As technology continues to advance and more people are working from home, companies like Brightree are making life and at-home healthcare easier. Join Peachtree Corners Life podcast hosts Rico Figliolini and Patrizia Winsper as they sit down with Matt Mellott, CEO of Peachtree Corners based Brightree and expert on the improving technologies this company is providing healthcare workers everywhere.
Brightree is a leader in cloud-based patient management software for the out-of-hospital care industry. We provide software and services to manage patient intake, scheduling, inventory, delivery, billing, clinical, resupply, and collections to facilitate better patient care.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:03:06] – New Offices
[00:05:14] – About Brightree
[00:09:05] – How Business has Changed
[00:11:14] – Information and Data
[00:14:20] – Types of Equipment
[00:16:52] – Client Base
[00:17:49] – Modules
[00:20:10] – Consumer App
[00:22:18] – Moving to Peachtree Corners
[00:24:27] – Keeping People Engaged
[00:31:02] – Closing
“I think we’ve all been amazed and proud of our teams who have just stepped up to the cause. I mean, the collaboration, the things we’re doing, the speed we’re doing them, has just been really incredible, you know? The exciting part for me is, that we’ve learned some things here. We’ve learned how to do things more efficiently, or maybe we don’t need to do all those steps we did in the past. So how do I capture what really came out of this? That’s a great positive. I want it to be part of our culture and our DNA going forward. So we’re having some great conversations around that right now, which is exciting.”Matt Mellott
Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini host of Peachtree Corners Life podcast, one of several in a family of podcasts here in the center in Peachtree Corners. So appreciate you guys showing up whether you’re watching this live or you’re paying attention to this on demand video wise, or the audio podcast for Apple, iHeart Radio, Spotify. I appreciate you being here. Follow us. Give us some reviews. Well rise up in the search when they’re looking for us. Before we get into our guests today I want to introduce our sponsor for the show and the family of podcasts and that’s Hargray Fiber. They are our lead sponsor of the company. They provide innovative solutions to a broad range of Southeast companies. They’re a fiber optic company, but a bit more than that, they provide unique solutions to businesses, both small businesses and enterprise levels, giving bundle services and a variety of other services to be out there with these large companies and smaller ones. So they’re involved in the community. They are certainly a member of the community through the chambers and other places. I’ve seen them at high schools and such. They’re very involved. They’re not the cable guy. So when you’re looking for local support and this type of work, Hargray Fiber is the company to be with. They also provide, right now, if you want to work remotely, they provide quick collaboration tools. So check them out. HargrayFiber.com and you can call them at 1-800-613-8495. So now that I’ve done that part of it, let’s get into the show. I’m going to, Patrizia Winsper my cohost for this episode is going to introduce our guests. It’s a follow up to an article that we did two issues back by a vibrant company in Peachtree Corners. Patrizia?
Patrizia: [00:02:19] Good afternoon everyone. It’s such a pleasure to see you all again today. And the man of the hour for this podcast is our cover story for Matt Mellott, who is the CEO of Brightree. Now, Brightree was originally located in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and they recently moved their headquarters to the city of Peachtree Corners. Peachtree corners has always been known for its vibrant technology, and we’re so pleased to have Brightree join us. Matt, how are you doing?
Matt: [00:02:51] Doing well. Good to be with you today.
Patrizia: [00:02:53] Thank you. It has been a while and it actually seems like a lifetime ago since we last spoke at your offices in January.
Matt: [00:03:02] With what’s going on out there. It seems even longer, doesn’t it?
Patrizia: [00:03:06] It really does seem like decades ago, but, but Matt, let’s talk about the beautiful headquarters your company has built here in Peachtree corners. It was formerly the 1970s building. It was the Honeywell property and you stepped in, Brightree stepped in and tell us a little bit about what you did there with that property.
