With everyone becoming more reliant on teleworking and technology in general, we need more reliable security for ourselves and our companies. Smart Eye Technology and it’s CEO Dexter Caffey are at the cutting edge of security, providing companies and individuals the ability to protect their information. Join Peachtree Corners Life podcast hosts Rico Figliolini and Patrizia Winsper as they explore the eye-tracking technology that simplifies and predicts human intentions and actions.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:45] – About Smart Eye Technology
[00:06:16] – Sharing Documents
[00:07:23] – In the Professional World
[00:09:38] – Ways to Recognize Users
[00:11:14] – Smart Phone Capabilities
[00:14:17] – Research and Development
[00:15:40] – Dexter’s Background
[00:16:37] – Financing
[00:18:13] – Development Team
[00:19:37] – In the Peachtree Corners Community
[00:20:37] – Working in the COVID Environment
[00:22:04] – Expanding
[00:23:53] – Information
[00:26:14] – Competition
[00:29:34] – Closing
“I said, what if we could create an app called Smart Eye Technology that will shut off if Patricia or Rico look at my screen. And at first everybody thought it was the craziest thing ever. And so I actually reached out to a group of Israeli software developers and they helped us create this amazing technology now that we have called Smart Eye Technology.”Dexter Caffey
Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone, this is Rico Figliolini host of Peachtree Corners Life. Appreciate you coming out to watch this as a live stream if you’re doing this or if you’re listening to this as a podcast or on YouTube as a video as well. So and of course if you’re on Facebook on our Facebook page, you may be listening to this later, but appreciate you coming out. We have a special guest today, but before we get there, we want to introduce our sponsor Hargray Fiber. They’re a cable fiber company in the Southeast. Really big. They’ve been expanding even further into the Southeast area, especially in Southeast Georgia and Southern Georgia and the metropolitan area here in Atlanta. You can get the services for your business, business-to-business to be able to use their wifi, their fiber optics, they have cable and the support that they give to small businesses and large businesses through bundled services. So they’re not the cable guy. They’re right in the community, they’re so involved in the things going on in the towns and cities, they go into that you’d be surprised. So check them out HargrayFiber.com and you might be able to even get 90 days worth of your internet service for free. Certainly you’ll be able to get some of their expertise. So check them out. Now to get to our show, today’s special guest, this is a followup to an article we had in our vibrant technology issue, and so we had that an issue or two ago, and now today we have a special guest. I’m going to let Patrizia introduce our guest. Go for it
Patrizia: [00:02:09] Good afternoon everyone. So nice to see you again. Dexter Coffey is joining us today from Smart Eye Technology and he is the founder and chief as he self-describes of this company. Hi Dexter.
Dexter: [00:02:26] Hey how are you Patrizia?
Patrizia: [00:02:28] I’m doing so well. Thank you. How are you?
Dexter: [00:02:30] Good. Thank you for having me on today.
Patrizia: [00:02:31] It’s our pleasure. It seems like a lifetime ago when we spoke last just a few months ago before this whole pandemic broke out.
Dexter: [00:02:38] Last time, I think I was in Israel when you spoke to me last.
Patrizia: [00:02:41] That’s right. We’ll have to meet in person at some point.
Dexter: [00:02:44] Exactly.
Patrizia: [00:02:45] Alright Dexter. So today we’re going to regale our listeners and viewers with screen privacy concerns for all of across all of their electronic devices. And that’s because of what you came up with and you had a brilliant idea. And I’d like you to take us through it because it actually really did happen for you organically. Why don’t you tell us how you started the whole idea of Smart Eye Technology.
