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Columbia Business Monthly

S.C. 25 Fastest Growing Companies

Nov 07, 2018 11:03AM ● By Kathleen Maris
Now in its 17th year, the S.C. 25 Fastest Growing Companies competition recognizes the achievements of top-performing private and publicly owned companies that have contributed to the Palmetto State’s economy through exceptional increases in revenues and employment. The contest was founded as a way to honor the state’s most dynamic businesses and their contributions to our state’s economic vitality. Winners were announced at the annual 25 Fastest Growing Companies Awards Luncheon Wednesday, Oct. 10 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

PCI Group (Fort Mill), Duke Brands (Greenville), Quality Business Solutions (Travelers Rest), and A3 Communications (Irmo) were honored with S.C. Excellence in Business Awards, while Harper General Contractors (Greenville) received the S.C. Economic Impact Award. Easley’s Global Sales Group received the Rising Star Award.

The S.C. Top 25 Fastest Growing Companies program was presented by The Capital Corporation and co-sponsored by Integrated Media Publishing (publisher of Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Charleston Business Magazine), BDO USA LLP, PNC Bank, Keenan Suggs|HUB, and Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP. 

Methodology: In 2018, companies were judged using a weighted calculation based on year-over-year growth in two categories: revenue and employee headcount. This calculation covered the annual periods from 2015 to 2017. These measurements portray positive change and true growth in any company without regard to industry and position everyone to vie for a prestigious spot among South Carolina’s 25 Fastest Growing Companies.


 #1: MedTrust Medical Transport LLC

Year Founded: 2012
Founders: Josh Watts and Buddy Koon
Headquarters location: Hanahan
Number of other locations: 7
Number of employees (start): 38
Number of employees (present): 158

MedTrust Medical Transport is the fastest growing ambulance company in South Carolina serving the Lowcountry and the Grand Strand. Its vision of improving patient outcomes through excellence in mobile health care guides its trained paramedics (more than 40 percent Critical Care credentialed), EMTs, and other professionals working together to transport more than 30,000 patients each year in critical, emergent, and non-emergent situations. More than 25 health care facilities and four hospital systems entrust their patients to MedTrust. 

Headquartered in Hanahan with additional offices and bases in Moncks Corner, Walterboro, Summerville, Georgetown, Murrells Inlet, Myrtle Beach, and North Myrtle Beach, MedTrust supports many community organizations and provides onsite and mobile medical support for local professional/college and high school events.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Josh Watts (CEO and co-founder): From the onset, we have worked to improve the experience for employees, patients, and facilities served by private ambulance transport. With the heart for our patients at the center of our logo (and everything we do), we have attracted the very best providers. With the right providers, the right equipment, the right training, and the right clients, we have been able to deliver immense value to all stakeholders.

That means we work to have a strong relationship with the facilities we support and and provide our employees with numerous reasons to join and stay with MedTrust. We are hyper-focused on service to hospitals/health systems and their unique and demanding requirements. With more than 80 percent of our 30,000 annual transports coming from a hospital, all facets of our business are built to understand and solve their problems.

That combination of a committed, professional staff and innovative and impactful working relationships with our facility partners has been our formula for success.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
We will continue to expand our business operations, both in terms of volume and geographic territory. But we will only do this in such a way that we continue to have strong relationships with our facility partners and a staff of competent, passionate professionals. We have achieved smart but very aggressive growth in the past few years, and that is the requirement for any future growth.  

Challenges are truly around increasing complexity of compliance in a fast-changing regulatory and reimbursement environment. Our other challenges will be around continuing to scale a business in a “brick and mortar” industry geographically in innovative ways. We look forward to the challenge.

Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Yes. We expect to add more than 100 members to our team over the next 12 months in South Carolina and beyond.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
We believe we’re not in the ambulance business solely, but in the mobile integrated healthcare sector. There is an ongoing need for enhanced coordination and communication among all partners, so that patients can be moved more efficiently and effectively as part of the overall patient experience. Opportunities to add value outside of transport often present themselves as we continue to learn with and from our clients.

In addition, many of the regions we serve have seen a significant growth in population. That means we need to plan to deal with a higher volume of activity, especially in times of emergency. 

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Have a company worth owning. To do that, your company would have to be one worth working for and worth working with. My father taught me that from his experience owning his own construction company.

Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
We work very hard to understand where our industry is going as well as health care as a whole. We adapt our operations and business plan to better serve the industry as it currently exists and will in the future. We also look for ways to bring value in innovative and sometimes unexpected ways.

We also constantly strive to maintain strong relationships with our current facility partners; new customers are obviously important, but we have to make sure our current partners are not only served well, but feel the positives of working with MedTrust as we mature and refine our offerings.

What does being a success mean to you?
From a business perspective, I really believe that being successful is about solving real problems.  The more we are able to grow MedTrust, the more lives we can impact. I call it the three-legged stool of our employees, patients, and clients.  

Truthfully, having more than 150 families that depend on our leadership team’s choices and execution is incredibly motivating and gratifying. That responsibility and opportunity is probably my biggest driver.

How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
We interact on a regular basis with our peers across the country and with officials in the government sector, to better understand how they are dealing with the challenges within the industry and to share lessons learned. 

Our recent evacuation exercise, Hurricane Palmetto, gave us a great chance to show how we can lead an evacuation of facilities across a wide region in conjunction with efforts conducted by the public sector. Both sides came away with a better understanding of how to conduct these activities when a real emergency occurs. That knowledge will be beneficial in our day-to-day operations as well.

What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?
I love to talk to people but find myself doing a ton of email and text just from a time management perspective.  Spending time with people in a collaborative/group setting is probably where I am most comfortable.

Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?
Over the last two years, things have really started to spread out as our leadership team has grown.  I still do a lot when I’m not physically at work, but increasingly on different things. Our team is amazing from top to bottom, and their growth has allowed me less frantic calls at 2 a.m.  

When the rubber meets the road, though, I love jumping in and working alongside our folks. With the Hurricane Florence evacuation/repatriation, we all worked non-stop and without rest for almost two weeks moving more than 2,000 patients. Every time I got tired, I thought of the EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, and support staff that were stepping up and I was energized.

At the end of the day, MedTrust is in a business that operates 24/7/365 and ramps up when others are running away.  We made a choice to do this and to be the very best.  This is a company worth owning.


 #2: Diesel Laptops 

Founded: 2014
Founder: Tyler Robertson
Headquarters location: Gilbert
Number of other locations: 1
Number of employees (start): 2
Number of employees (present): 85

Diesel Laptops, founded by Tyler Robertson in 2014, provides specialized diesel diagnostic equipment for the commercial truck, construction, automobile, agriculture, and off-highway markets. Diesel Laptops is the industry leader in diesel diagnostic tools. It prides itself on being the diesel diagnostic experts and providing customers with world-class customer service.
 
What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?  
Tyler Robertson (Founder): We constantly come out with new products and services while still marketing and expanding our sales team. We jump into new verticals such as off-highway and marine diagnostics. We’ve come up with multiple solutions for pain points in our industries, and we listen hard to what the customer has to say. We will attend over 40 trade shows this year, we are heavily invested in online marketing, and continue to grow our brand name in our industry.
 
What’s in store for your company? 
We are going virtual. The next step in our evolution is providing customers with repair information and diagnostics remotely. This means a customer can be 500 miles away but will be able to easily livestream to our diesel technicians while we are accessing their computer system. This means we can help deliver a repair plan on how to fix their issue.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
Our biggest challenge is scaling our rapid growth, as we’ve hired a new employee every two days in 2018.  To meet this challenge head on, we choose our team wisely, keep customer experience a priority, and stay open to adapting.
 
Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?  
Currently, we are hiring one employee every two days and plan to grow exponentially in the coming year.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?  
The industry is changing fast. Electric trucks are coming, required electronic driver logs happened in 2018, and everything is getting smaller and more mobile. Technicians two years ago wanted to do everything from a laptop; now they want to do them remotely and with their phones or tablets.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?  
I wouldn’t say it was one piece of advice, rather what I saw happening. I’ve seen numerous successful companies become complacent and stop moving forward. Several years later, the company is failing and closing. My philosophy has been to keep all available money in the company and expand and innovate as fast as possible.
 
Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?  
For us, the long-term plan is providing customers with quality products and quality service and supporting them. If we can do those things, customers will keep paying for it.
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?  
I’m an industry news junkie. I subscribe to all the magazines and newsletters, and I’m constantly active on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. There are a ton of industry groups on those platforms, and information usually lands there first.
 
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?  
I would have become an entrepreneur sooner than I did. I was afraid to make the cut from the “regular” job that provided a steady paycheck, and it was especially difficult when I had two kids under 3 at the time. I really thank my wife for really encouraging me to go out and try this, as I would probably be sitting a desk working for someone else if she hadn’t.
 
What does being a success mean to you?  
At first, I measured success by just being profitable and creating a company. Now, it means more along the lines of innovating and changing the status quo of the way our industry has worked for numerous years.
 
What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?  
It depends on urgency. I prefer email for items that require a lot of thought but can wait, phone calls or texts for more urgent needs, and in-person meetings for discussions and brainstorming sessions so that we can communicate more quickly and bounce ideas more easily.
 
Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?  
I leave work every day at 4 p.m., sometimes sooner. I have young kids and a wife, so it is important that I’m around them when I can be. We also live next to Lake Murray, so we are out there pretty much every weekend enjoying family time.


 #3: Frampton Construction Company LLC

Year Founded: 2014
Founder: Chad Frampton
Headquarters location: Ladson
Number of other locations: 1 (Charlotte, N.c.)
Number of employees (start): 8
Number of employees (present): 41

Frampton Construction is a regional full-service construction firm providing planning and design support, preconstruction, and construction services. The dedicated team of professionals takes pride in building strong relationships with clients while providing the highest quality of service. Through personal oversight by top management throughout the building process, Frampton Construction is passionate about delivering incomparable results, start-to-finish, on each and every project. With offices in Charleston and Charlotte, the company is positioned to manage projects in the Carolinas and beyond.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Chad Frampton (President and CEO): I think part of it is because we approach work acquisition with a focus on the client rather than the project. Our intent is that we build relationship with clients who have multiple projects and choose Frampton Construction to deliver them. We want our clients’ experience with us to be so good that choosing us as their construction partner is a no-brainer.

Another key is having an open mindset and the confidence in our ability to do good work — we are willing to venture outside of our comfort zone and broaden the types of jobs we do. The sky’s the limit, really. 

We are also proud to have developed a strong culture with a good reputation that attracts top talent.

What’s in store for your company?
We are focused on the continued growth of our team and project portfolio. We will be doing business for some of our long-standing clients as well as for new ones. A few of our current projects include trucking terminals for Southeastern Freight Lines and Old Dominion Freight Lines, a Hilton Garden Inn & Homewood Suites hotel and conference center, and the flagship office for Adams Outdoor Advertising.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Making sure we focus on projects that are a good fit for us and for our team, and then making sure we have the right staff in place for those projects and beyond. We have weekly calls with the management team for exactly this reason — to make sure we are on the same page about which projects we want to go for and then also to discuss the staffing for those projects to make sure we are equipped with the right people to execute it at 100 percent. It’s hard to say no to a negotiated project, but sometimes you have to if it’s not the right fit.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Technology continues to improve the way we can deliver construction. Several years ago, the entire construction industry was behind in technology, but now we’re heavily influenced and engaged in the dynamic technology platform; we’re an industry that not only accepts technology but relies on it. 

Construction management programs not only provide more collaborative project delivery methods but access to real-time data and resources. This in itself has changed how construction projects are managed, providing more transparent costs and schedules, as well as tools for better quality and safety management. 

In our opinion, the next big shift will be the use of offsite/modular construction. This offsite technology will allow higher quality and faster deliveries, similar to how Henry Ford reinvented the production of the automobile. We also see a shift toward using virtual reality/augmented reality to assist with the design development and coordination throughout construction.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
My father, Charles Frampton, is a brilliant man in its simplest form. He had a no-fuss way of doing business. His advice to me is simple: “You may not always be the smartest person in the room, but have the smartest person on your team.” 

Another common phrase that I have found to be so true in regard to good business development practice and making connections in the industry is, “You can’t sell construction sitting in your office.”

Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
Our focus isn’t on what our company will look like one year from now, it’s on what our company will look like 25 years from now. With that mindset, we are putting the pieces in place now to achieve that vision down the line.

In terms of employee retention, we make sure we hire the right people who are a good fit, and we equip them with the resources they need for continued growth personally and professionally to ensure they feel fulfilled and successful. The same thing really goes for retaining our clients too; we prioritize their happiness by holding up our end of the deal and focusing on quality construction. We aim to add a few new clients through the front door every year without losing any out the back door.

We look at each project, no matter the client, as an audition. You give your best every time like it is your only chance to prove yourself. This mindset helps management and our team stay innovative and non-complacent.

How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Very important. Part of our vision statement is to remain committed to continuous improvement. We strive to challenge the current “Frampton way” by continuously learning and getting better every day. Examples of this include holding position-specific annual meetings to discuss challenges and solutions (ex: superintendents meeting), lessons learned exercises after each project, inviting OSHA for voluntary visits, attending industry events and conferences, semi-annual reviews for all employees with a focus on short and long-term goals and how to meet them.

A personal one for me is being part of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), which is a global network of young chief executives founded on the principle of education and idea exchange among peers. It has been really rewarding to share experiences and advice with people that are in the same boat as me, so to speak.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
I don’t know that there is anything, really. I realize that learning through experience is really the only way to do it. You could go back and tell yourself something, but it won’t have the same impact as learning that thing through firsthand experience.


 #4: The Hiring Group LLC

Year Founded: 2014
Founders: Brooks Israel and Chris Yarrow
Headquarters location: Atlanta and Greer
Number of employees (start): 2
Number of employees (present): 10


Recently ranked by Inc. Magazine as the No. 130 fastest growing private U.S. company on the Inc. 5000, The Hiring Group is a technical staffing and recruiting firm with clients located throughout U.S. The Hiring Group helps companies hire and retain top IT and engineering employees by focusing on the well-being of the contractor. Its mantra is “Great Contractors Deserve Great Benefits.” Leading organizations rely on The Hiring Group as their trusted recruiting and contingent staffing partner. Unlike typical staffing firms, The Hiring Group goes beyond meeting minimum requirements and offers our contractors the richest benefits package available in the industry today.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Brooks Israel and Chris Yarrow (Co-founders and managing partners): The primary driver for revenue growth is retention-focused hiring initiatives across our client base. Demand for IT and engineering jobs continues to skyrocket across South Carolina and the Southeast. In addition to the growing need for technical talent across all industries, companies are increasingly leveraging a contract-based (or “contingent”) workforce to scale to meet demand for business requirements.

What’s in store for your company?
As we head into the fourth quarter of 2018, we will continue to stay focused on hitting our financial and operational goals for the year. As our clients have already begun planning and projections for their 2019 budgets, we are working with them to ensure their staffing and hiring plans align to meet the strategic corporate initiatives. We are excited to continue to grow our company by bringing on new clients and contractors weekly. In addition to our growing contractor population, we are also hiring new internal staff to scale to meet our growth projections heading into 2019.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
In the current economy and with a low unemployment rate, competition for the highly skilled workforce in IT and engineering will continue to rise. We continue to work with our clients to help them adapt their hiring strategies to effectively compete to attract the best talent for these highly specialized roles.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Technology and innovation have dramatically impacted the way companies recruit and hire. We live in a digitally connected universe today, and like everyone else, staffing and recruiting companies must leverage technology to work smarter. Technology helps us all become more efficient and effective recruiters, but there is a critical “people factor” that is required in our line of technical staffing that cannot be automated or mechanized. We have to be laser-focused on not just “checking the boxes” on candidate skill and education requirements, but also having the emotional intelligence factor to be able to place candidates who will be the right cultural fit as well.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Find a business partner with your same core values, but with completely different strengths than yourself. Think yin and yang.

Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
We started The Hiring Group because we saw an incredible opportunity to change how companies recruit, hire and retain their technical workforce. When we started the company in 2014, we knew that to retain great contractors, you had to go beyond providing baseline benefits. Our focus from day one has been to look after our contractors’ well-being, and over time we continue to find ways to invest in our people so they are cared for. This has become a major differentiator for us as our contractor retention rate is between 96 to 98 percent. This retention-focused approach delivers significant value to our clients in terms of cost-savings and reduced opportunity costs associated with contractor attrition.

 #5: Clear Touch Interactive, Inc.

Year Founded: 2012
Founders: Keone and Tamara Trask 
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of employees (start): 3
Number of employees (present): 36


Headquartered in Greenville, Clear Touch Interactive provides large, fully integrated, easy-to-use interactive panels and displays that promote collaborative participation. Its panels feature 20 simultaneous points of touch, nine data ports (including Snowflake and EasiConnect), multiple custom connectivity apps, device mirroring, and wireless connectivity. Its interactive displays can be implemented in both businesses and classrooms. Each display comes with a large package of optional software applications. High quality, low maintenance — that’s the Clear Touch difference.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Keone Trask (president and founder): A dedicated team and product innovation — the two go hand in hand. Your team members must believe in what they do, sell, and support. And they need quality products to stand behind. We believe that there are gaps in what the market offers and strive to fill those gaps. Our success has been due to being in the industry, listening to customers (and experiencing many of the same frustrations ourselves), and working on products that can fulfill those needs.  
 
What’s in store for your company?
Our team has been working on multiple product innovations and testing new products for release in 2019. We came into 2018 with a vision of what the exact products and features we wanted to further develop were and have been taking steps on a global level to set the team up for success with further development, rigorous testing, and production/distribution planning.

This year has really been focused on setting up a family of products and developing the internal support and company structure to further propel the company for growth in the future. In Q1 2019, the goal is to have a strong launch of these product items and look forward to our first-of-the-year trade shows so we can reveal our hard work to our customers and resellers.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
With our rapid growth comes the need for expanding our physical footprint from the service and logistics side. A lot of data, trends, and planning comes into selecting key cities for distribution, sales, and service centers. This becomes even more challenging, albeit exciting, as we consider strategic expansion and partnership and alliance opportunities overseas.


 #6: Innovative Vehicle Solutions International Inc.

Year Founded: 2012
Founders: Lisa and Matt Kuhn
Headquarters location: Ladson
Number of other locations: 4
Number of employees (start): 5
Number of employees (present): 145

Innovative Vehicle Solutions launched in 2012 as a commercial truck body builder and upfitter. Since then, it has grown organically and through strategic acquisitions and alliances to five locations throughout the U.S. that are home to more than 140 employees. 

IVS’s headquarters in Ladson, just three miles from the Mercedes-Benz Vans plant specializes in commercial van and truck upfitting and houses our exceptional R&D team. 

Its other facilities — located in California, Louisiana, and Texas — not only upfit vehicles but also specialize in recreational vehicles, luxury van conversions, and ambulance/paratransit vehicles. IVS’s unique approach has led it to partner with some of Europe’s premiere body builders, such as the Libner Group, Hartmann, VFS, and Scattolini to offer lighter, more efficient solutions that are years ahead of the competition. 

IVS’s extended service network includes 18 locations in 12 states.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Matt Kuhn (Chairman and CEO): We build the customer the product they want to buy.  Most of our competitors build and sell a set product line, whether it’s optimal for their customers’ needs or not. We are, by our nature, about customization and optimization. Everything we build solves a specific business problem for a specific customer.

What’s in store for your company?
Next year is looking exciting. Several products we’ve developed over the years are refined enough to start making a real splash in the marketplace. We’re building our refrigerated vans and tire service vans in quantity. We’ve also got interesting stuff in the works that will get IVS into the electric vehicle space, as well as the physical security sector.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Our biggest challenge has always been controlling the logistics of an ever-expanding company.  We’ve made huge strides towards perfecting our business processes, but our rapid growth keeps bringing new challenges to the table. We’ve added two new locations this year, each with its own unique challenges. The only solution is to work really hard and to never stop learning. When trying something new, we inevitably make some mistakes. As long as we never make the same mistake twice, things get easier every day until we expand again and take on a whole new set of challenges.

Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Yes, we’re planning to add as many as 100 new employees as we ramp up our existing projects and expand into new areas.  The sky’s the limit for us.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
The growth of last-mile delivery continues to drive our industry.  Consumers want not only products, but also services, delivered right to their doorstep.  We expect to see huge growth of home delivery of sensitive materials such as refrigerated goods and prescription drugs.  We also expect to see more service businesses traveling to their customers to perform work.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
I learned from my former boss and mentor Jim Kennedy to always put integrity first. Nothing else matters without it. I try to do right by my customers, my vendors, my staff, and everyone else we do business with. Integrity has never failed to pay dividends.

How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Continued learning is absolutely crucial to this company. We’re all about innovation, and that means coming up with creative applications for the latest advances in technology. The best way we’ve found to keep learning is through networking. Our team keeps in touch with the best and brightest people we’ve met throughout our careers in a variety of fields. That way, we’re constantly in contact with people who are on the cutting edge of their respective areas of expertise.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
How to think like a banker.  Fundraising is the hardest part of my job because I think in terms of opportunity, but bankers think in terms of risk. We can’t do what we do without capital, so effectively communicating with the people who control the money is key.


 #7: RealOp Investments

Year Founded: 2009
Founders: Reggie Bell, Paul Sparks, and Kyle Putnam
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 3 (Nashville, Tampa, and Raleigh)
Number of employees (start): 5
Number of employees (present): 30

RealOp Investments is a private equity firm founded in 2009 specializing in value-add and opportunistic investments. With deep roots in the Southeast, its investment strategy spans multiple asset classes and is based on a relationship-driven pursuit of value, not only in identifying off-market opportunities, but in creating value through innovative capitalization structures, management expertise, and the execution of unique strategies tailored to each asset.

What’s in store for your company?
Kyle Putnam (Co-founder): We are one of the largest owners of commercial real estate in Greenville and in the Southeast and are beginning to expand our value-add investment strategy into other types of assets. We expect to remain focused on growing our asset base through strategic acquisitions across the Southeast through 2018 and 2019.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
Reggie Bell (Co-founder): Having experienced a great deal of growth over the past 24-36 months, one challenge has been in finding the right talent. Our unique business model makes that even more challenging, but fortunately many of the attributes and amenities that Greenville has to offer has helped in recruiting. As with any business, other challenges include changing economic conditions, the cyclical nature of the various asset classes within commercial real estate, and the volatility of the U.S. capital markets. We overcome them by paying careful attention to those changes and being nimble enough to react when we need to.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Putnam: One of the trends in commercial real estate will continue to be the disruption of the traditional models relating to investing in industrial and retail assets. We’ve seen across the country that big box stores are closing or downsizing due in part to the increase in online sales. As a result of this, as well as the growth of other business related to the baby boomer generation and overall economic growth, the demand for industrial space has increased dramatically. While that trend is unique to present times, the history of real estate shows that the patterns of how and where we work, live, and play as a society are cyclical.
   
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Paul Sparks (Co-founder): There may be no greater key to success. If you aren’t keeping up with new trends and willing to follow through on new ideas, then you aren’t going to make it. That is one of the things that makes RealOp unique. We have a great blend of people with different backgrounds and experience. We learn from each other. We push each other to be better and to deliver a good experience for our tenants, investors, and communities.
  
What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?
Sparks: Anything but smoke signals work. Seriously, though, I can adapt across multiple platforms pretty quickly. I prefer text messages, because I usually have my phone with me and I prefer short answers.

