How does an event company handle the challenge of a forced moment of pause? Lindsay Schwartz of M2EventsGroup and Tyler Scott of Music Matters Productions discuss with Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini the challenges they faced, investments made and the next level of growth during these times.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:15] – About Lindsay and Tyler
[00:04:38] – What Music Matters Does
[00:08:48] – Getting Into the Business
[00:10:17] – Dealing with the Pandemic
[00:13:56] – Going Virtual
[00:15:37] – Communicating with Customers
[00:18:03] – What XR Is
[00:24:11] – Using Technology for the Future
[00:29:40] – Growing the Team
[00:32:05] – Closing
“Most likely, we all start at that grunt level where we’re just pushing stuff around, but you learn. Every day you learn. You make a mistake, you learn some more. And everything just builds and builds. So it’s show up, introduce yourself, and be on time. You know, as long as you’re on time and you work hard, I’d love to keep hiring you every day.”Tyler Scott
[00:00:30] Karl: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts that help you improve your business. Today I’m excited to have as guest speakers today, Lindsey Schwartz, who is part of the M2 Events Group and Tyler Scott from Music Matters. Two great leaders in the entertainment space that’ll be talking about some of the local stuff going on with event production, innovations in the arts and entertainment industry, that’s happening right here in Peachtree Corners. 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. Rico, how are you doing today?
[00:01:13] Rico: Good Karl. Doing excellent.
[00:01:15] Karl: Well, we’ve been so excited that as the pandemic has been going through its evolution, we see live events coming back. We see movies are being produced again. And one of the companies that’s right at the top of that and at the leading edge is located right here in Peachtree Corners. And we’re excited to have a couple of folks to talk a little bit about Music Matters Productions and some of the innovative ways they help their customers create live events throughout the country and give a new experience to people that enjoy live entertainment. Our guest today is Lindsay Schwartz. She is the director of marketing for M2 Events Group, which is a combination of three different companies that together helps serve customers in different verticals, including Directions AV and Big Picture which is based out of San Francisco. But the group here, Music Matters is led by the general manager Tyler Scott, who’s located right here in Peachtree Corners and runs that group. And I’d love for them to take a moment to introduce themselves To everybody. Lindsay, why don’t we start with you?
[00:02:23] Lindsay: Sure. Thanks, Karl. So my name is Lindsay Schwartz, like he mentioned. And I graduated from the university of Georgia with my degree in marketing. And from there took my career into the event planning space. From there I moved on to creative agencies as a brand strategist, and I really, really love working with brands and helping them put together the strategy that is the best to help tell their story and that sort of thing. I was lucky enough to find Music Matters last year. Right before the pandemic started, they were searching for someone to come in and take the reins with the marketing. And then just recently as we have begun to shift a little bit and reorganize, I recently was promoted to the director of marketing for the three groups under M2 Events Groups. So, I’m local to Peachtree Corners. I’m right here, we call Peachtree Corners home.
[00:03:27] Karl: Excellent. Welcome neighbor.
[00:03:29] Lindsay: Thanks.
[00:03:30] Karl: Tyler?
[00:03:31] Tyler: Yeah. Thanks Karl, thanks Rico. My name is Tyler Scott. I’m the general manager here at Music Matters. I got my start in DeKalb county at a performing arts high school and started doing sound and stage managing at DeKalb School of the Arts. After that kind of just got in to doing audio and production managing .Toured for 10, 11 years with various different artists, various scales. Learned a lot along the way. KInd of spent some time at the Fox Theater as a production manager there. And then actually I was contracting for a little while, met Aaron Soriero, the owner of Music Matters. And this was in 2017. So he had really just taken off in the production company. At the time he also owned a music store as well. But I kind of took off and jumped on board early on and have seen it grow every year since. I mean, with the pandemic last year, it was a little difficult, but coming out of that now. And yeah, just worked my way up and here I am.
[00:04:24] Karl: That’s fabulous, I’m glad. Are you based here locally as well?
[00:04:28] Tyler: Yeah, so I live in Brookhaven, born and raised actually off of Gladney road in Tucker, so not too far away. But yeah, Atlanta has always been home for me, no matter where I’ve gone.
[00:04:38] Karl: Well, It’s so exciting what’s happened over the last 15, 20 years in Atlanta when it comes to entertainment, video production, all of the soundstages and production facilities. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what Music Matters Productions does. How would you describe it to someone?