Matt: [00:03:30] Sure. Yeah. You know, the developer really had a vision that we bought into and you know, really probably came here based upon a rendition and a picture of what it could be. Cause as many know who live in the area, it was one of the older buildings, a bit run down and hard to envision what someone could do with that property. We’ve been thrilled with what’s
happened. Parkside, you know, is the company that did the development here. We poked pretty much a sprawling complex and kept the one three story tower. That’s all that remains in a complete renovation. I think we maintained two walls and three floors. And after that, it might as well be a brand new building and, you know, very open a bit of a, you know, a loft open feel to it, much different than the space we left. You know, it’s just, it’s been incredible. Our employees are enjoying it, having spaces they can congregate in, collaborate in. So we’re just thrilled we could make the move. Unfortunately, with the current crisis, you know, we weren’t into too long until March. We ended up having to send all employees to work from home. So I know our employees are excited to get back here when we finally can bring people back to the office.
Rico: [00:04:37] It’s a beautiful office. We were there for the grand opening and it was just, that’s a great place with a lot of open space, quite frankly. So…
Matt: [00:04:46] Absolutely
Rico: [00:04:46] You should be actually in compliance with the guidance.
Matt: [00:04:51] We’re going through that now and actually get that, that’s helping. It’s actually amazing. You know, a lot of these more open, denser, places that we’ve all moved to with development actually, unfortunately are some of the problems now when we come back in and you know, it’s sort of the old offices and high cube walls are the things that would be helpful now. But you know, we’ll get through it. Hopefully it’ll be several months and things can be pretty much back to normal here.
Patrizia: [00:05:14] Absolutely. I’m sure your employees are waiting to get back and your decorators did a wonderful job. With bright, lively colors in the common spaces and that industrial two story or three story staircase pulling up that wall. It’s just gorgeous. So Matt, let’s talk about the technology behind Brightree and what exactly Brightree does. Now I can say in a nutshell that it is software based, cloud based software sorry, that helps HME companies home medical equipment companies to run more efficiently or streamline their whole business process. Why don’t you tell us in more detail about Brightree, nuts and bolts.
Matt: [00:05:54] Sure. So we’re the most widely used solution out there for HMEs to run their business on. So, as you mentioned, we’re a cloud based software solution that HMEs, home medical equipment companies will run their, almost our entire business on. Everything from the intake they take with patient referrals, referrals from physicians, scheduling their staff, scheduling patients, logistics on trucks, trucks roll out of our customers to deliver equipment to patients in their homes. Also inventory of all that equipment. And then at the end of that process is to bill payers, Medicare, commercial payers, so our customers get paid for the services they provided. So our solution really touches all aspects of that. Pretty much our solution goes down our customers are in a lot of trouble. They need it to run their business every day.
Patrizia: [00:06:46] I have to be honest, and it’s certainly within the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking of bright tree solution and wishing we could implement it on a sort of federal level, with Cuomo mentioning, you know, the huge issue of the movement of needed much needed PPE and ventilators. And he made the very wise conclusion that hospitals could no longer in, in our day and age function as separate entities, but they all needed to somehow be connected, implement communications. And they needed to be able to move the necessary ventilators and PPE on the hospitals that didn’t need it, to those who do need it. And I wonder if a solution like that would be applicable.
Matt: [00:07:36] Sure. Yeah, probably my parent company ResMed who makes respiratory devices is playing actually a role right in the middle of what you’re describing. You know, two issues that have come up through this crisis. One, not enough ventilators. And then secondly, when the ventilators are found and purchased, are they getting to the right place? So our parent company ResMed’s, they’ve actually retooled production lines to make more ventilators and actually have been recognized in the news, a contract with FEMA. So resume is playing a key role in getting ventilators, both to the US healthcare system, but ResMed’s a global company, so they’re actually know doing this to help save lives really all over the world right now. Heavy in Europe, heavy in Asia, and then preparing for other parts of the world where we’re seeing the pandemic start to take hold. On the Brightree side, you know, our customers being the home medical equipment providers. Our customers are seeing the COVID patients as they’re discharged from the hospital. You know, they’re coming home with a variety of needs. They’re needing oxygen from an oxygen concentrator. They may need a hospital bed, and they may need a walkers and wheelchairs as they recover from, you know, having COVID and being in the hospital for sometimes many weeks. And our customers are the ones now on the front lines of that aspect of the care. And we’re helping with, whether it’s home health agencies or families, you’re helping them bring equipment into the home to care for these patients as they recover.
