The hardest part may be imagining the world without you in it or without a healthy and capable you in it. There’s never a better time to start thinking about estate planning than right now.
No matter who you are as a business owner or individual, planning for the future is an important step. In this episode of Capitalist Sage, Rico Figliolini and Karl Barham are joined by Estate Planning Attorney Jim Miskell. Listen as they discuss all the details you need to know to start planning now.
“The reasons to do it are, and I’m sort of joking that if you don’t do it, somebody else will. That’s really the heart and soul of it. If you want to control how what you’ve worked so hard to build, benefit your family in the future. Make the plans.”Jim Miskell
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:59] – About Jim and Estate Planning
[00:05:58] – Risks and Benefits
[00:08:41] – What’s Entailed
[00:11:21] – For Business Owners
[00:14:14] – Why doesn’t everyone do it?
[00:16:30] – Sheltering
[00:19:22] – Navigating Partnerships
[00:22:59] – Starting the Conversation
[00:28:32] – Younger Estate Plans
[00:30:17] – Closing
Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and expert to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine, which is out.
Rico: [00:00:54] Yes, in most places. And if you haven’t received it, let me know, but it should be out there in your mailboxes. And I, you know, while we’re doing this, we’re going to obviously, we’ve been getting some technical difficulties. So bear with us as well. Everyone’s on, everyone’s online, so it’s the world out there, right? So I might as well introduce our sponsor Hargray Fiber. They are, in fact, they’re doing a great job those guys, they’re in the Southeast. They’re doing work with many small companies, midsize companies, and enterprise larger companies as well, providing internet services. IT management services as well, and they’re doing several promotions. And right now they’re there to be able to help you work remotely and collaboratively for free. So reach out to them at HargrayFiber.com and find out the sources, the solutions they have for you, and it’d be a great place to be. Thank you Karl for letting me do that.
Karl: [00:01:59] Absolutely. Well, let’s get right into it. I am so honored to have our guest today, Jim Miskell, who is an attorney, an estate planning attorney that has offices both in Johns Creek and Lawrenceville, Georgia. I got a chance to chat with Jim a couple of times. And he just was a wealth of knowledge in the area of estate planning, in ways that people may not have realized. So we wanted to have him come on today to talk a little bit about what all these business owners that are going through. This may be a good time through all the business owner that are going through. Sit back and think about some of the things that they should be putting in place to help protect their legacy as they go forward. So with that, I’d like to welcome Jim Miskall. Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself, Jim.
Jim: [00:03:03] Thank you, Karl. Thank you, Rico. It’s pleasure to be here. Always appreciate the opportunity to speak to people about the importance of estate planning. Our practice is estate planning and elder law as you said Karl, we’ve got two offices, Lawrenceville and Johns Creek. Of course now, with the way things have been the last little bit, the physical offices are a little bit less important. We’re doing the entirety of our meetings with clients remotely, either by phone conferences, facetimes, zoom, some other mechanism of that kind. Signing ceremonies for our plans we’re handling in person, usually in the parking lot so that everybody stays safe and socially isolated. But we get those documents witnessed and signed. We offer estate planning services from folks that may not even think they have an estate. An estate plan that’s for rich people. No, if you’ve got spare change in a jar on your dresser. You have an estate. And it’s worth planning for. So we have clients that range from young couples who just had their first child to older folks. We do a lot of elder law planning for long term care benefits, which might be Medicaid or VA benefits. We handle the aid and attendance, preparation to be qualified for that. And so along that we’ve got some clients for which we do will plans, some clients for which a revocable living trust plan is the way to go. Some folks that in conjunction with those things, use an irrevocable living trust that gives them asset protection. We’ve used that not only in the areas of elder law, but also for clients who own small businesses. Because it gives a, an additional
layer of asset protection that you don’t get with just an LLC or a corporation. You can still retain control and income interests in your business. So for some folks that that’s a really good fit. It’s an area of practice that I love. I started out my career 12 and a half years as a prosecutor. And left prosecution in 2005 and realized pretty early on I wanted to focus on this area of practice because I noticed that the folks that were coming in for estate planning. Only came to see me for one reason, and it wasn’t because they were mad at their spouse and it wasn’t because that’s so-and-so who had a store in the same strip mall. Their clients were parking in their parking spaces. It wasn’t because they were mad at anybody. It wasn’t because they created a bad situation by committing a crime. It was because they loved their family. My clients only come to see me for one reason. That’s because they love their family and they’re trying to avoid problems in the future. And for a small business owners really fall into that category because they work so hard. They work so hard, and those with foresight don’t want that work to be lost.
Karl: [00:05:58] So Jim, let me ask you. That’s one of the things that I realize, you know, every day a small business owner is really busy running their business. And during this time of the pandemic, there is a pause for a lot of people where they have time to think about the future. And it’s becoming really real. And I see that in the conversation with people and people love their families. Why should someone than, consider putting together an estate plan. What are some of the risks they have out there if they choose not to do that or delay it too much longer?
Jim: [00:06:34] Well, the great thing about estate estate planning is that it’s optional. And if you don’t do it, if you don’t make the decisions for you and your family. Somebody else will do it. So if you’re comfortable with somebody else making those decisions and handing over control of those things and letting somebody else, another family member, or hopefully not a judge, make those decisions, then you bypass estate plan. Say, it’s not for me. That doesn’t fit the profile of most small business owners. As you say they work so hard every day. And we were talking earlier, I think Rico made a remark that we all see ourselves as the star or the lead in our own movie. And I think that’s especially true for small business owners because the person that picks up the trash, the person that cleans the bathroom and sweep the floors. You’ve done that job. You can do that job. People that are in the clerical and answering the phones. You could do that job and it needs to be done the way you want it to be done. Estate planning, the difficulty to get small business owners to do it is realizing that it’s something that needs attention. The reasons to do it are, and I’ve sort of joking that if you, if you don’t do it, somebody else will. That’s really the heart soul of it. If you want to control how the, what you’ve worked so hard to build, benefits your family in the future. Make the plans, make the plans. One of the things, that is a great opportunity in the time we’re in right now is it is giving folks the pause as you said, Karl. That, you know, you’re not on, on, on, and it gives you a minute to think, you know what? Tomorrow’s not guaranteed for me any more than it is that person across the street or the person I heard about on the news.
Karl: [00:08:21] So when folks introducing estate planning, how do you describe what it is? What, what’s entailed in estate planning? What does that actually look like?
Rico: [00:08:35] And, you know what, make a comparison to someone’s will because some people think they have a will and that’s good enough.
Jim: [00:08:41] Okay. A will is a good concrete place to start with estate plan, and that’s that. That’s a great, great place to start. Every estate plan needs to take into account a couple things. And the will does covers one of those bases as, who gets your stuff when you die? And that’s all well and good. The will says this is what happens, but the will is a death document. What I mean by that is it doesn’t do anything for anyone while you’re still alive. The person, you make your executor, they don’t have any authority while you’re alive. You can get sick, be in a coma, be critically ill. It doesn’t give them any authority to do anything for you. So what are you, how do you cover that disability portion, which is also really important state plan. That’s where we’re talking about powers of attorney and healthcare directors at the basic level. Powers of attorney allow you to extend your power to someone else to act for you when you cannot while you’re alive. So you can designate who is it that runs the business if you’re not able to be there. If you get laid up, collect an Aflac or your disability insurance, who’s going to the office and making sure that things get done to your specifications? The beautiful thing about power of attorney is you get to select the person that does that. I have a lot of folks and it happens with elderly folks and it happens to detail, with detail oriented, driven people who may be A type, they get to the power of attorney and they think, Oh, I don’t want to do that cause I’m giving up power. I’m giving up my independence. In the elderly folks, that’s a big issue also with business owners. I don’t want to give up any of that authority. The beautiful thing about power of attorney is you don’t give up one wit of authority. You’re just extending your authority to somebody else to act for you when you need them. So at base you need somebody, you need to think about not only may I just, not only is there a possibility the eventuality that you’re going to die. But I may not be well and able and competent the day I die. I may have dementia, I may have a head injury. I may have something that makes it difficult for me to do the things that need to be done. You need to address that as well. So the estate planning really needs to cover both of those situations. Because your estate can be squandered, misused, lost, argued over in either situation, you can prevent all those things from happening with planning.