[00:04:56] Tyler: I describe it as a full service audio, video, lighting, staging production company. Basically if you have an event idea, if you want to do something we can help you out. We love to be on the creative end of it. We love to be on the design end of it. Love it when clients just come to us and say, Hey, we want to have an event, we want to have this festival. We don’t really know what it’s gonna look like exactly, but can you partner with us? And we’ll do that start to finish. We provide the labor. We provide the trucking, logistics, all the onsite gear. From anything, as large as we do a couple of festivals in Jersey. We do Shaky Knees and Shaky Beats and jazz fests. And then we also do some installs at some theaters and all that kind of stuff. But basically we provide what, gives the audience that like moment of wonder in front of an artist, in front of a meeting, whatever it looks like. So that’s how I would describe it. I’m sure Lindsay probably has a little bit of a different approach as the marketing person.
[00:05:54] Lindsay: If you’ve been to an event in the Atlanta area, whether that’d be a concert or a meeting, a festival, anything like that, there’s a chance that we’ve had our hand in at least a piece of that. And beyond what Tyler said, we’ve got a team of industry leading professionals who have countless years of experience in the industry. Most of them have been on tour with artists in their specific discipline. You know, audio, LED, lighting, et cetera. So our guys and girls are the best in the business and they really bring a whole nother level to our production capabilities and the creativity. It’s endless. I’m in all of them every day. And as a music lover myself, to know that these guys have had a hand in some of my favorite shows that I’ve ever been to is really exciting.
[00:06:48] Rico: So anyone that’s been to a concert, if you strip away all the lighting, all the lasers, all the visuals and just have the band. Is that the experience you want? You want the experience of everything that the sound, the visual, all that stuff that you guys put together. It’s really what people want I think, right?
[00:07:06] Lindsay: Exactly.
[00:07:06] Karl: Especially for the ticket prices that they pay at some of these festivals. It’s amazing what it takes. And a lot of them move around, they have to set up quick, they have to break down quick and they need experts that really know what they’re doing to make that happen. You mentioned a couple examples. What are some of the interesting types of work you guys have done? Festivals, movies, other things. Anything that people might recognize?
[00:07:33] Lindsay: Yeah, we’ve been on tour actually with a few different artists. I don’t know if you know who Jill Scott is. We were actually on her world tour a couple of years ago. Went all over the place with her. We have been on tour with the Revivalists. They were just actually recently playing in Brookhaven a couple weeks ago. And beyond that we did Travis Scott’s set at Music Midtown a few years ago. That was really cool. You name an artist, we’ve worked with them. Santana, Bruce Springsteen, everybody.
[00:08:06] Rico: I think Taylor swift was mentioned on your website, also. The Shaky Knees is a big festival here in Atlanta for people that don’t know. I mean, four or five stages. Do you handle all that as well?
[00:08:17] Tyler: Yeah, we do. We’ve recently also gotten into the staging business as well. Which was not always in our wheelhouse. So yeah, we actually do start ground up. You show up, it’s just a grassy field and we do everything from ground up. Shaky is four stages. We do another festival up in New Jersey that’s four stages. We do a couple of things in Florida, Chastain, Ameris.
[00:08:38] Lindsay: Tabernacle.
[00:08:39] Tyler: Tabernacle. If you’ve been to a concert in Atlanta, for sure. And most likely any event, we really have touched it somehow. It’s pretty great.
[00:08:48] Karl: I’m curious of how folks, this isn’t a traditional path or career that a lot of people get into. You mentioned you went to school here locally in DeKalb. How do people get in? What are some of the skillsets? How do people get into this type of work
[00:09:03] Tyler: Hard work, you know, showing up on time. IT’s funny, we consider ourselves a production company. Obviously we have production equipment, but it’s really the people that make the difference for us. And I think that started with our owner, Aaron. He meets people, he can tell how they work, and he likes to bring them on board very quickly. And that’s it. I mean, We had one woman by the name of Savannah who, she started out as an intern. And she worked her way up to being our video lead on all of these festivals. I mean, she just worked hard. She showed up on time. She just did her job. And that’s the mindset for us. So what I would say is you reach out to your local production company. You reach out to the stagehands companies, and just say, hey I’m here to work. Most likely, we all start at that grunt level where we’re just pushing stuff around, but you learn. Every day you learn. You make a mistake, you learn some more. And everything just builds and builds. So it’s show up, introduce yourself, and be on time. You know, as long as you’re on time and you work hard, I’d love to keep hiring you every day.
[00:10:02] Rico: Isn’t that interesting. The on time factor hit four times in the conversation.
[00:10:07] Tyler: I know. I’m a logistics guy, it’s a thing.
[00:10:10] Lindsay: It’s been on his mind lately, I think.
[00:10:13] Rico: If you’re late, who’s going to plug that in?
