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Clemson University partners with Greenville Tech to launch new R&D facility for manufacturing students

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The Clemson University Vehicle Assembly Center will feature a full vehicle assembly line, joining lab, sub-assembly lab, embedded devices lab, collaborative robotics center, and autonomous factory vehicles. Photo by Will Crooks.

American manufacturing has experienced remarkable growth over the past two decades thanks to the development of new technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and advanced analytics. Now Clemson University is working to prepare students across the region for the next wave of manufacturing innovation.

The university has partnered with Greenville Technical College to launch the Vehicle Assembly Center,  a 4,000-square-foot research and development facility that will enable faculty, students, and companies to collaborate in learning and developing advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies.

“We are embarking on a new model where academia and industry can drive compelling research while simultaneously defining a new education paradigm as students at the graduate, undergraduate, and technical college levels collaborate on full-scale manufacturing projects and fortify each others’ learning,” said Laine Mears, BMW SmartState Chair in Automotive Manufacturing at Clemson University.

Mears added that the center’s capital investment of $500,000 came from both private and public investors, as well as BMW Manufacturing Co. and Siemens.

The center, which is part of Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research and located in Greenville Tech’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation, will feature a full vehicle assembly line, joining lab, sub-assembly lab, embedded devices lab, collaborative robotics center, and autonomous factory vehicles.

It will be led by Mears, who has over a decade of experience in the automotive industry and is considered an expert on how manufacturers can use sensors and data to improve quality and build cars more efficiently.

Mears said the new facility may help address some of the automotive industry’s biggest manufacturing challenges. Researchers, for instance, can cause assembly lines to temporarily pause production when conducting tests at local facilities. The center, however, will eliminate that problem by giving them their own three-station assembly line to experiment without the pressure of being on a factory floor.

Left to right: David Clayton, executive director at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation; Laine Mears, Vehicle Assembly Center director and BMW SmartState Chair in Automotive Manufacturing at Clemson University; Joerg Schulte, Manager of the BMW Liaison Office for Research and Innovation and adjunct professor at Clemson University. Photo by Will Crooks.

The center could also help manufacturers across the state combat the ongoing skills gap.

“A highly-skilled, well-educated workforce is essential to meet the challenges of the next generation of vehicles,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co. “The Vehicle Assembly Center and its project-based learning approach promise to prepare a workforce with the skills needed to be successful in the premium automotive industry.”

More than 1,800 manufacturers currently call the Upstate home, according to Upstate SC Alliance. Manufacturing accounts for $13.3 billion, about 22 percent, of the region’s nearly $60 billion gross regional product.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the industry supports 107,837 jobs regionally, which comprises 21 percent of the Upstate’s workforce not including state and federal government jobs. But the skills gap is widening, and over the next decade, 2 million of the projected 3.4 million manufacturing jobs expected to come online will be unfilled, according to the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP.

The Vehicle Assembly Center plans to initially accept 100 students between Clemson University and Greenville Tech, according to Mears. A large portion of the center’s research will be conducted by faculty and students in Clemson’s College of Engineering Computing and Applied Sciences. Greenville Tech students, on the other hand, will be enrolled in manufacturing training programs.

Mears added that industry partners like BMW Manufacturing Co. and Siemens may also send employees to the center on a regular basis to help researchers develop assembly line improvements and provide an industry perspective for students.

Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College, said including tech students in the center’s research will better prepare them to operate state-of-the-art technology on the assembly line so they will need less training once they are in jobs.

“As our advanced manufacturing students work with Clemson’s engineering students on real-world projects, the teams share ideas and collaborate as they will in the workplace. This experience better prepares them for their careers,” he said.

Rethink Robotics’ “Sawyer” is one of several collaborative robots used by automative researchers and students at Clemson University’s Vehicle Assembly Center in Greenville. The single-arm robot is capable of inspecting automotive parts, retrieving tools, checking the security of a spark plug cable on an engine, and more. Photo by Will Crooks.

The Vehicle Assembly Center will house various research projects that explore advanced sensing systems, autonomous driving, human-robot interaction, intelligent manufacturing, and more, according to Mears.

One such project will seek to create a robot that can install a nearly 20-pound alternator on a car as it moves down the center’s three-station assembly line. It could reduce fatigue and injuries caused by repetitive motion.

Another project will look to continue the development of an autonomous robot that’s capable of transporting an individual’s belongings as they navigate the factory floor. The robot, which resembles, a miniature shopping cart, was created by graduate students at CU-ICAR. It was first unveiled to the public in November 2017.

“Our focus is developing robots and wearable devices that help workers on the assembly line. It could be a robot following a worker around with tools or a robot that’s capable of double-checking the worker’s job. This is the new robotics for advanced manufacturing,” said Mears. “A lot of people are concerned about robots taking their jobs. But an assembly line will never be fully automated.”

Industrial robots have long been used by manufacturers to perform repetitive tasks with consistency and precision. There are currently more than 1.5 million robots in factories and warehouses across the globe, with about 260,000 in the U.S. alone, according to a report by the Manufacturing Institute and Pricewaterhousecoopers, a multinational accounting research firm based in London.

Global robot sales hit 294,312 units in 2016, according to a recent report by the International Federation of Robots. The automotive industry brought in more robots than any other industry in the U.S., accounting for 70 percent of North American industrial robot shipments in 2016, with $1.2 billion dollars spent on the machines.

Annual shipments of industrial robots are set to see double-digit growth globally through 2025, when nearly a million units are expected to ship, according to ABI Research. But more robots could mean fewer jobs for humans.

Clemson mechanical engineering graduate student Doug Chickarello demonstrates a wireless EEG headset that researchers plan to use for a cognitive study of assembly activities. Photo by Will Crooks.

For every new industrial robot that was introduced into the workforce between 1993 and 2007, six human jobs were eliminated, according to a study released earlier this month by the National Economic Research Bureau.

Luckily, an increasing number of manufacturers across the globe are beginning to outfit their assembly lines with collaborative robots, which are designed to improve production by physically interacting with human workers.

From 2016 to 2025, the global revenue of collaborative robotics shipments are expected to hit a compound average growth rate of 49.8 percent, compared to 12.1 percent for industrial robots and 23.2 percent for commercial robotics, according to a report by ABI Research. Global revenues for collaborative robots hit $292 million last year. However, by 2025, that figure is set to exceed $1.23 billion.