Bell: Communication is a big part of the success of our partnership and business. I think sometimes we all rely on email too much, and I’m guilty of that. We’re trying to email less internally vs. getting out of our desk chairs and walking down the hall. But there is no question that a live conversation, either in person or on the phone, is always more productive. That’s my preference, but if that can’t happen, I prefer a quick text message because you can get straight to the point.

Putnam: Definitely direct phone calls. I tend to get inundated with hundreds of emails a day and it’s hard to keep up most the time. Phone calls to me are more efficient as long as there is a defined point and communication agenda. That said, conference calls in my opinion are one of the most inefficient forms of communication. Every time I get off a conference call, I usually think to myself that an hour-long conference call could have been summarized in an email to all parties.


#8: Cantey Foundation Specialists

Year Founded: 2014
Founder: William Cantey, CEO and Owner
Headquarters location: Camden
Number of other locations: 1 (Roebuck)
Beginning of 2018 Number of Employees: 74
Current Number of Employees: 95

Cantey Foundation Specialists is a trusted foundation and crawl space repair company providing residential and commercial services throughout South Carolina and the greater Augusta, Ga., areas. The company strives to fix it right the first time, use the highest quality materials, train its employees to deliver the best customer experience, and offer a permanent solution that it stands proudly behind. It is associated with the Basement Systems and Supportworks, Inc. international networks, has an A+ rating with the BBB, and has won the 2018 Supportworks’ Award for Integrity, 2018 Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Companies, 2017 Best in Biz Most Innovative Company Award, and the 2015 BBB Torch Award for Ethics.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
William Cantey (CEO and owner): The main driver of Cantey’s growth is our people. We are continually hiring those who have a positive mindset, go-getter attitude, and fantastic customer service skills. Without the individuals who make up our No. 1 team, we would not be where we are today.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Innovation in our patented products happens yearly, so we strive to keep ahead of our competitors to bring the best solutions to our customers. With the help of the international network of dealers through Supportworks, Inc. and Basement Systems, we are able to openly discuss the future of the foundation, crawl space, and concrete repair industries.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career? What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Decide where you are going to be in the market and stick with it. You cannot be the best and the cheapest, and there is nothing wrong with being one or the other because there is a market for both. This was only discovered after the help of one of my other mentors, Larry Janesky, who is the founder of Basement Systems, Inc. He was always available for advice, and he helped me through the great days and the bad.

Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul? How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
My personal approach is to lead by example. I am a strong believer in self-improvement as well as hard work. As the company has grown, I have given my team members the same opportunities to improve themselves. I truly believe that we fix homes to pay the tuition to build our people. From self-improvement books to training nationwide to financial workshops to health care benefits, I invest in their future so that they have not only fulfilling work, but also fulfilling lives. 

What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?
I prefer email. One of my daily self-improvement practices is time management. I’ve learned that time is valuable, so don’t waste it on simple tasks that can be entrusted to others or spend time multitasking without actually achieving something. I do not allow email to be a distraction throughout the day with its consistent alerts; I schedule the time to read and respond to my emails so that I may fully concentrate on the task at hand, which is communicating clearly.

Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?
I am very fortunate — and learned early on — to hire great people and let them do their job. Time is valuable, and micromanaging is not beneficial for anyone. Because I’ve hired a great leadership team, I am able to spend most of my time working on our culture, specific projects, and working on becoming a better leader. I rarely feel the need to be engaged 24/7.


#9: Equiscript LLC

Year Founded: 2008
Founder: Michael B. Burkhold, Jr.
Headquarters location: North Charleston
Number of other locations: 1 (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Number of employees (start):  2
Number of employees (present): 88

Equiscript helps high-risk, high-need patients get the medications they need while also generating revenue to support community health centers and hospitals. We do this by managing 340B home delivery pharmacy programs on behalf of hospitals and health centers across the U.S.  

Through personalized service and convenient free delivery of medications, we can help patients become healthier and more compliant with their provider’s prescribed course of care. For our hospital and health center clients, Equiscript offers them a way to provide a new line of service for their patients and a new source of revenue for the health center.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?  
Michael B. Burkhold, Jr. (President and CEO): We offer an innovative patient-centered service and work diligently to earn the trust of our clients.  While there is clearly a need for our services, we have been able to sustain rapid growth because we operate by our core values and hire exceptional personnel that have a passion for our cause, which is for us to “improve access to health care in the communities we serve.”

We provide a unique service that helps patients stay healthier, and helps our health-industry clients generate new revenue and provide additional pharmacy options for their patients.

What’s in store for your company?  
In Q4 2018, we will open a second office in Salt Lake City that will allow us to better serve our growing number of clients and patients in the western part of the U.S.  In addition to this, we will be launching new client programs in California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Michigan in the second half of this year.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Regulatory uncertainty as it relates to 340B is our greatest challenge. 340B is a program that touches almost every community across the U.S., yet most Americans haven’t heard of it. This program helps community health centers and hospitals keep their doors open and continue to provide health services to thousands of communities, but they are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in lobbying from big pharma that wants to restrict the program’s reach. It benefits us all to understand that 340B is part of how our health centers stay open. The program costs taxpayers nothing, and the benefits touch all our communities. We support our clients and help them communicate the importance of the program to members of Congress.

Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Yes, approximately 30.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
It is our opinion that personal relationships are indispensable in the provision of excellent healthcare. While much of the noise in the healthcare industry is around new data and new apps, we think that reaching out to people and being kind and helpful is the true path forward. We certainly expect to leverage technology to communicate with patients, but personal interaction is vital for many of the high-need, high-risk patients that we serve. 

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
I try to read Proverbs on a daily basis. There are 31 chapters, so I just match the chapter to the day of the month. The deep wisdom that can be found in Proverbs has helped to shape my personal life, and as a result, has helped shape my career.  I have found that any form of success relies on executing sound fundamentals.  

How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Very important. I’m a natural learner. There are really two different types of learning you have asked about here. First is learning information like industry trends and opportunities. For that I keep up with my clients and business contacts and subscribe to business news feeds. I also read the daily Harvard Business Review  email every morning. It’s applicable to our business one of 10 times, but that’s plenty. Learning about our company, which means our people, and myself is a much different process that takes time — lots of listening, considering what I heard, and reflection.  I find I learn more about myself the more time I spend focused on my faith.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
That it takes about 10 years of hard work to become an overnight success.


 #10: Hunter Quinn Homes

Year Founded: 2013
Founder: William Herring
Headquarters location: Mt. Pleasant
Number of employees (present): 25



Hunter Quinn Homes is dedicated to providing a great home buying experience from the first day of new home selection until well after closing. To prove its loyalty to its customers, it offers industry-leading warranties on every home it sells. Hunter Quinn Homes’ post-closing services include both 30-day and one-year follow-ups. One of its builders will personally walk through each home to ensure that its clients are fully satisfied. Hunter Quinn Homes offers such a proactive follow-up process to its clients because it’s committed not only to its homes but also to the clients who live in them. Although it maintains the highest possible construction standards, Hunter Quinn Homes’ service department will ensure that clients continue to be satisfied with their new homes.

Hunter Quinn Homes is currently building new homes in nine communities throughout the Charleston area.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
William Herring (President): The Charleston area is a fantastic place to live and people are moving here daily. Housing is expensive, but we’ve been able to provide quality homes at fair prices.

Our product is positioned to allow us to meet the affordability of our buyers in key growth locations in the tri-county area. We build primarily single-family detached homes but have several lines of single-family-attached product we build as needed to meet the needs of our customers. Each product has varying sizes and specification levels to ensure we meet the buyer’s needs.

What’s in store for your company?
Hunter Quinn Homes still has room to grow in the Charleston MSA with anticipations of over 150 closings for 2018. We have three large projects breaking ground late ’18 and early ’19, and we will continue to grow. We strive to be a respected industry leader, a place where people want to work.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
The labor market, availability of land, and preservation of company culture offer the most challenges. The area’s growth has taxed the population of available skilled trades, as well as the availability of viable land. Strategic land purchasing on the front end as well as homing in on creating and maintaining mutually respectable relationships with our trades have helped us to overcome these challenges.