[00:10:17] Karl: Nobody wants to rush, especially when there’s thousands of people waiting. You don’t have a lot of room for error in some of these things from the experience. Well, I’m curious in your industry, 2020 came around and it’s a once in a lifetime event. The pandemic that shut down a lot of events. All events around the world. I’m curious, when you started hearing about that with all the stuff you were doing, what went through your mind and then what were some of the things that you had to deal with initially? When the pandemic started?
[00:10:51] Tyler: I actually remember hearing it a little bit. Aaron and I were discussing it because of Directions AV, which is the other company that we are a part of and work with. They are more corporate base, which is a longer term forecasting. We do primarily, we do a lot of rock and roll, we do a lot of music industry stuff, which is always last minute or pretty short term. Corporate plans years out or six months out. So they were starting to get cancellations in the corporate side of things. Like not having people come to conferences. And so they just gave us the heads up Hey, you might want to be aware that this could happen. And so we had conversations about what that looks like. Did we think some festivals would stay on? Some wouldn’t? And I guess it was, I want to say it was maybe Coachella was the first one that got really like everyone in the music industry took notice when that canceled. Or postponed, I should say. Everything postponed which was the verbiage. And so I think for me, We started just looking at what does this look like? And really our whole year, just slowly but surely. And then within about, I don’t know, two weeks’ span everything the rest of the year just went away.
[00:11:57] Karl: Yeah. I remember in February, Mardi Gras happened. The Mardi Gras went forward at that time. I don’t know, most people knew nothing still. I mean, it was out there if you really paid attention but by South by Southwest, which I think is in the March timeframe. That’s when the NBA, that started hitting and then things started shutting down and were postponing throughout that.
[00:12:23] Tyler: Yeah. Yeah. And we, our first approach was okay. We just tried to look at what was the timeframe we saw this being and how can we sustain ourselves through it? And so we did just some initial, how can we cut costs? Stop paying for some of our week or monthly payments that are, you know, truck tracking and anything we could do to like start trimming our overhead down and thinking, okay, let’s ride this out. And then, just shortly after South by Southwest, and all that, it just went down. And we really had to go into initially a very hibernate mode, but I’m grateful to say that, like Aaron and I sat in our office, the two of us were sitting here just going, how can we A, put our people back to work, and how can we get events of any sort back out there to people. Because for me, seeing music live even remotely live on a live stream is just, something’s amazing and special about that. Having an event, being able to host a comedy show, things like that. All those things were just, people were craving it. And we wanted to figure out a way to really come out of that, like slow hibernation period and know how to deliver that for anybody that needed it. We did a lot of things at our own cost, just to do them because we wanted to give back. I even had my trucks running around with some charity organizations doing some things like delivering masks and things like that. We were just doing everything we could to just keep forward momentum. We noticed at that point there was either a fight or flight. You either shut down completely, or you really said, what can we do to move forward?
[00:13:56] Rico: DId you find that you guys started solving that or did you find people coming to you and say Tyler, can you do a virtual thing? Everyone’s moving to zoom, we’re on zoom right now, but everyone was moving to that. And there were companies, actually, that were building out a virtual worlds too, to do conferences and stuff. Twitch went wild. There was a bunch of things that just took off all of a sudden. So did you find people coming to you with ideas or did you, how did that work?
[00:14:23] Tyler: I guess a little bit of both. We work, and I think I alluded to it before, we work with a lot of really creative people that we have on our staff and that are part of our organization. And several of them had these ideas, just again, kind of leveraging relationships we had with other artists that we had worked with before. There was a band called P-Groove, Perpetual Groove, that we used to send out gear and an audio and a lighting guy out on all their tours. And the guy who’s in charge of them was like, Hey, this will be a great idea. And he’s one of our guys and he’s like, let’s do this. We have a bunch of LED product just sitting in a warehouse. Let’s do a big 360 degree circle and put a band in the middle and live stream a concert. And it was amazing to see everybody’s faces light up, as soon as the downbeat hit. And even though it was virtual, you could just see the joy it was giving people. And that really like pushed us forward and said, what else can we do? And that’s when Aaron took a deep dive into XR, this kind of virtual world that we’re able to create in a very small footprint studio. And we’re able to really create massive worlds out of it. I think it earlier we were talking about the Mandalorian, and the idea that you can create a whole world in a very small square. In our warehouse in Peachtree Corners we could create a whole galaxy.
[00:15:37] Karl: Lindsay I’m curious, I remember when this hit, Rico and I were talking about the podcast, we were doing them live. And I remember we went through about 30 days of figuring out technology, what platform, what to do, how to do it. But then also the messaging, everybody was calling and asking what to do. And there was a lot of that going on. How did you attack talking with your clients or customers, figuring out strategies to pivot what Music Matters does for their customers?