“Industrial robotics has been a critical component of advanced manufacturing for many decades, but with collaborative robotics, automation and cooperation between man and machine will move out of production onto the factory floor and into the warehouse,” said Rian Whitton, a research analyst at ABI Research.

Mears said researchers at the Vehicle Assembly Center may also get the chance to test out virtual reality and augmented reality systems.

Augmented reality superimposes computer-generated holographic images on a user’s view of the real world through smart glasses. Virtual reality projects immersive images that users can interact with through a headset. Both systems have exhibited a wide range of capabilities on the assembly line, according to Mears.

BMW Manufacturing Co., for instance, has run a pilot program at its facility in Spartanburg since 2014 to see how Google Glass can improve the quality control of its pre-series vehicles as they make the transition from prototype to full production.

An employee with BMW Manufacturing Co. demonstrates a pair of Google Glasses. Photo provided.

The company’s analysis center usually runs a complete check of each pre-series vehicle to ensure the required premium quality of all vehicles in the subsequent series production. The glasses, which use augmented reality, now allow staff members at the center to add photos and video sequences to their written reports.

“Efforts toward process automation are driving demand for new skills. The industry is looking for a workforce with information and systems integration experience,” Mears said. “The human element in manufacturing is not going away: It is getting smarter, more agile and increasingly plugged in to this evolving Internet-of-Things.”

In addition to robotics, Clemson University and Greenville Technical College also plan to build a small research and development space for composite materials at the Vehicle Assembly Center. Composites are used as alternatives to traditional steel frames to make cars weigh less and get better gas mileage, according to Mears.

 

Jefferson Awards Foundation names 2018 Change Makers

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Blair Knobel, editor-in-chief, TOWN magazine

The Jefferson Awards Foundation recently announced its 2018 class of Change Makers.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation recognizes national public figures for their significant contributions to the country and its communities. Nationally, the Jefferson Award is the country’s highest honor for service and volunteerism, and past honorees include former First Lady Barbara Bush, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill and Melinda Gates.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation in South Carolina has selected its first class of Change Makers, 10 individuals in the Upstate ages 40 and under who have demonstrated a commitment to service and the potential to help move the region forward. The honorees are Ansel Sanders, president and CEO, Public Education Partners; Blair Dobson Miller, Realtor, Wilson Associates; Blair Knobel, editor-in-chief, TOWN magazine; Brad Cline, global leadership program, Michelin North America; Ebony Austin, events and special programs director, Greenville Chamber of Commerce; Jason Richards, COO and shareholder, NAI Earle Furman; Laura Bauld Turner, Upstate director, United States Senate; Lindsey McMillion Stemann, owner and principal, McMillion Consulting; Reid Sherard, partner, Nelson Mullins; and Yasha Patel, owner, the Rutherford Event Venue.

A reception and networking event for the 10 honorees and their guests will be held later this month to kick off the 2018 Change Makers program. This spring, the Change Makers will work to raise financial support for Students In Action, the Jefferson Awards Foundation’s leadership development program that uses service-learning to help high schoolers develop the life skills needed to be successful in college and the workforce. The Change Makers will also engage in various volunteer, community, and networking events.

In May, there will be a celebration event to recognize the work each Change Maker has done throughout the duration of the program. –Robert Hull

Spartanburg County leaders mark first anniversary of community’s 5-year vision plan

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After one year, a unified vision for Spartanburg’s future economic and cultural prosperity is progressing.

Community leaders gathered Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the University of South Carolina Upstate to receive an update on the county’s five-year development strategy, aptly named OneSpartanburg.

Allen Smith, president and CEO of the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, told the crowd that 39 investors have given $4.5 million of the plan’s $5.2 million implementation budget.

Smith said during the past year, 312 volunteers were engaged, five action teams were built, an implementation team was assembled, five staff positions were created to push the work forward, and 22 projects were started.

“We as a community continue to have a lot of work ahead of us over the next four years,” he said. “But this evening we pause to reflect on one year of progress.”

OneSpartanburg was developed in 2016 in partnership with Atlanta-based Market Street Services, a consulting firm that developed similar plans for cities like Nashville, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Austin, Texas.

The process was fueled by feedback from nearly 3,200 people in the community, which was the highest participation Market Street Services had ever experienced. It led to the compilation of hundreds of pages of data, according to the Spartanburg Chamber.

The plan was officially launched on Jan. 24, 2017.

“What’s happening in Spartanburg right now is unprecedented,” Smith said. “I often get the question, ‘What will Spartanburg look like in three to four years from now?’ I can tell you, if you read the OneSpartanburg plan, you can see our future.”

The strategic framework of the plan is based on four key drivers: talent, image, economy, and place.

From those drivers, the plan branches out to eight objectives, then 42 strategic recommendations to 173 tactical recommendations.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Smith presented a scorecard for the plan that showed all of the recommendations and projects that have been “ignited” during the plan’s first year.

For example, employers across the county have begun to use a newly created guide to showcase Spartanburg to potential employees during the recruitment process.

Spartanburg launched its own chapter of the national entrepreneurship program 1 Million Cups.

OneSpartanburg hired Jansen Tidmore to serve as executive vice president of the new Downtown Development Project, which Smith said has 15 active economic development projects in the pipeline.

One of those projects reached fruition Tuesday, Feb. 13, as Greenville County-based civil and environmental engineering firm Hulsey McCormick & Wallace announced a new office in Spartanburg-based Johnson Development’s 101 Pine building in downtown.

Smith said year two for OneSpartanburg will be marked by “accelerated progress.”

He said OneSpartanburg’s Quality of Place Action Team will soon introduce a new app similar to DigLocal in Asheville, N.C., that highlights a broad range of local businesses and places.

On Friday, Feb. 16, the Spartanburg Chamber announced a partnership with SC Future Makers to engage the business community in workforce development and talent retention of area students.

Created by the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance in 2016, SC Future Makers is a workforce initiative with the mission to connect emerging talent to opportunities in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

The chamber said SC Future Makers empowers students throughout South Carolina to create personal digital portfolios and connect with colleges and companies.

Since the debut of SC Future Makers, more than 6,000 Spartanburg County high school students have created personal digital portfolios, according to the chamber. 

Spartanburg area businesses will be encouraged to create public profiles that are designed to showcase employment opportunities to students, teachers, and parents.