Karl: [00:11:21] But can I ask a question? You mentioned a couple of things. We said the term will, and we said the term power of attorney. So within the state plan, what are some of the other documents and or devices or tools that are used that makes up a good estate plan for most people that might own a business, for instance.
Jim: [00:11:44] So for most people that own a business or even folks that have, some accumulated a state, a great option for many folks is a revocable living trust. A revocable living trust has a couple strong advantages where you hear about it most, and you may hear Susie Orman on TV on the PBS thing, or she says, you got to have a living trust. You’ve got to stay out of probate. Well, she lives in California and I, if we lived in California, I would say, yes, absolutely. You got to stay out of probate, Georgia probate, we’re very fortunate. It’s less expensive and less onerous, than probate in other States. But at the same time, it’s a court process by which your executor has to prove that the will is valid. And to do that, he has to
present it to the judge. Your executive has to show it to all your heirs, whoever would inherit from you, if the will is no good, get them to sign off or they can raise a complaint. Your executor can act for 30 to 45 days at minimum after that petition for probate is filed. To avoid that, you can build a revocable living trust. And the idea here is, isn’t that great with the retirement accounts where you can set a beneficiary designation? Isn’t that great with insurance? You just write down who they’ll pay and those companies are bound by contract. When you die to pay who you told them to, you don’t have to go through that probate process. I wish we could do that with my house. How am I, how can you do that with the house? You build a revokable living trust. It’s your own designated beneficiary machine. Every trust has three people involved as the person who makes it. That’s the set lore in Georgia. It’s got the trustee, that’s the administrative person. They have the rulebook and the checkbook. They have to manage the assets and they can write checks to the beneficiaries when the rule book says it’s okay. With living trust, you’re all three. You build the trust, you put your stuff in it, you remain the trustee as long as you’re able. When you’re no longer able, this is a great question, who’s trustee when you can’t? Whoever you pick. In the order you pick them. And they’re not just flying by the seat of their pants like they would with the power of attorney. Power of attorney’s long on powers, but it doesn’t have any instructions in it. It says, if I get in trouble, and I can’t do it, you can go do my banking. Well, how do I do that? Well, just go, go do my banking. A trust can be very specific. This is how I want you to run the business. This is how I want you to distribute the quarterly earnings. This is how I want it. You can make a rule book very specifically with the trust.
Karl: [00:14:14] Why do you feel that more people, that sounds pretty, pretty simple to understand. What do you see as the barriers where a lot of folks choose not to do that? And I’m going to put aside any myths and perception around cost for a second, but that seems like a more sensible way for someone with assets like businesses or considerable to handle that.
Jim: [00:14:41] Well, that’s, that’s a great question and a lot of folks, when we’re doing a webinar or a live presentation, folks ask me that question. Why doesn’t everybody do this? Well, I don’t know, but I can tell you a story about a client that I spoke with last week who had done a will plan with us 2014 maybe. And was just calling up to check and have sort of a, a little checkup. He’d been, had seen some of our online content and gone through the education process again and he had a lot of questions about revocable living trust. He said, well, that’s definitely for us, and definitely the surviving spouse, one of us dies, the surviving spouse is going to go do that. I said, well okay. That’s a plan, but what if you’re both in the car? He said, what do you man? I said, well, what if you get killed and she gets a head injury? She can’t do it. He said oh, yeah. I said, well why would you want to make a grieving spouse have to redo your estate plan after one of you dies. When you guys can set up now? So I don’t know. There’s an inertia to it. There’s a resistance, and I think there is a perception that that’s for rich people. And that, Oh, it’s complicated. When it’s actually simpler. It is more complicated to set up. It takes more work now. I don’t think the answer is that people are lazy, but everything that you do, setting up your revocable living trust takes pressure and work off your agent when you die. It’s things the executor would be doing later with a little plan. You do it now so that the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted and things weren’t run very smoothly for the family. I don’t know why people don’t
do it all the time, but I do know that very often the folks that do it say, I don’t want my kids having a fool around with that other stuff when we can make it really easy for them right now with a little extra work.
Rico: [00:16:30] Let me ask you something, doesn’t it also shelter the assets of an estate though. Doesn’t it shelter it from taxes and all that, as well? Doesn’t it provide some protection for family inheriting, if you will.
Jim: [00:16:46] The a, I’m going to give you the lawyer’s answer is it depends. A basic revokable living trust? No, it’s transparent. It’s like a see-through entity. The way you might think about a S election on a corporation or LLC where it flows through everything that happens there. The basic rule or the way I explain asset protection and the way I think of it is asset protection is based on the principle, that anything that I can get for me they can get from me. If I can get it for me, they can take it from me, so if I run over your foot in the Kroger parking lot, I got $15,000 in my pocket, you’re going to be able to get it. So to build a trust that gives you asset protection and the rule that that trust must have, and it must be irrevocable, is that whatever you put in that trust, you can’t get back out for yourself. So you can build a trust that gives you asset protection. But it’s a different mechanism and you would never put everything you have in a revocable trust only what you reasonably calculate. You’re never going to have to spend on yourself during your own lifetime.
Rico: [00:17:56] Or is it property that you not selling? So some, I know from my family up in New York, New Jersey, some of them have estate plans like this where property is in it. Because the property’s not going to be sold. It’s something that they feel it’s going to be out there for the rest of the family. So stuff like that, I guess. Those types of assets probably.
Jim: [00:18:16] Sure. Residence is a great first, first thing you would think of. That’s the prime candidate, and the beautiful thing is you might even be able to be trustee of that trust. You can’t violate the rules. You can’t sell the house and put the money back in your account. But you could as trustee sell that house and buy a condo on the 18th fairway in Myrtle beach. Yeah. All inside the trust. So you may not give up control, but you’d give up your ability to benefit from it. And you might set it up to where even though you can’t take money out for you, you could take money out for your kids. Pay tuition. Yeah.
Rico: [00:18:54] So there are good advantages for a business owner to really like, really think hard about doing this.
Jim: [00:19:00] Oh, absolutely.
Rico: [00:19:01] You know, just waiting. Okay.
Jim: [00:19:03] Another place that it really appeals. Is that idea of crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s myself. I’m gonna make sure this thing runs right, because I may be, I may think I’m
George Washington some point in the future, but I’m going to get this thing right today. So even my knuckleheaded brother-in-law can’t mess it up.
Karl: [00:19:22] So you brought up the topic of children. And so I got to think about succession planning in business. Not only when it’s children, but also what if there’s partners that are not part of your family? What role does estate planning and helping people navigating exits when there’s a partnership in a business. Where does that end and where does something else begin from the business side?
Jim: [00:19:48] Yeah. I see it as a slow transition where you can’t even tell where the business planning and the estate planning ends. I don’t know that there’s a hard and fast line. One of the things, an idea to get used to in estate plan, and I think also business succession planning is that it’s possible to separate control from benefits. You may want your spouse to continue to benefit from the business after you die, but your spouse has never worked in the business, so you don’t want her running it or him running it. So it’s possible to separate those two things, which are very often it’s children. There may be one child that has worked in the business and three children that haven’t. You may want them all to have a profit interest, but the one who’s familiar with the business to continue to work in the business and make the decisions. And you don’t want a vote of those fours. What the right thing to do is you want that one child, your daughter, who you’ve taught the business to make those decisions. So that, to get going a long way around to your, your question is those are operating agreements. And buy-sell agreements with the partners. You know, you don’t want to…
Karl: [00:21:01] What’s a buy-sell agreement if you can.