[00:16:09] Lindsay: A really interesting time to join the team at Music Matters, two weeks before the pandemic hit. It presented a really unique challenge as it did for everybody. But luckily we have some great leadership within our company and I was given all the confidence in the world that, you know what? We’re going to make it through this and we’re going to keep moving forward. So let’s keep the messaging upbeat. Let’s keep it all light and positive and try to give people just like a glimpse into our world and make them remember why they love live events. And keep us relevant top of mind so that when everything started to come back everyone was like, oh yeah, they’re still rocking and rolling. And then, when that initial pivot happened, around summertime last year, that was very exciting to finally get some new content to put out there to the world. It was easy to market something as cool as the in-the-round space that we created, that 360. And for a while there that little space was popping off. We had artists coming in to film music videos or segments for talk shows. We had a few concerts filming there, so it sold itself. People were craving a unique new experience and how to take content to the next level for their viewers and their fans. So as long as we could keep the messaging flowing, keep the content coming from our end, once people knew about it they were hooked. And it’s been the same thing with the XR. We find that once people know about it and know about the capabilities and know that it’s right here, they’re sold. It was definitely an interesting year to market, so to speak, market an industry that was pretty much at full stop.
[00:18:03] Karl: I want to ask a question, you mentioned the term XR, so I know most people know what virtual reality is. Can you share a little bit of what’s XR? And how is that different than what people might think of as VR virtual reality?
[00:18:18] Lindsay: So XR stands for extended reality. Using a system called the Unreal Engine, our team is able to build out virtual worlds in real time. They render in real time and the person filming, so the actor, the performer, the presenter, they can interact with the world as if they were really there. Tyler mentioned it can be created in a relatively small space and you would never know it. Because, if the performer moves over to this side, the camera tracks, the system tracks and it just extends the world around. It’s a big piece of film and television production right now. And it’s really been a great pivot for our team. And it’s been an exciting new challenge, I think for everyone. Tyler, what else?
[00:19:12] Tyler: Yeah no, I mean, I would echo everything you said. I’ve always tried to figure out how to describe it. It’s really hard to describe without seeing it. If you go to our Instagrams and you can see all the stories that we have of it. But, it’s as if you dropped whatever your subject is, your person, your bus, your product, whatever you’re trying to sell. You drop it in the middle of a 3D world. And even though you’re not physically in that world, the camera does reproduce in real time that you were there. So if you’re at the Grand Canyon, you can be standing in our studio at the Grand Canyon. And if we pan around you it’s as if we were walking around you at the Grand Canyon, you see all 360 degrees of it.
[00:19:56] Rico: Are you guys familiar with the Illuminarium that’s in Atlanta now?
[00:20:01] Tyler: Yes.
[00:20:01] Rico: Obviously, I don’t think that’s similar, but the idea is a 360 experiential effect, right?
[00:20:08] Tyler: Yep.
[00:20:09] Karl: I think also like at Disney. I think Disney is one of the pioneers in creating these worlds, but it’s spaces that people could interact with as well. But basically you’re able to take that and deliver it to your clients that couldn’t access the resources of large Disney studios, and do it for commercial applications, music and entertainment, those types of environments. I love how technology is pushing us forward to give different options. I think you would agree nothing replaces the live experience, the energy of that. But there are people that sometimes can’t get to the live experience and for artists and entertainers to be able to deliver, through a different medium, that kind of energy is fascinating.
[00:20:56] Tyler: We’ve started marketing it as well to our corporate clients that are discussing the idea of using it on stage with their keynote speakers and having them like you’re in the room watching someone speak, but then your projection screen on the side is showing this person onsite at their warehouse, talking about whatever. You know, like you can really move people. Wherever you want and it’s just a game changer. And not only on a production level, movies, but really how people are trying to impact even live events now that we’re coming out of this. How to utilize it in a live event setting as well, which is pretty cool.
[00:21:33] Rico: I think anyone that’s been to a convention, everyone’s trying to do something different, but it’s usually all the same stuff. But this would really, like you said, be a game changer. I think people would just end up in Vegas at any of these conventions, if this was on site. Yeah, I think I like that. And you know, they’ll never forget it.
[00:21:51] Tyler: Yeah exactly.