Maintaining our company culture at the growth rate we’ve experienced has been another challenge within the company. We have a lot of new team members on board and spend a great deal of time ensuring we only bring people on board that can thrive in our culture. To us, their ability to fit culturally is equally as important as their acumen.
  
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Work hard, surround yourself with the best people, strive to understand every aspect of your business, expect to wear every hat at some point, and remain tenacious.
 
Growing fast is one thing, but long-term sustainable success is another. What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
We are fostering a team that is capable of sustaining the momentum, working on counter cyclical strategies, and maintaining a land/lot pipeline to maintain our planned unit volume.
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
We are always looking to further our knowledge base. We participate in both industry and leadership training on a regular basis for all of our staff.
 
What does being a success mean to you?
Being the builder of choice for our internal team and our trade partners and knowing that we’ve provided excellent experiences for our homebuyer.


 #11: Source Ortho

Year Founded: 2012
Founder: Elizabeth Gush
Headquarters location: Mt. Pleasant
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 13


Source Ortho was founded in 2012 by owner Elizabeth Gush to supply the ever-growing need for medical supplies and equipment in the U.S. Located in beautiful Charleston County, our vision is simple; provide great products with cordial and intelligent customer service, the most user-friendly website, and the best possible prices.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?  
Elizabeth Gush (Owner and CEO): The rise of ecommerce coupled with the change in the insurance market of medical supplies. We were fortunate to hit the market during a disruption in the business cycle for medical supplies.  

What’s in store for your company?  
We have doubled our staff this year and are trending toward a 20 percent growth over 2017. We are working with an HR consultant to organize our staff structure and job duties. For the first few years we were an all-hands-on-deck business model, but as we have grown, we can no longer sustain this model.  

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?   
Competition from other online retailers and Amazon. Our marketing team works diligently to manage our Google spend to maximize our advertising costs. We utilize fast shipping methods to compete with the Amazon expectations that customers have of orders shipping same day and being received in two days. 

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?  
Our market will continue to change at a fast pace and we will have to evolve constantly to meet those changes. We are always looking for the next big products to hit the market and gain access to distributing those products.  

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
There has not been one piece of advice, but I’ve built our business and my leadership style on learning things from many teachers/mentors over the years. In my former life (before starting this business), I was a stay-at-home mom to four kids. Over the 13 years I was home with our children, I was an avid volunteer in numerous organizations (support groups, swim team, preschool board, schools). During my years of being a mom, volunteering, and now running a business, my leadership style has changed some, but the core of putting people first (customers and staff) has remained the same.  

What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?  
Fast growth is great, but it has its downfalls. We feel like this year we are finally catching our breath and planning for growth instead of just responding to the growth. We are putting in place strategies to keep our customers coming back to us on a regular basis. We have launched a sister site to our business, Source Fitness. We have also launched a complementary site, SourceCBD. We have plans for one to two more sites to launch in the next year that will continue to broaden our customer reach.  


 #12: Intellectual Capitol, Inc.

Year Founded: 2003
Founders: Traci and Barry Newkirk
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 1 (Columbia)
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 44

Intellectual Capitol connects top-notch talent to its clients, provides significant opportunities for its candidates, teaches the strategy to drive organizational culture, builds top-shelf custom application software, and has organized an award-winning security services team. Intellectual Capitol’s desire is to be a local services company that brings a deep understanding of the IT sector to its clients across the state of South Carolina.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Barry Newkirk (Co-founder): Our biggest challenge is continued growth without debt or outside investment. We have to be smart money managers and strategic thinkers.
Traci Newkirk (Co-founder): One of our biggest challenges is a shortage of talent. We have to be skilled in our recruiting and hiring to find these needles in a haystack.
 
Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Barry and Traci: We have already added over 20 employees this year with more to come and plan for more talent growth in 2019.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Barry and Traci: Trends: Corporate culture awareness, an incredibly tight talent market, and the use of assessments to make better, more informed hiring decisions. Innovations: Artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and technical security software.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Barry: “There’s a thin line between brave and stupid, and you are flirting with it.” —Drill Sergeant Chavarria - Fort Gordon, Ga., basic training
Traci: “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” —Ralph Nadar
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Barry and Traci: We put great emphasis on hiring a culture of learners. The ICAP Book Club, started three years ago, is a weekly program where our team collectively reads 10 books a year with active discussion/homework and implementation. We truly believe if we are not growing, we are dying. Additionally, we also send our team to national and international conferences, trainings, and other education events around the U.S. on a very regular basis. As owners, we look for two seminars a year where we can work on the business and not just in the business.
 
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?  
Barry: I wish I knew to start our own firm earlier.
 
Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?
Traci: I don’t meet with anyone on Fridays who makes me weary. I reserve those days to have lunch with people who help me recharge my battery and go into the weekend on a positive note.


 #13: Harper General Contractors

Year Founded: 1950
Founders: John Harper and John Harper, Jr.
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 5
Number of employees (start of 2018): 204 
Number of employees (present): 241

Harper General Contractors is a nearly 70-year-old full-service general contracting firm based in Greenville, with offices located in Spartanburg, Asheville, Charlotte, and the South Carolina coast. With project capabilities up to $100 million, Harper serves clients across multiple project types that include industrial, office, education, environmental systems, municipal, retail, and healthcare markets throughout the Southeast.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
David Wise (President): We enjoy the blessing of an incredibly strong foundation built over the past 68 years. We can now engage and empower a strong team of professionals to build up our clients, our communities, and each other to advance our team into the future. People make the difference, and we have people who possess a strong character and competency in performing their responsibilities.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them? 
Firstly, maintaining our culture and the overall health of our organization as we grow in number and geographically. We believe that it is having the right people and our culture that drives our success. We will be vigilant in communicating our mission and our guiding principles, and we are working to improve the on-boarding process for new teammates. 

Secondly, managing risk as we grow by promoting adherence to proven processes and systems enabling for positive control in running the business. Thirdly, the reduction in skilled tradespeople creating a significant strain in this robust market.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry? 
We continue to see building information modeling growing in the design and construction industry. BIM modeling is beginning to create an environment where prefabrication of materials and systems can be performed in a shop rather than on site. We see this trend continuing, and it can provide some relief to the issues of declining tradespeople.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
I have gravitated to a quote from Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, who said, “It is not about getting bigger. It is about getting better. If we get better, then our customers will demand that we get bigger.”
 
What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul? 
As the leader of Harper, my primary responsibility is to promote the overall wellbeing of our team and to create an environment where the right people are in the right place doing the right things. My teammates and I must continue to recognize that our people are our most valuable resource, empowering them to be both satisfied and successful with Harper.
  
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
To really listen more and have a more open mind.


 #14: 9Round Franchising, LLC

Year Founded: 2008
Founders: Shannon and Heather Hudson
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: More than 750 locations across 42 states and in 12 foreign countries 
Number of employees (start): 2
Number of employees (present): 88

Co-founded in 2008 by professional kickboxer Shannon Hudson and his wife Heather, 9Round is a specialized fitness center that brings boxing and kickboxing fitness training to the average person in a convenient, affordable, 30-minute, full-body circuit format. The program is developed around a proprietary and copyrighted system of nine challenging workout stations developed by Shannon himself.

Today, there are more than 750 9Round clubs open and operating throughout 42 states and 12 foreign countries, with many more in various stages of development. The company continues to open an average of 12 locations per week. 
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry? 
Shannon Hudson (CEO): The multi-billion-dollar fitness industry is booming, with new fitness trends being introduced regularly. I would assume that new innovations and trends will continue to arise in the same way that 9Round began. We saw a workout technique that worked, and we wanted to bring it in the most convenient and effective way possible to the masses. Since our original 9Round idea, we have adapted to make our membership portal as easily accessible as possible via online and mobile platforms. We’ve incorporated advanced heart-rate technology with 9Round PULSE, which monitors an individual’s workout effort in real-time. While I may not be able to see into the future to tell exactly what is next for the ever-evolving fitness industry, I do know that 9Round will be able to adapt to whatever comes its way.  