Jim: [00:21:04] So a buy-sell agreement is where if you and I are partners in a business, we did sit down and have this conversation. What happens if one of us wants out? What happens if death takes one of us out? What happens? An injury takes one of us out. How are we going to handle that? Do you want to be in business with my spouse? Do I want to be in business with your spouse? What are the rules and parameters around that?
Karl: [00:21:25] I feel like that conversations would happen in a ring somewhere when two people are having that. But I think it’s important though, realistically, to set aside time, and this could be a time like that where you’ve talked to your partners and you might start off together, but get someone to guide you through that conversation, which may lead to what happens with the business, but then leads into what happens with each family.
Jim: [00:21:51] I think that’s a great, a great point. And I boil it down this way for clients to give them a way to get their head around it. All estate planning, business succession planning, all this planning for the future comes down to the answer to a few questions is, who’s got the authority? Who’s in control? Who gets to benefit? How do they benefit? And when as things change? So right now, you and I are partners, who has the authority? We do. We make the decisions about how the business runs, we get to benefit and whoever else we say, however
they say right now, if one of us becomes disabled, then who’s got the authority? Do you have to consult with my spouse? You know, how does that work? It’s just walking through those things. And the beautiful thing about estate planning and business planning is that there are very few must-dos. It’s a very highly personal and individualized thing. But it’s working through these, these questions who should be in control? Who should benefit as things unfold? And you sort of play the what if game.
Karl: [00:22:59] I’m curious. So, you know, we’re talking about estate planning and there’s a lot of legal, and I know folks have. I call it an allergic reaction, with things with attorneys or contracts and so on. So if there’s a responsible person in the family, how do they even begin to bring up this conversation with mom, dad, grandpa, uncle Willie, aunt Sue? How do they, what’s a good way to enter into that conversation with them?
Jim: [00:23:30] There are, it depends strongly on family dynamics. Listening for opportunities, how approachable people are in your family. One technique I’ve seen work very well for a lot of folks is, I don’t know how I’m going to talk to mom about this. But you know what? My wife and I, we haven’t done this. So we’re going to do that. And then at Thanksgiving we’re going to tell mom about the process we went through and all we were surprised to learn that if we hadn’t done this, this was going to happen. If we hadn’t have done this. Mom, did you and dad ever have that? You know, mom may be widowed now, but you say, mom, did you ever have that? Dad did you ever have that? Have you guys thought about that for you? Or have you thought about what if something happens to us, how are you going to take care of your grandkids? You know, very often you’re talking to a parent in these scenarios. So there are a lot of ways to get those emotional triggers going where maybe you can get that mind open a little bit to do it. But that’s a tricky one, you know? How do you start that conversation? Because I tease folks in the workshops, raise their hand. I have somebody raise their hand and say, Jim, I have a question. I said, great, what is it? And they’ll say, well if I die, and I say when. No ahead with your question. If I die, when? Say when you die. Oh, there are no exceptions here. It’s not going to happen to everybody else but me. It’s not going to happen everybody else, but you. There are no exceptions there. Now, some folks don’t want to see that. And you know, I love that we’re the lead in our own movie. I can’t imagine what happens when the movie ends.
Rico: [00:25:10] Unless you’re there.
Karl: [00:25:13] There are traditionally natural trigger points where people start this conversation. I know in a lot of religions when people get married, they have counseling with a minister or someone from their faith. And I know that it’s something that’s often covered in that as people going among other things. When people have children, it’s another point where it’s called kind of look at that to engage in the discussion. What I think is interesting that you’re starting to highlight here is finding ways to bring that conversation to the table in a safe way. Probably not a good time to do it just after a bunch of people finished an argument or there’s a lot of family drama going on. And I don’t know that it’s also good to do it, like on mother’s day or father’s day. We should leave those two days out to have that kind of discussion. But a good
way is probably starting by educating folks. And how can people begin to discover more information about this. So they can, they can start, you know, making good decisions for themselves and help bring others along to understand the importance and the process of how this is done.
Jim: [00:26:28] So for almost 10 years, we’ve been doing educational workshops as a way to get an entry point to, to have folks be, have some context and vocabulary to assert this conversation. So I believe strongly that education is where it’s at in getting this done, not just for families at home, but also for business owners and business planers. We do educational workshops. And now we’re going, we’re online and we’ve got an on demand version, and we do about two a month. We just did one April 7th. Our next one is, has not been scheduled for May yet, but we will. If folks are having difficulty finding that information, our website is, LetsTalkEstatePlanning.com. Just English, LetsTalkEstatePlanning.com. No apostrophe. You can contact us there. Joanne, who is our client service coordinator will get back with you and make sure that you’re able to access, all our online content. We’ve got the general workshop and then we’re having some specialized content going up in about the next week or two. But I think education is a great place to start. And I think you’ve highlighted that very often it’s life events, the birth of a child, a marriage, those sorts of things. Maybe for business owners is when you first form that business, when you incorporate. That’s a time where I hope business attorneys are bringing it up. When you get that third employee and you’re having to do worker’s comp insurance, that’s a time the insurance carrier should say, Hey, have you thought about succession plan? You know, those sort of analogous.
Rico: [00:28:03] Well, even when, when families have, you know, parents retiring a little earlier maybe they want to sell their big house, they want to downsize. That’s a good time too, to talk about that time.
Jim: [00:28:13] Yeah. Brilliant time, brilliant time. Also, you know, you’re getting ready to start a SEP or a simple at work or 401k that’s a great time. Anytime you’re thinking about that, that’s why I love to talk to CPAs, tax, for anybody that works with small business people. Just to keep this on their minds.
Karl: [00:28:32] So I’ve got, I’ve got a last question around that. So we’ve talked about this, and very often estate planning is associated with people that are older and have acquired more assets. Is there any advantage for millennials or younger people to start thinking about estate planning at any level. They may not have large assets accumulated, but would be a good time for them to start looking at some of these, these types of documents and concepts?
Jim: [00:29:05] Today is the right time to start. I love that question because it anchors back to where we started talking about wills, powers of attorney and healthcare directives. There’s who gets your stuff when you die? To a millennial who’s just beginning that accumulation phase, that may not be as important. But if there was a car accident and a head injury, God forbid they end up in the ICU, have they designated who can make those decisions for them? Do they have
their living will selections in order? I’ll tell you that we do something for our families. Well, I call it the 18th birthday package. When your child turns 18 they’re still your child, but legally you’re no longer their parent. You don’t get to go back with them to the doctor. You don’t get to say do surgery. You don’t get to say discharge and emit. They end up with meningitis at the health center at the university. You go over there, pick them up, you’re going to be in front of the superior court judge trying to get permission to do that. Or in front of the probate court judge. For the 18th birthday I think all kids should sign these documents designating their parents. We can also handle registrars that won’t talk to you. Oh, we can’t talk to you. We know you paid the tuition, but we can’t talk to you about the grades. There’s a waiver for that. We’ve got it covered.
Karl: [00:30:17] Well, I want to thank you and then I build on that. I would definitely say, I love the idea of 18, but if you were going to say anything later. If you’re going down the path of starting a life with someone. Adding, getting married or having a family. Just realize that your life just got more complicated and there are more people involved in decision making around it. And often giving your input by establishing the right power of attorneys and so on, to know your wife, your mother, your father, your brother, your sisters, what role people may play in your life, and what your wishes are. It’s probably the best gift you can give your family as being a responsible person. So, I want to thank you, Jim, for joining us today and talking about this really important topic. And you know, I hope everyone, and I hope you stay safe and your family stays safe as we go through. And so I want to thank Jim, principle attorney and founder of the estate law group, and he’s got offices right here in our community. If you want to reach out and just start educating yourself with a good starting point. Also Rico, why don’t we thank our sponsor?
