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November 2014

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November 2015

BizProfiles

“If you do the math, WTVI celebrates 50 years of service to this region in 2015. And that really is what public television is all about…it’s about service and commitment to a region,” says Amy Burkett, WTVI’s general manager and host of the “Carolina Impact” program.

 

“I’ve been in television for nearly 25 years so far,” says Burkett. “I spent nine years in commercial television, I spent 14 years at a public television station in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and I’ve been at WTVI for about 16 months serving as the station’s general manager. And these 16 months have really been a pivotal time.

 

Community Service

 

WTVI, virtual channel 42 (VHF digital channel 11) and cable channel 4,5 or 9 in the Charlotte region, is a PBS member television station owned by Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC). It is the only public television station in North Carolina not operated by UNC-TV, and is one of three PBS member stations serving the Charlotte television market.

 

WTVI was originally owned by the Mecklenberg County Board of Education, first signing on the air in August 1965 as an instructional television station with programming meant to be viewed in classrooms. The WTVI call letters stood for tele, vision and information.

 

In 1982, WTVI’s license was transferred to an agency created by the school system and the county—the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Broadcasting Authority—turning the station into a community-owned entity. Mecklenburg County covered the debt on WTVI’s digital broadcasting equipment and maintains the station’s studios, located on Commonwealth Avenue in Charlotte.

 

For over two decades WTVI served the community’s needs, but beginning in 2004, revenues began to decline. The station cut back on more well-known PBS programs in favor of “alternative” shows, but after several years it was in trouble. By mid-June 2011, its long-term operation was questionable.

 

“Of course, after the economy went south in 2008, the ensuing years were challenging for nearly every broadcaster, including WTVI,” acknowledges Burkett.

 

She explains, “There’s no doubt that we faced some challenges. In a nutshell, WTVI was having a hard time meeting its budget and would have gone dark in 2012 had Central Piedmont not stepped in and acquired the license.”

 

Approved by the Federal Communications Commission, the acquisition of WTVI was completed by July 2012. As a result, WTVI became an educational licensee for the second time in its history and, at the time, one of seven full-time PBS member stations to be operated by a community college.

 

“Afterward, the former general manager retired, and CPCC conducted a national search for a replacement,” continues Burkett. “That’s where I came in. I was chosen to take the station in a little bit of a different direction. In the 16 months that I’ve been in the Charlotte region, I’ve totally enjoyed immersing into this community, because public television is, once again, all about service to the community.”

 

WTVI has since brought back familiar PBS shows such as Downton Abbey, Nova and Nature to the schedule. Among its original shows and documentaries are Carolina Business Review, Carolina Impact, Off the Record, Charlotte Cooks, Job Ready, International Success, and Trail of History.

 

It reaches more than 1.1 million households in its 13-county service area in both North and South Carolina.

 

Showing and Doing

 

“We recently developed a tagline,” says Burkett, “‘We tell your stories, in your community, because we’re your WTVI PBS Charlotte.’ And while you can watch a multitude of cable and satellite channels, along with other public broadcasting stations, there is only one public television station serving this 13-county region, and that’s WTVI.”

 

“For example, Beverly Dorn-Steele, our director of educational services and community engagement, does a terrific amount of outreach including the literacy programs that she advocates and participates in—and that’s not happening at the other stations because they aren’t located here.

 

“In addition, we’ve enhanced the educational role of the station. Last year, we launched our STEM Awards to recognize terrific teens and teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which is a great collaboration with CPCC and their STEM Program. They were the judges and we put on the program. We were able to recognize young people in 11 different categories, and that was an honor.

 

“We want to help young people see that there are a lot of jobs out there that go unfilled. In fact, last year, over 600,000 STEM jobs went unfilled because students didn’t have the technical training that an educational institution such as CPCC offers. WTVI is also working with CPCC to create an associate’s degree program in digital media studies.

 

“We also launched a news magazine show called “Carolina Impact” last year,” continues Burkett, “that tells the stories of this region on a weekly basis. Each week, we’re focusing on the issues, people and places that impact this region, and that’s once again all about service. So what we’ve developed over the last 16 months is a service-to-success model. The greater we serve this region, the more support we receive, and together, we’re all more successful.

 

“PBS stands for public broadcasting system, so it’s not a network,” Burkett is quick to point out. “Whereas a major network affiliate will broadcast network programming at certain times on certain days, we have more flexibility to broadcast programming on our schedule.

 

“The 150 or so independent PBS affiliates across the country carry Nature, Nova, Antiques Roadshow and Downton Abbey, for example, but we have some freedom as to when we can air these PBS programs. And we are careful to differentiate our programming so that you aren’t watching the same programs as on the other public stations in the area.

 

“Five nights a week, “Burkett says, “our programming is very different than the other two public broadcasting stations in the Carolinas.”

 

See More Good Stuff, Really

 

Dorn-Steele, a 33-year veteran of WTVI, is accustomed to the spotlight as the host of WTVI’s “Ms. Beverly and Seemore Goodstuff.” But she’s also accustomed to lending her hand in the Charlotte community to provide passionate support for education.

 

Dorn-Steele explains, “I ended up here at WTVI quite by accident. I had applied to the school board in Charlotte, but my application got misfiled and sent to WTVI. So, they took a look at it and said, ‘Wow, she types over 120 words per minute!’ and called me up for an interview and I was hired as a receptionist.

 

“From there, I just worked my way up. I’ve learned everything from production to finance to promotions. Over time, I moved from the production side of things to the engagement and community outreach side of things.”

 

Burkette adds, “I like to call Beverly the queen of education. You know, she’s really entrenched and has spent the bulk of her time here in education and outreach.”

 

“One thing I like,” Dorn-Steele remarks, “is that, for me, every day is different. Some days, at least twice a week, I’ll be out in the community conducting workshops with childcare providers, educators and parents on how they can use the power of PBS kids programming in their curriculums. These workshops can range anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours in length.

 

“We also provide curriculum guides that center around specific themes. For example, we have a Curious George guide that deals with science, and we’ll conduct a workshop with science teachers that want to use Curious George in their curriculums. Also, all of our guides do meet the North Carolina CORE standard, so educators really embrace the use of public television.”

 

Dorn-Steele continues, “We also have adult programming and documentaries where we might have a preview screening and invite community members or a targeted organization. Then, we may have a dialogue or panel or special guest to engage the group to take action.

 

“This past summer we conducted the ‘Cyber Chase Summer Challenge,’ where kids around the country were challenged to come up with their own math games. WTVI worked with the Johnston YMCA, and they created three games, and two of those games came in first and second place in this national contest.”

 

“Our kids are smart in Charlotte!” remarks Burkett with obvious pride. “And they’re empowered to excel both locally and nationally because of their public media. As a result of the work that Beverly does here in the region, these kids were recognized nationally.

 

“Other television stations don’t have that kind of connection with people like we’re able to have here. In addition, Beverly worked with another young person who finished as a national finalist in the National Writer’s Contest.”

 

Beyond Public Broadcasting

 

Dorn-Steele and Burkett also discuss how they love the chance to connect with and empower Charlotte residents through their mission, which is to educate, inspire and entertain. They both believe the station goes above and beyond in its approach to providing such services.

 

Dorn-Steele says, “Another great example of the educational outreach that we’re involved in is the ‘Martha Speaks Reading Buddies’ project, where we partnered with one of the area’s lowest-ranking elementary schools to pair second and third graders with kindergarteners and first graders. ‘Martha Speaks’ is about a dog that swallows a can of alphabet soup, and when he speaks, he introduces a new vocabulary word.

 

“It just blew my mind, watching these kids after the show, especially on parents’ night. ‘Oh, I recognize that word. Do you want to hear me use it in a sentence?!’ It was phenomenal.”

 

Burkett follows up, “Community engagement is one of the things that powers public media, and we just love to be a part of it.”

 

Ultimately responsible for operations of the station, Burkett has an impressive array of experience on which to draw. “I have a background in a little bit of everything in television including programming, fundraising and production,” she says modestly.

 

She grew up a small Ohio town of fewer than 10,000 residents, with a passion for people and storytelling. “I couldn’t put it down,” she says. She attended Bowling Green State University and started right in the television news market with a goal of becoming a station manager someday.

 

“I learned how to do everything,” she remembers, including anchoring the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.” She moved on to other positions in Greenville, N.C., and Allentown and Bethlehem, Pa., before ultimately landing in Charlotte. Along the way, she’s collected dozens of accolades and Emmys, plus a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

 

“At WTVI, I also host our ‘Carolina Impact’ show while working on documentaries,” she says. Like Dorn-Steele, Burkett enjoys the variety of activities her job entails. “So, my day could start out with a budget meeting, I could go on a fundraising breakfast or luncheon, and follow it up by hosting an education summit,” she describes.

 

“I also serve as a board member on the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, so I’ve got a little bit of everything going on, but all of this allows me to get to know the Charlotte community and be a part of the fabric, which is what I love so much.”

 

WTVI also has significant offerings apart from public broadcasting. Burkett says, “Production services are a big part of what we do. People can hire their public television service for a commercial or for a video, for example.

 

“I don’t think anyone tells stories like your public television station,” touts Burkett with pride. “So, if you’re looking for something to put on your website to connect the dots, we’re available.

 

“We had the good fortune to partner with Charlotte Works and the Centralina Workforce Development Board last year to create some videos showing how STEM fields are important for young people. That was a great collaboration, producing stories that are posted on various websites that educate and inspire others as to where the jobs are for the future.

