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Capitalist Sage: Real Estate Strategies for Business Impacted by COVID-19 [Podcast]

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Capitalist Sage podcast about commercial real estate

Frank “Tradd” Cannon, joins us to discuss what businesses can do to improve their situation right now when they reopen, and long term, from a real estate perspective. With your Capitalist Sage podcast hosts Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini. Recorded socially safe in Peachtree Corners.

Resources:

Frank’s Phone Number: (404) 597-5737
Frank’s Email: Frank.Cannon@colliers.com

“We help owners, occupiers, investors of real estate. And for me specifically, I help occupiers of real estate. Office tenants with their whole real estate footprint, whether they own a building, whether they lease two offices in Atlanta and Buckhead, or they have a portfolio across the United States. And right now what we are doing is helping clients with rent deferrals, rent forbearance, renegotiating their leases as this is chaotic as it is. It’s a very opportunistic time for companies to revisit what the real estate footprint looks like and how they can optimize that going forward in a post COVID-19 world.”

Frank “Tradd” Cannon

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:00] – Frank’s Background
[00:03:57] – Impact on Tenants and Landlords
[00:07:26] – How to Negotiate Rent
[00:09:45] – Difference between Retail Types
[00:13:36] – Changes in Pricing
[00:15:58] – From Location to Innovation
[00:18:21] – Shift in Office Space
[00:26:32] – Investing in Technology
[00:37:51] – Closing

Podcast Transcript:

Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini with Capitalist Sage and my co host Karl Barham. Hey Karl, how are you?

Karl: [00:00:38] I’m doing good. Rico, how are you doing?

Rico: [00:00:41] Good. Good. Working from home like everyone else had my cat in the background, so if you hear the meows, this was from the cat. But, the Capitalist Sage is on as usual, we have a great guest today. I’m going to let Karl introduce him. Before we get to that, though, I do want to talk about our sponsor for the family of podcasts, and that’s Hargray Fiber. They’ve been a great sponsor of ours, a supporter of Peachtree Corners Magazine that I produce. Hargray Fiber is big in the Southeast, certainly big here in the Metro area in South Georgia. They handle all the fiber optics for a lot of major companies and small businesses, so got to know them a little better. They are so involved in the communities that they go into. They are not your cable guy. So for a fiber cable company to help you with your business connections and provide support like you need to be able to do the telework and that we’re all doing or to work from, you know, the main office as we all go back into reopening, they’re the people to talk to HargrayFiber.com I’ll leave that with you and Karl, why don’t you take this into our guest.

Karl: [00:01:49] Absolutely. Well, today I’m so honored to have Frank Cannon, an associate with Colliers international Atlanta office here to talk about real estate strategies for small businesses that are navigating and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that’s hitting so many businesses. We all know that businesses have been hit hard, especially small businesses. And they were forced to close in many cases all across the country. And they have to still deal with these bills that are coming in. Including bills from landlords, bills from suppliers, bills from utility. And so today we wanted to talk about some ways to approach understanding the landlord side of things, understanding the tenant side and have Frank share some strategies and things that can help people work together and partner. So we all get through this successfully. Hey Frank, how are you doing?

Frank: [00:02:57] I’m doing great. Thanks, Karl. Glad to be with you all today.

Karl: [00:03:00] Oh, that’s fabulous. Well, let’s start off by just, you know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you get into real estate, commercial real estate in particular.

Frank: [00:03:08] So I am an associate with Colliers. We’re in Midtown Atlanta. We’re a full service commercial real estate firm. We help owners, occupiers, investors of real estate. And for me specifically, I help occupiers of real estate. Office tenants with their whole real estate footprint, whether that’s they own a building, whether they lease two offices in Atlanta and Buckhead, or they have a portfolio across the United States. And right now what we are doing is helping clients with rent deferrals, rent, forbearance, renegotiating their leases as this is chaotic as it is. It’s a very opportunistic time for companies to revisit what the real estate footprint looks like and how they can optimize that going forward in a post COVID-19 world.

Karl: [00:03:57] So I’ll jump in with the first thing just to kind of ground everybody that that’s, that’s looking at this. What, what have you been hearing? The impact has been on landlords and tenants. Let’s start with hearing from your tenants that you represent. What are some of the things that they’re dealing with in making decisions? And then we’ll talk about things from the tenant standpoint that may have to deal with landlords.