Rico: [00:09:05] Matt, are you finding this? Have you found that the business has changed since your company has brought in all these solutions? It’s almost like an on demand, right? Someone’s leaving. You gotta have the equipment there. Everything’s all specked out on schedule. Do you see any innovations that have come along the way since you guys started doing this since your company’s been there?
Matt: [00:09:28] Yes. I’ll speak specifically in this crisis. We’re seeing, you know, probably everyone’s heard very broadly, telemedicine really taken off through this, you know, meeting with physicians and doing a telemedicine visit. So imagine now we’re, we’re seeing the same thing where equipment needs to be put into the home. Our customers, they’re being very careful with their staff. They’d like to avoid going in the home if possible. We’ve seen things like knowing the patient’s about ready to be discharged from the hospital. Our customers have requested, let us get in and out of the home before the patient comes home. Patient might still have active COVID-19. So the people who really have had a hard time getting a lot of personal protective equipment have been home medical equipment companies because the acute systems fighting for them, the nurses and all that. So the home medical equipment companies
are sort of at the bottom of the rung of getting the necessary equipment to care for these patients. So when that happens, getting in and out of the home prior to the patient getting home is key. The other thing we’re seeing happen is that they can do remote training for patients on some of this equipment. So they’re using telemedicine now in different solutions to help the patient get set up, train them, interact with the patient and their family. So I, it’s been interesting and I think, I hope medical equipment industry will see what the position industry is seeing. A lot of this technology is probably here to stay. The efficiencies of doing this are being realized and a lot of our customers are saying, we’re not going to just turn this off when this crisis is over. This really is a better way to care for patients and much more efficient. So as you can imagine, we’re a software company. We need to now work with them on those solutions. That might be done during a crisis, but there are the beginnings of what long term will be some of the solutions that we’ll have probably going into the next year and a half.
Rico: [00:11:14] Let me ask you something, because you are a software company, because it’s like, it’s almost like an IT company in a way, right? Because you’re, you’re managing all this information, right?
Matt: [00:11:23] Right.
Rico: [00:11:23] Does the information that you gathering, is that making it more efficient? Is that also helping you tweak your software to be able to address the, the demands and the challenges out there?
Matt: [00:11:33] Oh, it absolutely is. So we have an analytic slate for that we built out over the last two years that really sits on top of our platform that helps us for internal purposes, analyze utilization of certain modules or parts of the system. Because you get to kind of touched on this, through this crisis we know there’s parts of our systems that utilized, very robustly can help customers through some of the challenges they’re having. So we can help on that aspect of you really should be using the resupply, you know, for medical supplies or other portions of our system. In addition, our, we have a very rich analytics tool for our customers. We’ve created a free version of that that we rolled out for all of our customers, giving them a quick dashboard. Packing their revenue, their cash payments, sort of also to monitor the productivity of their staff. Because as you can imagine, our customers sent all their administrative folks home as well. So the manager is no longer in the room with their employees, so they now have people all over, they’re trying to say, are they efficient? Have they processed enough orders? So we’re getting analytics to help them manage that through this time.
Rico: [00:12:41] Isn’t that funny how, how the world is with computers in a room, you’re even, like you said before, with the cubicle, you can either be there, it could be somewhere else. It almost, doesn’t matter. You’re still in front of that computer right? So, I mean, measuring that efficiency is important and probably will actually not only save money for the company, but maybe reposition some of those employees in a different way.
Matt: [00:13:04] A hundred percent agree. And with our software being cloud based, that really was a plus for our customers. They literally could tell people on Thursday, pack up, go home Friday, they have an internet connection at home. They’re up and they can be seeing, you know, they’re logged into the system and seeing their cues and the work they need to do. We’re feeling it internally as Brightree as a company, and I think our customers are that, there’s probably a whole new view on work from home when this is said and done, knowing that we all made the transition. We survived, and actually in many cases as productive as we work. So I think we’ll see our customers will, that will put some demands on us to support them in that endeavor, to let more work from home. And as a business for Brightree, I think we’re going to have a much more liberal view of working from home in the future.