 

“We strive to provide unique, engaging, educational, and entertaining local programming. We also seek out unique talent within the Charlotte region. We want to tell the stories no one else is telling in a very in-depth, very informative, educational and engaging way.”

When General Manager Joey Profeta greets you at The Palm in Phillips Place, he isn’t just welcoming you into his business, he’s welcoming you into his family.

 

A 20-year veteran of The Palm, Profeta knows many of his customers by name, knows about their family, and knows what they like to eat and drink. It’s all part of the culture of a family-owned business started in New York City in 1926 by two Italian immigrants—Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi. Now, almost 90 years later, the company they started extends from coast to coast and abroad.

 

But while the scope of The Palm has grown since 1926, the key values that have contributed to the company’s success haven’t changed—a commitment to outstanding food, exemplary service, and a culture built on hospitality, generosity, and a sense of family.

 

Third Generation Family Business

 

As the story goes, John and Pio wanted to name their new restaurant after their hometown of Parma, Italy. But when they went to the city offices to obtain their business license, a city licensing clerk misunderstood their Italian accents and mistakenly issued the license as “The Palm.”

 

Because The Palm was located near the headquarters of newspaper cartoon distributor King Features Syndicate, it was frequented by many of the artists. So in trade for their meals, the artists would draw their creations on the walls, and the walls of that original location still feature the faces of Popeye, Batman, Beetle Bailey, and the characters from “A Family Circus.”

 

The tradition of decorating the walls with caricatures has continued over the years. Each new restaurant gets 200 to 300 likenesses of local notables on the walls and new caricatures of regular customers and local celebrities are added as time goes by to keep the walls updated and current. Many of the caricatures are personally autographed.

 

Ironically, while The Palm is today best known for its steaks, the original Palm didn’t even have steak on the menu. Primarily a traditional Italian restaurant, if a customer asked for steak, John Ganzi would run to a nearby butcher to buy a steak to cook to order. In time, steaks did become a regular menu item.

 

In the 1940s, Walter Ganzi and Bruno Bozzi took over the restaurant from their fathers; and in the early 1960s, their sons, Wally Ganzi and Bruce Bozzi Sr. began working at The Palm. In the late 1960s, Walter and Bruno retired from the business, handing the leadership over to Wally and Bruce.

 

When George H.W. Bush was in New York in the early 1970s as ambassador to the United Nations, he and Wally became friends. At Bush’s urging, The Palm opened their second location in Washington, D.C., in December 1972, beginning over 35 years of expansion. Today, The Palm operates 23 locations in the United States and abroad.

 

In 2011, the Palm Restaurant Group undertook a brand refresh which included tableware, uniforms, signage, and an updated visual identity manifested in a new website and a new ad campaign. People did not know the chain of eateries were family-owned—they had been communicating a very corporate vibe that didn’t jibe with the restaurant’s history or roots.

 

A number of menu changes were made to coincide with the brand refresh. Nova Scotia lobster became a staple as well as a selection of salads. The wedge salad became signature. The shrimp served on a bed of lettuce—deemed unappealing—hanging off the side of a bowl with ice, and some dry ice added for smokiness—visually impactful.

 

Menus emphasize “family recipes” and there is a greater focus on making an emotional connection with loyal customers and taking much greater advantage of a rick family history. So To date, the refresh seems successful—a sign that the rewards can be rich for investment in thoughtful design.

 

Building Relationships

 

The Palm’s growth led to Charlotte in late December 1997, when they opened at the new Phillips Place shopping and entertainment complex on Fairview Road near SouthPark Mall. In the almost 17 years since, The Palm has established itself as a Charlotte landmark and one of the city’s most successful fine dining establishments.

 

“The Palm is all I know,” says Profeta, who has managed the Charlotte Palm for almost 10 years. “My career started in the kitchens. I’m also Italian-American, so this place certainly has a special place in my heart. I love The Palm. I love the family. I love the culture. I love the business.”

 

A native of Philadelphia and a 1995 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Profeta started his career right after graduation as a sous chef (second in command in the kitchen) at The Palm in Philadelphia. After a summer at a seasonal location in East Hampton, N.Y., Profeta was ready for a change of scenery and took a job in 1997 as a sous chef at The Palm in Denver.

 

In 1999, he was promoted to executive chef in Denver, and then in 2004, he made the jump from the kitchen to the dining room when he was named assistant general manager in Denver.

 

“I always said that being a chef is a very young man’s game, and after almost 10 years of that hot and sweaty work it was time for me to take a look at what was next,” says Profeta. “I really enjoyed the business end—the hospitality, the guests, and the people. So from that standpoint, it was a very easy transition to the dining room.”

 

Profeta had been in Denver for only about six months when the opportunity arose to move to Charlotte as general manager. He and his wife Libby moved to the Queen City in 2005.

 

“Fortunately, having that experience in the kitchen allowed me enough time to figure out what I was doing in the front of the house,” says Profeta. “There aren’t a lot of people in this business that have experience in both the kitchen and the dining room.”

 

“I’ve also been more than blessed with the team here,” continues Profeta. “The people that work for The Palm are truly amazing. I just started my 10th year at this location and all of my chefs and managers are the same except for one. My executive chef has been here about 12-13 years. My assistant general manager has been with The Palm for 12 years. Our entire morning kitchen crew has been here 15-plus years. I would bet that half of our hourly staff has been here longer than me. That’s simply unheard of in this business.”

 

While Profeta says their goal is to serve great food and provide exceptional service, he adds you could also make that same statement about many other fine dining steakhouses in Charlotte. So what sets The Palm apart from its competitors?

 

“I truly believe that the only thing that separates us from any other restaurant is our ability to build relationships,” offers Profeta. “I work at that; I take pride in that; and I enjoy that. I want to get to know you, your family, where you work, how many kids you have, your favorite table, and your favorite drink. I want you to become an extension of my family.”

 

Helping Profeta and his team accomplish those goals are internal information systems that keep track of customer likes, dislikes and preferences. The information is provided to servers as well as management to help the teams provide Palm customers with the best, most personalized experience possible.

 

The Palm also has one of the most successful loyalty reward programs in the restaurant business, their 837 Club. Profeta says he often sees patrons arguing over who gets to pay the bill, since if you pay the bill you get the 837 Club points added to your account.

 

The caricatures themselves are another way The Palm rewards the loyalty of their best customers, by offering the opportunity to have their likeness placed on the wall. While some patrons decline the offer, most accept and often ask to be seated near their picture when dining, especially when they are entertaining.

 

The Charlotte Palm also benefits from its longevity, arriving on the scene before many of its current competitors like Del Frisco’s and Ruth Chris. Because of the customer loyalty that has been built over those years, Profeta says a new generation of Charlotte diners is discovering The Palm.

 

“We often hear people say their father introduced them to The Palm in New York City 30 years ago,” he says. “Now they are continuing that tradition with their own kids. You see a local businessman and his family here, but what you forget was there was a generation before that where it all started.”

 

A Changing Landscape

 

In recent years Charlotte has seen an abundance of new restaurant choices arrive on the scene—not just steakhouses—but a whole new wave of dining choices. Profeta says while that has made it tougher to compete for customers’ dining dollars, he feels the improved culinary landscape is an overall positive for the community.

 

He believes the arrival and maturation of Johnson & Wales University and its College of Culinary Arts has contributed to the improved local culinary scene. Johnson & Wales students and graduates have also provided The Palm with an expanded pool of candidates for staffing.

 

With the price of prime beef on the rise due to supply constraints, every restaurant is trying to find other things to put on the menu. And while there is a trend towards more seafood as customers try to make healthier choices, the vast majority of The Palm’s customers still want a big steak, so they must find the right balance on price.

 

“We certainly aren’t the cheapest in town, but we don’t want to be the most expensive in town either,” says Profeta. “We also don’t want to change the quality, and we still will always serve a huge steak.”

 

Since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Profeta acknowledges that business dining and entertainment practices have changed and will probably never be the same again.

 

“I don’t think there are many employees that still have the freedom of the unlimited expense account,” admits Profeta. “But I actually think that makes for a stronger, more sustainable business. I would rather have them come in here and feel good about what they spent and come back again in a month, as opposed to only being able to come once a year.”

 

Instead of expanding to new cities, in recent years, The Palm has turned its attention more toward its existing locations. Should an older facility be renovated, or should it be relocated to a new site altogether? In Houston, a 40-year-old location was closed for a three-month renovation, while the Boston location was relocated, and the West Hollywood Palm was recently relocated to Beverly Hills.

 

Technology is also changing the way restaurants do business, particularly with the advent of Web-based reservation systems like Open Table. Profeta says he is amazed how many reservations are booked on the Web via Open Table or at ThePalm.com.

 

“Open Table really helps us promote our business,” says Profeta. “People can jump on the Web and search for what’s open in the next hour in Charlotte. We’ve learned you need to be accessible and you really want to keep your name out there on Open Table as much as possible.”

 

But he says managing the reliability of that online reservation can be a challenge. While people who have called to make a reservation will usually call back to advise of a change in plans or a reduction in the number of diners, he says those who reserve on the Web seem to be less likely to advise of changes, making it more difficult for the restaurant to adapt to the change and plan accordingly.

 

Profeta also thinks it won’t be too many years before servers will be using handheld devices to take orders and automatically send that order back to the kitchen. Upcoming rules that will require all credit card swipes to be done in the presence of the customer will likely mandate some sort of mobile terminal that allows the server to process such transactions at the customer’s table.