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
Everybody gets knocked down sometimes. It’s the mental “stress muscle” that must be developed.  As we grow, we face new challenges that stretch our “stress muscle”. But as we push through, we get stronger every year. 
 
What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul? 
As much as our company has grown over the years, we still make it our mission to be as involved at the grassroots level of our studios as possible. Heather and I still personally interview potential franchisees to make sure anyone who joins the 9Round team truly is the right fit. We sit eyeball to eyeball with every single franchise candidate prior to them signing on the line. We make sure it’s a win-win, and we are all “eyes wide open” as to what’s expected from both parties. And then we continue to be invested in the training of any and all new franchisees. 
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself? 
You ought to see my library at home. It’s filled with books and programs on sales, marketing, fitness, other franchise disclosure documents, etc. Also, attending fitness shows and keeping my foot in the kickboxing world is important as well. One of our core values is “kaizen,” which translates to “always improving.” 
 

 #15: WCM Global Wealth LLC

Year Founded: 2011
Founder: Erik C. Weir
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 2
Number of employees (start): 3
Number of employees (present): 18


WCM Global Wealth, LLC is a diversified financial services firm operating as a Registered Investment Adviser, specialized in providing exclusive financial products and services to high net worth individuals and businesses. As a diversified financial services firm, WCM offers a combination of rigorous planning and unique investment opportunities, including wealth management, private investment vehicles, co-development services and planning advice.

What’s in store for your company?
Erik C. Weir (Principal and manager): WCM has always made a dedicated effort to hire first-class employees that can acquire and execute diverse, one-of-a-kind projects. We plan to continue this effort into 2018 and beyond since the primary focus of our business is to bring on knowledgeable, experienced teammates as we seek to provide clients with best-in-class service and direct access to professionals and their talents.

Additionally, we have a number of unique investment opportunities in both real estate and film on the horizon or already in progress for this year and leading into 2019.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
A challenge I think many companies go through is being open to internal change. From experience, many executives get stuck in the same routine and find it difficult to create new and innovative protocols to solve issues related to internal communication or overall employee satisfaction. At WCM, we seek to provide a work environment that not only stimulates creativity but also reinforces our core values ensuring all of our employees feel valued and appreciated.  

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
The financial services industry continues to evolve through the introduction of new technology and communication tools. We view these advancements as an opportunity to enhance our client communications, but not as a replacement to our fundamental goal of developing personal relationships with each of our clients.

Strong investor demand continues for alternative asset classes, and this holds true from individual investors to large endowments, foundations and pensions.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison

What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
Regardless of the economic environment we face, the sustainability of our business relies on our ability to serve clients through proactive advice and long-term investment opportunities that meet their needs and objectives. As we continue to focus on relationships, transparency, and results, the growth of our business will take care of itself.


 #16: National Land Realty

Year Founded: 2007
Founder: Jason Walter
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 52
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 220

National Land Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, recreational, plantation, timber, equestrian, waterfront, and commercial land across the country and in Antigua, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Saint Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago.

For more than a decade, the company’s main focus has revolved around establishing long-lasting relationships and helping clients and customers accomplish their goals. 

Originally Carolina Land Realty, Jason Walter founded the company in 2007 and turned it into National Land Realty in 2012 with the intention of creating a land brokerage firm with a national footprint.
 
What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth? 
Jason Walter (Founder and CEO): Technology, innovation, and great people.
 
What’s in store for your company in 2019? 
30 percent growth.

Do you plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many? 
Around 100.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry? 
Continuation of drone-based technology for viewing properties.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
Tony Robbins: “Learn from the best and always work to replace yourself.”
 
What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul? 
Staying completely focused on our core business and blocking out external opportunities.
 
How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself? 
It’s imperative. You are either growing or dying. I read constantly.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career? 
There are no shortcuts. Select something you can be the best in the world at and stay focused on it.
 
What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why? 
Email. I read better than I hear and email is easier to organize than text. This can come in very handy when there are disagreements. 
 
Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job? 
I used to work 24/7 and now realize how unproductive that mentality is. I’ve seen many people blow up their personal lives over work, and I’ve always told myself I will never do that.  My family comes before work. I enjoy coaching my son’s sports, going to the beach, fishing, and watching Clemson football.


 #17: PCI Group Inc.

Year Founded: 1970
Founder: Christian Kropac, Sr.
Headquarters location: Fort Mill
Number of other locations: 1
Number of employees (start): 5
Number of employees (present): 322
Legal structure of business: S-corp

PCI Group is a leading provider of mission critical communications for businesses where security of customer-centric data is paramount, precision and accuracy are crucial, and compliance is a must. As a family-owned business since 1970, PCI Group has been providing customers fast, secure, and cost-effective printing and document delivery that is fully compliant with federal regulations including HIPAA, FISMA and SOC I & II and PCI DSS.  PCI’s real-time, web-based, customer control center enables customers 24/7 access to updated information and tracking reports about their communications at any point from pre-production through delivery. For close to 50 years, PCI Group has been the company customers can rely on to handle every detail time after time.

What’s in store for your company?
Christian Kropac, Jr. (President and co-owner): A major business focus for us in 2018 and beyond has been to leverage our expertise in transitioning in-house print and mail centers, referred to as in-plants. These centers are currently being operated by prospective clients who are in the insurance, financial services, and utility industries to name a few.  These centers are typically not operating as effectively or efficiently as they should, so there is a big opportunity to absorb them in to our operations. 

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
We are a transactional direct mail company. Our clients are companies that need to communicate confidential information to their customers. Examples include invoices, statements, medical information, insurance policy information, utility bills, and many more.  These communications absolutely must be accurate. We mailed more than 1.5 billion pages in 2017 with a 99.99999 percent accuracy. Our entire operation focuses on getting the right information to the right person every time. We know that even one mistake can have severe implications, so everything we do is about taking risk out of a mismailed item.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
One of the biggest and ongoing challenges to our business is managing security risks.  It’s a risky world out there with bad people trying to take advantage of businesses and consumers. Seemingly every day, we hear of another company being hacked, someone’s identity being compromised or some other type of fraudulent behavior occurring. Because we handle our client’s confidential and sensitive data, we must always be on guard to implement the latest technologies and processes to avoid letting our guard down. 

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Working closely with my dad for 20 years prior to taking over as president, he molded me into the leader I am today.  He introduced me to many business situations that opened my eyes and helped me grow. For instance, he taught me the value of working well with others, listening and taking care of people — both employees and clients.  


 #18: Advantage | Forbesbooks

Year Founded: 2005
Founder: Adam Witty
Headquarters location: Charleston
Number of other locations: 4
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 125

Advantage|ForbesBooks is The Business Growth Company. Advantage|ForbesBooks specializes in authority marketing for entrepreneurs, business leaders, and professionals who want to grow their business. They offer turnkey publishing and marketing systems to position individuals and brands as leaders in their field. Advantage|ForbesBooks’ mission is to help their members share their stories, passion, and knowledge to help others learn and grow. They have been featured on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies for five years. Utilizing the Forbes multi-platform media network, ForbesBooks offers a branding, visibility, and marketing platform to business authors that is absolutely unrivaled. For more information on their publishing imprints and Authority Marketing System, visit advantagefamily.com or forbesbooks.com.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Adam Witty (Founder and CEO): Listen to our customers. Stay focused on delivering products and services that our customers value and want. Having one strategic plan everyone is following to achieve our growth plan. This creates clarity and alignment. Focus on creating an internal culture and environment that breeds greatness. A great culture attracts A+ talent and keeps those people positive and engaged. Happy team members deliver great service for our members (customers). Happy members deliver profitable growth for the company.

What’s in store for your company?
Stay focused on our five-year growth plan. No deviations. Goal is for 70 percent of growth to be organic with no more than 30 percent coming from acquisitions.

