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Columbia Business Monthly

CEOs of fastest-growing companies share marketing and hiring strategies

Nov 10, 2021 12:13PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

For South Carolina’s fastest-growing companies, marketing and hiring strategies have been key to generating the growth that put them on this list.

CEOs of some of those companies share their best advice for up-and-coming business owners and would-be entrepreneurs who are looking to make their own mark on the South Carolina corporate landscape.

Q. What is your marketing strategy?

A. Our strongest marketing strategy is our relationship-based sales process. We seek to establish strong relationships with our customers to understand their needs and help them find solutions to their problem. The best customer is a repeat one. – David Stockard, CFO/COO, Palmetto Fortis Marketing LLC

A. Most of our market strategy is centered on brand recognition with payors and drug manufacturers. The goal is to showcase our capabilities and demonstrate excellence in patient management. – Curt Nesbitt, CEO, Blue Sky Specialty Pharmacy

A. We’re consistent with our messaging and service offerings through our online presence, social media and business development team. We know who we are and how we can be helpful to our business partners. Isn’t that what consumers really want? A company that serves as an extension of their own business, provides consistent service and is seamless in its service delivery. – Brian Yorston, Chief Operations Officer, Capital Waste Services

A. Our reputation in the industry carries us, and most of our new customers come to us by word of mouth. We do have a website for inquiries. – JoAnne LaBounty, President, Spartanburg Meat Processing Co. Inc.

A. We are technically and operationally at the lead in our industry, and we focus on providing our clients, whether they be medical practitioners, patients, other laboratories or businesses, with the most accurate and clinically relevant information quickly and at a fair price. We are agile and focused on solving client problems or concerns immediately; and we concern ourselves with optimization of processes and costs afterward. – Jay Flanagan, Chief Strategy Officer, Luxor Scientific

Q. What expert advice do you have to offer businesses in growth mode?

A. It is important to have a well-defined, measurable strategic plan. Also, a robust systematic approach to evaluating each opportunity you are considering. Evaluate if the opportunity supports your strategy, your mission and where you stack up against the competition. A focused approach will enable a company to prepare the best solution and proposal offering. – Joe Johnson, President and COO, Palmetto GBA

A. Don’t let the lack of employees slow down your growth. Always be on the lookout for employees that you should add to your team even before you may need them. Managed properly, the extra worker bandwidth can propel your business forward. Lack of worker bandwidth will throttle and sometimes stall your business, and getting the momentum back takes too long. With today’s challenges, you need to stay on top of your employee pay and benefits so you can attract the best talent, or you may lose them to your competitor. – Gary Brons, Owner/Strategic Partner, Pride Staff

A. Business is much like life; it develops in seasons. Often, we try to speed through one season because it is hard or uncomfortable, but there are lessons to learn in every stage and season of life and business. Your growth must be both personal and professional to be successful. Often, your business cannot outgrow the entrepreneur leading it. There are lessons to learn in each season of your business, and it will always start with your own personal growth. Do not rush the season you are in. Learn everything you can in each season so that your growth is consistent. Be in control of the growth. Think and then think again before making investments; not all growth is good. – Brandon Kinder, CEO, bioPURE

A. Make sure you have a great CFO or someone that understands the importance of cash flow. Don’t be concentrated on just numbers (i.e. revenues/head count) but understand/realize the value of the numbers. Be patient. – Curt Nesbitt, CEO, Blue Sky Specialty Pharmacy

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a business?

A. Going into business is a great experience. If this is your first time, remember that you don’t know what you don’t know. Leverage the no-cost resources that are available within the business community, such as the Small Business Development Centers, SCORE and public library. Additionally, the city and county Office of Business Opportunities also provides excellent no-cost services. As you are starting your own business, know that the best solution is often the simplest solution. – Karen Jenkins, President and CEO, KRJ Consulting

A. Do all your research first – about your topic, financing, market, customers. Surround yourself with a good team. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. – JoAnne LaBounty, President, Spartanburg Meat Processing Co. Inc.

A. Have thick skin, patience and a lot of humility, but most importantly, hire other people who compensate for your weaknesses. – Jason Walter, CEO, National Land Realty 

A. Maintaining financial stability at all times is the key to growing a successful business. You will have many different stressors to worry about when first starting a business; financial stress is the one that you don’t want clouding your judgment on how to operate the business. – Brandon Schneider, CEO/Owner, SEJ Services

A. It is not for the faint of heart. I don’t say that to discourage anyone, but rather to give a realistic picture of the challenges ahead. It’s a lot like being a parent. Everyone tells you what it’s like to have a child, but you can’t really know until you experience it. You wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s one of the toughest, yet most rewarding experiences you will have. If you truly want to start a business, one of the biggest keys is assembling the right team, both in and out of the company. Everyone focuses on hiring the right people, but equally important is the support team outside of the business – your attorney, accountant, banker, insurance agent, etc. The advice they give you will impact your business more than you realize. – Ben Leinster, CEO, AFF group

A. Be smart, think about your next move. How will a move today affect tomorrow, next month and next year? – Brandon Coates, CEO, SteelCore Industrial, Construction and Welding Supply