Frank: [00:04:24] So the initial sentiment for most tenants, most companies is like everyone else, a slow down. You know, everyone has pulled back for companies and they budgeted accounts, they budgeted sales for May for June, and simply some of that’s not going to happen. And the sentiment for landlords is almost a trickle effect is, well, tenants may make a quarter or half of their May or June rent as their sales slowed down. And overall it is what we do to solve this rent problem, and solve this revenue problem, and you work together as a landlord and a tenant to ensure we all come out of this together. Communication has been great. For a lot of tenants and landlords. Because at the end of the day, we’re both in the, we’re all in the same boat and we’re working to figure out how to best get out of this together.

Karl: [00:05:27] Yeah. And then it’s an important thing, not only on the, on the pandemic health side. You’ve seen the theme that we’ll get through this together everyone. I think it’s really important when you think about landlords and tenants. So let’s say I’m an operator of a retail shop in a shopping center and I know that I may have the ability to pay this month’s rent, but I’m really concerned about paying the other expenses, maybe trying to keep some employees on, maybe being able to fund opening up again. What are some of the things that I should be thinking about? Just as everything is closed down, I should be doing immediately.

Frank: [00:06:14] So number one right away is have that conversation with your landlord. They, again, like I said, they’re willing to work with you and you just kinda need to tell them, you know, this is what’s going on. I have applied for a stimulus. I have enough funds to keep my staff, and here’s, here’s where I was pre-COVID. Here’s where I am now. And your landlord, you know, makes it easy on them. Let them know you’re working hard and what you need to keep your boat floating. You know maybe that is, maybe that’s May and June, I’m gonna need some help. I’ll repay it back by the end of next year. You know? On the other hand, if your lease is coming up soon. The last thing your landlord wants you to do is leave cause no one’s gonna feel that given all the uncertainty there could be talk to, talk to your real estate advisor, talk to your legal counsel, feel free to give us a call. You know, Hey, what we have right here to make sure that we survive three to four months. We can continue this partnership as you know, the best people placed in your shopping center, for example.

Karl: [00:07:26] What are some of the mistakes you said? So that’s interesting having that conversation in the case of where the lease is coming up within a six to one year period. What mistakes do you see small business owners making. When it’s time for a lease renewal or asks you for a new lease, and then bring it also into the context of with a pandemic COVID-19 happening, where we don’t know if something like this may happen again, where they have to shut down because of an outbreak in a particular area. It may not happen everywhere, but it
could happen in a zip code. Well, they happen for a week. What are some of the things, mistakes people are making when they, when they try to negotiate that?

Frank: [00:08:09] So a lot of, a lot of small businesses upfront, you know, it’s not their world to think about the landlord’s shoes, but at the end of the day, it is very tough for a landlord to fill an empty spot. There are costs to, you know, if you had a, if you were a pizza store and you’re moving and now the landlord wants a, call it a hair salon in there. They’ve got to reconfigure the space. They have to market it, and then they have to, and then they have to give the new tenant a reason to move in such as, you know, free paint, free carpet or a spruce up allowance, if you will. On the other hand, if a tenant just stays, that saves them a lot of money and a lot of headaches. A tenant has a lot of leverage to stay. So the first mistake is not asking for what they deserve to save the landlord a headache. And the tennet, you mentioned now that we have a pandemic world going forward, flexibility for any small business is going to be key. Instead of committing to a five year, we’re going to see a lot more three year commitments because we’re going to want the ability to get out sooner and with less headache. Look for more termination penalties. Maybe, Hey, if something comes up, I’ll give you a six months notice, Mr. Landlord and I’m going to be out of here. And you know, maybe a year ago, that’d be a harder push, but everyone at that table is going to understand what just happened. And again, we have common sense, you know, we can put in a termination penalty into a lease going forward.

Rico: [00:09:45] Do you see, Frank, do you see a difference between maybe retail office space, manufacturing space? Do you see a difference in those industries where there may be more leveraged in one than in another?

Frank: [00:09:57] You know, in the past, absolutely. You know, a retail, you know, the dentist in the dinner with practices, their clients were there. He’s maybe done the braces for all three kids and their mom, you know, he, he’s going to be there. Whereas offices, especially going forward, you know, more people are working from home. An office tenant may not be as inclined to stay in that place for 10 years they’ve been, because now half their guys can, half their guys and gals can work from home. And if there’s a cheap flight, cheaper spot down the road that satisfies their postcoded requirements, it could be a free game. Again, the existing landlord doesn’t want that to happen, but we can ask for a better reason to keep that small business in their current building.