Do you plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Achievement of our growth plan in 2019 would result in the addition of 60-80 team members.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
For our book publishing business, artificial intelligence is very interesting as it could provide the ability for computers to ghostwrite books for our authors. For our marketing agency business, the slow shift of marketing dollars from online back to offline (because of a lack of results online) is very interesting and provides unique opportunities for our members to reach their target audience online with less noise.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
My friend, mentor, and member Jack Daly reminded me: “Adam, your job is not to grow a company. Your job is to grow people that grow a company.” Our future success lies in talented and skilled people working together to achieve things bigger and better than any of them could have done alone.

What do you do to ensure that you are always learning?
I read lots of books and of business magazines, and attend lots of conferences. I also participate in three peer/mastermind groups to keep my mind sharp and learn what other businesses are doing.


 #19: Thomas Mechanical LLC

Year Founded: 2004
Founder: Martin Lowry
Headquarters location: Laurens
Number of employees (start): 3
Number of employees (present): 50


Thomas Mechanical is a privately held company headquartered in Laurens.  The company provides a wide range of construction and maintenance services including heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), process piping (chilled water, steam, hot water, cooling water, compressed air, gases, and chemical), equipment installation, metal fabrication, and fire protection (ordinary hazard, EFSR, fire pumps, tanks). 

Thomas Mechanical’s team possesses complete turn-key capabilities including project conception, design (including professional engineer stamped drawings for permitting), construction, and commissioning.

Thomas Mechanical’s service department is focused on providing full-service solutions. The company specializes in maintenance and repair of heating and air conditioning systems, as well as replacement and upgrades of all types of equipment. Inspection and maintenance of fire protection systems is also provided by our staff.  

The company’s trained and certified technicians have extensive knowledge of VRV/VFR, package and split DX/heat pumps, chillers, boilers, gas fired heaters, cooling towers, refrigeration, and controls/building automation systems.

What’s in store for your company?
Martin Lowry (President): The construction market continues to be strong and we plan to capitalize on this strength to grow our business. This will be a responsible controlled growth that will further our reputation of providing quality services to our customers. Our growth will likely be organic, but we will always look at any opportunity to grow by acquisition as well.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Change in the construction business is slow, but we do see more opportunities in the design-build segment. It currently represents a large portion of our business, and as more projects are required to be fast tracked, we see this continuing. Thomas Mechanical is very well positioned to capitalize on this trend.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
I’m not sure where I read it or heard it but, “Surround yourself with good trustworthy people who may not always tell you what you want to hear but have the company’s best interests in mind.”

What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul? 
I’m a huge believer in watching cash flow and limiting debt. We survived the last U.S. financial crisis by subscribing to this philosophy, and it will serve us well for long-term sustainable success.

What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?
I use them all.  I prefer text for short succinct messages, email for things that need to be documented, and calls for discussion purposes.

Given the ease and ability to be engaged in work 24/7, how do you and how often do you break free from the job?
I don’t break free from work often.  I’m still very much involved and engaged in all our projects, but I’m trying to be more managerial as we grow.  Hopefully that will enable me to break free more often.  I like to tell our people, “I just want to know what time it is. I don’t need to know how the watch is made.”


 #20: Clayton Construction Company, Inc.

Year Founded: 1981
Founders: Lewis Wren Clayton and Sophie King Clayton
Headquarters location: Spartanburg
Number of other locations: 2 (Greenville, Charleston)
Number of employees (start): 10
Number of employees (present): 42

Founded in 1981, Clayton Construction Company (CCC) is a licensed, unlimited general contractor providing services in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida.

CCC is one of the premier contractors in the Southeast. CCC has worked diligently for more than three and a half decades to create a strong reputation built firmly on a foundation of commitment, quality, and excellence.

CCC incorporates the highest quality materials paired with clearly defined strategies, procedures, and standards to meet the needs and expectations of every client. CCC works meticulously throughout every project to plan, report, document, and inspect every element in order to create a final product that meets its specifications.

Through local connections, a dedication to safety, and utilizing project management, scheduling, and accounting resources, CCC provides clients with streamlined construction processes and the highest quality customer service available.

What’s in store for your company?
Harry Clayton (President): CCC will have another successful year in 2018. Our company backlog entering 2019 is strong. New projects anticipated for the coming year are diverse and include projects in the medical, retail, church, education, and self-storage industries.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
The largest challenge in the construction industry today is finding labor and qualified subcontractors. We believe that this is a problem that the construction industry will face for many years to come. Our team has worked diligently to attend career fairs, to find the best talent, and to get the next generation excited about construction.
 
Do plan to add any employees in the coming year? If so, how many?
Our team continues to grow at CCC. We are always on the lookout for exceptional talent and believe that we will hire somewhere between 2 and 4 employees in 2019.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Technology continues to be a driving force in our industry and making sure that we are up to date with the most recent software is crucial. As our company expands, it is important that our marketing efforts continue to increase across the state and region. Using social media and other outlets helps us reach a broad base of potential clients.
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
Surround yourself with people better and smarter than you and get their “buy in” when making decisions.
 
What is your preferred method of communication — phone call, text message, email — and why?
Text because it is easy and fast.


 #21: Linden Construction of South Carolina, Inc.

Year Founded: 2009
Founder: Brandon Linden
Headquarters location: Charleston
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 25


Linden Construction is a full-service commercial construction company based in Charleston. Drawing on years of experience, the company excels in the construction of new buildings, tenant improvements and renovations, and specialized exterior/interior upfits. Linden Construction successfully delivers superior finished projects by ensuring quality, value, and functionality are held at the forefront throughout the entire construction process. The company’s core values center on their belief in creating teamwork environments which lead to lasting partnerships with their clients. From project superintendents to project managers to executive staff, each member of Linden Construction works together by drawing on a myriad of skills and levels of expertise to ensure that their client’s best interests are a top priority.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Brandon Linden (President): Recruiting talent is the firm’s biggest challenge. We will continue to present potential prospects with the tools and incentives that are usually seen within much larger companies, while still maintaining the teamwork mentality that makes us so unique.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
In terms of trends, we are seeing an increase in outside general contractors moving into the Charleston market. This means we need to be that much more on top of our systems and techniques to make sure we are always providing our clients with the best service possible, in addition to making sure our employees feel valued and appreciated.

What are you doing to make sure your company sticks around for the long haul?
We invest in our employees as well as our processes. We are working towards building a collective mindset within the company that aims at ensuring all the employees have a vested interest in the company and wish to help move it in a successful direction in the future.

How important is continued learning to your success and if so, what do you do to ensure that you are always learning about your industry, your company, and yourself?
Continued learning goes hand in hand with success. Staying current with market trends and advancing technology is critical to this industry. Constant communication with clients, suppliers, vendors, subcontractors, and employees enables me to be more aware of issues that arise, and better position myself, and others, to assist in minimizing these same issues in the future. The company prides itself on repeat and referred work, and I believe lots of the company’s success is based on our communication with clients, and our attempts to gather feedback on our performance in an effort to constantly improve.


 #22: Duke Brands

Year Founded: Duke Brands (2017), Duke Foods(1964) and Duke Sandwich Company (1978)
Founders: Loran Smart (Duke Foods), Richard Smart (Duke Sandwich Company), Andrew Smart (Duke Brands)
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of other locations: 1 corporate headquarters, 1 food production manufacturing facility, 2 restaurants
Number of employees (start): 1 (Eugenia Duke)
Number of employees (present): Duke Foods: 186, 
Duke Sandwich Company: 15, Duke Brands:18

Duke Brands is a family-owned and operated private holding company committed to building on its 100-year history of success in food service and production with a portfolio of brands dedicated to quality and attention to customer service long forgotten. Its success is the direct result of the vision of our leadership and the commitment, talent, and integrity of its team. 