Rico: [00:31:35] Sure. Let’s thank Hargray Fiber again for being a sponsor of these podcasts. Both Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Life, the Ed Hour, which we just did this past Monday or Tuesday, actually with Jonathan Weatherington the principle of Paul Duke STEM high school. So I want to thank Hargray fiber. You can find out more information about them, bundled services, IT management and all that. They’re great in the community. They’re so involved in the community they are not the cable guy. So, you need someone that they are right there, right smack in the middle of your community, you can reach out to them and they’ll come out to you. So HargrayFiber.com is where you want to go.
Karl: [00:32:15] And I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors and proud to be a member of this Peachtree Corners and the greater Atlanta community. We help business people, you know, make the right decisions when it comes to starting their business, acquiring a business. When it comes to selling their business, we can help them with that. And I love that we talked today about how estate planning comes into that total planning process around your business. I think it’s really important that people take this time as we’re going through the COVID-19 pandemic. To just think about those things that you never had time to get to. If you love your family, and I think Jim said it well, this is something that you should make a priority to get right and do it the right way. So I want to thank, thank you for that. Rico why don’t you tell us a little bit about what’s going on? The magazine is out. What have we got coming up?
Rico: [00:33:09] Sure. Before we get to that, I want to thank Jim also, because I should know better. My parents had done the estate planning with my siblings. We all got together, we spoke to them and made sense to them. They had property in different states, so it made sense for them to be able to do that. So yeah, and yet, and yet I have not done it yet, so Jim may get that phone call from me at some point because, you know, especially with COVID-19 and all this stuff going on, I mean, it just meant, just puts it at the forefront of being able to take care of that. Well, Peachtree Corners Magazine should be in your mailbox by now. God knows in some places it seems it may not be. The post office is dealing with COVID-19 also. So I’m hoping that everyone’s gotten it. I’m actually going to be putting up a giveaway in the next few days to get people to hold their copy, post it on Facebook, put it on Instagram, hashtag us and I will give three winners from that giveaway contest. Either doing it as credit or a pass to one of the restaurants for takeout of, so, but we’ve been getting a lot of good response on that. I delivered copies to Simpson elementary cause they do have a central personnel there. So it’s gone there and I’m putting it out and it’s out there. MightyRockets.com just to, blow my own horn a little bit, we do social media marketing, online content. We’ve been doing branding and been doing some, besides these podcasts, other podcast productions. So if you’re looking for someone to handle your podcast productions or online content work. MightyRockets.com or just call me, email me.
Karl: [00:34:53] And don’t forget, you can follow us on Facebook, Living in Peachtree Corners on Facebook. What’s our other social media?
Rico: [00:35:02] So the Facebook page is Peachtree Corners Life that you would follow. You get updates, you get tweets or notification of when we go live. And then you could also go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Follow us there. You can check us, Peachtree Corners Magazine, where I post all the podcasts on LinkedIn. So if you search on LinkedIn for the magazine, you’ll find that there. But anywhere you find podcasts, just Google the Capitalist Sage Podcast, you’ll find a ton of places including iHeartRadio and all that.
Karl: [00:35:33] And so everyone is taking a lot more walks right now. They have plenty of time to listen to more podcasts. So we just wanna thank you, Jim again. Really helpful.
Jim: [00:35:45] Rico, Karl, Thank you.
Karl: [00:35:47] I appreciate that. Everyone stay safe out there where we’re battling through this and we have to do it for a little bit longer, but this will pass and things will get back to more normal, more normal than it is today. So just stay encouraged and be good to each other. Thanks.
CMX CinéBistro Reopens. Popcorn time!
As if the holidays aren’t enough to look forward to, CMX CinéBistro at Peachtree Corners Town Center reopens on November 24! With precautionary measures in place and new policies implemented, CMX CinéBistro is excited to welcome you back from a safe distance.
The nostalgic experience of movie date nights, box office releases, the smell of movie theatre popcorn and the announcement to “sit back and enjoy the show” are all waiting for you. The lineup of movies you don’t want to miss include Let Him Go, Tenet, Freaky, War with Grandpa, Honest Thief, and Elf. CMX is offering new releases and holiday classics to make your return one to remember.
While you enjoy your movie, you can kick back with a classic meal or cocktail from CinéBistro’s new limited menu. As previews are shown, start with an appetizer such as the popcorn chicken or truffle tots. Once the movie begins, move on to your main course of a 14oz NY Strip featured meal or the house-made veggie burger paired with a mojito or beer on draft. As the movie comes to an end, end your night with bottomless traditional popcorn or fan-favorite movie candy.
Enjoy the magic of cinema with special savings! Come on Tuesdays to experience Tempting Tuesdays and save with $5 movie tickets and chef-crafted combos for $18. As a token of appreciation for all medical heroes, free movie tickets on Sundays are offered to all front-line workers. Can’t make it on Tuesdays or Sundays? Special prices for all weekdays are offered.
New age policies are in place such as guests 17 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian for R-rated films with ID required and children 12 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times when visiting the theater. CMX CinéBistro is also offering private screenings to make your experience back feel as safe as possible. Bookings for a private screening for you and your loved ones to celebrate the latest occasion are available as part of CMX CinéBistro’s efforts to make you feel comfortable upon your return. You can begin booking now!
Source– Press Release by Peachtree Corners Town Center
City of Peachtree Corners Receives Silver Award for its Business Newsletter
The city of Peachtree Corners won a silver category award for its Peachtree Corners Business Newsletter project in the Magazine and Newsletter category of the International Economic Development Council’s 2020 Excellence in Economic Development Awards Program. The honor was presented recently at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference.
IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Thirty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries.
The city of Peachtree Corners started a monthly business newsletter in April 2020 during the
COVID-19 crisis to establish 2-way communication with the business community. The publication is in its fifth month and has already increased communication between the business community and the city. It is sent via email to approximately 4,000 business people in the city. People have taken the opportunity to ask questions about a variety of topics from alcohol licenses to special events at the Town Center.
“These challenging times require extraordinary effort to support the business community,
especially small businesses,” said Mayor Mike Mason. “The Peachtree Corners’ Business Newsletter was developed to address the current crisis and the city’s critical concern for the local business community. Kudos to Economic Development Manager Jennifer Howard for creating a very timely and highly informative resource that, we believe, has contributed to the sustainability of the local economy.
The newsletter highlights job growth, company expansions, and new businesses coming to town. In his column, the mayor speaks directly to the businesses, providing data, and some reassurance that the local governments are working to assist them.
“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the very best of
economic development and exemplify the ingenuity, integrity, and leadership that our profession strives for each and every day,” said 2020 IEDC Board Chair and One Columbus CEO Kenny McDonald. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing campaigns, projects and partnerships have measurably improved regional quality of life.”
Choosing, planning and Growing a Business, with Barry Adams, owner of Peachtree Awnings
What to consider when starting a business. How to choose the business for you. How to consider when planning your first three years of business. In this episode of the Capitalist Sage Podcast, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini talk with Barry Adams, founder, and owner of Peachtree Awnings and Tennessee Awnings about his experience in the business world. Barry shares some insightful tips and tricks to help any small or large business owner through their journey through entrepreneurship.
Where to find the topic in the show – Timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:58] – About Barry and Peachtree Awnings
[00:07:36] – Learning from Experience
[00:10:20] – Making Business Decisions
[00:12:26] – Impact of a Formal Education
[00:14:59] – Business Impact of COVID
[00:17:31] – How to Make Your Business Thrive
[00:23:08] – Making a Business Plan
[00:25:31] – Learning New Things
[00:30:19] – Looking to the Future
[00:32:44] – Innovations
[00:34:17] – Growing Through People
[00:36:55] – Helping the Community
[00:41:23] – Closing
Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and
tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with
Transworld Business Advisors and my co-host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets Digital
Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey Rico, how’re you doing
Rico: [00:00:49] Hey Karl. Pretty good, beautiful day. Thank God the power’s on versus last
week. Before we get into the show, let me introduce our lead sponsor Hargray Fiber. They’re a
great Southeast company that works in fiber optics and IT management working to make you a
business sound and be able to communicate with the rest of the world. Whether it’s, you’re at
home teleworking employees or in office, cause COVID is still going on, right? So many different
people are working it differently. And here in Peachtree Corners, they’re very involved. They’re
involved with Curiosity Lab that Peachtree Corners. They’re involved with the city. They’re really
in tune with the community and that’s how they are with every community they’re in. So unlike
the cable guy, these guys are here right in the community that they’re working in. If you need
them, they’re there for you. So any business, whether you’re small or enterprise size, they can
work the systems for you, provide the office tools that you can work with as well. So visit them at
HargrayFiber.com and find out a little bit more about our lead sponsor. We’re thankful for them.