 

While the restaurant landscape is always evolving, Profeta says treating his employees and customers like family will never change. Whether it’s a “family meal” for all employees prior to the start of the evening shift, or a free turkey for each team member to take home at Thanksgiving, he says preserving The Palm’s culture is a top priority.

 

“I’ll never take my eye off of that prize, because I think that is what has allowed us to stay so competitive for so long,” he concludes. “There are so many restaurants that people pass by when they choose to go to The Palm, so building relationships is something that we absolutely must continue to do better than anybody else.”

For most people, turning a hobby into a career is nothing more than a dream, but for one entrepreneur, it has become a reality.

 

Greg Higgs, founder and owner of Fab Fours, Inc., located in Lancaster, S.C., graduated from Texas A&M in 2003 after studying industrial distribution. Subsequently, he took a job in the oil and gas industry with a desire to live and work in Perth, Australia; however, things took an unlikely turn that ultimately led to Higgs receiving the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

“Although I thought I was heading for Perth,” says Higgs, “the company actually ended up sending me to Jakarta, Indonesia, which is not where I envisioned living at 22 years old. I was essentially the equivalent of an intern. Given a bit of time, I got over feeling sorry for myself and started pursuing my passion, which is off-roading…I love trucks and Jeeps and the outdoors. As an Eagle Scout, I love camping—that whole element.”

 

“At the same time, I started writing a business plan for starting a retail off-road shop in the U.S. Providentially, circumstances came together and I met an investor, a fellow Texan—as I am from Houston—in a bar in Jakarta, who was willing to help me act on my dream. In fact, I’ll never forget his famous words…‘If you have the plan, I have the money.’”

 

After only three months working in Jakarta, Higgs took a chance and quit his job. He moved in with the investor, opened a shop, and Fab Fours was born. Higgs says of the company’s name, “We named it that because I called in another partner from Texas and he called in a partner from Australia, so there were four of us, and it’s a play on the word ‘fabrication.’”

 

He continues, “We got that shop in Jakarta going in a very challenging environment, and the growth process went on for three years. As my dad has dubbed it, my MBA was in building this business in that environment at that age.”

 

Higgs readily admits that he’s always had a fascination with bumpers. He decided to begin importing them from a manufacturer he found in Thailand. After several visits to the manufacturer, Higgs realized that the infrastructure was in place that would allow him to create his own brand of products, so he started, but this endeavor was not to last.

 

“Our supplier eventually fell through,” remarks Higgs, “but the die was already cast in my mind. I realized I could live anywhere and use drop shipping to get my products out.

 

“So, we moved to Durango, Colorado, where we developed 18 part numbers over the better part of a year in order to reach critical mass. Instead of a traditional slow launch, we switched gears and partnered with job shops in the U.S.

 

“We wanted to become a nationwide, full-fledged bumper provider from the start. With that, the idea was ‘No constraints.’ If we’re going to use drop-ship manufacturers, we need to have the best manufacturers in the country. This led to having suppliers in Denver and Indiana, all essentially a plane ride away.”

 

The Old-Fashioned Way

 

At the same time, Higgs’ role was focused on the sales and marketing side of things. He drove from city to city, hauling a trailer full of products, and each time he would arrive in a new place, he would pull out the Yellow Pages to look for truck and vehicle accessory shops. Door to door, he would bring proprietors out to see the products, and ultimately, convince them to do a buy-in, leading to steady growth.

 

“We started with a direct-to-retail market,” says Higgs, “but in early 2006, beginning with the SEMA show, the industry standard for our products, everything changed. At that time, we virtually didn’t exist. We had no phone number, no website, nothing. But starting in 2006, you could actually buy something direct from Fab Fours, and our revenue was something like $400,000.

 

“From ’06, ’07, ’08, we made the Inc. 500 with revenues around the $2.5 million mark,” continues Higgs. “So, selling was not the problem as we were keeping our promises of quality and consistency, which is a concern in this market.”

 

Higgs explains that many people who go into the after-market vehicle parts industry are enthusiasts, much like himself. Higgs believes that many of these enthusiasts are unprepared to handle the challenges that come along with growing such a business.

 

“That typical path begins by making parts on the side or tweaking parts until reaching a point where an enthusiast can quit their day job and become a small business owner,” says Higgs. “And then they grow that until they peak where their personal objectives have been met, but the next evolution of the business surpasses their finances, personal ability, and so on. This is why there are many competitors, but few rivals to Fab Fours.”

 

He continues, “My father started his own business with two other guys with $5,000 apiece in the oil and gas industry. That company now makes over $1 billion annually, so I lived through the right way to grow a company.”

 

The Path to Success

 

Fab Fours’ value proposition is “Quality…Delivered On Time,” but challenges at the Colorado location made it difficult to live up to this. The company was outsourcing manufacturing, design, and marketing elements using small job shops and other businesses. As the volume of orders began to pick up, the demand for parts increased, and Fab Fours’ outsourcing partners were not able to keep pace.

 

As Higgs notes, “It was still small job shops we relied on, and the quality we demanded was greater than the level they were capable of producing. The shops that could make a bumper could also make a riding mower deck or an electrical box housing. Those are parts where no one cares if they have slight defects or scratches.”

 

Unfortunately, Higgs says, many in the enthusiast community are all too familiar with the grainy, difficult-to-read instruction manuals, missing bolts, and parts that don’t fit that arrive three-to-five weeks later than the customer expected.

 

“We decided we were going to try to change this expectation. We decided to place a strong emphasis on quality parts delivered on time. Today, if you want a car seat, you can go out right now and buy a car seat from numerous places. In my industry, it’s not like that.

 

“Our community is small and fragmented. If you want a premium bumper, you have to order from a specialized company. However, getting a quality bumper on time is important, and we weren’t able to produce the quality we wanted in Durango.”

 

He continues, “We’re like a Louis Vuitton purse for a guy. When we construct a bumper that you’re installing onto your pride and joy, a bumper you’re spending thousands of dollars on, it has to be perfect. So, to get that quality, we had to bring the parts to us, which was unraveling the strategy of having distant manufacturers. Now it was becoming a massive burden. The part that was made in Indiana had to be shipped to Durango, only to then be shipped back out to Indiana or Atlanta or Oregon.”

 

In order to combat this problem and further expand, Higgs reached out to individuals involved in economic development in Durango, but he found it challenging to get a permit to make space.

 

Over time, Higgs began feeling as though Durango was not the right choice for Fab Fours’ plans for expansion, so he began to look at potential locations across the country, including Salt Lake City, Denver, and Dallas. However, Charlotte won out in the end due to its ample space and skilled workforce.

 

“Our initial location in the greater Charlotte area was in Pineville’s industrial park,” says Higgs. “For the first three years we were here, we just had a warehouse, and we were bringing in parts from the job shops we were manufacturing through. In 2010, we hit a point where, in order to continue on the path of growth we were on, we had to stop relying on the outsourcing.”

 

The decision was then made to move to Lancaster, S.C., due to the affordability of real estate and an ample workforce that was left in the aftermath of the textile industry collapse. In Lancaster, Fab Fours moved into a new building, installed its own equipment, and began manufacturing its own products.

 

Regarding the Lancaster location, Higgs notes, “Although making this move presents a few challenges in terms of employee commute times, so far, that hasn’t negatively affected the business.

 

“This facility is 33,000 square feet and all production, from 2010 to present, and what will be all of 2015, was and will be out of this facility. However, we own a building that is about 12 miles from here that is 140,000 square feet.”

 

Higgs continues, “Right now, we’re using that location for sales and marketing, but it will be used for manufacturing. This location will continue to operate, possibly as an aluminum plant, as we continue to diversify our product line to include both steel and aluminum items.

 

“Where this building will peak at about 18 to 22 million in capacity, the new building should be good for about 85 to possibly 100 million in capacity. My view is, if the new building can get us to 100 million, and our current location can produce 20 million, that’s probably the limit that we would want to make in this region anyway.

 

“By the time we hit that, the other building will be our headquarters, but we’d then like to expand outside of the Carolinas to include central and western territories for manufacturing.”

 

Driving Into the Future

 

Fab Fours’ front winch bumpers are designed to be the ultimate in functionally stylish front end protection. These direct bolt-on bumpers require no cutting, grinding or welding. An engineered winch mount conceals the winch in the bumper. Fab Fours’ rear bumpers come with a variety of options including integrated receivers, tire carriers, shackle mounts, and more.

 

Fab Fours insists on quality construction formed and welded precisely—for example bumper tire carriers have Fab Fours’ signature “knife edge” finish. Although they are best known for their quality bumpers, Fab Fours manufactures a wide variety of vehicle accessories for the automotive aftermarket. Products come with a lifetime warranty on structure.

 

Regarding what the future holds for Fab Fours, Higgs says, “Right now, bumpers are the driving force, they’re what we’re synonymous with. However, starting about 18 months ago, our line did expand to include peripheral steel accessories. When you look at the outside of a vehicle, for example a super-duty truck, there’s the front and back bumpers, side steps, a headache rack, and a roof rack. So, basically anything that you can bolt to the outside to change the look and function, we’ve now hit all of those elements.

 

“In addition, our flagship bumper is still the most expensive on the market, but we’ve also introduced a less-expensive model that’s well suited to fleets.”

 

Higgs also notes that the company has turned to wholesale distribution to gain an edge.