Karl: [00:10:48] There’s something interesting. So when, when we work with business owners and we look at their lease, very often, we get a good sense of what the price per square foot is for a particular retail spot or office spot. So we kinda know what the norms are. But when those numbers came up, it was baked into an assumption for a restaurant space that might be 1,400 square feet versus 2,800 how many people fit in there? There was, or much revenue you can generate in that space? And a lot of commercial real estate is, the value of it is based on the income it can produce. If for a period of time folks are required to social distance in their place, how does that impact the price that they would, a landlord can expect for the same space in new leases?

Frank: [00:11:57] So I think we’re going to see, so you cut out for a bit. How are we going to see the price for space to be affected? Because basically the whole game’s changed. So I’ll harken back onto my original point of a shorter term, a three year commitment versified. The thing is, we don’t know the true appetite for the consumer to come back to these public spaces. You know, are they going to all of a sudden fill up, you know, a J Alexander’s dining room again? Probably not. It’s going to be more of a trickle and same thing for an office. Is everyone gonna run back into their dense open office space? We’ve got, we’re probably gonna return back in phases. I mention this because we don’t know what sales are gonna look like in the post COVID world. What dining out percent demographics is going to look like, and you do not want to be locked into a rate that escalates for five years when you don’t return to pre COVID levels for a while and all of a sudden your rent’s gone up three times.

Karl: [00:13:11] But that’s, that’s one thing that I’m curious about because if, if a business was generating a certain amount of revenue per month for the last five years in a space and not because of anything the business did.

Rico: [00:13:30] You froze up Karl, a little bit.

Karl: [00:13:36] Okay.where folks might have to today. In the last five years, they were generating a certain amount of revenue. Because of the laws, they now have to cut the amount of people they can service, whatever, whatever, the businesses. So let’s be,the reality of it, if rents stay at the same level and revenue, the volume goes down all of these businesses, it’s not just one, many businesses won’t be able to sustain the same rent levels and it’s okay to keep it that way, but a lot of businesses will, will probably fail in that model if they do that. If someone was signing a new lease, do you think that there’s, there’ll be a drag on the price per square foot if this continues on too long?

Frank: [00:14:29] There, I absolutely believe there’ll be a drag on price per square foot, especially in the retail world, because demand is simply not going to be there. Owners of retail establishments are going to be prudent and nervous are my two key words. You kinda hit it. We were doing so many sales with this much space and this many rules. We can’t serve as many people and consumers are scared. That I would say is 99% of a restaurant owners mentality right now. They’re not gonna wanna pay pre COVID rents, and I’m, I’m not a restaurant expert. I can guarantee you the guys who are leasing these restaurant spaces probably think the exact same way, if not way more detail on exactly what the new rent levels will be. And it’s not going to be for, for retail centers, they’re all the same. Rent one, one restaurant is going to be one, one over the other three. They’re not going in either one right now at the levels because they can’t afford it. And I think we will see a drag on a lot of retail rents and especially more reason to not commit to a five year term during this, during this time of uncertainty. You want to argue for flexibility, argue for a reason to get out if things turn sour like in this pandemic, which on one would have seen before this time.

Rico: [00:15:58] I was thinking about the, everything’s location, location, location, right? So the place where a restaurant might be, that might’ve been a hole in the wall place or something like that, where there they have to be found. I could see those going low. I could see sometimes in certain, certain areas, like let’s say prime downtown areas, they’re holding their strength a little bit because there’s still people there, right? Cousens is opening up 20 malls. By the end of the month, they’ll have 20 malls open reopen I should say,

Karl: [00:16:35] No, new malls.

Rico: [00:16:37] No, no. These are the reopening of the existing malls, you know, like, like Gwinnett Place Mall, maybe where the walking dead is being shot or something, I don’t know how many people actually go to these malls. So I can see certain types of properties really losing their renters, right? And, and maybe, does it make a difference whether it’s owned by your rate in New York or whether it’s owned by a local business in Atlanta?