Karl: [00:01:58] Sounds good. Well, thank you Rico for introducing our sponsor. Today’s guest is
Barry Adams, CEO, and founder of Peachtree Awnings. Local, small business that’s located
here in Gwinnett County and one of the business leaders in the community that we’re glad to
have as a guest with us today. Hey Barry, how are you doing?
Barry: [00:02:20] Great Karl. It’s good to be here.
Karl: [00:02:23] Good. Why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit? Tell a little bit about yourself
and what you do.
Barry: [00:02:29] Yeah. I’m Barry Adams the owner of Peachtree Awnings and Canopies I own
the local shop and also Tennessee Awnings up in Nashville service and middle Tennessee up
in the Nashville area. So we are a manufacturer of custom commercial and residential awnings
of all shapes and sizes. We serve the local Atlanta area, but we go outside of Atlanta too. So
we’ve got a pretty good reach. And we’ve been in business for 15 years. I started the company
in 2005. And then acquired an existing awning company in Nashville in 2012. So I’ve had that
shop up there in Nashville for eight years now, and 15 years here in Atlanta. So it’s been a labor
of love. I can tell you that any small business owner, I think, would say the same thing is that,
you know, you do it and you do it because you really are passionate about your product or your
service and whatever you do. You gotta dig in everyday in kind of the same way.
Karl: [00:03:40] So I’m curious, did you grow up in a small business family? What was, what did
you do before?
Barry: [00:03:46] Well, that’s great question, Karl. Actually, my grandfather had the
entrepreneurial spirit because I think he had four or five businesses by the time he was in his
mid forties. A couple of restaurants to his name, ended up having a landfill. And this is all in the
Southern California area. And so he definitely had the entrepreneurial spirit. You know, my
mother’s side, my grandfather on my mother’s side owned a grocery store in the Southern part
of Illinois. And so he was a, both a farmer and a grocer. And so I think I come by it naturally, the
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So it definitely was in my genes, I think, to be a small
Karl: [00:04:33] So when you were deciding to start off, what were you considering and how did
you come to that decision? What were some of the factors that you considered?
Barry: [00:04:40] Yeah, I was, it was 2005 and I was in my MBA program, executive MBA
program at Kennesaw state and I knew I wanted to start a business and wasn’t sure exactly
what I wanted to do. I was working with a business consultant that was pointing me in different
directions. I ended up buying, actually buying a franchise business. I got close with several
businesses. I looked at sign businesses. I really tried to give myself a lot of green space, a lot of
greenfields to look at a lot of different businesses. I looked at non-invasive skin procedures. I
looked at a lot of different things and got very close with sign businesses, but I wanted
something a little bit more differentiated. And so they said, how about awnings? And I had never
thought about awnings, never had really even looked at awnings. But I’m an engineer by
education. And so the more I looked at it, I said, I think I can, I think I could do this because you
design the product that you end up building and installing. And so it fit my skillset particularly
well. And so there in January of 2005, we kind of set sail having never built an awning or never
installed an awning. I bought into a franchise business and they educated me about how to build
awnings and how to install awnings. We climbed that learning curve very, very, very fast. So it
was really a challenging time, that first three years of being in business. Of course, the
recession started at like two double ’09. So shortly after that it was, you know, it was a little bit of
Rico: [00:06:27] Well, I’ve got to give a little testimonial shout out to Barry because I must have
been one of the first of the half dozen of regional clients that Barry had. And it was beautiful. I
think it was a summer. It was definitely a summer day. And you put in the awning that I still have
15 years later. Still working, retractable working, and I’m not a maintenance type of guy. So the
cables might be a little rusted and stuff and the fabric might be a little bit dull, but it’s working
fine 15 years later.
Barry: [00:07:04] I can’t tell you how much we appreciate that too Rico, because at that stage in
our career, we, you know, in our business development, I didn’t have any orders and I didn’t
have any customers. So you were, you know, every time I came back to the shop and I had an
order, you know, it was time for celebration really. Because we didn’t, we did not have any
customers at that time. And every time we added one to our, you know, to our stable of
customers, we were really excited. So great times. Thanks for that.
Karl: [00:07:36] So I’m curious about that first year. Is there anything that you’ve learned that if
you wish you knew someone told you about in that first two to three years, about business,
about being a small business owner that you’d pass on to someone else starting on?
Barry: [00:07:54] Well, yeah, a couple of things come to mind Karl, one of the things is, I think
you can plan to be big, but think small starting out. Think small. I bought used office furniture. I
bought used trucks. People want to go, a lot of times they want to, you know, want to buy, have
the biggest, best or newest anyway, the newest and best of everything. And I would say think
small, plan to be bigger, but think to start out think small. Because you can always scale it up
from there. Based on your success or your, you know, your volume. The other thing is of
course, be a planner and I can’t emphasize that enough on the small business side. Be a
planner and always be thinking about that next step that you want to take. It doesn’t have to be
five years out there, but it definitely has to be 12 to 18 months out there. And then think about
that next step. Think about it like you’re, you know, crossing a river, a very, very turbulent river
and you have to step across those rocks very carefully as you cross from one bank to the other
bank. Now, once you start to cross the river, you can’t go back to the other bank, right? You
know, that’s not an option. So, you know, I often say it’s not about making all the right decisions.
It’s about making the decisions that you make right. Once you make a decision. Don’t worry
about whether you, well, have I made rights, make it, try to make it right. You know, and you’re
not going to make every decision 100% right. But I can tell you that if you’re making eight,
seven, eight, nine decisions out of 10 or 80 out of a hundred or 90 out of a hundred correctly,
you’re going to be in rarified air, right? You’re going to be among those small business owners
that are really, really super successful. So it’s not about making all the right decisions and don’t
agonize over. Wow, you know, once you have the information that you have and frequently it’s
incomplete, right. And we don’t have the benefit of having the whole, all the puzzle pieces in
front of us. But once you’ve got enough information to make that, make the decision and then go
about making it right.
Karl: [00:10:20] It’s actually, I can talk about decision-making even at the beginning. What would
you advise people that are struggling with making decisions. To get it right or wrong. But you
know, a lot of folks can’t even make the decision to buy that business, start that business grow,
invest, make that hiring choice. How do you get through that?
Barry: [00:10:42] Yeah, it’s that, you’re right. That is probably the toughest decision because
you’re now, you may be leaving something that’s safe and secure. You may be leaving an
income that’s a known quantity. Which I was leaving something that was very insulated and
insular and embarking on something that’s very uncertain and very unknown. And that’s a very
scary thing. You know, I think it’s important to make sure, obviously that you’re wall capitalized,
you know, that you are not embarking on something that you can’t sustain through the most
difficult period of your business tenure or your business career. And you got to make it through
that first year years. And I can tell you factually that I did take a plug nickel out of my business
the first three years that I was in business. Now that’s a very, very difficult you’re like, well, how
did you do that? Well, make sure you’re well-capitalized and that you can sustain yourself. You
can get real skinny, you know, for a period of time, but you’ve got, you still have to put food on
your table. You still have to pay your mortgage. And so you have to from a personal standpoint,
make sure that you can sustain yourself through those first three years. And plan, really, almost
to the effect that you’re not maybe not going to take an income for that first three years. What
does that look like? Can you sustain yourself through that first three years without taking any
money out of your businesses? There’s a likelihood that you’re going to have to, anything that
you make, you’re going to have to plow back into the business, particularly in that first three year
period of time.