Dexter: [00:03:10] Absolutely. Thank you so much Patrizia. So what happened, that was actually, in Israel about two and a half years ago, and I was at a cybersecurity event. And so I was sitting next to this speaker who was getting ready to speak. And he and I were just talking just like you and I are talking right now. And what happened, I noticed when I looked at his laptop, I could see documents, I saw word documents, I saw PDF documents, and I just said to myself, so why should I be able to see any document that’s on this cyber security experts laptop? It’s none of my business. I said, what if we could create an app called Smart Eye Technology that will shut off. If Patricia or Rico look at my screen. And at first everybody thought it was the craziest thing ever. And so I actually reached out to a group of Israeli software developers and they actually helped us create this amazing technology now that we have called Smart Eye Technology.
Patrizia: [00:04:03] And here we are. It feels like we’re living in an episode of the Jetsons the future is certainly here. And learning about these technology companies in the greater Atlanta area was such a joy and so exciting for me. So, Dexter, in order to protect our screen, so Rico, if you’re planning your next, birthday for your wife and you want to keep it secret. You don’t want her to come behind your back and look at your screen and see what all you’ve been planning, right? So Dexter, how is it that you protect our screens and how is it that they recognize only us.
Dexter: [00:04:38] Okay. What did you guys, it’s actually when you open up the Smart Eye Technology app, which will be out at the end of May this year, well that’s in 30 days from now, what happens is that when you actually open up Smart Eye Technology app and you upload, let’s say those secret documents, that Rico was planning for this amazing event, he’s going to put on for everyone in the family.
Patrizia: [00:04:57] No pressure Rico.
Dexter: [00:05:00] So once that document is actually inside the smart technology app. At that point, if his wife or his friends or whoever else walks in the room, that document when it’s open, only Rico’s face is recognized by the document, but then he put his facial recognition inside of smart technology app. As soon as another face comes in and looks at that document while he’s looking at it, it’ll shut it down, immediately, and block the screen and say warning multiple viewers.
Patrizia: [00:05:25] Isn’t that perfect? You get a warning message for multiple viewers. So your computer screen now recognizes both your irises, your face with a continual camera.
Dexter: [00:05:39] Yeah,absolutely. So, so what happens is that right now it’s facial recognition. So it recognizes just your face. You would have to actually register your face facial recognition by simply taking the picture inside of smart technology app. We also have voice recognition and we have fingerprint recognition. And so if you wanted to send, let’s say Rico, let’s just say Rico wanted to show you that document inside of Smart Eye Technology. You would download smart technology app and then he would send it to you cause you’re one of his contacts. And as
a result of that, then when he shares it with you, all you have to do is your face could be recognized, your fingerprint, or your voice before that document opens up to you.
Rico: [00:06:16] Does that document need to be shared through the same app? Like I would send it from my app to her app?
Dexter: [00:06:21] Absolutely. Everything stays with inside the technology app. So let’s say it goes from your app to her app, her Smart Eye Technology app.
Patrizia: [00:06:28] So both parties involved have to be signed on with Smart Eye Technology.
Dexter: [00:06:32] Exactly. Because we keep everything inside of the app for the security, for the sake of security. And so again, when Rico sent you that he can do two things, he could allow you to download that. Or he could allow you just to have the actual document and allow you to share it with somebody if he chose. So you can download it or you can share it with somebody if he chose. However if you download that document, if he gave you permission to download the document, security is off of it. It’s over, security is off.
Patrizia: [00:07:00] He also has the ability to choose for how long I would have access to that document, isn’t that right?
Dexter: [00:07:06] That’s a great point too. What happens Patrizia is that when, when Rico sends you that document. He can set the amount of days, like seven days or the amount of hours, let’s say 24 hours, 40 hours for you to have access to those secrets vacation documents that he has.
Patrizia: [00:07:23] It’s just perfection for those of us who value our privacy. Of course, taking it out of the personal context. This has tons of applications in the professional world where you have to maintain privacy within your company and within whatever organization you’re working for.