This will provide a “centralized platform for companies of all sizes and resources to raise awareness of their business functions and company culture, highlight opportunities such as internships or apprenticeships, outline career areas that are in high demand, and provide next step information for employment applications and opportunities,” the chamber said.

There is no cost to companies to create profiles.

An informal session about profile creation will be held for Spartanburg businesses from 8:30-9:30 a.m. and noon-1 p.m. on Friday, March 16, at the chamber’s headquarters at 105 N. Pine St.

Blue Moon Specialty Foods will open expanded location Feb. 26 in downtown Spartanburg

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Entrepreneur Chris "Wishbone" Walker and his daughter, Molly Walker Cashman, stand inside the space that will house their expanded Blue Moon Specialty Foods business at 130 Church Street in downtown Spartanburg.

A blue moon will soon rise in downtown Spartanburg, and this one will be chocked with an array of delicious sauces, seasonings, fresh foods, and fun.

Chris “Wishbone” Walker and his daughter, Molly Walker Cashman, plan to open the new 3,700-square-foot home for their growing local venture Blue Moon Specialty Foods on Monday, Feb. 26, at 130 S. Church St.

“We are super excited,” Cashman said. “We’re not new at this. Dad’s been doing it since 2006. We really hit a growth spurt that coincided with the growth in Spartanburg. We’re excited to serve the community. … We think this is going to give our brand more visibility. There are a lot of opportunities here.”

Walker purchased the former A Arrangement Florist building at the southwest corner of Broad and Church streets this past June.

Cashman said she and her father closed the doors to the business’s original location at 351 E. Henry St. for the final time on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The space had a large commercial kitchen, but only a few hundred square feet for Blue Moon’s expanding retail business.

Walker and Cashman said the new store will help them continue to grow the commercial side of the business while giving them an opportunity to become an anchor destination in downtown.

The space will feature a market, deli, bakery, commercial kitchen, kid’s area, cookbook corner, dine-in space, and more.

Downtown patrons will be able to grab breakfast and juice, tea, or coffee from Spartanburg-based Little River Roasting Co. and Mozza Roasters.

Hot sandwiches, soups, quiche served by the slice, wraps, salads, and a variety of sides will be available at lunch.

Blue Moon’s offering, Cashman said, will include baked goods, breakfast bowls, and single-serve meals made from scratch.

Customers will be able to take advantage of free Wi-Fi, USB hookups, and power outlets.

Cashman said Spartanburg interior designer Sandra Cannon helped bring some rustic, industrial charm to the former A Arrangement Florist space across from the Spartanburg County Headquarters Library.

Dunbar Construction of Spartanburg renovated the building in about nine months.

Walker and Cashman hope to become a destination for local diners and residents looking for gifts, grab-and-go meals, or a little something extra for their home recipes.

A focal point of the new space is a display wall created from the former flower shops shelves that will allow customers to build their own gift baskets with local products, such as Colonial Milling grits, Sallie’s Greatest jams, and Dottie’s Toffee.

Artwork and handcrafted items from several area vendors will also be for sale.

“We want to be a staple in the community and an inviting place for people to come together,” Cashman said.

Walker has a plot at the Spartanburg County Foundation’s Community Garden next door, where he will grow and pick many of the fresh herbs for his recipes. He will continue to source ingredients from his home garden.

Cashman said the owners could host cooking classes and other events in the space.

She said the store has created nine jobs so far.

The company’s wholesale business spans from the Upstate down to Florence, but Blue Moon ships all across the country.

Its products are available in Lowes Foods, Ole Timey Meats locations, the Hub City Co-op, Inside Irwin’s at Irwin ACE Hardware, Tate Meatworks, and Brown’s Meat Market, among other locations.

Growler Haus and Cribb’s Kitchen serve dishes that feature Blue Moon products.

Walker said about 19,000 cars per day pass by the new location along Church Street.

The store will operate from 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday.

Carolina Alliance Bank’s earnings increased 70 percent during fourth quarter

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Spartanburg-based CAB Financial Corp., the holding company for Carolina Alliance Bank, said Monday, Feb. 12, its earnings increased 70 percent during the fourth quarter.

The company reported its net income was $1.7 million as of Dec. 31, compared with $1 million during the same quarter of 2016.

For the year, CAB said its net income for 2017 was $4.7 million, a nearly 15 percent increase compared with $4.1 million during the previous year.

CAB said it received a $700,000 benefit related to the revaluation of its deferred tax liability as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“We had a great year in terms of loan and core deposit growth,” said John Kimberly, president and CEO of Carolina Alliance Bank, in a statement. “However, net interest margin compression suppressed core earnings growth. Our focus for 2018 is loan growth and protecting our margin against further erosion from changing market conditions, particularly increases in short-term rates that are widely predicted in the coming year.”

CAB said gross loans increased by more than 6 percent to $526.7 million during the year, compared with $495.2 million in 2016.

Its total assets increased by almost 7 percent to $685.3 million in 2017, compared with $642.9 million during the previous year.

Total deposits increased more than 7 percent to $567 million during the year, compared with $527.6 million during 2016.

CAB reported its nonperforming assets totaled $2.9 million for 2017, a 38 percent increase compared with $2.1 million during the prior year.

The bank said its capital levels continued to exceed the levels required by regulatory standards to be classified as “well capitalized,” the highest of the five capital categories used to describe an institution’s capital strength.

“We believe that recent additions in key lending positions will play a significant role in achieving our growth goals,” said Terry Cash, CAB’s chairman, in a statement. “Also, with the completion of our reorganization into a bank holding company in the fourth quarter, capital management and other strategic possibilities have opened up for the company, and we will be exploring opportunities to capitalize on this new structure.”

Lockhart Power gifts $135,000 to support economic development in Spartanburg County

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From left: Carter Smith, executive vice president of Spartanburg's Economic Futures Group, accepts a check from Bryan Stone, chief operating officer for Lockhart Power, and Andrena Powell-Baker, senior manager of community relations for Lockhart Power. Photo courtesy of Lockhart Power.

Lockhart Power Co. announced Monday, Feb. 12, it will contribute $135,000 in utility license tax credits for road enhancements at Tyger River Industrial Park (TRIP) North in Spartanburg County.

TRIP North is the 887-acre northernmost tract of the 2,250-acre industrial park owned by Greenville-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises off Highway 290 in Moore.