 

“Because we built our brand through organic retail customers, it’s become difficult to travel far to find new customers as well as logistically challenging to ship. This led our company to become a pioneer in wholesale distribution for bumpers.

 

“While wholesale distribution has been around in the aftermarket industry, it’s mainly been used for small parts. Think about this…one of our steel bumpers, when packaged, weighs about 400 pounds and is about the size of a refrigerator. Through the wholesalers, anywhere in America right now, a truck owner can now get a Fab Fours’ bumper next day, through retail, supported by wholesale.

 

“In the end, we aim to be the brand in the automotive aftermarket that truck and off-road enthusiasts turn to above all others. As we’re bolting together our plan, we also plan to pursue commercial, military, and international. As long as we stick to delivering quality products on time, I’m confident that we’ll get there.”

Kenneth and Sam Ayers knew a lot about buildings long before they got into the cleaning and maintenance business. Both trained engineers, the father and son duo began working together in 1999 when Kenneth joined his father in his custom home building business in Columbia, S.C.

 

In 2006, they decided to diversify into building maintenance, buying a franchise of Kansas City-based City Wide Maintenance. By 2008, they had City Wide Maintenance of Charlotte up and running, covering the Charlotte metropolitan territory of Rock Hill to Statesville and Gastonia to Kannapolis.

 

Timing could not have been more fortuitous. “God was looking out for us,” says Sam. The construction industry, among the hardest hit by the 2008-2009 economic recession, was just beginning to reel from the loss of business that would continue to decline over the next few years.

 

“We had been thinking about integrating vertically, opening a cabinet ship,” contributes Kenneth, “but were lucky to get out of the building industry when we did and into a recession-resistant business.

 

The Cleaning Solution

 

City Wide Maintenance of Charlotte is a building maintenance management company that specializes in janitorial and maintenance services primarily for commercial buildings.

 

“Working through our network of service partners, we help folks that outsource their cleaning and maintenance needs,” explains Kenneth. “Anything that makes a building and property look better, we can do.”

 

Each City Wide customer utilizes janitorial services and can access as many as 20 other services as needed, including painting and dry wall repair, parking lot services such as asphalt sealing and striping, lawn care, window washing, carpet cleaning, lighting services, floor refinishing, concrete coating, pest control, pressure washing, carpet and tile installation, restroom remodeling, handyman services, picture hanging, and more.

 

City Wide maintains numerous types of facilities from single and multi-tenant commercial businesses to medical offices, schools and faith-based organizations. “Our target building is a 25,000-square-feet, single tenant owner-occupied building,” says Kenneth.

 

Area customers include Britax, with its 500,000 square feet of building space, Tindol Ford, several Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates (CEENTA) locations, Precision Steel Warehouse, Piedmont Plastics, US Leisure, The Goddard School, and Dilworth Child Development Center, to name a few.

 

“By partnering (sub-contracting) with small to mid-sized companies that do not have their own sales and management teams in place, we are able to provide services to customers and deliver professional management of each vendor,” says Kenneth. “It’s a win-win-win for us, for the contractors who need help in developing business, and for the customers who no longer need to manage building maintenance. It’s also a huge benefit in terms of convenience, efficiency, and financial commitment.”

 

“We got interested in this business because our background was in construction and the business model of City Wide was similar to what we were used to in the building business,” shares Sam. “Plus, one of the appeals of this was that it is, if not recession-proof, recession-resistant.”

 

City Wide Maintenance, the parent company, offers franchises in the 76 largest markets in the U.S. With the growth experienced by the Charlotte metropolitan area, both Kenneth and Sam were confident building maintenance services would be in high demand. “The opportunity is so great within the market here; the potential for growth is unlimited,” says Kenneth.

 

Indeed, City Wide Maintenance of Charlotte has averaged annual growth of over 52 percent each year since 2009, so much so that Kenneth and Sam are willing to entertain the possibility of acquiring another market, although they insist that the Charlotte market will sustain them indefinitely.

 

“Our 10-year goal is to continue to experience the growth we’ve achieved during the past several years,” says Kenneth.

 

The Father-and-Son Connection

 

City Wide Maintenance was started in 1961 by Frank Oddo in Kansas City. Also a family business, Frank’s son Jeff has continued to move the company forward, transforming it from directly providing janitorial, landscape maintenance and painting services. Today, the company operates as an extension of a client’s facilities management team, vetting contractors who provide those services City Wide previously offered directly.

 

Then City Wide provides leadership, mentoring and business development to ensure that its contractors provide seamless service to clients. In 2001, the company began franchising its concept and today there are 40 City Wide franchises around the country.

 

Kenneth and Sam both say that the fact that City Wide itself is a father-and-son venture helped to bring them into the franchise fold.

 

Kenneth says City Wide Maintenance of Charlotte mutually benefits from relationships with other City Wide franchises, particularly along the I-85 corridor, such as those in the Research Triangle, Greenville/Spartanburg and Atlanta.

 

“We work closely with them, sometimes talking weekly about challenges and opportunities. We also partner with them to share customers who have buildings in different markets,” says Kenneth. “We’re prospecting one right now from a Raleigh business that is opening a building here in Charlotte.”

 

In some ways, the company operates more as a family business than a typical franchise.

 

“Above and beyond the janitorial services, we have autonomy to decide what we do,” says Kenneth. “In our business model, the core of the business is the janitorial and represents 75 to 80 percent of our revenue. That leaves room for us to decide what additional services to provide and how to distinguish ourselves.

 

“Some of that is dictated by geography. For instance, we don’t do a lot of snow removal.”

 

The One-Contact

 

Work with the customer begins with a detailed needs analysis, describes Kenneth. That is followed by identifying the most appropriate service partners for the work involved, determined by expertise and geographic location.

 

“Most importantly,” says Kenneth, “each customer is provided with support from a designated facilities service manager with whom they can communicate and who will be watchful of current and upcoming needs. The facilities service managers catch things before they become big problems—for instance, frayed or damaged carpet.”

 

“Customers like to have someone they trust—someone that already knows the building—to call upon,” adds Sam. “This is a huge service to companies that, in many cases, have office managers trying to keep track of the needs of a huge building. Our strengths are the time savings we offer through managing services and the ability to put the right people on the job.”

 

City Wide boasts a retention rate of over 90 percent according to Kenneth.

 

“We mostly work with service companies that don’t have the staff, time or expertise to go out and market their services and negotiate contracts,” explains Kenneth. “We become their sales team and are a catalyst for their growth. A lot of these companies may not exist or be at the size they are without us.

 

“We feel responsible, in part, for the 125 employees that are associated with our service contractors who specialize in all the areas we might be called into.”

 

Since contractors are always looking for business and City Wide is always looking for contractors, the company holds an open meeting for potential contractors every four weeks or so. “We also run ads on Craigslist and get recommendations from existing contractors,” says Sam.

 

City Wide requires that the contractors conduct full background checks on their employees and provide that information to City Wide management. “So many people reach out to us,” says Kenneth. “We have to be very aware of their capabilities. We can’t just put anyone in one of our buildings.”

 

“We’re pretty proud of our Performance Plus Program,” admits Kenneth. The proprietary program outlines six steps and strategies to optimize cleaning time and focuses on preemptively attacking dirt before it comes into the building. With a commitment towards indoor air quality, the company uses high efficiency chemicals and equipment to ensure a deep clean.

 

City Wide considers itself to be environmentally friendly. “We don’t use toxic chemicals,” states Sam. “Everything we do is green where applicable,” says Kenneth. “All of our cleaners are green-sealed certified.” Kenneth says that they are also careful to train all workers in the proper use of chemicals and how and where to dispose of chemicals and dirty water.

 

The company is also guided by state regulations and OSHA requirements, particularly in settings such as schools, food distribution areas, day care centers, and ambulatory surgery centers. For instance, in day care centers, there are requirements regarding carpet cleaning, air returns and vents, and how toys are cleaned. With food distribution, there are requirements around the use of safe disinfectant cleaners. Regulations also are applied for personal protection equipment, such as steel toed shoes and safety glasses, in certain environments.

 

All in the Family

 

City Wide Maintenance of Charlotte has six management employees divided between sales associates, facility service managers (FSMs), and operations support staff. Each FSM is responsible for a number of buildings and manages a rotating schedule for visits to the property. Sam also serves as an FSM. Kenneth’s wife Catherine serves as the company’s part-time financial coordinator.

 

“Our office doesn’t get a lot of telephone calls; not a lot of people knocking on the door,” says Sam. Existing customers will call Kenneth, me, or their FSM directly. For prospective customers, we do the calling and door-knocking.”

 

“A lot of our efforts are simply out on foot canvassing buildings, stopping by or making calls and sending emails to building owners or tenants,” remarks Kenneth. “Often information regarding ownership or property management will be posted on the door.”

 

City Wide staff is constantly reviewing Google maps and drilling down into Hoover’s data to gain information about buildings of interest. The company maintains a current listing of building permits to stay abreast of new construction underway. “New buildings become prospects for us for construction cleanup and beyond,” says Kenneth.

 

City Wide has established specific metrics for their outreach, aiming at 2,000 contacts or “touches” each month. Typically, that number of contacts will generate three to five new customers. New buildings are steadily coming onto the Charlotte metro market and Kenneth anticipates bringing in additional people in operational support in the new year.

 

A native of Columbia, S.C., Sam earned his degree in electrical engineering at Clemson University and went to work with General Electric. He then obtained an MBA and went to work for Phillips Components. Enjoying the part of his work that was business management, he became interested in home building and built a few small homes during the 1980s.