Dexter: [00:07:40] And you’re right. One of the big problems right now that’s going on is, let’s just say for example if you sent me an invoice for let’s just say $20,000.You say Dexter, here’s our service for $20,000. What would happen if you sent that by email, a hacker with, let’s say, is in your email, and so that hacker would then email me right back. Say, Hey Dexter, this is Patrizia you know that $20,000 it didn’t go through yet. Keep that the same, but just change our banking our wiring .banking instructions because we had a problem with our old bank, so go ahead and make those changes today and email me when you’ve wired the money. That was the hacker, that wasn’t you that said that, that was the hacker.
Patrizia: [00:08:19] No, that happens a lot in the real estate realm.
Dexter: [00:08:21] This happens in real estate, because a lot of those closing attorneys, they have the wiring instructions so that they are a target for hackers. So whenever a closing attorney sends those wiring instructions through emails hackers say. Yes, we love it. Let’s go and change it up and email that person. Hey, listen, this is the wiring attorney. Don’t use my email that just sent to you first, use the new wiring instructions because we’re no longer using that old bank anymore.
Rico: [00:08:47] Does the system allow for, let’s say I want to keep my documents up on the cloud with you. Can I continue adding to that account?
Dexter: [00:08:56] Absolutely. You can continue to add it to that account that will never, we’re not a storage facility, so you really don’t want to store things in Smart Eye. It’s more like really just we’re sending it off or, let’s say if you want to choose, you have to sign a document. You will send it to her to sign a document so she could sign with her finger inside of Smart Eye Technology. She does not have to download the app to print anything out, she would just simply sign with her finger and then you can now verify it was Patrizia because that document only opened up to her face. She’s the only person who could see that document. So you can verify now that she’s the only person who signed that document. Right now, when somebody sends you a document through one of those companies that allow you to sign online, what happens is that you can’t verify that person who actually signed it. I don’t know, somebody else could’ve signed it.
Patrizia: [00:09:38] Right. I wanted to walk it up just a little bit here, because it’s easy enough to understand the facial recognition and the fingerprint and even the voice, but how is it that your computer now can recognize your handwriting? I understand handwriting is also one of the ways in which you can make sure it’s the person you want to receive the document and no one else.
Dexter: [00:10:00] Absolutely. We have something called print behavior, and so what print behavior is, it analyzes exactly how you hold your physical cell phone. It analyzes how you move your hands in order to write the letters that we asked you to give. If we ask you to write letters, A, L, and P. Then it’ll analyze how you write it, and physically move your hands around. It’ll also analyze how much pressure you put on the screen to even write those letters with to understand, is this Patricia or is this Rico trying to access a document.
Patrizia: [00:10:29] Isn’t that something
Rico: [00:10:31] That is, can that be legally accepted also then I’m assuming?
Dexter: [00:10:35] Well that there’s not a signature, that’s just allowing you to actually access the document so that’s like your face or your fingerprint. And also print behavior is another access point so that you access the document through Smart Eye.
Rico: [00:10:49] But before you said, I can, if I send something for a signature. Can someone sign that form?
Dexter: [00:10:55] Absolutely. It’s just electronic signature. Absolutely.
Rico: [00:10:58] And send it back and then I’d have it.
Dexter: [00:11:01] Exactly, exactly. So you have a signature just like that. So it goes directly to the app. So again, you never have to worry about putting anything out and you can verify that Patrizia actually signed that document because that document only opens to just her face.
Rico: [00:11:14] So let me ask you something, because obviously there’s so many, there’s so many avenues here, because an iPhone has a GPS, has certain accesses that you have. You, can you verify if it’s allowed, I guess through terms and agreement. Can I verify then that number one I have a picture of Patrizia, can that be part of that evidence, if you will?
Dexter: [00:11:38] That’s a very good, very good point Rico, because what you just said, your profile picture is your facial recognition picture. So in our version one that’s coming out in about 30 days, your profile picture will be your facial recognition picture. So you can’t put another face in there let’s say of you and a friend it’s not going to work, it has to be your physical face.
Rico: [00:12:01] Okay. And what about GPS location?