The park is an S.C. Department of Commerce Certified Industrial Park that boasts access to a CSX rail line, highways 221 and 290, and interstates 85 and 26.

“Lockhart Power understands the importance of investing in economic development projects in communities we serve,” said Bryan Stone, chief operating officer of Lockhart Power, in a statement. “These investments create a substantial environment for business in Spartanburg County, which will benefit from them for years to come.”

Since the park was opened for development in 2014 it has several large economic development projects for companies that include Toray, Ritrama, Kobelco, Sterling CPI, and Magna Seating.

Those projects have resulted in nearly $2 billion in new investment and the creation of hundreds of jobs.

TRIP North is home to Magna Seating’s new $29 million, 230,000-square-foot plant.

Lockhart Power said further road enhancements and infrastructure investment will “help attract other world-class companies.”

The utility said the license tax is applied by the state to the gross receipts and assets owned by certain utilities in South Carolina, including Lockhart Power.

While the tax is normally paid by the utility directly to the state, there is an option for the utility to receive a tax credit for any amount it contributes toward providing infrastructure for qualified economic development projects.

The $135,000 contribution is the sum of Lockhart Power’s entire 2017 utility tax liability.

“Lockhart Power has proudly reinvested in the communities it serves over the years to support job growth and the Upstate economy,” said Rick Webel, president of Pacolet Milliken, in a statement. “The investments improve conditions for business and ensure the future economic prosperity of the region.”

Founded in 1912, Lockhart Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacolet Milliken.

The utility is investor-owned and regulated by the South Carolina Public Service Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

According to Pacolet Milliken’s website, Lockhart Power serves five South Carolina counties, providing power generation, transmission, distribution, and lighting services to a range of residential, commercial, industrial, and wholesale customers.

Lockhart Power owns and operates five run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects as well as several Landfill Gas-to-Energy projects. It provides renewable energy to Duke Energy Carolinas.

Pacolet Milliken said since 2007 it has more than doubled the size of Lockhart Power.

BMW’s Spartanburg County plant remains nation’s top auto exporter in 2017

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BMW X models produced in the Upstate wait to be loaded for export at the Port of Charleston. Photo courtesy of BMW Manufacturing Co.

For a fourth consecutive year, Spartanburg County-based BMW Manufacturing Co. was the nation’s largest automotive exporter in 2017.

The automaker announced Tuesday, Feb. 13, it exported 272,346 vehicles from its plant near Greer, with about 87 percent of those cars shipped through the Port of Charleston.

Its exports were valued at $8.76 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, confirming the plant as the country’s top automotive exporter by value.

“BMW X models manufactured in South Carolina continue to be a major contributor to the BMW Group’s success,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co., in a statement. “Plant Spartanburg’s achievement as the country’s leading automotive exporter demonstrates BMW’s trusted partnership with this state, its contribution to the U.S. balance of trade, and its commitment to the United States.”

In comparison to 2016, the number of vehicles exported from BMW’s Upstate plant, which is the hub of production for its X3, X4, X5, X6, and soon-to-be X7 models, decreased by about 5.3 percent in 2017, down from 287,700.

The value of those exports decreased by about 8 percent during the past year, compared with $9.53 billion in 2016.

Export numbers for 2017 reflected a 10 percent decrease in the plant’s production to 371,284 vehicles during the year, compared with 411,171 in 2016.

BMW officials attributed the production decrease to the introduction of BMW’s new X3 during the year and a four-week shutdown of its X5 and X6 assembly hall.

The company said the remaining 13 percent of X models shipped from the plant in 2017 to 140 markets worldwide were exported through five other ports in Savannah, Ga.; Brunswick, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; and Everglades, Fla.

“BMW is a leader in automotive manufacturing and driver of both import and export volume growth of the Port,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the S.C. Ports Authority, in a statement. “As customers of both Inland Port Greer and the Port of Charleston, BMW’s multiple expansions have been exciting opportunities for the Port, and we value our role in its international supply chain.”

The state Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that South Carolina’s export sales grew to $32.2 billion in 2017, a 2.9 percent increase compared with $31.3 billion in 2016.

It was the eighth consecutive year of record-setting export sales growth for the Palmetto State, the agency said.

U.S. Department of Commerce data showed the state led the nation in the export of both vehicles and tires in 2017.

The state accounted for 16 percent of the country’s passenger vehicle and 31 percent of its tire exports fueled by several companies, including Greenville-based Michelin North America.

“As the nation’s leader in the export sales of completed passenger vehicles, South Carolina accounts for more than 16 percent of the total U.S. market share,” said S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt, in a statement. “This figure perfectly depicts the state’s unmatched global connectivity and status as a major player in the global automotive industry.”

“The Palmetto State has a long and rich history in international trade,” Hitt said in a statement. “One time a leader in the export of rice, indigo, and cotton, we now export a more diverse group of products, including complex items, such as cars, planes, and major household appliances. Moving forward, the continued growth and diversification of our trade activity will be critical.”

Tajh Boyd blends a tireless work ethic and ‘team player’ mentality on behalf of a new Clemson-based real estate development

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Former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd returns to the Upstate in pursuit of his next passion: real estate. Photos by Will Crooks/Upstate Business Journal

Last September, when Greenville developers Leighton Cubbage and Stephen Mudge of Serrus Capital Partners began contemplating who would lead the sales team for Lakeside Lodge, a resort condo complex on Lake Hartwell just minutes from the Clemson University campus, they had the same person in mind: former Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd.

Unbeknownst to them, Boyd was preparing for a career change and looking for a new opportunity. After spending a year working as a business development manager for a regional distributor of packaging material and solutions, Boyd was ready to find something more aligned with his long-term professional goals.

“I’ve always had this affection for people,” he says. “I like spending time with people, striking up conversations and really getting a feel for who they are as a person and how I may be able to help them, just in the course of the interaction. One of the things I thought I could do outside of being in the sports realm was getting into real estate, so I was taking my classes and getting everything squared away for that.”

One day, Boyd says, he was sitting outside of Nose Dive in downtown Greenville with one of his mentors, former Clemson University linebacker Patrick Sapp, discussing his next move. That’s when Mudge and Cubbage happened to leave the restaurant and notice the pair. Boyd told them about getting his real estate license, and the conversation quickly turned to Lakeside Lodge.

For Boyd, his involvement was an easy decision. “I was like, ‘Sign me up. We’ll make it happen,’” he says.