Karl: [00:12:26] That makes a lot of sense. And that’s good advice for folks. You mentioned that
you got an MBA, what effect and impact do you think that that had? A lot of small business
owners don’t get that formal business education. Do you think that’s impacted how you
approach your business?
Barry: [00:12:45] Well, first of all, you know getting my executive MBA at Kennesaw was
definitely a catalyst to me starting my business. I think the Genesis of me starting my business
began as I embarked on that program. And so it was definitely a catalyst for me. I think you
know, I pull some parts or pieces of my MBA program every day, sometimes unknowingly. You
know, but I draw on that experience. You know, I think that the best life experiences, combine
that kind of formal education that you got in the classroom and you can go back as far as you
want, with the practical knowledge that you gained when you’re in the field or when you’re
practicing. And that goes for everything from, the first job that you may have ever had in a fast
food restaurant or cutting lawns. And so you learned something when you were in the
classroom, but that’s formal education without practical experience is almost useless, right? It’s
very antiseptic. It’s very institutional. And so you’ve got to combine the formalized, the education
and instruction that you get with practical knowledge. If you only have practical knowledge, then
it had no frame, right? It had no real design to it and it had no organization. It didn’t step you
through things sequentially. So I always like to think that my best, you know, my best
experience comes from the formalized education that I got and then the practical things that I’m
learning out in the field or through the school of hard knocks.
Karl: [00:14:33] I agree. I notice that a lot of folks, and I meet different types of business owners,
the ones that have formal education. What I notice is they’ve got, they avoid some basic mistake
things that helps kind of guide them. But also they also feel more confident and have a handle
on unknowns being thrown at them. So take 2020.
Barry: [00:14:57] Right. You know, you’re right.
Karl: [00:14:59] You’re running the business, things are going good. And then, how soon did you
know something was happening related to coronavirus and so on. And when did you start
thinking about the possible impact on your business?
Barry: [00:15:13] Well, I think everybody, you know, kind of woke up in mid March and said, my
gosh, what’s, you know, what’s happening? What’s happening here? And it was very uncertain.
We wanted to protect our associate base. We want to protect our families. And then early on, I
guess I would say, you know, in the first couple of weeks in April, about 30 days after we’d
gotten into the Corona or pandemic environment that we. You know, I pulled the audience, I
pulled my associates and I found that they really wanted to work. I mean, of course they really
wanted to work because they knew that their livelihood and income was at risk if we were to
stop, you know, stop work for any reason. We were fortunate that we had projects, orders to fill.
And so we had work that needed to be done. And so I can’t say it was business as usual, but
the word that I kind of continue to use with my team and with the people that I talk to is balance,
you know. I try not to be fearful of the current environment in that we still have a job to do, and
we try to press forward. But neither can we be cavalier about the threats and the things that are
happening out in the marketplace. And so we have to have our head up all the time. Just like
you’re on a ball field, you have to have your head up and on a swivel sometimes to make sure
you’re not going to get hit broadside from somewhere. But nor can you be redisant or you can’t
be fearful or tentative. And so we’ve tried to strike that balance. We’ve tried to protect our
associate base when we go out to projects, certainly for sure residential projects. You know, we
mask up and we go, when we’re in people’s homes or around people’s homes, we make sure
that we’re taking the proper precautions. It’s not business as usual. But we’re pressed forward
and it’s not easy. But I think that it’s suited my associate population that people really, really
want to work. And we’ve been able to make a lot of progress this year and that’s not been easy,
Karl: [00:17:31] We noticed a lot of, this year, at the beginning we talked a lot about a bridge
plan. And it was just simply when this hit a lot of businesses. What do you do to get through this
and empower through and excel? And in the bridge plan, it talked about, you know, making sure
you knew what your break even was and reducing expenses. How do we figure out ways to
pivot and increase income with your business as well as how do you communicate and stay
contact with your customers? But the last two, G and E, was around get working. Like just get
out there and start, you know, when other people are wondering what to do the strong, they’re
gonna figure out a way to do that. And hopefully it leads you to excelling. When you understood
what was happening, what were some of the things you decided to do in your business to try to
not just survive this, but actually to thrive?
Barry: [00:18:23] Well, you know, we did talk, we moved, actually moved our shop in this
environment. We moved up to Lawrenceville. We moved our shop from Norcross to the
Lawrenceville. And so we, there was an opportunity there. The SBA has been helpful. Gave us
a little bit of tailwind. I always say it’s all about the hustle. You know, it’s all about the hustle. You
know, and, I like to think when other people are at home with their feet up on the coffee table,
I’m making that last sales call of the day. And my team is making that last sales call today or
Friday when some people are knocking off at three o’clock, you know, I’m going from whistle to
whistle, you know, and I’m going to go all the way to five o’clock in the evening. And, it’s all
about work and hard work and sweat equity. And the gritty and gutty people in this world
survive. And that’s, I’m a grinder and I just don’t know any other way around that. And so, and in
this environment, I think you can just need to, you need to retrench and look for opportunities.
I’ve tried to be an opportunist and that’s a hallmark, I think of my business career is just trying to
be an opportunist. And so when other people, other businesses may be retreating, you know,
that’s a great time to forge ahead because they may be either pulling back from a marketing
standpoint or a sales standpoint. And so going forward, really charging forward or finding that
pathway is really, really important.
Karl: [00:20:04] It’s interesting. As you said that, I was suggesting to some business associates,
they had strong businesses going in, that it was a time to double down and reinvest and there
were some simple things. It might be training people. If you were shut down for a month, what
training did you never have time to do before that you could implement? Marketing. What a
better time to go talk to more customers, communicate, launch campaigns cause those
customers are out there. But when everybody was quiet, looking at charts every day, you know,
what messages were they thinking about as far as, you know, ways to have shade in backyards
and different things like that. And who’s communicating to them through that. What are some
other things you see people that have really thrived through this and are really poised for
breaking out in the future?
Barry: [00:21:00] Yeah. And you brought up some great, great things, Karl. You know, training
and education and reinvesting equipment. Of course, if I go back in my business career now,
this is not, I say this is not the first difficult economic time that I’ve encountered in the lifespan of
my business. Because as I said earlier, 2009, 10 and 11, we were in the throws of a real, you
know, real recession. And so, again, while other people were pulling back on marketing dollars,
I never cut my marketing budget, not one dime. You know, when other people were looking to
reduce head count, we never reduced. We never reduced head count. Take those people and
see where they’re going to be best utilized in your business. Be a planner, I’d make a plan.
Every single, business year I do not go into the ensuing year without a business plan. And so
this time of year it is the heart of my business planning period. And so November, December,
when I put my plan together for 2021. So I will not go into the ensuing year without a business
plan. And once I make that plan, while I do make some adjustments, some small minor
adjustments and tweak it, the plan is the plan is the plan. And I don’t very much for my plan
when I embark on a direction and I will tweak it, but I won’t make wholesale changes. I will not
slash dollars. You know, if I had set those aside, there has to be a real catastrophic event for
me to change my direction, based on my plan. And so I try to stick to the plan that I’ve created
and we’ll make some adjustments, but the plan is the plan is the plan. And I think to the extent
that you’re able to really stick to that, and that’s a discipline, by the way. It’s really, you gotta
have the discipline to stick to your plan. Especially when things get a little bit Rocky.
Rico: [00:23:08] Can I ask you Barry, what, you know, just to get into the weeds a little bit, just
the meat of it, if you will. So this way, because people hear plans and they’re not sure what does
that mean? You know, what’s involved? What’s actually in the plan, let’s say for example. So
could you give an idea of what that, you know, two or three points, what that means as what’s in
a plan for you? Is it a sales goal? Is it a dollar amount? Is it adding a truck? What’s in a plan for
Karl: [00:23:34] If somebody were to look at your plan, how would you describe that?