Frank: [00:17:04] So I would say a little bit of both, but first and foremost depends on your relationship with your owner. I actually just read an article today. Add Acts, the, one of the owners of Add Acts. His name’s Mario Salayah. Atlanta was one of the first locations he reopened. As you know, Georgia has pretty aggressive reopening rules. He was able to talk to his landlord and the conversation is pretty much the tune of, Hey man, this is tough for all of us. Stay safe. We’ll get through this. Easy landlord communication. Hallmarks of any relationship, doesn’t matter if you’ve been paying the same guy for 10 years and again, it’s, it’s all the same thing in life. You have a conversation, you open it up. If, you know, if you haven’t had that relationship or, and you’re not transparent with them, your landlord may not be as willing to work with you. And if you, again, you’ve been there forever, the owner of your building or center recognizes your value. You’re tenancy and they want you to, they want, they need you there as much as you need to be there, I would say it doesn’t make a difference in ownership, it matters relationship.

Karl: [00:18:21] If I could ask, we’re talking about retail and I’m curious of how business operations or business models are changing for the office as well. Because many people are being asked to work from home, and that’s been happening in some form or shape for many years. But if we see a 20 point shift in the amount of people that were at home. There’s not as much need for office space combined with the fact that we shouldn’t have people in cubicle farms as dense with a guy next door might be coughing a lot and all of that’s going to create some dynamic. How can businesses shift the way they use their office space or models?

Frank: [00:19:10] So I think we, going forward, we will not recognize the, the office going forward and this pandemic expedited the timeline. We can argue that the last big change was everyone getting dense. You know, you see the old law firm, it’s all private, private offices, big wooden desks, you know, got 10 people in a whole floor just to be, just to be exaggerating. And then we shifted to the rework of the open office where you add 10 people in a 100 square feet. I think this is going to spur the move back towards less dense. Social distancing will be
implemented in the office where you know different teams have their own section, so if one gets sick, everyone goes home and they’re six feet apart, and this’ll be a great time for a business owner to reevaluate how much space they need. Because you may have figured out your sales team can do a lot more at home then you previously thought. You may have discovered that, Hey my top two engineers only need to come in twice a week. They don’t need their whole lean.

Karl: [00:20:30] Employees will love to hear that, but I’m wondering what, how do we, how do we resuscitate the, all the managers that you just put into cardiac arrest where they can’t walk down the hall and see all their people huddled over a computer looking busy.

Rico: [00:20:47] Let’s even stop there for a second. Cause I saw something come across the news and Kemp has extended the state of emergency public state of emergency through until the middle of June and it’s extending the stay at home for certain populations. So just to let you know. It was yesterday.

Karl: [00:21:09] Breaking news and impacting the conversation.

Frank: [00:21:14] So with that in mind, I think is just going to emphasize that a work from home policy is now going to be essential to any company going forward. Whether that is a digital check, a zoom check-in, whether it’s a phone call, whether it’s just an email conversation, how are you doing on your projects? But now again, we just, we have another month and a half to ensure people are being productive. And, well, you know, maybe we have another podcast where we determine how these digital check-ins happened, but at the end of the day, either teams figure out how to work from home for extended periods of time, or there, you know, things may not get done and that’s just not ideal for anybody.

Rico: [00:22:04] You know, I’ve been listening to some companies that have been putting out, if you, if you’re working can be done from home, then you need to do it at home.

Frank: [00:22:13] Right?

Rico: [00:22:14] Because they’re going to fear, right? The news is all talking about fear and people going back to work, being forced to go back to work cause it’s helping, right? And stay at home is gone. That means you should be able to go back. It’s a liability. Where do you put the kids? Kids are out of school. There’s no summer camps. Will these aspects, even if you go back to work, how are you going to deal with the individual office spaces and the common areas, the kitchen areas and all that? It’s going to be a mess now.

Frank: [00:22:47] So we’ve actually, we’re working on the reentry guide. Reentering the work, the workplace, and we’ve got a couple, one of the main points we hit on is beefing up your office’s cleaning schedule. You know, common areas, like you mentioned the lunch room. You know, you may have to start, your cleaning expense may go up twice, twice as much. Having
someone come in and disinfect doors, refrigerators, tables, chairs, people touch it. That’s, that’s now our new normal.

Karl: [00:23:18] I could see, I don’t know if you’ve ever gone into some workspaces that don’t have touchless toilet flushers and sinks. And you know, obviously it’s gone everywhere, but you go into them now and you gotta wonder what’s going on, right? There’s technology that can be played or force a shift. And I’m wondering, businesses that are in that market, installing, implementing those things might be seeing some demand coming as you’ve, people don’t want to touch things. And we have to start figuring out ways to exist in this new, in this new world.