Lakeside Lodge includes 116 units — a mix of studio, two-, and three-bedroom condos — and incorporates the amenities of an upscale hotel: concierge service, housekeeping and maintenance, a lobby, restaurant/bar, pool, fire pit, fitness center, and conference space. Owners will have the opportunity to rent out their units when they’re not in use.

Lakeside Lodge, a four-story resort condo complex with 116 units and the amenities of an upscale hotel, is projected to be completed in time for the 2019 college football season. Rendering by Goodwyn Mills and Cawood

Construction is set to begin this spring and projected to be completed in time for the 2019 college football season. The project is still in the reservation phase, and potential buyers now have the opportunity to put down a refundable deposit to reserve a spot to ultimately purchase a condo.

That’s where Boyd comes in.

“I don’t have to sell this. It kind of sells itself, because it’s such a unique project on its own,” he says. “But to be that buffer, that middleman between point A and point B, that’s kind of what I am — more of a facilitator than anything. … At the end of the day, I’m dealing with people, and that’s all I really wanted to do.”

Boyd’s involvement and the property’s proximity to Clemson Memorial Stadium aren’t the only connections Lakeside Lodge has to Clemson athletics. Cubbage and Mudge both played football for the Tigers in the 1970s. Among the 30 investors are former offensive lineman Jeff Bostic; former tight end Jim Riggs and his wife, Liz; and Julie Ibrahim, president and CEO of the Tiger Sports Shop and wife of the late Dr. I. M. Ibrahim, former Clemson men’s soccer coach.

“You look at the initial investors and the people involved at the start of this project … they just want their own little piece of Clemson,” Boyd says.

Home Sweet Home

Although Boyd is not originally from South Carolina, he’s made Greenville his home following his days at Clemson and time playing professional football.

“I always wanted to find somewhere where I can leave my imprint, where I can call home, where I can potentially raise my family. I haven’t found a better place than this,” he says. “When I was up in New York or up in Pittsburgh, when I was out in LA [Los Angeles] for a few weeks … I’m going to all these places, and I’m like, ‘It’s cool, but it isn’t Greenville.’ And that’s a true statement; that’s not just propaganda right there. That’s just how I feel about the situation. And I think it’s because the people are so genuine and because they have such huge hearts.”

“When I was up in New York or up in Pittsburgh, when I was out in LA [Los Angeles] for a few weeks … I’m going to all these places, and I’m like, ‘It’s cool, but it isn’t Greenville.’”

For Boyd, claiming Greenville as home also means investing in the community and giving back. The Tajh Boyd Foundation, which benefits underprivileged and at-risk youth through education, mentoring, and character development, is ultimately about “leaving this place better than we found it,” Boyd says.

“Everything that happened up until this point helped me become Tajh, you know, and I think that’s just the case for everybody, that if they looked back at the history of their life and the course of it from elementary school up, you get to a point where you realize that everything that happened to you happened because of, you know,” he adds. “In that situation, I’m a product of my environment. I was fortunate to have both of my parents. I was fortunate for them to take time and cater to what I wanted to do and aspire to be, and they took all the effort to try to make that happen for me. So, it’s not necessarily the norm for a lot of the kids in … underprivileged areas, really and truly. I just want them to know that I believe in them, that we as a community believe in them.”

Currently, Boyd’s philanthropic efforts are concentrated in the Nicholtown area of Greenville, about 1.5 miles from downtown’s central business district, south of Laurens Road. At the beginning of the school year, the Tajh Boyd Foundation distributed hundreds of book bags to children at the Phillis Wheatley Center. The foundation also recently partnered with Academy Sports to distribute 75 bicycles and held a Christmas toy drive.

On March 23, the Tajh Boyd Foundation will hold its annual gala at The Loom in Simpsonville. “It just kind of gives a breakdown to all the people of what we are, what we try to do, and how we’re going to accomplish it,” Boyd says. “It’s a nice event. Last year, we had about 200 people, so we’re growing steadily.”

Boyd also plans on holding a career-day program this summer in the Nicholtown area, where once a week children ages 7 to 15 will have the opportunity to hear about various occupations and professions.

“It’s going to be like a show-and-tell type deal,” Boyd says. “Whether these kids want to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a plumber, or an artist or architect, I want them to be able to see it. Because then it comes attainable. Seeing it on TV doesn’t make it real, but you see the person, and it makes it real. So I’m excited to get the community involved in that way, as well.”

Game of Life

Although Boyd’s days of playing football are behind him, he remains connected to the sport that he says helped shape who he is today. Back in December, he and former University of South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore ran a youth fundamentals football camp at the Kroc Center in Greenville. In addition to spending time with current Clemson football players, Boyd also helps mentor a handful of college quarterbacks across the country at programs including Louisiana State University, Arizona State University, University of Utah, and Boston College.

“[They’re] just guys that either reached out to me or I reached out to them … and we just developed that relationship there. And I find nothing more joyful than that right there,” he says.

For Boyd, football and life will always be intertwined.

“For me, it directly correlates to life — the integrity you have to have, the camaraderie with your teammates, the grind, the work ethic. You don’t necessarily miss playing; you miss everything else that was involved. And I think that’s what a lot of us former players feel. It’s not the touchdowns; it’s the locker room. … It’s that accountability, whether it’s Marcus [Lattimore] or Connor [Shaw, former USC quarterback and current Furman University tight ends coach] or some of my guys that live here.

“What you see is accountability partners.”

And that also includes his new business partners in Mudge and Cubbage as Boyd navigates the ins and outs of real estate. Says Boyd: “They’re helping push me to that next level that I couldn’t do without them in that realm.”

Tickets for the Tajh Boyd Foundation annual gala will be available at teamtajh.com

Veteran Resource Groups can engage all employees – not just those who served

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By Robyn Grable, founder, Service to Civilian

Did you know that only 33 percent of employees in the United States are engaged in their jobs, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report? In fact, employee engagement increased only 3 percent from 2012 to 2016.

Yet employee engagement is critical to a company’s success. After all, an engaged employee is a productive one. An organization’s biggest and most precious investment is its employees. So why aren’t more organizations investing in the development of their employees? A career advancement program helps sustain employee engagement, as employees are given the opportunity to progress both personally and professionally.

When military service members transition to the civilian workforce, they often miss the camaraderie and closeness of the military culture. During their service, there is a shared purpose, focus on mission, and bond that often remains between veterans for a lifetime.