Dexter: [00:12:05] We actually have inside a smart eye where we can, we can actually require, we can say, okay, I can set a physical location. Let’s say you’re located in Peachtree Corners. I can say only in Peachtree Corners can Rico open up my document? If you go to the city of Atlanta, the document will not open for you.
Rico: [00:12:22] Really? I could see so many things that could be done with. Actually fun things that the travel industry would love to have. For example, you are going to Atlanta? Well, let me send you this document and you’re not going to be able to open this up until you get to Atlanta and then you’ll know where you’re going to be.
Dexter: [00:12:42] Exactly. So then you can see exactly when they opened it up. So every time they touched that document, to open it up, you’ll see exactly that they opened it up in Atlanta. You’ll be able to see, you can actually even specify which wifi a person is using. So let’s say your home’s wifi or your office’s wifi by getting the IP address and saying only on that wifi. Can you open up my document.
Rico: [00:13:03] Wow.
Dexter: [00:13:04] If I chose, well actually it doesn’t matter, you could be on any wifi. It’s my choice, it’s my document.
Rico: [00:13:10] As many restrictions, or leave it loose if you want.
Patrizia: [00:13:15] It could be as specific as you like,
Rico: [00:13:17] Yes. So I can see bond services, I can see certain types of services wanting to use this because they have the ability to lock it around to where they want it.
Dexter: [00:13:28] Exactly. That person’s documents they control. What we’ve done was it really put control back into the hands of individuals and privacy. So it’s about control and privacy, and that’s what smart eye technology is really all about. Even inside of our B to B side, if you want to send somebody a document, we have it to where if Patrizia’s company wanted to send it to your company you could actually request to collaborate with Patrizia and she has to accept you or deny your organization. If she accepts your organization, you can communicate with everybody in her organization. If she denies you, no one in your organization can send anything through Smart Eye. So now we’ve created a private pond for you to be in. So you decide who you want to play in your private pond.
Patrizia: [00:14:17] I love it. Dexter you are the brain child behind this brilliant idea, which I know is going to be important to many people, even if they haven’t heard of you yet. It will be important to them at some point, but every startup technology company is only as good as its research and development. So please tell us why you chose to locate your research and development center in Israel.
Dexter: [00:14:42] Okay. Well, as you know, Israel was one of the most advanced cyber security locations of the world. And so we, I, I created the team that I have in Israel to give us an edge because a lot of the people that we work with were, worked in security in government when they were in Israel, as they were the Israeli army and things like that. So we have a very specific team who we brought together to help us to create Smart Eye Technology. So our research and development took us initially, our research took us about 90 to a hundred days actually to create so that we could see exactly how smart eye would be created. So we’re very intense. When we created the actual software, as far as the process of it, there’s a big huge research paper that we have created that they created for us to show exactly how it works. So this is very detailed information.
Rico: [00:15:40] So let me ask you the, you know, what’s your background Dexter? Where’d you come from before Smart Eye Technology?
Dexter: [00:15:47] It’s funny that you asked me that question because my background is actually financial services. So I’ve done what’s called teching for major companies as an a Dowel Jones industrial laboratory owning my own business. And I’ve done that for 20 years. And so I’ve always loved technology like crazy. And when I just happened to see that opportunity that came up in my mind, it was just like I wanted to avoid it because I didn’t want to start another
business. I didn’t. And I tried to avoid the thought of Smart Eye Technology, but have you ever had something that was just nudging you day and night? Day and night and you couldn’t get it out of mind? Your talking with people and it’s coming out through your mouth. You go to sleep, you’re thinking about it. Well, that was Smart Eye Technology to me. It was something that just couldn’t get out of my mind. It was like, if I die, God would say, you know what you were supposed to do but you didn’t do it.
Rico: [00:16:37] How did you get your first initial financing to be able to do this?