Patrizia: [00:13:50] Well, the circumstances are certainly unfortunate, but I’m certainly glad that you’re able and you have the capacity to do what you have been doing. And you know, today it’s the Coronavirus, and tomorrow it might be, who knows what? So, I don’t think we’re ever going to be really in the clear from whatever new virus comes out and hits the world.
Matt: [00:14:13] We’ll probably be in a whole different place of preparedness next time after, you know, hopefully we, we learned from this one and we have everything in place if this were to happen again.
Patrizia: [00:14:20] Matt, let’s dial it down just a little bit for our listeners and our viewers who aren’t even really sure about the home medical equipment that is available for being to people’s homes. Let’s talk about what types of equipment you, your clients are taking to people in their homes after a hospital stay, after a surgery, even after COVID treatment, like you just mentioned.
Matt: [00:14:43] Sure. Yeah. I’ll first cover the broad range of products provided by our customers. It starts at one end of the spectrum of the medical companies that are focused on medical supplies. This could be wound care, ostomies supplies, incontinent supplies, diabetic supplies. So we have customers are a hundred percent focused on shipping those products into the patient’s home. Then you start moving into the delivery of equipment or equipment patients might come into a retail site and pick up and take home talking about oxygen concentrators, oxygen tanks, C-PAP equipment, C-PAP supplies, walkers, wheelchairs, bedside commodes, hospital beds. And then the range goes into the complexity of power mobility. So you’ve probably seen, you know, the power wheelchairs that have all the equipment needed for folks with special needs. You know, that could be a very expensive, complicated piece of equipment. So that also falls into what some of our customers do as well. So a patient discharged from a hospital, coming out of a COVID experience in the hospital could use a variety of that equipment I just mentioned. That needs to be taken into the home needs to be assessed, you know, to make sure if there’s training involved and the patient can’t receive that training, is there a caregiver or relative? So really assessing that the home environments even conducive to the equipment that’s being taken into that home. And then the ongoing therapy or adherence to that therapy if they need to be using the device every day on that, making sure that the patient’s
using it, and a lot of times there’s a lot of data coming from those devices that our customers can monitor that and they know when to, you’ll go to the home or call the patient that if there’s an intervention necessary.
Patrizia: [00:16:25] I also recall you mentioning medical experts or people who help with rehabilitation professionals are coming to visit the home as well as the equipment.
Matt: [00:16:38] That’s correct. So, respiratory therapists in particular with a lot of this respiratory equipment and also related in the COVID patients as well, will be ones who will care for the patient in the home and assess how they’re doing on that equipment.
Patrizia: [00:16:52] And your client base is interesting. You have everything from the small mom and pop HME companies to large companies with a coast to coast presence. Tell us a little bit about your client base.
Matt: [00:17:05] Sure. No, I think you’ve covered it. Brightree really got its start from helping the small mom and pop home medical equipment company and then it’s just grown over years as the product has more features and functionality to the point now, as we’ve talked before, two of the national HME companies utilize Brightree you know, for running their operations. Just as you can imagine, very different needs from a, you know, a large national coast to coast company than one who has two or three users on our system. So definitely, you know, makes managing and also making sure the right features for the right customer there as a complexity to it. But, you know, we’re, we’re thrilled that, you know, that much of the industry can really find use and value in our system.
Patrizia: [00:17:49] To be able to serve such a diverse base of companies you have come up with modules to actually, address the specific needs of a certain company. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your module?