There is something you and your company can do, with very little outlay: Create a veteran resource group. No matter how big or small, you can start and build a successful VRG.

A successful VRG will provide:

  • Veteran employees with a place to meet up, collaborate, and learn
  • Support and camaraderie for veteran employees with others with shared experiences
  • A mentoring platform to help veteran employees learn how to build a career and navigate their professional life
  • Insight for nonveterans in the company, about the valuable assets veterans bring to the workforce, help dispel myths around the military experience, and elevate the company’s brand as a veteran-friendly employer

Building a VRG starts by identifying people in the company who are former military and/or have a passion for helping veterans. Often, civilian employees see a VRG as a great way to connect to their colleagues who served and learn more about their experience. You’ll also want to include veterans in the company who identify as former military and have an interest in developing the group. However, don’t assume that every veteran employee wants to be part of the VRG. And make sure the group is open to all employees, even if they aren’t veterans.

A VRG should have the following:

A leader. Choose someone who will champion the issues, needs, and opportunities of the group, as well as identify gaps in resources. This person should be passionate about helping bridge the military-to-civilian divide at the company. Whether or not they served in the military is not as important as their commitment, passion, and access to resources.

A clear purpose. Why are you forming the group? Are you looking to elevate awareness of veterans’ issues, provide mentoring and support to veteran employees, or offer discounts and services to veterans?

Goals. Set tangible goals against which you will measure the effectiveness and impact of your group. While meeting and getting together will have its benefits, the VRG should have goals that tie and contribute to the purpose. This will resonate with the members, especially veterans.

Feedback. Have mechanisms for feedback and support, which will create a culture of inclusivity and commitment in your veteran employees. Periodically check in to ensure the company is meeting their needs and vice versa.

You can start your VRG small and let it build. Use the VRG to make sure veterans are well informed about potential opportunities and benefits. Pass along information from the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense. Inform members about job and career opportunities within your company. These are all great ways to build engagement and career advancement knowledge, which lead to long-term employment.

Most American workers will switch jobs 10 to 15 times between the ages of 18 and 48. And with the unemployment rate at the lowest it has been in years, hiring managers are scrambling to retain the best talent. Veterans are looking for their next career, not just a job after the military.

Regarding career opportunities, VRGs also help veterans continue their development as leaders. Participating in a VRG gets them involved with planning, management, communication, and the execution of programs and events. By working with top leadership and people from across all areas and levels of the company, the VRG can provide a level of professional development that may not be available in their everyday job.

If your company doesn’t have a VRG, contact us. Service to Civilian will work with you at no charge to set up the group and connect your VRG to other groups here in the Upstate.

Coming soon: a Golden Career Strategy class just for veterans. Companies can sponsor veterans to attend. The class will focus on helping veterans transition, finding a civilian career, and targeting their search. To learn more about this opportunity, inquire about hiring veterans, or create a veteran initiative at your company, please call 864-580-6289 or email info@servicetocivilian.com. Do a great thing for your company and your community – hire a veteran, start a veteran resource group.

Small and mid-sized companies are the new targets of business email compromise

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By Belton Zeigler, partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

 

Meet Peter — a longtime employee and the backbone of your business’s day-to-day finance and accounting operations. Today he got an email from the CEO, Meredith: “Peter, I hope Joyce is doing better; I know her illness has been a strain on your family. As you know, I am traveling in Germany but need your help. I need you to make an immediate payment on the instructions of our West Coast attorneys to lock in the Cerulean deal. Please call the following lawyer for instructions. It is critical that the earnest money be paid before noon tomorrow. All the best, Meredith.”

 

Peter calls the number listed for the attorney, who gives him instructions for wiring $375,000 to the specified bank account.

 

The entire transaction is a fraud.

 

Months before, hackers had broken into the company’s email domains. They had monitored email traffic to and from the CEO. They had identified when and where the CEO would be traveling. They had noticed that the CEO had been working on a deal to acquire Cerulean and earnest money would be required shortly. They had identified Peter as the person who would execute instructions from the CEO for wiring money. They had learned from Peter’s email account that his wife, Joyce, was ill and that the CEO had expressed her sympathy to him in past emails. Using this information, cybercriminals carefully engineered an email request to appear to come from the CEO.

 

The Democratization of Cybercrime

Peter was the intended victim of business email compromise, one of the fastest growing of the new breed of cyber threat. The FBI reported that 40,000 business email compromise attempts were made in 2016 and determined that identified losses increased by 2,370 percent over the previous year. Globally, this scam has netted about $5 billion.

 

Business email compromise represents part of a significant shift in the cybercriminal business model — part of the new democratization of cybercrime. Small- and medium-size businesses are the heart of this new danger zone.

 

Until recently, cybercrime victims were dominated by big targets like Target, Home Depot, and Equifax. But cybercrime is now becoming more democratic as the focus shifts to smaller data-dependent entities who can be tricked into fraudulent banking transactions or whose data can be held hostage for payment. Business email compromise is particularly threatening to small and medium-size businesses because — absent very specific insurance coverage for this kind of loss — there is no one to look to for compensation. Increasingly, targets are real estate agents, title companies, and law firms involved in routine but high-dollar transactions.

 

In the case described above, if Peter had complied with the instructions fraudulently conveyed to him by the pretended lawyer on the West Coast, the bank would not have been at fault. The company would have been left holding the entire loss.

 

Personal Protections Against Business Email Compromise

  • First, train yourself or your employees to spot the red flags (http://bit.ly/2ouPK3l) that often indicate an email is fraudulent.
  • Confirm any request to wire funds or to change payment addresses through a phone call to a known individual or an individual at a known number that was obtained independently from the email chain that includes the request.
  • Never click on any email attachments that are unanticipated or where there is anything unusual or suspicious about the request.
  • Never use a website link that is provided in an unexpected email to update information or to check an account. Instead, go through the company’s public web address to its customer service page.

 

Corporate Protections Against BEC

  • Ensure that there are multiple lines of defense within the firm’s information systems so that hackers who get into one part of a system cannot freely move to other parts.
  • Secure the most valuable data in the area of the system that is the hardest to reach.
  • Protect administrative rights with two-factor authentication.