Dexter: [00:16:40] That was great. I actually, I had an investor who was already a client of mine and I told him about my crazy idea. That’s a very good question. And I said, and I asked him. His name was Peter, and I said, Peter, I said, you know, I need to have lunch with you because I want to talk to you about some new things I think I want to step into. He said, okay. So we got together for lunch, and I told him exactly what I wanted to do as far as starting Smart Eye Technology. He said, okay, so what do you want from me? And I said, I need $50,000 today. And he said, so you want me to be the first sucker? And I said, absolutely. I mean, investor. So that’s how it all started from there. And we were able to raise substantially millions of dollars from investors who we work with now to bring this vision to life. And so, like I said, the app will be out at the end of may. And people will be able to download it on the app store originally, and it will be available for download in Android store probably in mid-July, in the Android store.
Rico: [00:17:46] Are you going to be looking for another round of financing at some point?
Dexter: [00:17:49] We are but not actively seeking a large amount. Right now we still have some available, but not actively seeking a large amount, we already have a proof of concept major. A company that does over $20 billion a year. That’s looking to be our first proof of concept company when we start in June. So we’re off to the races already.
Rico: [00:18:12] Wow.
Patrizia: [00:18:13] Dexter, I’ve heard your company referred to as a team of Avengers because you’re all so diverse from diverse backgrounds. Someone looking at you working together would have no clue how you all wound up together and what on earth you have in common. Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about the climate of your company, Smart Eye Technology.
Dexter: [00:18:33] Absolutely. We have many different, we’re a diverse company from the very beginning. We have individuals who are different. We have several types of minorities with inside the organization. I think we’re probably about 50, 60% women, and it’ll probably climb higher over the next couple of months. As far as Women is concerned. So we’re very different when it comes to a technology startup. We’re not a traditional startup where it’s predominantly men. And so we’re really taking a completely different approach to how people view, the screens that they actually have. So, and the individuals that we have working with us are passionate about the things that we’re doing, and they come from different backgrounds. So
therefore, they’re able to give us different opinions, which makes an amazing group of people to be associated with because they have their own opinions because of the different backgrounds that they come from. And everybody looks at the world a different way. And so that’s what’s really unique about it. And it’s something that I didn’t realize initially, but now I see extreme value in that.
Patrizia: [00:19:37] Absolutely. And I know you’re located in the city of Atlanta, your company is, but you do have ties to Peachtree Corners, so why don’t you tell us about how you came to be part of the Peachtree Corners community as well?
Dexter: [00:19:49] Absolutely. Smart Eye Technology is a member of the Atlanta Tech Park. And actually the Atlanta Tech Park is one of the most special places I’ve had the pleasure of being in because actually that’s where we did our first launch of our prototype. May 7th of last year showing our prototype for the very first time to the public. So, Robin and Ashley at the Atlanta Tech Park have been amazing partners with us. They helped us out in many ways that I can’t even explain. And so, they have a very special place in my heart, Atlanta Tech Park.
Rico: [00:20:26] Cool. How’s it been working? Obviously you may be, are you at Atlanta Tech Park now, I’m assuming?
Dexter: [00:20:32] No right now we’re in Buckhead, right now as we speak. We’re at our location in Buckhead.
Rico: [00:20:37] Okay. So how has working in this COVID-19 environment then?
Dexter: [00:20:42] Actually, you know, one of the surprising things is, actually, this has been one of the, I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m getting Emails and phone calls from people who want to secure their screens for their employees, because they say we’re sending very delicate and very specific information, very highly sensitive information. And we’re trying to figure out a way, how do we gain control over that, over those pins that we’re sending out? So this is why it’s been, I’ve been talking to companies in Thailand, I’ve been talking to companies in Canada, I’ve been talking to companies here in the US. Companies in Portugal, we’re talking to. So it’s been extremely busy. I mean, it’s, it’s been a very busy period because people are trying to figure out how do I secure when I send Rico a document, I don’t want Rico, since it’s outside of our work environment, I don’t want them having access and doing whatever he wants with this. How do I control that? So we’re getting phone calls, emails coming in and it, it’s really amazing to see how many people are actually looking at this right now. It’s amazing.