Frank: [00:23:59] So besides the obvious one of toilet paper, I would say, everything digital, you know, the company’s zoom, WebEx, and like you mentioned touchless technology. Doors that, you know, open motion sensing doors, all retrofitting companies to make its workspace healthier. I feel like those will see demand all over the place. It’s interesting adding with a lady who ran, who was one of her biggest clients is Home Depot’s paint department and they’ve been going crazy cause a lot of people are home. What are they doing? Home improvement project. She was actually in a place up in Cumberland and the space next to her was empty and they did a lot of onsite training and we were having a conversation that then they wanted to look at that space, just used for a training room, training employees. They’re one of the bigger offices in Atlanta. And once I’ve gone by, business is booming, they’re training companies on zoom. Now all of a sudden they found they can do more with less. And it’s just, that’s one of the countless examples. This is just expedited change.

Rico: [00:25:15] I work at a newspaper in Sandy Springs, and the same thing we put out two, two papers all online, and so his 1,500 square feet were probably dropped down to maybe 700 square feet.

Frank: [00:25:29] Absolutely. And you’re going to save a lot of money that you can now put towards other avenues of your business. What, just out of curiosity now, that you’re reducing your rent expense by half. What are you going to invest in or what are some wishlist items for the newspaper?

Rico: [00:25:50] Well, so now there’s the problem though, right? It is a newspaper and it’s sort of an industry. My magazine works out fine because it’s where we are, but some publications have fallen by the wayside. Paper newspapers out in Dekalb and Marietta. They might as well close up. I think the last issue was six pages. I mean, they just might as well close. Some other publications are doing this stuff, but even online, Curb Atlanta. I think people know curb.com well, every city sort of has their own curbatlanta.com. Curb Atlanta let go of all it’s people from what I understand. So even online companies are seeing this issue, so.

Karl: [00:26:32] So it’s interesting. Rico, you mentioned about location, location, location when we talk about real estate. That has been the paradigm for as long as I’ve known anyone in real estate. So think about an office building. If you’re a fancy law firm, where do you want to be?
You want to be in Midtown on 14th street. If you’re a retailer, you want the Apple store. The Apple stores are only located in high dense retail areas, type of thing. Is there a shift that, that this may be accelerating where a location is probably not as important as the premium that’s paid on businesses for a location now shifts to something else. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of the building the Edge in the Netherlands. It is the greenest building in the world. But what it, what it highlights is a technologically advanced building that has sensors everywhere and what they built was a building where you want to be there because technology drives the value of the business. The building more than the physical location, and so I could see it, I know the technology exists, I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it in movies where you can measure the temperature of people in the room down to the individual. You see it in the movies when they see the hotspot and they drop the bomb on that place with swell people. And you can see, well, that technology is not that difficult to deploy in building. So if a coworker’s temperature is up three degrees, there might be a way to indicate that that room may have a problem. What do you think about investing in these technologies, types of things in place.

Frank: [00:28:39] Investing, and you cut out there for a bit. Investing in these technologies?

Karl: [00:28:43] Yeah. So to attract new tenants, landlords have been living on location. Now, now the question is, do they have to shift and shift their business model to leverage technology that now addresses safety. As part of.

Frank: [00:28:59] So I primarily think for the really retail and the industrial world, it’s still going to primarily be location. You’re going to put, you know, example Amazon, last mile distribution centers. They’re going to base that decision on location. The Apple store, they’re still going to want to be in a high traffic area. Office sector, I think you hit on it with talking about the Edge. It’s not, it’s going to, location will lose importance. It’s not going to be about where the space is and how much, how big it is, but the quality. There’s going to be an emphasis on quality. Two big reasons that this popped into my head. One, everyone’s going to want it to be clean. Everyone’s gonna want it to be sterile. Everyone’s going to have social distancing, self-opening doors, that’s going to be on the forefront of anybody who goes into the office a lot. I think overall we’re going to see less people go into the office as much. Not drastically, but over time there will be less people going into the office, nine to five, given what happened. So you’re not going to need as much people in there. But when they do go in there, what are they gonna want? They’re gonna want, they’re gonna want the AC to change depending on how people were in the room. They’re going to want the internet of things to know, Oh, Karl’s here at 8:30. He likes his latte at 8:45 delivered from the inside starbucks. Karl would get the text, it texts your phone. Would you like your Starbucks? Yes or no. Rico and Karl are and a meeting with three people. We don’t need the AC running on full blast cause there’s a conference room for 10. We only have three in there. And that recognizes that from your outlook calendar, this technology is there. And again, this is just being expedited in going forward. People will want better, safer more technologically advanced spaces as opposed to the location premium.