 

Over time, he grew tired of working with large companies and went full-time into the home construction industry in 1991 where he remained until the City Wide opportunity presented itself. Commuting from Columbia, Sam is aware of the significant business growth in the metro area.

 

Raised in Columbia, Kenneth helped his dad in the home construction business as a teenager, discovering an affinity for project management. He went on to earn his degree in civil engineering from Clemson University. After working for a time with a company in Atlanta, he returned to Columbia and to the family business in 1999. Kenneth, now living in Fort Mill, sees the business growth first-hand.

 

Sam’s eventual retirement will be a real issue for Kenneth and the business, and the pair are beginning to work on a succession plan. “Every business partner has to plan on how to replace himself,” remarks Sam.

 

“Being involved in a 24/7 business means occasionally getting calls during the night. Fortunately, we have people out at night who can handle most issues,” says Kenneth. “Sometimes Sam and I get calls, but unless there is a true complaint or problem, we’re not as involved at night.”

 

Asked if they have any horror stories, Sam recalls, “The worst thing that has happened was one of our contractors was on his way to clean a building in Belmont and had a heart attack. As concerning as that was, it demonstrated to the customer the benefit of working with a management company; we were able to send somebody else in to clean the building.”

 

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Kenneth says nodding. “The only times cleaning could not be done on schedule was due to inclement weather.”

 

Overall, Kenneth and Sam say they have enjoyed working together and have managed the inherent kinks of working alongside family members.

 

“The great thing about it is that I know I can trust him at all times; I don’t have to worry about it,” says Kenneth.

 

“We’ve been working together now for 15 years and we haven’t choked or kicked one another,” laughs Sam. “It wouldn’t work with every father and son but we’ve managed to get along so far and it’s working out well.”

The Charlotte area housing market is showing signs of improvement. September 2014 sales in the whole Carolinas Multiple Listing Service (MLS) increased 15 percent over the previous year. And average sale prices were up 3.2 percent in the same period.

 

Improving numbers aren’t the only encouraging sign. In January 2014, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty officially opened in Charlotte, indicating confidence in the area’s high-end market.

 

Their SouthPark office is the first in Charlotte for the Naples, Florida-based company which already has a strong presence in the luxury real estate market along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

 

In 2013, the company recorded sales volume of $2.8 billion in more than 3,660 closed sales, an increase of 22 percent and 20 percent year over year, respectively.

 

With 24 locations throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Carolinas and more than $2.8 billion in sales volume in 2013, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty ranks 37th among the 500 largest brokers, according to the annual Real Trends 500 survey of top U.S. residential sellers.

 

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is the largest U.S. affiliate of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand which has a global network of more than 750 offices in 52 countries.

 

The company’s association with the reputation and heritage of a brand like Sotheby’s is a definer for their business says Judy Green, president and CEO.

 

“Just as Sotheby’s Auction House is known globally as a source for the world’s most valuable possessions and for the impeccable service it provides to its clients, Sotheby’s International Realty is known for the unique and distinctive properties it represents and the exceptional service it provides to its clients,” says Green. “Premier Sotheby’s International Realty continues that tradition of extraordinary service in Charlotte.

 

Charlotte is such a dynamic, growing city, the Sotheby’s brand needed to be here.”

 

A Forceful Presence

 

Judy Green, president and CEO of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, has been a force in the luxury real estate market for decades. Starting with a family construction and real estate business she began with her husband, Green has worked for over 30 years with realty firms, often in key executive positions.

 

She previously ran the Sotheby’s International Realty franchise for the Sarasota-Manatee, Fla., area. In January, in the Swanepoel Power 200 List, Green was named number 133 of the 200 most powerful people in residential real estate in America.

 

“Following our vision, we have become the market leaders in the markets we serve,” says Green.

 

According to Green, the company’s expansion into Charlotte was a strategic one. Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s parent company, The Lutgert Companies, developed Linville Ridge, a residential golfing community outside of Blowing Rock, in the 1980s.

 

The mountain community, represented by Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, is a short drive from Charlotte. This makes Charlotte an ideal feeder market for Linville Ridge and for many of Premier’s Florida clients who split their year between the two regions, spending winters in Florida and summers in Charlotte.

 

Opening in Charlotte was attractive for other reasons as well. “We’re seeing news about companies expanding or coming into the Charlotte area,” says Green. “This has always been a big banking center, but now it’s become a major energy center too.

 

“The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce is doing an extraordinary job of selling the area to U.S. companies and also internationally. We have so many international companies in the region and that’s growing each day.

 

“Our company does a relocation tour for businesses looking at the area, telling them about the quality of life Charlotte has to offer—the arts, the plays, the botanical gardens and easy drives to the mountains or the beaches.

 

“And people are responding. The theme I hear is that Charlotte is very inviting. And since the Sotheby’s International Realty is a brand recognized all over the world, clients new to the area trust that they will receive exceptional service with us here in Charlotte.”

 

Green has an understanding of housing needs across all income spectrums that influences and enhances her business philosophy at Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “It would be safe to say that the majority of properties we represent are high end,” explains Green. “Probably the median sales price of a property represented by this office is $700,000, but we represent properties less than that too.

 

“Right now, we have a one bedroom loft in Elizabeth with an asking price of $175,000 and several homes in excess of $2 million in the Charlotte market. The difference with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is the extraordinary service.

 

“When you walk into Tiffany & Co. you can buy a $150 charm or a $50,000 bracelet, but with either purchase, Tiffany will give you the prestigious packaging and exceptional service synonymous with the brand. That’s what Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is about. We’re inviting to everyone, so whether it’s a $200,000 home or a $7 million home, we give everyone the extraordinary service that’s part of our brand.”

 

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty and the Sotheby’s International Realty global network are also an acknowledged source for some of the most distinctive properties available anywhere.

 

Recent notable sales for the Sotheby’s International Realty network include a $44 million sale in Aspen, Colo., a $31.25 million sale in Taipei, Taiwan, and a $30 million sale in Naples, Fla. (a Premier Sotheby’s sale).

 

Global and Unique

 

Locally, Premier’s Charlotte office represents homes in many of the Charlotte region’s most desirable neighborhoods and even a few homes with historic significance. Fairfield Estate, a Georgian mansion circa 1774 on 283 acres in Winnsboro, S.C., is a current listing. Premier also represents the historic James A. Blakeney House in south Charlotte which was recently picked up by Architectural Digest and The New York Times.

 

Historic properties is considered a lifestyle category for Sotheby’s International Realty and their affiliates. In addition to price range and location, the company’s website allows clients to search for properties under lifestyle categories including: waterfront, skiing, equestrian, ranch and farm, golf and country club, and vineyards and wineries.

 

The Sotheby’s website is a popular one. With 90 million property views annually—1 million in July 2014 alone—the website can be viewed in 15 languages and 40 currencies. User viewing averages a focused 12 minutes.

 

“The lifestyle search is unique,” says Green. “So if you are looking for a waterfront property in the $2-3 million price range, you could see a property on Lake Norman or Lake Wylie come up, or one in Naples, Fla., or one in Spain or Australia. We’re all over the world. That’s our biggest differentiator—our reach. We’re a global brand known all around the world.”

 

But the company didn’t rely on their widespread recognition alone when entering the Charlotte market. “We set up an advertising campaign prior to our launch in different types of media,” says Green. “We also formed the Premier Community Foundation this year. We held our first local event at Rusty Wallace’s jet hangar this past June.

 

“The concept of The Premier Community Foundation relates directly to what we do as a company,” she explains. “We work relentlessly to help our customers achieve their real estate goals. By comparison, the foundation will help build stronger communities for children and families in our markets through the most effective use of funding dollars, because we know that home is where the heart is.

 

“The projects that The Premier Community Foundation selects for funding won’t always focus on raising money,” notes Green. “Some will focus on raising awareness around important causes. But in every case, foundation-funded projects will ultimately be about supporting and bolstering children and families in communities throughout our footprint.”

 

The Premier Community Foundation allows our broker associates to support whatever local charity they find important. The foundation invites community groups and tax-exempt entities to apply for various forms of support depending on their need.

 

“Throughout our respective histories, our company has made giving back to our communities a priority,” Green avers. “Today, as a successful and larger organization, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty further embraces our responsibility to leave situations better than we found them. By forming The Premier Community Foundation, we have solidified the ability to leverage our knowledge and resources to ensure healthy, vibrant communities for years to come.”

 

“So whether it’s Levine Children’s Hospital or Second Harvest Food Bank or A Child’s Place, all the money we raise here will stay in this community. Our first event was a great one. We’re going to make it an annual one.”

 

Penetrating the Marketplace

 

Premier Sotheby’s International Realty is pleased with the welcome they’ve received in Charlotte. “Even after just a few months, people know we are here,” says Green. “I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we’ve penetrated the market.”

 

The positive response has led to plans for growth. The SouthPark office has 30 associates currently but Green expects them to double the number by year end 2015. The SouthPark office serves communities in Charlotte, Gaston and Union counties as well as the South Carolina communities of Lake Wylie, Fort Mill and Rock Hill.

 

To serve areas North, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty’s Lake Norman office opens this month off Exit 28 on I-77. That office will initially be staffed by seven broker associates.

 

And beyond that? “Look for us to keep expanding,” says Green.