Patrizia: [00:21:46] Yeah, it does make sense now that everyone’s leaving their companies in droves to resort to tele-working. More and more people are at home with this secure and private information that really should be protected.
Dexter: [00:21:59] Absolutely. And that’s why we’re getting the phone calls that are coming in right now. This is, I wasn’t expecting this, but I’m happy.
Rico: [00:22:04] As you’re getting more people involved, more companies coming on board, are you, obviously you’re going to be looking at expanding maybe the programming and doing some additional programming engineering into the app as well?
Dexter: [00:22:20] Yeah. Actually on our, on our first version, actually on our first version Rico, we’ll have the app on the App store, iOS version and we’ll have the web app version where you can actually use Smart Eye on your computer in the middle of July for a second version that comes out. So we’ll have a lot of new features that we’ll roll out every single month. There’ll be new features that we already have planned to roll out as we go every month.
Rico: [00:22:45] So as far as income goes then, revenue, that’s, it’s really based on corporate revenue, let’s say? Subscribers to this in a corporate environment?
Dexter: [00:22:54] Yeah, initially. But actually we have a huge demand from individuals, from individuals. We’re going to roll this out at the end of May. But everything that I’m hearing from individuals, people said, I’d love to have it for my personal information, because I don’t want the people seeing certain maybe pictures that they don’t want people to see, but just the person that you’re sending it to, their documents that they don’t want other people to see they’re sending it to. So initially, it’ll be on a per user basis, so in a way, anywhere from as low as $9 a month to $19.99 a month when it comes to the actual price of Smart Eye for use.
Rico: [00:23:31] Are you going to allow like a free download and then an upscale or premium step up?
Dexter: [00:23:37] That’s a great question. We’re going to have actually a two weeks free. So you’ll be having the full engine for two weeks free. And actually it will be anywhere between $9.99 to you know, probably less than $15 per person for the individuals per month.
Rico: [00:23:53] So my other question, that could be a little bit more sensitive maybe because you know, apps tend to collect information, right? Sometimes it’s, it’s not specific, right? It’s anonymous? Anonymized. Will, you know, are you able, or what do you even think about accumulating some data as far as the types of documents going out or, you know and accumulate some data like that that maybe over a period of time where you can address?
Dexter: [00:24:25] Well the good thing about Smart Eye Technology is that every single document that you said is encrypted, so we won’t be able to have access to that document because it’s encrypted. When you send it to somebody else? That document is encrypted, so it’s encrypted in transit, it’s encrypted when it sits on a cloud environment. So we can’t even look at any document that you send even if we wanted to, we have to, you know, we’d have to break it open and which would be hard to do because it’s encrypted. So absolutely.
Patrizia: [00:24:49] And how would you address people who are hyper sensitive about sharing their personal ID information, like their irises, their face, their fingerprints, how can you assure them that that will be kept safe?
Dexter: [00:25:01] Well, all of our biometrics are also encrypted as well. And one of the things that I tell people about, you’re probably more at risk to invoice fraud, and that’d be probably a little bit more worried about that because, like I said, there was over two billion dollars that was lost in 2019 to invoice fraud. So there are more, companies are losing more money from invoice fraud than they are from, you know, other areas when it comes to cyber attacks.
Rico: [00:25:29] Cool. Do you have any, any upcoming announcements you’d like to share here? Like things that you’re working on?
Dexter: [00:25:38] Well, actually, yeah, we’re actually, like I said, we’ll be launching the app at the end of May and we’re also actually starting our first proof of concept with a major company that is over $20 billion a year. So you guys are the first to hear that. And we’re also working with a potential other company in Portugal that is looking to use smart technology for some of their things as well. So we’ve got a lot of, a lot of companies right now who are interested in this technology because of what it does as far as protecting documents inside of your screen.