Matt: [00:18:02] Sure, sure. So Brightree as its core component, if you will, that can take the intake of patients, manage inventory and get those out the door. But we have a variety of modules that customers can pick and choose if they need one for example, being for those who sell over in the medical supply business. If you do a lot of diabetic supplies or incontinent supplies, we have a special module that does the automated phone call to a patient and a patient can order by responding to that phone call. We have solutions that are just for C-PAP resupply that call centers can use to call patients and help them with their resupply needs. We have another module that our folks who, customers who run trucks can use, helps them with logistics on route planning and also helps them with a paperless interaction with customers. you know. So no paper, they can come back and just, you know, the files are automatically uploaded into the system. In addition, we also have a variety of services we offer our customers as well. Some have outsourced their billing to our revenue cycle management services, and then we also have, call center services. So some customers can outsource their call center for a medical supply replacement. We can help them with that as well.
Rico: [00:19:15] Are there any areas that you’re planning to add into this as well that you’re looking forward to?
Matt: [00:19:20] At the moment we also have a rather rich ecosystem where if we say don’t build it or buy it from a module standpoint, we look for folks that might be best in class in the industry, and we will work with them on an integration. Since Brightree is, you know over 50% of the market is using Brightree. That’s an attractive proposition to someone who comes to the home medical equipment industry and says, Hey, I have a great solution. So we’re looking at those out there. We recently did one with a company that does nothing but focus on equipment repair, which has actually been a very manual process for our customers. They’re doing an integration with a company like that. Don’t own it, it’s just a partner relationship. We allow our customers to live within Brightree, get access to other modules and features and services by just linking them up to the Brightree ecosystem through an integration.
Rico: [00:20:10] That’s an excellent value added. You know, you know what I’m also thinking that an app would be a great thing as well for those individuals that are receiving this stuff to be able to track it themselves. The consumer facing app that would be able to like look at the equipment coming to them and stuff.
Matt: [00:20:26] So about a year ago, we actually released that the trade show for home medical equipment are App, patient engagement app called Patient Hub. What it is, it’s a Brightree generated app, but when our customers use it, you know, it’s basically personalized and their logos go onto it. The patient can do direct, secure messaging with their provider. They can do appointment checks, they can pay a bill, they can order supplies. So yeah, it’s funny you do mention that we’ve seen an uptick in the interest and the adoption of that feature through this because of the inability to really interact face to face with customers.
Patrizia: [00:21:05] They really thought of everything, Rico haven’t they?
Matt: [00:21:12] We’ve been doing this for a long time.
Patrizia: [00:21:14] America needs you. When I last spoke with you, Matt, you had just publicly launched analytics. How has that worked out for you? I understand that it was adding functionality and access to data for your customers. How has that been working?
Matt: [00:21:32] It’s gone very well. And I, you know, customers who have bought that module or that solution are really getting all kinds of new insights into their own data. And we provide benchmarking as well, so they can compare how they’re doing to others in the industry. And as well, as I mentioned earlier on, we created sort of a scaled down version of that, that we’ve rolled out to customers for free during this crisis saying, just please use this solution. You’ll find tremendous value in monitoring your business and how it’s doing. So, to be quite honest with you, the web, once we get to the other side of this crisis, I’m expecting quite a bit of interest or
along, it’s already happening along the way of, you know, could they look at the full blown solution? You know, even before we get to the end of this.
Patrizia: [00:22:16] Fantastic.
Rico: [00:22:18] What about the challenges? You know, obviously let’s, let’s take it a little broader now. You’re centered in Peachtree corners. You guys moved from Lawrenceville. What other reasons also are, not that a major reason, but employees, right? They have to come from somewhere. Sometimes it’s easier to pull them up from Atlanta this way or from Alpharetta. It’s a little closer than Lawrenceville. Of course. You live in Peachtree Corners, I think?
Matt: [00:22:43] I do, yes.
Rico: [00:22:44] That’s even better. But, so how, has it been the challenges? I’m sure all the businesses that might be listening to this other business owners would like to know the challenges you’re facing with teleworking, putting your people out to the, we touched on it a little before, but maybe we get a little bit more into that.