 

Green admits that outside forces are a major factor in the health of the real estate market. “Mortgage rates are a huge indicator,” she explains. “And they’re still at an all-time low. But even when rates go back up, people are still going to buy real estate. Home ownership is a long-term wealth builder and I don’t think that will ever change. Real estate remains a smart investment.”

 

Right now Green says they’re seeing property on the market capture full asking price and more. She’s also noticed that more people want a home that’s move-in ready, a trend she thinks will grow as more millennials enter the market.

 

“Millennials want it now,” says Green. “They also want to live close to work. Uptown, Plaza-Midwood and NoDa would all be wise areas for investment.”

 

Green says out-of-area investors have also shaped the Charlotte market. “We’ve seen hedge funds coming into the market,” Green explains. “Some are buying properties at certain price points but with certain very specific parameters like a price range of $150,000 to $250,000 and only with a particular number of bedrooms and baths and a certain capacity garage.

 

“They’re buying properties that fit those parameters sight unseen as cash deals that close quickly. We’re also seeing individuals who are buying homes as an investment and using them as property management.

 

“There will always be people relocating or moving up or downsizing,” Green continues. “That’s always been the case. But when the market corrected a few years back, some people found their homes had greatly devalued. Now that those values are coming back, some people have decided that now is the time to sell.”

 

Along with improvements in the market in general, the luxury market has also improved. “In 2012, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty had 57 homes under contract valued at over $500,000,” Green says. “In 2014, we had 110 in the immediate Charlotte market.”

 

A well-respected global brand and a market comeback certainly contribute to success in a new market but Green sums it up simply. “It comes down to listening to what people want, learning to serve the needs of our customer and giving back to the community we serve,” Green explains, “and to always exceed our customer’s expectations.”

“We have the opportunity to build a new city—and that happens rarely in someone’s lifetime,” says Chase Boone Saunders, a Charlotte native and fifth generation North Carolinian talking about Charlotte’s resurgent destiny as a crossroads of commerce.

 

“Charlotte is a work-in-progress, an Information Age City ever creating its future by coupling a mid-East location astride pre-Columbian, Indian trade routes to the energy of her people.”

 

Charlotte is on the threshold of another economic wave driven by its strength and location at the center of the Carolinas and the East Coast. With over 900 foreign-owned firms, its primary economic sectors include energy, banking, health care, manufacturing and logistics.

 

For the past two decades, businesses have been relocating around the globe for less expensive labor. As those labor costs push toward an equilibrium, businesses—especially manufacturing entities—are working to reduce their next most expensive costs of doing business…shipping and delivery.

 

Combined Logistical Assets Offer New Opportunities

 

In order to reduce those costs, advanced manufacturing, adaptive manufacturing and distribution firms will locate their facilities close to global hubs for domestic and international commerce. With the Charlotte Douglas International Airport providing non-stop flights to most major domestic population centers with over 44 million passengers a year, and the Norfolk Southern Intermodal Center with its potential capacity of nearly 600,000 containers a year, the Charlotte region provides a premier location for global businesses.

 

What makes Charlotte unique is its combined access to great air service as well as great highways and railways. From Charlotte, businesses can choose to move their freight/goods through any of the four major deep-water ports of Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington and Norfolk. Having so many proximate choices will drive costs down as truckers, railroads, ports and shipping companies compete for their business.

 

Norfolk Southern Intermodal Center

 

One year ago, in December 2013, Norfolk Southern moved into the new Intermodal Center between runways at the south end of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CDIA). The new facility is located on 170 acres with 3 pad tracks totaling 13,225 feet and 8 support tracks totaling 24,810 feet; 1,328 parking spots on site; a present capacity of 200,000 lift containers; all within easy access to major interstates I-485, I-85 and I-77.

 

Norfolk Southern (NS) leased this land from CDIA with the option to purchase it and adjacent land for expanding intermodal activities from domestic as well as international trade.

 

Crescent Corridor Initiative

 

NS has targeted major resources toward a Crescent Corridor Initiative serving manufactured freight along the I-85, I-77, I-485, I-40 and I-81 corridors from Pennsylvania to Alabama. The Crescent Corridor, stretching along highways from Richmond, Va., to Birmingham, Ala., is a concentrated manufacturing region that produces over $1.3 trillion of our GDP each year.

 

This manufacturing output is expected to double or even triple in the next 50 years. More specifically, experts expect roughly 40 percent of initial containers transiting through our intermodal center will be from international trade, while the remaining 60 percent will result from its Crescent Corridor Initiative.

 

Location, Location, Location

 

According to Brookings researcher Adie Tomer, “Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, there is a veritable arms race between ports to dredge their harbors, roll out new cranes and obtain a bigger slice of American logistics business. Ports from Miami to Boston are making major bets—often involving upwards of a billion dollars—that they’ll be winners in the new Panamax world.”

 

The inland port of Charlotte, with its combined assets of CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center, offer this region a huge opportunity. NS and CSX rails provide service to each of the four major southeast ports.

 

To make the most of its location at the logistical center of the Carolinas along the East Coast, Charlotte must step up its game with a masterplan to not just compete, but to become the premier inland port. Unfortunately, political battles have left its significant assets sitting in limbo without the benefit of local planning for competitive development while other cities successfully move forward to service the same traffic.

 

Charlotte is only 644 miles south of New York City,730 miles north of Miami, 756 miles southeast of Chicago, and 714 miles northeast of New Orleans. Charlotte also happens to be at the logistical center of the southeast ports: Wilmington (198 miles), Charleston (208 miles), Savannah (252 miles), and Norfolk (323 miles).

 

By locating in Charlotte, businesses can reach over 60 percent of the population of the United States and more than 60 percent of the nation’s industrial base within two hours’ flight time or one day’s delivery by motor freight, and still have easy access to shipping options in major deep-water southeast ports.

 

The Need for an Integrated Strategy

 

CDIA and the city of Charlotte have begun planning for development of nearly 6,500 acres surrounding the airport and intermodal center building water lines, sewers and roads in the area known as Dixie Berryhill at a cost of roughly $45 million as part of the city’s $816 million capital improvement plan paid for by the 7.25 percent property tax increase.

 

In addition, the area needs expanded electrical service and other utilities. An additional 6,000 acres adjacent to the airport property is also largely undeveloped and could be improved. CDIA should also seek to expand air freight traffic. Ranked 33rd in air cargo among U.S. airports, the city can’t act soon enough.

 

We Need to Learn from Other Communities

 

When considering options for further development around CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center, there are prime examples of similar developments that ought to be studied. Three such models for development are the Alliance Global Logistics Hub in Fort Worth, Tex., the Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park in Columbus, Ohio, and the CenterPoint Intermodal Center just outside Chicago in Joliet/Elwood, Ill.

 

Alliance Global Logistics Park has been developed just west of Dallas by H. Ross Perot and BNSF Railroad. It operates with a capacity of 600,000 containers per year with projected growth to nearly 1,000,000 lifts serving domestic and international trade. This facility serves both BNSF and Union Pacific rail lines.

 

Its highway connections lead to both Mexico and Canada. It was built adjacent to the Fort Worth Airport and supports air freight for corporate as well as military needs. It operates a free trade zone with on-site customs and border protection within its 17,000-acre development.

 

Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park encompasses 1,576 acres surrounding the Rickenbacker International Airport and a NS Intermodal Center. Located 12 miles southeast of downtown Columbus, it has easy access to I-270, I-70, and Highways 23 and 33. It handles more than 300,000 containers per year along with its free trade zone. It provides direct double-stack service as well as next-day rail service to and from the Norfolk port.

 

CenterPoint Intermodal Center is North America’s largest inland port just south of Chicago. Its master-planned facilities operate on about 6,500 acres at the center of I-55, I-80 and the rail facilities of BNSF and Union Pacific. It provides readily available and flexible space solutions, plus thousands of additional acres for development.

 

The land around CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center can be developed into the best inland port in the United States with the proper planning and execution. While primarily undeveloped, this region can learn from the experience of other parks and build a plan to develop this acreage to fill the growing needs of cargo and trade to domestic and international markets.

 

Leadership in a Changing World

 

Gaining competitive advantage is so incredibly difficult in this age of disruption, when business survival trumps business growth. But it makes it that much more important to take full advantage of our assets and to be prepared for and take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.

 

Disruption has shown us, if nothing else, that where one entity does not step up, there are many others that will. What are we doing with our assets?

 

We benefited mightily from business leaders in the Charlotte community who recognized early on, in 1999, the potential advantages of co-locating rail and air facilities for future prosperity. Their Advantage Carolinas plan was roundly lauded and integral to the establishment of the NS Intermodal Center.

 

Although the region’s corporate citizens and leadership may have changed complexion, economic experts continue to believe that the true path to economic enrichment for any community—the way to raise the productivity and prosperity for all—continues to be providing access to and promoting manufacturing and those commercial flows that stimulate economic activity.

 

Global Vision Leaders Group

 

In the absence of leadership from other sectors, a grass roots group of business leaders has come together under the leadership of Tony Zeiss, Chase Saunders, Michael Gallis, and John Galles to form the Global Vision Leaders Group which has already held four major global summit meetings as well as conducted its own research and findings from meetings with each of the southeast ports and representatives of the N.C. and S.C. Departments of Commerce.

 

Two expert analyses in the economic development arena were also drawn upon: The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, and The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton.