 

The internet has given us freedom to navigate the world of commerce without borders and practically without restraint. But the price of freedom is risk. Cybercriminals, those who use the interconnected world to rob and steal, are increasingly turning their attention from Wall Street Goliaths to main-street businesses. Firms of all sizes should consider that risk, look for cybersecurity insurance appropriate to their operations and risk profile, train their people to be vigilant and informed, and configure their systems to withstand the democratization of cybercrime.


Belton Zeigler, a partner with Womble Bond Dickinson, has a South Carolina-based practice in cybersecurity, utility, environmental, and energy law. He is a senior member of the firm’s data management and cybersecurity team. Connect with Belton at linkedin.com/in/beltonzeigler.

5 times you shouldn’t hire a PR firm

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Being thoughtful about elevating your company profile can provide long-term benefits to your company. A truly successful strategy integrates paid, earned, shared, and owned media.

By John Boyanoski, president and owner, Complete Public Relations

This is going to sound strange, but I am about to tell you why you shouldn’t hire me or my business.

As a guy who runs a public relations firm, I can honestly say that not everyone needs a public relations firm on retainer all the time. Or even some of the time. Not saying a PR firm can’t be a great asset to a small business or a large business or a nonprofit group or anything in between. Actually, a good firm can be an amazing asset for building brand goodwill, sharing a story with potential clients and investors, or working you through a crisis. Those are the reasons people hire public relations firms. They have something worth talking about and want to share it.

However, there are many times that hiring a public relations firm is the last thing you need.

  1. You’re looking to increase sales: A good public relations plan will raise awareness but won’t necessarily get people through the door like targeted advertising does. I wish that were different, but it isn’t. Now, a good PR plan on top of an advertising plan can do wonders, but announcing a sale just through a press release isn’t going to get you much ROI. PR people are not sales people. That is the main reason we chose public relations. We prefer writing over cold calling.
  2. You don’t like talking to the media: Believe it or not, we have set up interviews for people who have hired us to set up interviews and then they completely froze at the idea of doing an interview. I just set a record for using “interview” in one sentence. I’m not proud of that, but I needed to make the point. A PR firm’s No. 1 goal is to get you in the media. That means talking to all kinds of media members. A good firm can work with you on overcoming fears, but if you simply won’t talk to the media, then using a public relations firm is not a good use of your money or time.
  3. You’re not ready: A public relations firm can do a lot besides handle media calls. It can create content for blogs and websites, plan events, write newsletters, host events, and do all the fun stuff that goes along with social media. What it can’t do is make your business ready to handle that. If your website is out of date or your sales protocols aren’t in place or you can’t ship your product, don’t bring in a team to announce any of it.
  4. You have nothing to say: Public relations is a tool to help build credibility and goodwill in the public. We often say it is fire insurance for when things go bad. If you have good publicity and people have a favorable view of you, things tend to go better when a crisis comes your way. And crises do come. However, if you aren’t doing anything that good or it’s not very often, public relations isn’t going to change that. A firm can help you change that, but unless you are willing to change, then nothing changes. Just set another record. Most times using the word “change” in a sentence. Again, not proud.
  5. You saw your rival do it: We often hear this from our clients. They tell us their rival company or another business in their field hired a public relations firm after seeing our client in the media. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, revenge and self-satisfaction are not reasons to hire a firm. Make your own destiny and choices.

The takeaway from all of this is that public relations can be a valuable tool. Public relations for the sake of public relations isn’t really worth your time.

 

John Boyanoski is the president and owner of Complete Public Relations, a media relations firm based in Greenville and serving the Southeast. Learn more at www.completepr.net.

Electrolux to move Frigidaire production to Anderson

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Leading global appliance company Electrolux recently announced its $250 million investment to expand production at its refrigeration facility in Anderson.

Electrolux employs 2,000 people at the Anderson plant, making it one of the county’s largest employers. As of now, jobs will not be added as a result of this expansion, but the production in the Anderson plant will increase.

Electrolux plans to expand production and warehousing space by 800,000 square feet. Construction began in 2017 and should be completed in 2019. The Anderson plant is located at 101 Masters Blvd.

Electrolux also announced its $250 million expansion of manufacturing in Springfield, Tenn., which includes a new line of cooking products. Construction for the expansion will begin late 2018 and should be completed in 2020. The plant will have an added 400,000 square feet after construction.

The two investments in Anderson and Springfield are part of Electrolux’s plan to increase its level of capital expenditure investments to drive targeted growth in North America and Latin America.

Due to the consolidation into Anderson, the production at Electrolux’s St. Cloud, Minn., facility will cease.

“We are committed to the Frigidaire brand, our U.S. manufacturing base, and are investing approximately $500 million in our business’ growth areas while also simplifying our operations,” said Alan Shaw, head of Electrolux Major Appliances North America. “This is a difficult announcement for our Minnesota teammates. We are committed to supporting them and are announcing this two years in advance to provide transition time.”

Tail Lights Dogs to expand Greenville dog-training facility

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Tail Lights Dogs is planning to add more than 3,000 additional square feet to their current dog-training facility in early spring.

A growing dog community in Greenville prompted the upcoming expansion. Owner Stephanie Brooks said that Tail Lights Dogs’ fun training classes received an overwhelming response last year. “With the additional space, we will be able to provide new and different classes for dogs that need more space, such as reactive pups,” Brooks said.

The updated facility will hold private consultations for dogs with behavioral concerns. With the larger indoor space, Tail Lights Dogs will be able to apply to host trials for Nose Work, a scent detection program for search and detection teams.

“We have a program for puppies between their critical socialization age of 8 and 14 weeks that helps facilitate socialization and habituation to different people, novel objects, dogs, sights, smells, and helps new owners with common puppy problems.” Brooks said.

Also, pups can become certified Canine Good Citizens. The new classes will help train pups and their handlers who aim to specialize in therapy dog work.

“Greenville is such a dog-friendly city, and our goal has always been to help people raise well-rounded adult dogs who are able to take full advantage of all the wonderful, dog-friendly small businesses in the area and enjoy a full life with their families,” Brooks said.

Tail Lights Dogs is a state-of-the-art dog training, dog day care, and dog-boarding facility located at 284-E Rocky Creek Road in Greenville.

Greenville Country Club announces 2018 board of governors

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The Greenville Country Club recently named Matthew Smith, director at Elliott Davis LLC, its club president. The 2018 board of governors were also elected at the annual meeting. Club officers serve under the president for a one-year term, while new at-large members of the board serve a three-year term.

