 726-7547

Bob Staton will retire as president of Presbyterian College on Dec 31. Staton became the college’s 18th president in July 2015. Staton introduced a strategic plan Staton that include the renovation of Neville Hall, the building of a new undergraduate residence complex and the renovation of numerous other campus buildings. The school has also added graduate programs in physician assistant studies and occupational therapy during his tenure.

ENGINEERING Craig Kirby, a project engineer at Cayce-based American Engineering Consultants Inc., has been named the South Carolina Water Environment Association’s Kirby State Engineer of the Year for 2020. Kirby, a 23-year engineering veteran, is an S.C. registered professional engineer with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s in environmental engineering from the University of South Carolina.

and 2019, while Sullivan was honored for the second year. Newton was named a Rising Star for the second year in a row. Sullivan and Clarke were recognized in the area of personal injury general: plaintiff. Seven Robinson Gray attorneys were recognized as Super Lawyers, while five were named Rising Stars. The recognized Super Lawyers are: Betsy Gray, business litigation; Becky Laffitte, personal injury - products: defense; Bill Metzger, creditor debtor rights; Beth Richardson, business litigation; Bobby Stepp, business litigation; Monty Todd, personal injury medical malpractice: defense; and Cal Watson, business litigation. Rising Stars were: Ben Gooding, business litigation; Nick Haigler, workers’ compensation; Paul Hoefer, creditor debtor rights; Michael Montgomery, personal injury general: defense; and Jasmine Smith, business litigation. Burnette Shutt & McDaniel partners M. Malissa Burnette and Janet E. Rhodes have been recognized as Super Lawyers. Burnette was honored for the 13th consecutive Burnette year in the practice area of employment litigation, plaintiffs, while Rhodes, a fivetime Rising Star, was recognized for the first time in employment and labor law.

LAW Columbia attorney Roy F. Laney is the new president of the South Carolina Bar. A founding member of Riley, Pope & Laney LLC, Laney has more than Laney two decades of experience in information technology, utility fuel and transportation transaction work and commercial litigation. Laney has served as chairman of the S.C. Bar Lawyers Helping Lawyers Commission and treasurer and secretary of the S.C. Bar. Marti Bluestein, founding partner at Bluestein Attorneys, and firm lawyers Allison Sullivan and Clarke Newton have been honored by South Carolina Super Lawyers, a rating service featuring lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of professional achievement and peer recognition. Bluestein, recognized in the area of workers’ compensation, was previously listed as a Super Lawyer in 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018



Three Callision Tighe attorneys have been recognized as Super Lawyers. Michael W. Tighe, a firm founder, is listed in real estate law, Demetri “Jim” Brannon Koutrakos is listed in business litigation, and Wm. Bert Brannon is listed in estate planning and probate law.

NONPROFIT The International Business Brokers Association has recognized Columbia business broker David Yezbak of Sunbelt Business Brokers with the Chairman’s Circle Award for exceptional achievement. Less than 50 IBBA members worldwide received the award.

Submit items using our online submission portal: www.SodaCityBizWire.com. Publication is subject to editorial discretion.



Data governance: too risky to treat like a buzzword


ong before the COVID-19 pandemic, data security protocols like two-step verification and firewalls had become common and generally understood. Business leaders understand that in a cloud-based business environment, there’s a real risk of nefarious actors seriously impacting your business. With ANGELA more and more O’NEAL employees working from over the past few months, the threat from within is more defined than ever. Consider risks such as employees storing documents locally on home computers or on personal devices. Do your people discuss business and proprietary information on non-enterprise tools? Do you? Using Zoom, What’s App, Signal, Facebook Messenger, etc. create elevated levels of risk in and of themselves. Think about it. With your business being conducted from living rooms, breakfast nooks and home offices, are your records and data being preserved? If not, can it be found or is it lost forever?

Data governance

In academic terms, data governance is managing, accessing, using and securing information generated and used in your business enterprise. Governing corporate information is critical because it keeps data trustworthy and, in certain circumstances, helps it meet regulatory and legal requirements. Most people in business are familiar with the axom “garbage in, garbage out.” While true, consider the real stink that may arise if a well-intentioned employee mistakes a critical, valuable piece of information for garbage and discards it.

Common example

We work closely with many lawyers and law firms, so a common example of how this can be a real problem is the “smoking gun”: something like an unknown email being produced at a critical point in litigating a business dispute. A solid defense can be turned on its head in seconds. Are you confident that all your employees are currently saving and archiving their emails, calls and text appropriately? Costly issues can arise even when your employees are honest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for forensic collections is up


and physical collection is down. Legal actions may be delayed, but they have not stopped. That pent-up demand will be creating pressures that are likely not being considered as businesses work to get back on site and back to full capacity. Now, consider the hardship that could arise if that one staffer decides he has had enough and “goes rogue.” Could he corrupt or destroy important data? Could he steal trade secrets or client lists? Could he mislead or lie to customers? If he did, how long will it take you to find out?

Three options

In real-world business operations, there are three ways to handle data governance. The first is internally. Do it yourself. This is likely the least expensive up front. Just put a process in place, train your team and trust that they will do it right every time. This is the least effective way and often becomes the most costly. The second option is to outsource the responsibility. The process can require investments of time initially and capital. However, it is typically the most riskaverse and cost-effective. The third option comes after the fact. There are many forensic companies out there that can analyze your computers,

phones, servers and determine most of what has happened to your data and information over a period of time. But, as you might imagine, the need for such comes when there is an urgent situation at hand. With urgency comes rising costs. For even the best forensic data team, recreating is inferior to capturing from the start.

Insurance of sorts

Most businesses carry multiple insurance policies because insurance is the ultimate in risk reduction and mitigation. Forward-thinking business leaders should consider data governance along those same lines. At the very least, data governance will help prevent leaks and theft of sensitive information. More importantly, it can be invaluable in internal HR investigations. Imagine knowing the truth in those “he said, she said” situations. If faced with an inquiry from a regulatory or enforcement agency, imagine the security that would come with knowing that all your records and data are correct and there’s no chance that your company is going to be “caught in a lie” related to disclosure. Finally, imagine a lawsuit where you are confident that there are no ticking time bombs waiting to derail your

defense strategy. Large businesses, particularly those in highly regulated industries, like banks and health care systems, have the largest needs for data governance systems. But the events of 2020 have shone a light on the fact that there is very real risk that all business leaders should consider. Unless, of course, your business only uses handwritten invoices, communicates via snail mail and only accepts cash payments. Angela O’Neal is Director of Nextra Solutions, the information management and advisory service of the Nexsen Pruet law firm. O’Neal helps to reduce the risk associated with managing the large volumes of data created in today’s cloud-based IT environments. Her experience as a civil litigator and as an investigator with the NCAA gives her invaluable perspective on the identification, preservation, collection, review and production of all manner of documents and information.

We want to hear from you Write: Melinda Waldrop, Editor Columbia Regional Business Report, 1612 Marion St., Suite 301 Columbia, SC 29201 Email: mwaldrop@scbiznews.com



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