 

South Carolina is wooing substantial business to its port and to its real estate along I-85, most notably, the BMW plant in Greenville and Boeing in Charleston. Governor Nikki Haley is all about economic development leading the state’s charge in one unified vision to develop the state as an economic powerhouse. South Carolina wants CDIA and intermodal centers to be major players in this strategy.

 

Even the Port of Savannah in Georgia has a strong mission that very purposefully includes a relationship with the intermodal center and CDIA. This region is capable of becoming one of the most important hubs for global trade and commerce, yet local officials are not moving with all deliberate haste.

 

Hopefully, as the new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina gets established, they will also be engaged with Charlotte and surrounding regions, even those across state lines.

 

Collectively, the Carolinas can become a major relocation region for three targeted groups that should be recruited: (1) Advanced and Adaptive Manufacturing that will seek to operate closer to major distribution centers; (2) International companies seeking to establish operations inside the domestic markets in the U.S.; and (3) Re-shoring companies that will return to the U.S. as wages reach a great equilibrium and as fewer workers are required.

 

We have the opportunity and the responsibility to exhibit a NEW Advantage Carolinas plan for businesses seeking the best location near a logistical center with great distribution capacities.

 

That plan can be even more successful if developed for the entire Carolinas region—one that is inclusive and integrates assets with manufacturing facilities in addition to grain, livestock and raw materials—and fully utilizes the region’s assets in a truly integrated fashion for the benefit and prosperity of all.

BizXperts

We previously discussed the first of three issues that business owners must address if they want their companies to continue should they die or become disabled. The first issue was the challenge (for both sole owners and co-owners) of continuation of ownership of their companies. The second is the company’s loss of financial resources.

 

Issue 2: Company’s Loss of Financial Resources—Yours!

 

Problem for Co-Owners

If you co-own your company and you, personally, are a principal source of financial funding (bond guarantees, line of credit guarantees, etc.), your death can put enormous pressure on your company to perform. There is a very real risk that third parties may refuse to lend to or to make guaranties on behalf of your company unless the financial strength supporting your company remains intact.

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Problem for Sole Owners

Unless you can replace the financial strength represented by your financial statement, your sudden death or incapacity may cause other “stakeholders” in your company to reconsider their relationships to your company.

 

For example, if you have personally guaranteed the company’s line of credit or permanent financing, expect your bank to reexamine its lending relationship. If you have used your financial statement to obtain bonding, expect the bonding company to refuse to extend its services unless the financial statements of those left behind are as strong as yours. Similarly, the lessor of any leased space or equipment may be unwilling to renew leases without your successor owner’s guarantee backed by his or her personal assets.

 

Finally, remember that your pocket has probably long been the source of your company’s capital needs over the years. Should you die or become disabled, exactly where will your company secure adequate and ongoing capitalization?

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Solution for Sole Owners and Co-Owners

There are two ways to prepare for the loss of financial resources that your death will create for your company.

 

First, you can use life insurance proceeds to fund the anticipated need. You must place enough cash in the company’s coffers (upon your departure) to calm the nerves of your company’s bankers, lessors and bonding companies. That amount of cash must also satisfy your company’s need for ongoing capitalization.

 

In a co-owned business, a buy/sell agreement simply buys out the deceased owner’s interest. It does not put one penny in the company’s coffers. For that reason, few companies (whether solely or co-owned) survive an owner’s death.

 

Understand, however, that life insurance proceeds are only part of the solution. If your company is to succeed long term, it needs more than cash. It needs successor management, motivated by ownership or cash (both current and deferred), that are trained and able to run the company as good or better than you. Also, all key employees of your company need to know who these successors are and have confidence that they are up to the challenge.

 

The only way to make sure that your business continues without you is to make sure that your business is more than just you. If your company is all about you, no amount of life insurance will cover your absence.

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Our next article will examine the third continuity issue facing companies whose owner dies or becomes disabled: the loss of key talent and its effect on employees and customers.

Beyond providing quality health insurance coverage for its 3.7 million members, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has a strong commitment to serving the community through a variety of employee volunteer programs, financial support for community-focused partnerships, and separately, the work of the BCBSNC Foundation.

 

“Improving the health and well-being of our customers and communities is a promise that we put right in our corporate mission statement,” says Kathy Higgins, who serves as the president of the Foundation as well as vice president of Corporate Affairs for BCBSNC. She oversees corporate communications as well as all corporate-based philanthropic initiatives.

 

Ellison Clary, director of Charlotte community relations, describes some the company’s major initiatives made possible through BCBSNC corporate support:

 

u GO NC! Also known as Get Outside North Carolina, this program fosters healthy lifestyles by encouraging North Carolinians to get outside and get active through the advancement of North Carolina’s greenway systems, increased access to public bicycles and the overall promotion of outdoor physical activity. This includes the establishment of the Southeast’s largest bike sharing program in Charlotte.

 

u Charlotte B-cycle. This program supports a network of public-use bicycles for short-distance trips, making biking more convenient and promoting healthy lifestyles.

 

u Seventh Street Public Market. This public market celebrates the food culture of the Carolinas and promotes local and regional farmers, food artisans and entrepreneurs by providing high-quality, fresh, and affordable food from local farms and regional purveyors.

 

u Nourishing North Carolina. This statewide community garden program makes local, healthy food more accessible to people across the state by establishing or enhancing a community garden in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. During the past year, NNC’s community gardens have produced more than 10,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, serving nearly 2,000 people. The participating gardens have also donated more than 2.7 tons of produce to food shelters and rescue organizations.

 

u Strive to Revive. This program has placed over 235 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) across North Carolina. The program is a partnership with the NC Council of Churches and the Red Cross and was inspired by Charlotte state Rep. Becky Carney’s 2009 heart attack at the North Carolina legislature. The availability of an AED probably savedCarney’s life.

 

u UNC Charlotte Chancellor’s Speaker Series. This series brings to Charlotte notable speakers such as Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, Michael Beschloss, Jeffrey Toobin and Charles Best.

 

The BCBSNC Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit which has invested almost $100 million in North Carolina communities since its inception in 2000. Through a combination of grant-making, multi-year initiatives and other programs, the Foundation supports the health and well-being of North Carolinians by focusing on access to health care and the creation of healthy, active communities.

 

“On the Foundation side, an area that we are very proud of is our work supporting the NC Association of Free Clinics and the associated local free clinics,” says Higgins. “There are several in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community that are providing services to the underserved and the uninsured. They are doing remarkable work for the people who need and deserve care.”

Once upon a time professionals like you would call or write to your peers and colleagues and ask them for their thoughts, feedback and expertise. Fast-forward to today’s digital world and you can effortlessly search for more comprehensive information that is readily available at your fingertips from your laptop, tablet or smartphone.

If someone were to be seeking insight about you as a professional in 2014 they would likely Google your name. Try it and see what happens. If you have a LinkedIn profile it will show up as one of the first three search results. What will the person searching see? Your personal digital portfolio and your online professional brand.

You’ve heard the saying a million times, “You don’t get a second chance at a first impression.” With this knowledge, shouldn’t you present yourself in the most positive light possible? With an optimized LinkedIn profile you can. Here’s how:

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Your Photo

This is not the place for a cropped picture of you from a wedding or meeting. Unless you are a veterinarian, your dog shouldn’t be in the picture. Instead, have a professional photographer take a shoulders-up photo of you against a solid background (we prefer white). Wear the same style clothing you would at a first meeting. One last thing…smile and look engaging!

Your Headline

LinkedIn defaults this section to your most recent position title. Actually this should be your ‘headline.’ As the number one most searchable part of your profile, this small section needs to be created strategically. Use all 120 characters available to describe yourself, using words as if someone were to be searching for you and/or your capabilities via LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.

Contact Info

First, customize your profile URL and add it to your business cards, email signature, promotional material and wherever you have your business website listed.

Also, remember to add all contact info in this section including your email, phone number, location, Skype and Twitter addresses and your websites, which can be custom labeled. Make it easy for a potential business opportunity to reach you.

Summary

Written in the first person, this is where you communicate your personal business story. Exhibit the passion you have for your work. The reader should feel compelled to learn more about you. Next, prequalify prospects by describing your ideal clients. To use a website term, make your profile “sticky” so that the reader will want to stay and continue to look through your profile. Always include a ‘call to action’ in every free form writing section on your profile which will remind the reader why they need to contact you.

Experience

List all relevant positions you’ve held and include a brief description of each. You may use 100 characters for your title line; therefore you should creatively add keywords and phrases to increase your chances of being found for business opportunities.

Add Media and Documents

LinkedIn says it best, “Don’t Just Say It. Display It.” Illustrate your achievements and display content, photos, videos, presentations, documents and audio by imbedding these items into your summary, experience and education sections. Instead of your profile reading as a resume, it will now be seen as your professional portfolio. Link and attach all items that will enhance your personal brand.

Add Relevant Sections

LinkedIn allows you to add sections designed to enhance your involvement inside and outside of work. Include Projects you’re working on, Publications including blogs and newsletters, Volunteer Experience and Causes you support, Organizations in which you are a member, Honors and Awards you’ve received, Additional Info for contacting you and your Personal Interests. These sections help you become more relatable to your prospects and connections.

Skills

By populating your skills section, you are providing further insight into you as a valued resource. Your connections may feel compelled to endorse you for these skills further adding to your credibility.

Recommendations

Having your LinkedIn connections speak on your behalf is much more powerful than you speaking about yourself. A written recommendation is your social proof (the manner in which peoples’ opinions are formed). Each recommendation may be aligned with the position you held while the person worked with you and they are imbedded into your profile. References available upon request are no longer necessary since they will appear within your profile for everyone to see.