Matt: [00:23:04] Sure. And this started for us when we made the move. As you can imagine, when you move anywhere, in no traffic probably 25 minutes from Lawrenceville, where our old office was. And as you could imagine, people have moved to the other side of the office further out into, you know, Grayson and areas like that. So when we moved, we put a commute or a transportation burden on many of our employees who lived even, even further out. So at that time to you know make sure that everyone was excited about the move. We actually started adopting a rather a more liberal work from home policy than we had before. So in a way, it was a bit of a dry run for what happened in March when we had to turn that on for 550 employees, 150 of which were here in Peachtree Corners. So recommendations for an office move, if you know that being, the question is the ability to be flexible with the workforce. You know so that we don’t lose people just for the sake of, I’ve added 25 minutes to their drive. You know, we really were able to do things to allow them to work from home, be in the office during certain hours where teams do need to meet, you know, discuss what they’re doing, in software development, for example. But it gives them a lot of freedom outside of that. I think when this is over, we’ll find many other departments who would say they didn’t think that would work for them. They found it’s working for them. So I think we’re going to have some very interesting dialogue when we get back together on how we do this longterm.
Rico: [00:24:27] How are you keeping, how are you, how are you keeping them engaged and excited about what they’re doing? I mean, zooming all day long could be, could be a problem with some people, but we’ll keep…
Patrizia: [00:24:43] You in the studio right now in Atlanta Tech Park, but you know, we’re social distancing and doing the right thing for our well-being. So, yeah. Good question, Rico.
Matt: [00:24:52] Yeah. I am, I’m sure many people are in the boat I’m in. It’s back to back zooms all day. And that has its challenges. You find if you don’t schedule time for lunch, you know, you’re not eating it or you’re eating it on a zoom, which isn’t ideal. So you got to just think through the small things. But what we’ve done though, to connect with the employees during this time, you know, your question is, we do town halls quarterly, you know, where it’s an all employee and we get on and we do a presentation. We’ve gone to every two weeks on that. And the reason being is, you know sharing a lot of what we talked about on this call is, what’s going on with our customers? What are we doing to help our customers? What’s the impact this is having on Brightree? So we’ve just been very transparent and doing that every two weeks. And so that’s been great. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback that they appreciate that. The other thing we’ve done is we’ve got. A group out there who’s constantly surveying our employee base. So what’s the thing they want to know next? What should I answer on the next town hall? We just did one recently said, what are you thinking about when we ask you to come back to the office so we can get all the concerns from the employees. We’re hiring through this as well. And that’s a challenge. You’re hiring an employee that we’ve maybe have interviewed the hallway through. Made an offer and they’re starting and we’ve never been face to face, so those employees were keeping a real close eye on. We’re hooking them up with mentors who are not their supervisors, so they can reach out and say, you know, how do I use the solution to get on the zoom call today? Or, you know, whatever the case may be, that they’d be embarrassed to ask that they’ve got a link to the organization other than their supervisor. We’re trying to hold a virtual, I normally have a lunch with all new employees every month. We’re going to try to do that virtually here very soon. The welcome to the company, tell them about the mission of the company. And in our parent company is great at this type of collaborations. So they produce a lot of ideas and schools were able to adopt because they’re doing this with about, you’re well over 7,000 people globally have this challenge and keeping them connected. But it’s been a challenge, but we’ve learned a lot of great things to do to just keep that connection.
Rico: [00:26:55] Yeah, it has been. I’ve been talking to a few people that handle team building leadership building and how leaders should deal with their, with their employees. And it is a challenge, right? I mean, you know, there’s one company out there in Peachtree Corners, they do a Toastmasters. I think it’s kinda neat. Now they’re doing it virtually. I mean, it’s still like you’re doing this. They’ll bring things on just in a virtual environment.
Matt: [00:27:24] Right. I know departments having virtual happy hours or they have their morning coffee together and we’ve really stressed with all of our supervisors. Make sure you’ve had at least one touch point with your employees during the week. Because I mean, as we all hear the stories, you know. Working from home, sounds good at first until there’s three kids there as well. Trying to do homework and you’re maybe trying to help them with that. You have a spouse at home as well. You know, we start adding all of these things up. Work for a lot of people at home has not become the best experience and it, we’ve been very honest with our employees. We understand that. You might tell us you can’t be as productive as you maybe were in the past. And we’re in a time where that’s okay. So let’s just, you know, we keep an eye on folks and look forward to the day we can get back into the office.