Both Duke Foods and Duke Sandwich Company are subsidiaries of Duke Brands, a family owned and operated private holding company. Duke Brands currently operates a state-of-the-art food manufacturing facility in Easley and two Duke Sandwich Co. restaurant locations in Greenville. The corporate headquarters is in downtown Greenville across from Falls Park.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth? 
Andrew Smart (CEO and President): Our company thrives in an environment of innovation and integrity. With a team that is consistently challenging themselves and one another, we live by the motto “Best is the Standard,” with our core values at the center of all we do. Through market research and a nimble attitude to serving our customers, we have grown largely through key account growth and new business opportunities based on our industry reputation for quality.
 
What’s in store for your company? 
As always, our focus is on improving the lives of our employees and those in the community. We are focused on giving back and encouraging employee development and promotion within our company. From a market standpoint, 2018 saw the release of three new product lines in stores around the country — a line of party shareable dips called Shindigs; a premium seafood dip line, Siren’s Catch; and our new line of dessert dips, Dippin’ Delights. Also, enhancements to our Greenville restaurant locations and our manufacturing facility are on the radar for late 2018.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them? 
Food manufacturing is an incredibly competitive space, and one of the biggest challenges is that with growth comes increased competition and attention to our market innovation strategies. But with all challenges, we are presented with opportunities to challenge ourselves and grow in our core competencies.
 
What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry? 
With an increased focus on health and ingredients, we are evolving alongside trends towards cleaner labels, healthier options, and explorations of flavors from around the world. We are also increasing focus on our baked goods section as we continue to expand our innovation into the prepared and frozen bakery section. Other innovation will revolve around flavor trends in our core competencies and brand partnerships to develop products around nationally recognized brands.


 #23: Jeff Cook Real Estate, LLC

Year Founded: 2003
Founder: Jeff Cook
Headquarters location: North Charleston
Number of other locations: 7
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 30+ operations, 160+ agents

For over 15 years, Jeff Cook Real Estate has provided a full range of real estate services to families in the Charleston, Upstate, and Columbia areas, whether it was buying or selling real estate or meeting a client’s needs. 

Jeff Cook Real Estate demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to the Charleston, Upstate, and Columbia communities and the people that live in them. 

Jeff Cook Real Estate's agents are well recognized for the talent they bring to the table. Through talent, training, and skill, they provide the utmost satisfaction to the client. They are a key to the company's success and likely the key to yours.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Jeff Cook (CEO): I think our biggest challenge has been figuring out how to communicate effectively and accurately to a team this large. Getting consistent, correct information to 15 agents and three staff members is a lot easier than 160 agents and 36 staff members across the entire state. 

Also, we have had to implement new systems and learn new markets as we have expanded out of the Charleston area. To overcome this challenge, I am spending more time coaching up my sales and operations managers to take on the tasks that usually fell on me. 

It is impossible for me to communicate with 200 people or create systems for every situation so that responsibility is falling more on management, as it should. So my focus this year has been on growing and empowering my leaders so they can do the same for their employees or agents.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
Real estate has changed so much over the last 20 years, largely due to technology and the ability for the consumer to start the real estate process (i.e. searching for homes) without the use of an agent. Gone are the days where you had to see an agent for the monthly MLS catalogue that housed all the homes for sale. 

So, I foresee new technology and the rapid pace in which the consumer can gain knowledge to continue to have an effect on the real estate industry. 

With that said, it is still very necessary for the consumer to have a real estate agent. The computer will never take the place of an agent’s knowledge, experience ability to write, and negotiate contracts, etc. Our job is to continue to meet the consumer at their place of need and educate them through the process.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
I have learned over time that when running a business, no matter what the industry, leadership and people management are the most important parts of the organization. You can be the best sales person in the world, but that doesn’t mean you are a great leader or manager. It is like having a great team of athletes but a coach who doesn’t place them in the correct position on the field. The team is only as good as its leader.


 #24: NextGen Supply Chain Integrators

Year Founded: 2010
Founder: Dee Kivett, Ph.D
Headquarters location: Greenville
Number of employees (start): 1
Number of employees (present): 2


NextGen Supply Chain Integrators provides a full range of services for total supply chain management excellence. Its capabilities span the range of traditional quality consulting in LEAN, Six Sigma, and ISO 9001, TS/IATF 16949, AS9100, ISO 13485, ISO 17025 as well as special certifications such as those for NADCAP, FAA, Medical Device and OEM-specific requirements. It provides support for strategic sourcing and logistics. It also performs outsourced procurement, distribution, kitting, and light assembly for aerospace, defense, and a wide variety of industrial clients. 

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Dee Kivett (CEO and president): Our recent growth is a result of a strong local economy in the Upstate leading to favorable financial conditions of the clients seeking my services. For the supply chain division, we have a unique pricing model that makes us very competitive for the service we provide. For the quality management division, recent changes to industry standards prompted a huge increase in firms seeking assistance for consulting guidance.

What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
In general, the quality management division is cyclical, with increases during the years when quality standards are revised. We have diversified to cover a wider range of quality standards and areas of focus for training and support to level this phenomenon year to year.

What trends and innovations do you see down the line for your industry?
The expectations for quality of our high-tech industries is higher than ever before in history. Aerospace, automotive, and medical device industries expect perfection, so the emphasis on strong quality management systems is high.  More and more, companies are seeking to work collaboratively with experts who have experience in their specific industries who can help them accomplish their goals.

What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it?
Twenty years ago, as a new employee coming to work for a new business unit at GE, I had a boss tell me, “I need you to take work off my plate.” It was a very simple statement, and a bit vague for a first-day orientation. It was profound in that it spoke to what all organizations really want, and that is for employees to add value and make things run better, smoother, faster, and with higher quality, efficiency, and profit. Taking that philosophy to my customers — in that I focus on taking work off their plate — has helped me remember why I am there.  As a consultant, my job is to make their job easier.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your professional career?
Success is not about making the most money; it is more rooted in quality of life. Find time to enjoy the things you are working so hard to achieve.


#25: Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Year Founded: 1991
Founder: Bill Kennedy
Headquarters location: West Columbia
Number of employees (start): 30
Number of employees (present): 800


Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation develops and manufactures safe, affordable inhalation solution and suspension products that help patients with respiratory ailments, such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nephron is a leader in manufacturing individually wrapped and bar-coded inhalation therapies, and the only manufacturer of Racemic Epinephrine, 2.25 percent, 0.5mL.

The Nephron 503B Outsourcing Facility is a cGMP manufacturer providing sterile, pre-filled medications to address persistent drug shortages in the United States. Our pre-filled syringes and small-volume parenteral solutions (SVPs), are packaged and designed to meet the needs of hospitals and other healthcare providers. The 503B Outsourcing division is built upon Nephron’s 20-plus years of sterile and automated manufacturing experience. 
 
What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth? 
Lou Kennedy (president and CEO): The key to our growth has been our responsiveness to our customers and our focus on compliance and quality. The entire manufacturing process utilizes a variety of systems to accomplish the safety and efficiency goals of manufacturing pharmaceuticals products. This innovative design along with hard work has allowed the company to expand. Nephron launched a new division, Nephron 503B Outsourcing, in 2017 and has continued to grow rapidly.
 
What’s in store for your company?
Nephron is expanding the facility to add approximately 50,000 additional square feet of manufacturing and clean room space. This will allow the company to continue to grow the product line and accommodate the drug shortage demand.
 
What are your firm’s biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?  
The process and timeliness of pharmaceutical submissions is our biggest challenge. We are working closely with the Food and Drug Administration to streamline the drug approval process for drug shortage items that are in high demand.
 
What trends and innovations do you see for your industry?  
Nephron is developing robotic processes to help workers perform difficult, critical tasks. Another new innovation is the manufacturing of injectable products in plastic using blow-fill-seal technology. This will produce a safer, cleaner, and more efficient form of injectable drug. 
 
What word of advice, if any, has shaped your career and who gave it or where did you read it? 
A quote from Jim Rohn, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
 
What does being a success mean to you? 
Success is being able to help others and solve a problem. Nephron has committed to this by producing medications that help people and can save lives. I am also proud that in being successful, we are able to give back to the community and help others in many ways.
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