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A comprehensive LinkedIn Profile is your gateway to business opportunities.

Publisher's Posts

“We have the opportunity to build a new city—and that happens rarely in someone’s lifetime,” says Chase Boone Saunders, a Charlotte native and fifth generation North Carolinian talking about Charlotte’s resurgent destiny as a crossroads of commerce.

 

Charlotte is a work-in-progress, an Information Age City ever creating its future by coupling a mid-East location astride pre-Columbian, Indian trade routes to the energy of her people.”

 

Charlotte is on the threshold of another economic wave driven by its strength and location at the center of the Carolinas and the East Coast. With over 900 foreign-owned firms, its primary economic sectors include energy, banking, health care, manufacturing and logistics.

 

For the past two decades, businesses have been relocating around the globe for less expensive labor. As those labor costs push toward an equilibrium, businesses—especially manufacturing entities—are working to reduce their next most expensive costs of doing business…shipping and delivery.

 

Combined Logistical Assets Offer New Opportunities

 

In order to reduce those costs, advanced manufacturing, adaptive manufacturing and distribution firms will locate their facilities close to global hubs for domestic and international commerce. With the Charlotte Douglas International Airport providing non-stop flights to most major domestic population centers with over 44 million passengers a year, and the Norfolk Southern Intermodal Center with its potential capacity of nearly 600,000 containers a year, the Charlotte region provides a premier location for global businesses.

 

What makes Charlotte unique is its combined access to great air service as well as great highways and railways. From Charlotte, businesses can choose to move their freight/goods through any of the four major deep-water ports of Savannah, Charleston, Wilmington and Norfolk. Having so many proximate choices will drive costs down as truckers, railroads, ports and shipping companies compete for their business.

 

Norfolk Southern Intermodal Center

 

One year ago, in December 2013, Norfolk Southern moved into the new Intermodal Center between runways at the south end of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CDIA). The new facility is located on 170 acres with 3 pad tracks totaling 13,225 feet and 8 support tracks totaling 24,810 feet; 1,328 parking spots on site; a present capacity of 200,000 lift containers; all within easy access to major interstates I-485, I-85 and I-77.

 

Norfolk Southern (NS) leased this land from CDIA with the option to purchase it and adjacent land for expanding intermodal activities from domestic as well as international trade.

 

Crescent Corridor Initiative

 

NS has targeted major resources toward a Crescent Corridor Initiative serving manufactured freight along the I-85, I-77, I-485, I-40 and I-81 corridors from Pennsylvania to Alabama. The Crescent Corridor, stretching along highways from Richmond, Va., to Birmingham, Ala., is a concentrated manufacturing region that produces over $1.3 trillion of our GDP each year.

 

This manufacturing output is expected to double or even triple in the next 50 years. More specifically, experts expect roughly 40 percent of initial containers transiting through our intermodal center will be from international trade, while the remaining 60 percent will result from its Crescent Corridor Initiative.

 

Location, Location, Location

 

According to Brookings researcher Adie Tomer, “Along the U.S. Atlantic Coast, there is a veritable arms race between ports to dredge their harbors, roll out new cranes and obtain a bigger slice of American logistics business. Ports from Miami to Boston are making major bets—often involving upwards of a billion dollars—that they’ll be winners in the new Panamax world.”

 

The inland port of Charlotte, with its combined assets of CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center, offer this region a huge opportunity. NS and CSX rails provide service to each of the four major southeast ports.

 

To make the most of its location at the logistical center of the Carolinas along the East Coast, Charlotte must step up its game with a masterplan to not just compete, but to become the premier inland port. Unfortunately, political battles have left its significant assets sitting in limbo without the benefit of local planning for competitive development while other cities successfully move forward to service the same traffic.

 

Charlotte is only 644 miles south of New York City,730 miles north of Miami, 756 miles southeast of Chicago, and 714 miles northeast of New Orleans. Charlotte also happens to be at the logistical center of the southeast ports: Wilmington (198 miles), Charleston (208 miles), Savannah (252 miles), and Norfolk (323 miles).

 

By locating in Charlotte, businesses can reach over 60 percent of the population of the United States and more than 60 percent of the nation’s industrial base within two hours’ flight time or one day’s delivery by motor freight, and still have easy access to shipping options in major deep-water southeast ports.

 

The Need for an Integrated Strategy

 

CDIA and the city of Charlotte have begun planning for development of nearly 6,500 acres surrounding the airport and intermodal center building water lines, sewers and roads in the area known as Dixie Berryhill at a cost of roughly $45 million as part of the city’s $816 million capital improvement plan paid for by the 7.25 percent property tax increase.

 

In addition, the area needs expanded electrical service and other utilities. An additional 6,000 acres adjacent to the airport property is also largely undeveloped and could be improved. CDIA should also seek to expand air freight traffic. Ranked 33rd in air cargo among U.S. airports, the city can’t act soon enough.

 

We Need to Learn from Other Communities

 

When considering options for further development around CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center, there are prime examples of similar developments that ought to be studied. Three such models for development are the Alliance Global Logistics Hub in Fort Worth, Tex., the Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park in Columbus, Ohio, and the CenterPoint Intermodal Center just outside Chicago in Joliet/Elwood, Ill.

 

Alliance Global Logistics Park has been developed just west of Dallas by H. Ross Perot and BNSF Railroad. It operates with a capacity of 600,000 containers per year with projected growth to nearly 1,000,000 lifts serving domestic and international trade. This facility serves both BNSF and Union Pacific rail lines.

 

Its highway connections lead to both Mexico and Canada. It was built adjacent to the Fort Worth Airport and supports air freight for corporate as well as military needs. It operates a free trade zone with on-site customs and border protection within its 17,000-acre development.

 

Rickenbacker Global Logistics Park encompasses 1,576 acres surrounding the Rickenbacker International Airport and a NS Intermodal Center. Located 12 miles southeast of downtown Columbus, it has easy access to I-270, I-70, and Highways 23 and 33. It handles more than 300,000 containers per year along with its free trade zone. It provides direct double-stack service as well as next-day rail service to and from the Norfolk port.

 

CenterPoint Intermodal Center is North America’s largest inland port just south of Chicago. Its master-planned facilities operate on about 6,500 acres at the center of I-55, I-80 and the rail facilities of BNSF and Union Pacific. It provides readily available and flexible space solutions, plus thousands of additional acres for development.

 

The land around CDIA and the NS Intermodal Center can be developed into the best inland port in the United States with the proper planning and execution. While primarily undeveloped, this region can learn from the experience of other parks and build a plan to develop this acreage to fill the growing needs of cargo and trade to domestic and international markets.

 

Leadership in a Changing World

 

Gaining competitive advantage is so incredibly difficult in this age of disruption, when business survival trumps business growth. But it makes it that much more important to take full advantage of our assets and to be prepared for and take advantage of any opportunities as they arise.

 

Disruption has shown us, if nothing else, that where one entity does not step up, there are many others that will. What are we doing with our assets?

 

We benefited mightily from business leaders in the Charlotte community who recognized early on, in 1999, the potential advantages of co-locating rail and air facilities for future prosperity. Their Advantage Carolinas plan was roundly lauded and integral to the establishment of the NS Intermodal Center.

 

Although the region’s corporate citizens and leadership may have changed complexion, economic experts continue to believe that the true path to economic enrichment for any community—the way to raise the productivity and prosperity for all—continues to be providing access to and promoting manufacturing and those commercial flows that stimulate economic activity.

 

Global Vision Leaders Group

 

In the absence of leadership from other sectors, a grass roots group of business leaders has come together under the leadership of Tony Zeiss, Chase Saunders, Michael Gallis, and John Galles to form the Global Vision Leaders Group which has already held four major global summit meetings as well as conducted its own research and findings from meetings with each of the southeast ports and representatives of the N.C. and S.C. Departments of Commerce.

 

Two expert analyses in the economic development arena were also drawn upon: The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, and The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton.

 

South Carolina is wooing substantial business to its port and to its real estate along I-85, most notably, the BMW plant in Greenville and Boeing in Charleston. Governor Nikki Haley is all about economic development leading the state’s charge in one unified vision to develop the state as an economic powerhouse. South Carolina wants CDIA and intermodal centers to be major players in this strategy.

 

Even the Port of Savannah in Georgia has a strong mission that very purposefully includes a relationship with the intermodal center and CDIA. This region is capable of becoming one of the most important hubs for global trade and commerce, yet local officials are not moving with all deliberate haste.

 

Hopefully, as the new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina gets established, they will also be engaged with Charlotte and surrounding regions, even those across state lines.

 

Collectively, the Carolinas can become a major relocation region for three targeted groups that should be recruited: (1) Advanced and Adaptive Manufacturing that will seek to operate closer to major distribution centers; (2) International companies seeking to establish operations inside the domestic markets in the U.S.; and (3) Re-shoring companies that will return to the U.S. as wages reach a great equilibrium and as fewer workers are required.

 

We have the opportunity and the responsibility to exhibit a NEW Advantage Carolinas plan for businesses seeking the best location near a logistical center with great distribution capacities.

 

That plan can be even more successful if developed for the entire Carolinas region—one that is inclusive and integrates assets with manufacturing facilities in addition to grain, livestock and raw materials—and fully utilizes the region’s assets in a truly integrated fashion for the benefit and prosperity of all.

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