Rico: [00:28:08] I think I also find people are actually working harder and longer. Sometimes it just depends on the person because they don’t have that nine to five break. And so they’re either working earlier or later and just shifting how they’re doing some of this.
Matt: [00:28:23] Right, right. But yeah, that also comes with a downside. You know, the employee, and he’s working til midnight to make up for it because the kids distracted them during the day. And that’s the employee we want to say, don’t do that. Let’s not do that, right. Let’s, your mental health, your physical health. Ours, first of all, take care of yourself and your family, but then we want to get the best of you as well. You want to make sure that they’re in the right place.
Patrizia: [00:28:45] Nice that you say all that, Matt. Especially today on May day, it’s known as the day of the worker and workers’ rights, so. Nice of you to think of your employees that way. And my, my heart certainly goes out to all the parents who are trying to do full time or have little children in the home at the same time, true.
Matt: [00:29:01] I’ve heard this story from the other CEOs I’ve spoken to. I think we’ve all been amazed and proud of our teams who have just stepped up to the cause. I mean, the collaboration, the things we’re doing, the speed we’re doing them, has just been really incredible, you know? Now the, the exciting part for me is, you know, we’ve learned some things here. We’ve learned how to do things more efficiently, or maybe we don’t need to do all those steps we did in the past. So how do I capture what really came out of this? That’s a great positive. I want to be part of our culture and our DNA going forward. So we’re having some great conversations around that right now, which is exciting.
Patrizia: [00:29:37] Well, no one could have foreseen what would happen soon after your move to Peachtree Corners, but hopefully we’ll come out the other end of this tunnel in a somewhat reasonable amount of time. Let’s talk about why you did choose Peachtree Corners, though. I know that it increased your pool of employees, right? You can now draw from Midtown or from Alpharetta, and people did have more convenient commute, but what were some of the other perks about becoming part of the Peachtree Corners community for you?
Matt: [00:30:06] Sure. You know, definitely we weren’t very close to anything with great shopping and restaurants. You know, what’s been going on and be street corners with town center was a huge plus. You know, just being welcomed into the community and being part of Tech Park and what’s going on, you know, over here, you know, in terms of that it’s been great. So I think there were a lot of just attractive features to it that the employees were really able to appreciate. And just what we were able to do with the building as well, have large areas that we could gather, an outdoor area. You know, features we just did not have in the old building, which was a, you know, a typical five story office building. And we had two floors, you know, very, very different environment here. So I think people really enjoyed the building as well as being part of Tech Park. And as well as, you know, Peachtree Corners
Rico: [00:30:51] Well we’d like to have you here and thank God you fixed that building. I can say that I’ve lived here since…
Patrizia: [00:31:02] He’s allowed. He’s absolutely allowed and we’re really, truly glad to have you as part of the community. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today, Matt.
Matt: [00:31:12] Absolutely, appreciate it. Enjoyed spending time with you.
Rico: [00:31:15] Same here. So let’s wrap it up. We’re at our end of our time, so I do appreciate you guys being on Peachtree Corners Life. I want to say thank you again to Hargray Fiber for being our lead sponsor. And to those people that have been watching us, there’s more shows. We’ve been podcasting way more over the last few weeks, as you can imagine. So there’s a couple of other companies, CEO’s, we’ve interviewed a lot of other people that are out there in the community. Like Jay Hackett the pastor of Peachtree Corner Baptist. The head of school at Wesleyan, principal at Paul Duke high school. Lots of podcasts. Check out the YouTube page, the LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and look for the next issue of Living in Peachtree Corners magazine at the first week of June. I think we’ll be out. Lots of good stories. So thank you guys, hang in there with us Matt, I’m going to close right now. Thank you Patrizia for being on with me.
Patrizia: [00:32:10] Thank you stay safe 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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