Rico: [00:31:05] You know, it’s funny when you think of Tesla, for example, right? The, the biggest, one of the biggest things in there that they talk about is the, is the filtration system in Teslas. That it’s actually better than, let’s say M95, you could be, if there’s something outside the car and you close yourself in, then you would be safe from it, right. Because of the filtration system on that. There’s going to be, and they’re working with, I think it’s ResMed now to make, to make those, what do you call it? The ventilators. What’s the company doing that? That’s based out of Atlanta I think. But I agree with you, Frank. There will be changes and stuff, but I think it also depends on what that business and specific is, right? If you’re a service business that you could do anywhere, that makes less of a big deal where you’re geographically, like you said, if you’re in Amazon, then you’re that last mile fulfillment. Certainly you want to be near transportation likely. A hub like Atlanta.

Frank: [00:32:07] To take a step back. I just remembered, so I’m sure, are y’all familiar with the lead verification system for buildings, energy efficient? Something is, or is lead gold, lead platinum. There’s also, I think we will see an explosion. There’s a relatively younger standards called the well building standard and it basically rates how healthy a building is for its employees. Things you know, how much natural light are buildings getting? What’s the fitness center like? How many times is the air changed? I think we will see that explode and that will take a larger spotlight in decisions going forward. You know, maybe only the Tesla health advocates knew about how many air changes per 1,000 people were happening on a floor. That I think it’s going to start to take a major spotlight.

Karl: [00:33:01] There might be one other interesting thing when we talk about technology, especially mobile technology, all the apps that allow you to check into a location, or you walk into a store and it sends you a coupon to your phone, tracks your Bluetooth. I could see that being used in a different application. Now, if a salon has a customer that five days later tests positive for COVID-19, they have the ability to know everyone that came into that salon. It could be as simple as there is a credit card transaction, to more sophisticated where you walk into some businesses or gyms and you literally have to check in with an ID or your phone so it knows you were there and they can go in, identify all 300.

Rico: [00:33:57] But that’s almost gyms, right, with the passes that you go in

Karl: [00:34:00] With the passes, exactly. Okay. So contact tracing could become easier because you could find and message 350 people that have been in that space or interacting with somebody from the time the person that tested positive and they can get a notification to go to their testing center and get tested and self isolate. Now that technology exists, small business owners are thinking about that. Well, I can think of some companies, point of sale companies, others that could diverge into these areas and offer this to give clients comfort, customers comfort that, that there’s something that’s helping control this as they go into space.

Rico: [00:34:47] Do you, Frank, do you see, I can see that and I can, you’re familiar with like Simply Safe and the Nest thermostats and stuff like that?

Frank: [00:34:56] Right, right.

Rico: [00:34:56] Smart technology, right. All those are plug and play pretty much in a home. I mean I can, I can also see maybe commercial space being like that, right? Because a lot of that is plug and play. A lot of that doesn’t cost a lot of money because it’s either using Bluetooth or wifi technology to communicate. And modualize and put into different rooms in, in an office suite, I mean.

Karl: [00:35:22] We were seeing some of this technology at Smart Expo last year. They’re putting the sensors in lights and…

Frank: [00:35:38] I haven’t seen it in person, but the most common that I’ve read about it’s a sensor in your employee ID badge. You know, the one that you use to get off, you swipe in elevator, it takes you to your floor and then you buzz that and to get into the, if your office has a security system and there’s that. No, this is Karl’s workplace. This is, this is, Karl has an appointment at three and again, the dispensers know how many people are in a conference room, the lunch room at any given time. Maybe we get to that to where it’s on your phones as well.

Karl: [00:36:21] Well, I’ve got a question that comes back to dealing with, with the current state that folks are going. I’ve heard of subsidies partnering with major landlords, that were tenants, where a landlord that give deferral, get some kind of recognition and/or benefit for that. Have you seen that? And can you describe how that really works?