Barry: [00:23:39] No question. I mean, I think it starts with you know, it really does start with your
marketing and sales planning conjunction. You’re either going to, you’re going to look for
geographic extensions. You’re going to look for product extensions. So that’s going to drive your
marketing. So I’m going to advertise, or I’m going to push this product forward with my sales
team or with my marketing dollars. And then, so out of that marketing plan that comes from your
strategic goals that I want to grow in this geographic area, I want to grow in this product group, I
wanna, you know, I want to reach these customers, this and then you create a, you know, out of
that kind of marketing plan comes your sales plan, you know? And so now you’ve got, you’ve
kind of fleshed that out with your team. You know, these people are going to produce this
amount, you know, in terms of selling or sales dollars. And then rolling down from that,
obviously your expense model. And for us I say there’s not a lot of moving parts and pieces. It’s
gotten bigger. At first there was not a lot of moving parts and pieces. There’s more than there
was, but your expense model flows out of that. And so then, you know, this is not a difficult
equation, right? You have sales and you have expenses and that produces profits. You know, I
think Bill Gates said that originally, you know, it’s like, let’s not overthink this. The sales
expenses, the bottom line is profits. And that’s what we’re, you know, that’s what we’re trying to
drive. And so, but it kind of starts out of your marketing ideas and where you want to go
strategically. And then you can decide, you know, what kind of revenue, what kind of volume
you’re going to create from there and what kind of expenses you’re going to take on.
Karl: [00:25:31] I’m curious in your industry, typically I sort of look at where to market. How do
you learn what’s going on in your industry, your market, how do you know what’s going to be
things that you need to react to or things where there’s opportunities? How do you as you and
your team learn things?
Barry: [00:25:51] Well, I think you gotta be in touch with your sales team. First of all, it was to
start out with, it was just me. And so I had to be head up all the time active in my community,
active in the business community, active in my trade association, looking for changes. You
know, I really do think about it as a business owners, like a ship and I’m in the wheel house and
you know, I’m in the wheelhouse and I’m guiding the ship or the captain has gotta be
responsible to be looking out there and seeing what kind of weather conditions are changing,
you know? What’s changing and the tack of the ship and that kind of thing. And so as a
business owner, I have to have my head up and I have to be aware of industry changes, market
conditions and market changes and opportunities for us to, you know, to make hay while the
sun shines. And so, as an example, like home improvement in this COVID environment has
fared very, very well. People were home for months at a time, and they were not spending
money on vacations and going out to eat. Theater and concerts and ball games. And so they
looked for opportunities to improve their homes. And so as a result, that part of our business
has as flourished in this environment. So, as the captain, you have to be head up, looking
around, you know, active in your community. So many people, I think so many business owners,
they get stuck with their head on the desk, you know. Head up off the desk and eyes forward
and see what’s going on and being very much in contact with what is going on around me.
Karl: [00:27:45] There must have been a point in your business when you were doing
everything. And for you to start being able to work on the business and do that and keep your
head up. There was a inflection point where that sort of happened. Can you tell us what that
was like and how does someone else know when that’s happening and how to navigate that?
Barry: [00:28:05] Yeah, that’s great. That’s great Karl cause it takes me back to like 2007, eight
and nine. And I was literally on the ladder. I was on the ladder installing. You know, I think that
first year of 2005, I know I did 110, 109 or 110 jobs. And I installed all hundred nine or a
hundred and ten in that year. And I was on those first three or four years, I was on the ladder
installing the stuff that I sold, you know. I think Rico, I think I installed your awning as well. But,
you know, at some point I think it was long about probably 2008 and nine. I said, I can’t run my
business from the top of the ladder. And so, there’s that continuum, right? It starts out, operator
there’s operator on one side and there’s owner on the other side. And there’s this continuum
from operator, owner operator to owner. So many small business owners get stuck at that
operator phase. They never even, they can never even push the needle toward owner operator,
right. They just get stuck in that operator phase. And around 2008, nine was like, I can’t run my
business from the top of the ladder. And so I started to add head count. I added a sales guy, I
added an installer. And so instead of three of us, there was now five of us. And those are, you
know, those are steps that you make and you’ve got your plan. You’re planning for it though in
your business plan, you’re still like, do you know what. I think by the end of this year, I’m going
to get to five, you know, by the end of 2009. And it was at five people, you know, and I realized,
you know, with a drill in my hand, you know, and screws and hanging an awning over my head,
I was like, I can’t. It worked for the first three years that I was in business, but then about eight,
nine, 10, I was like, I need more help. And then you make those steps, but I can tell you that
that was that adding those heads was a part of my plan for that year.
Karl: [00:30:19] But that’s an important insight that it did definitely be highlight the first part that,
that strikes the rings so true. Those first three years. Let’s make no illusion right? It’s work.
You’re an operator. You’re doing all those. If you are operating a small business, that comes
with the territory of it. But then you have to have a plan to move away. It doesn’t happen
magically. Like people didn’t just drop into your lap and they changed. The best, make a plan to
scale that and start shifting through that. I’m curious, what does the future look like now that
you’ve gone this far along? How far do you look out and how do you start to figure out, you
know, what do you want to do? And what do you want it to be in five years, 10 years?
Barry: [00:31:05] Right, yeah. Right. Well, even in this environment, we moved into a brand new
30,000 square foot facility in Lawrenceville, Georgia. A lot of our product now has shifted from
fabric linings, which is what people think about when they think about awnings and canopies.
Though a lot of our work now is actually metal. We do a lot of metal architectural canopies. We
serve the general contractor trade now. A lot more of our work is B to B and not business, B to
C business to consumer, but B to B. And so, you know, we’ve migrated a good bit in the 15
years we’ve been in business, but we’re a brand new 30,000 square foot facility. We’re going to
add powder coating. I won’t get into the weeds with that industrial process, but it’s a painting
process. We have a lot of our product, metal product is powder-coated. We’re going to start a
powder coating operation, here in Atlanta anyway, into 2021. So that’s going to be a big part of
our 2021 plan is a separate business unit, Peachtree Powder Coating. It’s complimentary, it
dovetails in with Peachtree Awnings and Canopies as well as the operation that we have up in
Tennessee Awnings. So, we’re going to have a real robust plan and I’m not going to, I’m not
planning to retreat in 2021. We’re going to keep forging ahead. This will be a product extension
as opposed to the geographic, you know, organic growth that we, you know, we’ve talked about.
Karl: [00:32:44] I’m curious about technology and how is technology impacting your business
and how do you, you know, how do you incorporate some new technologies? When people
think of awnings, has there been a lot of innovation that we’re not aware of that’s happening and
is there more to come?
Barry: [00:33:01] Not a lot of, you know, our product is a very, very old tried and true product. I
mean, you know, awnings and coverage, it goes back to the time when somebody, you know,
made an umbrella or threw a bare cloth over their head to protect themselves from the
elements. And so our product has been around for a very, very long time. As I said a lot of the
changes and a lot of changes in the products and the materials that we’re using in our products.
A lot of the product, fabric is still is used, still widely used and you’ll still see that product out in
the marketplace. But a lot of it is now architectural metals. There’s been a lot of changes though
on the shop floor, things that help us become more efficient. Job costing pieces of software
there’s been a lot of software, you know, we do a lot of rendering now to help people visualize
that awning or canopy on their home or business. So we’re utilizing rendering software on the
sales side, we’re using the software on the shop floor to help us be more efficient and that’s
going to help us, I think, in the next year to a couple of years.
Karl: [00:34:17] Well, one more question. When you see most businesses grow, there’s an
element that they can’t be ignored when it comes to people. And what’s constraints growth very
often as people. How do you manage through that dynamic and grow your business with
Barry: [00:34:36] Yeah. That’s, you know, recruiting and selecting, I think is really at the heart
lifeblood of just about every business. Not just small business, but every business. And so, I’ve
tried to always make a part of my plan the people plan, the recruiting and selecting being a large
part of that. We were fortunate when we moved up to Lawrenceville now. There you go, we’re
five minutes away from Gwinnett tech. You know, Gwinnett tech is a great source of fabricators,
welders, people with technical skills and expertise. And so what did I do? First thing, you know,
within three weeks of landing up there. I was on the phone with the people in their fabrication,
welding department. And we had the first, I say student graduate, start this week. You know,
and I have another one lined up that’s gonna start in three weeks, so right before Thanksgiving.