Rico: [00:26:14] Cool. Let me ask you one other, one other question. I mean, I think we covered quite a bit here. It’s a great technology. Certainly, I think that, you know, competition is the problem, right? Do you see that being an issue in your, in your arena, the competition that’s out there, that you need to get this out fast and need to be able to adjust as you go? Are there competitors you’re worried about? I know you wouldn’t be worried about being acquired by someone that might want this, a bigger company. You know these, Google and all these other companies acquiring things right and left. Would you welcome that at this point even?
Dexter: [00:26:54] Well, right now, the thing that we’re focusing on right now is number one, getting users using the app. That’s our key focus right now. And so that’s where our energy is being spent right now. As far as competition, competition is always a good thing. You want competition because it keeps you sharp. It makes you, I used to run track when I was in high school. And I love it. And so it’s a good thing. And what was built inside of smart eye technology, we’re still at the very heavy engine. So when you want to compete, it will cost a lot of money and a lot of time, and again. Most major organizations have employees at the organization. So we’re not really worried about major organizations doing exactly what we’re doing because you know, you have a lot of competition when it comes to, you know, since seniority in different things inside an organization with that, they want to do things they don’t want to do. So, so, but yes, you always have to be concerned about it, but never worried. I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a very good thing.
Patrizia: [00:27:54] Right? So let’s get users using Smart Eye Technology.
Dexter: [00:27:57] That’s all we’re looking for.
Patrizia: [00:27:59] You can find it.on the Android.
Dexter: [00:28:02] Yes, it will be in, in mid July. You’ll be able to access it on Android, but within 30 days you’ll be able to access it at the end of May, on the app store.
Patrizia: [00:28:10] On the app store. Okay. And if I’m an individual, I’m looking at two weeks free and then about $9.99 a month.
Dexter: [00:28:20] Right.
Patrizia: [00:28:20] It’ll
Dexter: [00:28:20] be between $9.99 a month, depending on your usage at $14.95 a month in that range.
Patrizia: [00:28:25] And how do you determine the pricing for packages? Say for you personally to a company using it.
Dexter: [00:28:32] Yeah. We actually have, when you get it, when you first get inside the app we’ll ask you, are you an individual user or are you a business user? So business users will pay about $9.99 a month because they received that, what’s called a control panel. So they can add all the employees on that control panel and add employees or delete employees. They got full access to see exactly which documents those employees set. They’ll be able to see which companies that they’re interacting with as well. They’ll be able to see if they have a problem as far as trying to verify the biometrics because we have something called biometrics failure rate. So if you see an employee who’s failed a hundred percent of the time using all the biometrics, the employer can pick up the phone and say, Hey, listen, this may not be Patrizia trying to get into this app. Is this you or is this somebody else trying to access this. So we’ve got things in place, so it’ll give the system admin a early indication that, Hey, this is not that person trying to access the data because they’re failing 100% of the time. The access, this can’t be that person.
Rico: [00:29:34] You know I’ve been enjoying this Dexter. I think we want to possibly get back to you at some point a few months from now,to see how things are going.
Dexter: [00:29:44] That’d be great.
Rico: [00:29:45] Cool. Good. So, Patrizia do you have any more questions for Dexter? Otherwise, we’re going to be letting him go.
Patrizia: [00:29:52] I think we’re good to go. Rico, thank you so much, Dexter, for taking the time to speak with us today.
Dexter: [00:29:57] Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate this.
Rico: [00:29:59] Thank you, Dexter. Thank you everyone for listening. And again, this is Peachtree Corners Life with your host Rico Figliolini, Patrizia Winsper and CEO, disrupter, founder, Dexter Coffey from Smart Eye Technology. Thank you guys. Appreciate it.
Patrizia: [00:30:16] Have a good afternoon everyone.
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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