Frank: [00:36:49] Right. For two, and they’re real close to us. Sandy Springs and Peachtree Corners. You know, so I get their alerts all the time. Just trying to stay connected. Peachtree Corners was offering for any landlord that offered their tenants a 60 day rent deferral, a free showcase as a community partner. They get better advertising opportunities. It’s just really a focus on you helping the city, helping these businesses survive and thrive during these tough times. And for Sandy Springs perimeter chamber was offering a free advertising spot for mother’s day essentials during this crisis. I mean, mother’s day is right around the corner these days, all blurred together. And that’s typically a, that’s a big, big sales event for some companies, and these are just a few of the examples, but a lot of people, a lot of these landlords, cities all coming together to try to make things happen during this tough time.

Rico: [00:37:51] Guys, I think we’re towards the end of our time together.

Karl: [00:37:58] Yep, absolutely. Well, you know, I want to thank you so much, Frank, for joining us today and sharing some of your knowledge about, real estate and how to deal with tenants and landlords. Really helpful information to do that. How would people reach out if they wanted to ask you questions? What’s the best way to get in contact with you and learn more?

Frank: [00:38:27] Honestly, I would say just shoot me a text or email me. So I’m Frank.Cannon@colliers.com and then, I mean, shoot me a text at (404) 597-5737. That’s anything from, Hey, you know, my lease is coming up in three, five, six months. I don’t want to leave, but I’m not sure what to do to make a decision going forward. Or if you’re, you know, you might be struggling for May or June rent. You know, this is, this is a headache. This is a time stop for a lot of business owners who have a million things to worry about right now. And for us it is our job and it’s a free service for tenants to occupy space. Just give us a shout and we can, let’s have a conversation. We’ll negotiate with your landlord on your behalf. And so we can do that and get through this together.

Karl: [00:39:19] Thank you so much for that. And we do recommend, get in touch with real estate professionals if you don’t know how to negotiate with your landlord. But it’s as simple as picking up the phone and having a conversation. You’re both in partnership. You both got to work through this together and you got, you’re typically in a contract for a number of years. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld business advisors of Atlanta, Peachtree. We’re working a lot with business owners in this time to help them figure out ways and strategies to continue to improve their business. And help think about different scenarios of where they need, they may want to exit the business. Right now it’s about surviving, but it is the best time to start planning on your exit strategy for your business. And you can contact me at 770-766-9855 or KBarham@TWorld.com if you want to talk to myself or one of our other advisors to help you navigate through this and talk about your exits. Rico, how bout yourself? What have you got coming up in the upcoming months?

Rico: [00:40:36] Sure. So we’re working on, we’re actually working on the next issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine, the June-July issue. It’s going to be chock full of a lot of stuff in there dealing with what’s going on now. Some great stories that we’re going to be telling about what people are doing during this COVID-19, how they’re repositioning themselves a little bit during this time because a lot of people that just home, not that they’re not doing anything, we all should be teleworking, right? But some people are just pivoting if they own their own business or they’re doing a gig economy and the trying to figure out what to do with that. So the magazine will be coming out the first week in June, I believe is where we’ve said it. And if me personally also doing Mighty Rockets, in social media and podcasts and doing a lot more podcasting, with Karl and bunch of other people, doing a lot of branding, a lot of online social media a lot of video work. I’m doing it socially safe. So if you need me, MightyRockets.com if you need anyone to help you with production or social media content or branding, or you can call me or text me, 678-358-7858.

Karl: [00:41:47] Well, thank you so much Rico and Frank. Really appreciate you joining us and give us some, some really good tips and insights that hopefully.

Rico: [00:41:58] Hopefully we’ll be there at some point.

Frank: [00:42:04] It was great. Thank you again for having me

Rico: [00:42:09] And thank you.

Karl: [00:42:10] Alright, take care everyone. Bye.

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CMX CinéBistro Reopens. Popcorn time!

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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!

Join us for an experience we know you’ve missed this holiday season! To receive more information and details about the precautionary measures in place, click here.

Source– Press Release by Peachtree Corners Town Center

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City of Peachtree Corners Receives Silver Award for its Business Newsletter

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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.”

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Choosing, planning and Growing a Business, with Barry Adams, owner of Peachtree Awnings

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The Capitalist Sage podcast

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.

Related Links:

Websites:
https://www.peachtreeawnings.com
http://www.tennesseeawnings.com
Facebook:
Peachtree Awnings
Tennessee Awnings
Phone Number: (770) 409-8372

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

Podcast Transcript:

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
today?
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.
So cool.
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
business owner.
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
tough sledding.
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,
so.
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
you?
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
people?
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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