So, recruiting and selecting, extremely important, not just at small business, but every business.
And that’s proved to be very difficult in this environment.
Karl: [00:35:47] So specifically, how do you find the right people in your organization?
Barry: [00:35:54] I always will say that the best people in our company will continue to come
from other people in our company, they’re already our company. So quite frequently, I think the
best people in our company come from referrals from associates that are already working for us.
That’s a tough sell. People are doing their jobs and they, you know, but if you could help them
for information. This young man who came to us from Gwinnett tech came from one of the guys
who works for us, who is a student at Gwinnett tech. He helped recruit this guy, helped us
create that little pipeline now. And so that’s going to be very helpful for us. I mean, you know, we
use some of the traditional methods too, like Indeed.com just to give them a plug. We use
Indeed.com and we get a lot, you know, we have a funnel. But we, I still think that the best
people in our company come from other people already in our company.
Karl: [00:36:55] So one last thing I wanted to ask you about just in the context, I know you get
involved in the community a lot. And what role as a business leader, are there things that you’re
passionate about or things that you get involved with? Just to help the community in general.
Barry: [00:37:13] Yeah, I can’t stress enough the importance of being a good corporate citizen
and pay it forward. And I think that we have responsibility as business owners to give freely to
others what’s freely given to us as a baseline. And so, I always try to approach my, I say my
philanthropic efforts, my, you know, my nonprofit efforts, with that as a backdrop. And it’s
important that you pick two or three things that your people can get behind. It doesn’t matter
whether it’s, you know, toys for tots or the Atlanta community food bank or the local chamber,
which will funnel you into a number of non-profit areas. But pick two or three and make a
difference, you know. You might say, well, I’m a small business what difference can I make. But
you can. You can make a difference and you can make a difference at a level that’s really
grassroots. Whether it’s a church or a school, one of the things that’s near and dear to my heart
is a school called the special needs school of Gwinnett. My youngest daughter, Megan has got
special needs. And so up in Lawrenceville is the special needs school of Gwinnett. And they just
built a brand new school, we’re providing coverage of their playground equipment, because a lot
of the kids that go to school there, they take medicine that’s sun sensitive and that may be, you
know, an issue for them. And so we are providing cover for their playground equipment and
that’s something that we’re doing.
Karl: [00:38:59] Well, you know, I want to say, thank you. You being part of community. And
when I see you, you’re always willing to give time and you’ll mentor in other businesses. Your
involvement in the Southwest Gwinnett chamber over the years has been, if there was one
thing, if you look at like, Southwest Gwinnett, some of the business that you think, as a
collective, businesses can do better to help the community. Is there anything collectively that
comes to mind that they could be a bigger role in the community?
Barry: [00:39:29] You know, get involved. Yeah, it doesn’t matter. I know that the large Gwinnett
chamber can be a little bit intimidating. It’s a big, that’s a big organization, you know, and I’m a
member of the Gwinnett chamber of commerce, but I’m also a member of the Southwest
Gwinnett chamber as you pointed out. And you know, get involved. It’s, I have a saying, you
know, it’s never too late to become what you might’ve been. You know, and we’re not dogs and
these are tricks, you know, that’s what I like to say that at work, you know. So we have a
responsibility to our communities. Give, get involved. Don’t sit on the sideline and say I’m too
busy to give back to my community or to be involved or to be active. And so I started that at a
very early part in my business career to see and be seen. And that’s not easy when you’re, you
know, we’re already working 12 hour days. But I carve out that hour and a half for the first, you
know, the Southwest Gwinnett chambers first Friday, which is this week, you know. And so I’m
gonna always make time for those community activities and those organizations, which actually
help you become more visible in the community that you serve. Before you can be a big deal
outside of your community, you’ve gotta be a big deal inside your community. Or you have to
get a little feel inside of your community. And if you’re active and looking for those opportunities
to get involved, you know, look for your local chamber. Look for your, you know, look for church.
You know, here in Norcross, Norcross cooperative ministry, you know, there’s lots and lots of
places. Lots of places to get involved, and that’s gonna help your networking overall as well, so.
Karl: [00:41:23] Well, I want to thank you for that. I’m curious, so coming into the holiday
season, the end of the year, do you have much going on either professionally or personally, how
do you plan on closing out this year?
Barry: [00:41:35] Well, we, you know, the fourth quarter is typically our slowest quarter of the
year, but we’re still blessed to have a lot of project business, and a lot of orders to fill. We’re
winding down. I think, you know, the city of Atlanta looks for any reason to take a holiday or take
a break. And so the, you know, that block of time, you know, right around Thanksgiving is a nice
period of respite for everybody. Certainly the end of the year, you know, we think of December
as having one holiday, but in fact it almost has two holidays because you take Christmas and
than immediately is New Year’s a week after that. So that the city slows down a lot between
Christmas and New Year’s and we’ll probably close down that week between Christmas and
New Year’s. I like to give our associates that time off paid and give them a chance to rekindle,
you know, restrike and refresh, and spend time with their families.
Karl: [00:42:35] Amen, after 2020 folks could be ready for that. How do folks reach out to you if
they wanted to contact with more of you know, what you do, and what’s the best way to get in
touch with you?
Absolutely. Karl it’s, you know www.PeachtreeAwnings.com or www.TennesseeAwnings.com.
Barry: [00:43:01] Both companies have independent websites. You can find us on Facebook at
facebook.com/peachtreeawnings or /TennesseeAwnings. You’ll find that we have a social media
presence there and you can see lots of pictures of our current projects. You know, we’re
obviously, you can find us, call us up at our new location. It’s 770-409-8372.
Karl: [00:43:27] Well, I want to thank you so much for, you know, just carving out time to just
share with The Capitalist Sage. Barry Adams, founder and owner of Peachtree Awnings, and
Tennessee Awnings. And you’ll always see him at our local Southwest Gwinnett chamber
event. You know, stop by say hi, see him there. And I just want to thank you so much for
sharing some of the insight on your journey to entrepreneurship.
Barry: [00:43:54] Thanks, Karl. Thanks, Rico it’s good to be able to spend some time with you.
Karl: [00:44:00] We want to thank everybody on with the Capitalist Sage podcast today, we’re
continuing to bring you local business owners, local leaders, people in the community that
impact the business community and be a place. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business
Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business is available to consult with business owners,
whether you’re looking to improve and grow your business through acquisition, through
franchising, or you’re working on planning your exit strategy, finding someone that could take
the reins of the business into the future. Feel free to schedule a council with us. I can be
reached at KBarham@TWorld.com or www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, what have you
got coming up?
Rico: [00:44:49] Sure. Peachtree Corners magazine, we’re working on the next issue and the
cover story is actually going to be faces of Peachtree Corners. So we’re working through a list of
people and students and educators that’ll be on that cover story. And like every other issue,
there’s going to be a bunch of things. So we’re covering a variety of things that you can look
forward to. You can find out more about Peachtree Corners and what we’re doing at
LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Follow us on social media. We’re really big on Instagram and
Facebook. Just look for the Peachtree Corners Magazine or Peachtree Corners Life and
Capitalist Sage, where you can find the podcast on Instagram as well as our website. So, you
know, go out and look for that. We also have Mighty Rockets, so we do a lot of digital marketing,
I’m the creative director for several different companies. I have lots of things I do. So if you’re
looking for video marketing, photography, content online, podcast production, I was engineering
today’s podcast. Feel free to reach out to me, go to MightyRockets.com. So it’s easy enough.
Karl: [00:46:00] Alright. Well, thank you everybody for tuning in for the Capitalist Sage podcast,
stay tuned for more episodes. Have a great day.
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