Prior to becoming president, Smith served as the club’s vice president and treasurer. He provides operations and financial management to various clients as part of the consulting and advisory at Elliott Davis. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting at Wake Forest University, and he is a licensed CPA in South Carolina.

“I am honored to be trusted with this responsibility as Greenville Country Club’s new president,” Smith says. “I look forward to serving the GCC community and continuing the club’s expansion and progression unrivaled by any other club in South Carolina.”

Supported by the four officers listed below, Smith will be responsible for leading GCC’s board of governors.

 

Vice President: Hamilton E. “Bo” Russell III, partner with Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough LLP
Secretary: Dr. W. Keith Walker, Piedmont Oral Surgery P.A.
Treasurer: Frank R. Wrenn III, president, Crescent Capital Partners
Past President: John R. Reynolds, vice president and managing general counsel, Fluor Corporation

 

The following nine governors were named as the rest of the GCC board of governors: George A. Campbell Jr., Marion R. Crawford, Howard L. Einstein, Michael D. Fletcher, Dr. J. Wesley Harden, Brian L. Hungerford, Jonathan E. Miller, Kelly L. Odom, and Jeff S. Powell.

 

Established in 1905, GCC is one of the South’s most historic and prestigious country clubs. GCC features two 18-hole golf courses, 17 lighted tennis courts, a three-pool aquatic center, and a 45,000-square-foot clubhouse with a fitness and wellness center.

Through Make Greenville Yours, Mike Cruice is showing potential residents what the city has to offer

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Imagine that you’ve spent a lot of time living in your old town and have decided to move somewhere new, somewhere fresh. You hear about a city called Greenville in South Carolina and decide to check it out. You pull into town, get out of your car, take a fresh breath of air, and … now what?

Where do you start?

Well, Mike Cruice is the man who has made getting to know Greenville his business.

Cruice is the founder of Make Greenville Yours, a company that offers tours of the city and its surrounding areas to potential residents looking to relocate. Cruice provides the inside look into Greenville and what makes it tick.

Cruice is a part-time pastor at Hampton Park Baptist Church, located on State Park Road, and a member of the Greenville Historical Society. He knows many city leaders and business owners, and just about everything to do with Greenville – its past, present, and future.

But Cruice is not a Greenville native.

Coming to Greenville

In 1986, Cruice moved to Greenville from Philadelphia with his wife and four children to attend seminary at Bob Jones University.

“When we moved here, Greenville was nothing to take note of,” Cruice said. But he felt called to stay in Greenville and grew to love it.

Cruice then became a pastor at Hampton Park Baptist Church. He served with the church full time until 2014 when he developed heart problems and was diagnosed with cancer.

“My wife, who is a nurse, said I needed to step down from ministry or else it would take me out,” Cruice said. “But you can take me outta ministry, but you can’t take ministry outta me.”

Cruice ended up working part time with his church, but he still craved connecting with people. He would hang out around downtown Greenville just to be surrounded by constant interaction.

“So, I would go down to Sully’s Steamers, where I had connected with the owner there,” Cruice said.

One day, while in Sully’s, Cruice witnessed an interaction between a couple and the cashier. Cruice said the couple asked the cashier about Greenville and wanted to know where they could find information on the city. The cashier didn’t know what to tell them. As the couple was walking out, Cruice saw an opportunity and stopped them, offering his services.

Cruice ended up taking them on a tour of Greenville and its surrounding areas such as Greer and Taylors. Cruice said the couple absolutely loved the tour — and Greenville itself.

From then on, Cruice knew he had a calling. With help from his daughter, Bonnie Cruice, he launched his new business of showing people the potential of moving to Greenville

“Bonnie’s the one that stirred me on to start the business,” Cruice said. He had told her about encounters with people who came to Greenville and wished they had known more about the area prior to moving so they could have picked a better location. “And when I gave that first informal tour, that confirmed what I had already observed,” Cruice added.

 

First-class Tour

Make Greenville Yours offers two types of tours. The first one, the Get Acquainted Tour, is a one-hour, 30-minute walking and driving tour of downtown Greenville. The second one, the Get Moving Tour, is a three-hour tour of downtown Greenville and the surrounding areas of Mauldin, Simpsonville, Greer, Taylors, and Travelers Rest.

“I’ve given around 200 tours over the last two years,” Cruice said.

On both tours, Cruice focuses on two major aspects of Greenville: its natural beauty and its businesses. “My tour’s an overview,” he said. “I give [potential residents] a flavor for different aspects of the city. If you just take a walk around downtown, you don’t get an appreciation for the city.”

First, Cruice takes people to Falls Park. As a member of the Greenville Historical Society, he’s full of information on the history of Greenville — and he shows it, as he flawlessly recounts how Falls Park went from being hidden away to one of Greenville’s most recognizable landmarks. Cruice said he feels the park is the most significant part of Greenville and the reason why the city has earned its numerous accolades and stellar reputation over the years.

From there, Cruice will drive his clients around Greenville, showing them other famous monuments, such as the airplane memorial in Cleveland Park dedicated to Air Force Major Rudolph Anderson Jr., the only American casualty of the Cuban missile crisis; the Vietnam War memorial; and numerous shuttered textile mills.

While driving, Cruice will point out various locations, explaining what the city has planned for them. He gathers most of this knowledge through the relationships he’s gradually built with city leaders, such as mayors, business owners, and real estate agents. “I would tell them, ‘Help me put your best foot forward,’” Cruice said. Those connections have helped maximize the tour experience for clients.

 

Paying It Forward

Ultimately, Cruice hopes that by sharing his love for Greenville, others will fall for the city, too, and choose to call it home. “It has big-city amenities while also having that small-city feel,” he said.

For Cruice, giving tours is just another part of his vocation to serve others. “In ministry, I’m interested in trying to help people,” he said. “And at the end of every tour, I tell them they’re welcome to call me, email me, [or] text me, if there’s any way I can help them.”

For more information, visit makegreenvilleyours.com.

Make Greenville Yours

Founder: Mike Cruice

Service: Provides tours of the city of Greenville and/or its surrounding areas to potential residents looking to relocate

Market: Tourism, residential

Offerings: Get Moving Tour (a three-hour tour of downtown Greenville and five surrounding areas), $50/person; Get Acquainted Tour (a 1-hour, 30-minute driving and walking tour of downtown Greenville), $25/person. Customized tours are priced based on request.

ROBERT HULL | EDITORIAL INTERN

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