[00:21:52] Karl: And live, there’s always been a challenge of doing live performances for an audience at the same time you’re trying to do something for TV. I know I’m not an expert in it, but I feel like the two different production things that are happening to make that happen. But I remember they’re independent. I don’t know that this existed in a big way. But the versus series that they’d have two artists of similar genres, and they’d go back and forth. And it started off in the pandemic as simple, they might be playing some of their best hits and then some would be performing. But you could imagine expanding that to two sets where they’re doing their performances, where in the past, that’d be difficult to get their schedules aligned and doing that. And even if you recorded it, it’s a concert recording versus, the renderings that could create a video by video type experience for each song. The sky’s the limit of what you can do.
[00:22:52] Lindsay: Yeah. So if you have ever seen the Kelly Clarkson talk show, that’s the technology that she uses with a lot of her guests. She’ll be sitting down in a chair, having an interview with someone who’s seemingly right across from her in another chair and they’re not. They’re in a studio somewhere else. We’ve actually been working with a couple of different TV production companies who are pitching some of these different talk show environments and stuff like that because this is becoming such an important part of that side of the industry too. I guess the one I’m really thinking of is, wait, did I say Kelly Clarkson? I meant Drew Barrymore. I mixed my girls up. I just told you the whole story wrong. Drew Barrymore, her show films in XR. The one that I’m really thinking of and you can look it up on YouTube is when she’s interviewing Tom Green and they look like they are just sitting right across from each other, talking to each other. And they’re not, they’re both in an XR studio on opposite sides of the country. So that’s a good example if anybody wants to see what that technology can do in that kind of setting.
[00:24:11] Karl: So can I probe in some of the businesses implications of that for your business and for the future? The pandemic probably accelerated the need for this coming together. And I love the urgency that it drove for people to stop asking, what if? Let’s just do it. And so technology’s catching up, they’re putting together, there’s probably companies coming into this. Where do you see the future of this going generally and specifically for your company? How can you use this to really grow your company and help more of your clients?
[00:24:46] Tyler: So we see it going into, and especially now with having some of the Delta variant adjusting capacities of events and things like that. We really see it moving forward into this very hybrid growth model where people are going to be doing both live events and XR technology, all in the same space. And for us, the live events and events in general have been a very steady industry through the history. Even in dark years, of recession years, people still wanted to go out and do things. And last year was really the first year the industry as a whole, took a look at itself and went, what can we do to prevent all of us from losing work in the future? And so moving in that direction of digital and growth, just virtual things. And I would say for us, we’re thinking about, okay, what does that look like? Does that look like creating a new studio space? Right now we have a small studio space in the back of our building that shares some space with some of our warehouse stuff. So it becomes a logistical thing. So for us growth wise, to see some continuity and an ability to continue to produce higher and higher level content and product, we could see a future space that’s separate. And I would say along those lines, I mean, Lindsay, I don’t know if you have anything you want to add to that.
[00:26:04] Lindsay: Yeah. The fact is that people are craving content more and more. We’re in a very content heavy world right now. And as the younger gen, I’ve never said this out loud, as the younger generations start to become adults and start to make decisions about what they’re doing, what they’re purchasing, where they’re going, that sort of thing. So much of that is driven by content. And we’re seeing so many of our artists clients and entertainment clients starting to really embrace that side of their business. The fact that their content has to be really good and it has to be really high quality. Otherwise it’s going to get overlooked and they’re going to become irrelevant. So it’s just the shifting nature of how people are absorbing entertainment and all of that as well.
[00:27:01] Rico: Looking at a generation that is going through YouTube, Twitch. I mean, yeah. Virtual experience, my son has a Quest 2 VR and he’s up there three hours out of the day and he limits himself, I don’t limit him. So he’s in different worlds, he’s doing the same virtual type of stuff to a degree. And that’s all they’re going to get more and more. And that’s not going to change.
[00:27:22] Lindsay: We’re seeing that demand for interaction between the artists and entertainers and their fans. That’s a necessity now. They’ve got to be able to interact virtually because that’s how people are interacting now.
[00:27:38] Tyler: We’ve also seen a lot of growth in like you mentioned video games, the video game industry as a whole. And we were actually able to do some partnerships with some companies where we did actual virtual music festivals. I say virtual because there was no fans, but we were in. We had three stages set up in a warehouse in Southwest Atlanta and they had drone shots going in and out, and the lead gamers, they got the people who are really good at the game had their own control of camera work. And this really interactive environment where they had artists on stage and they could choose what stage they were watching and all sorts of stuff. And I think things like that, like just that outside the box thinking, which was really pushed forward by the fact that we had to think about something. I think as an industry as a whole and especially, I know for Music Matters, we’ve been like, so go since we started. Growth next year, get more festivals, more venues. Yeah, everything just grows, which is great. But the pause of the pandemic actually gave us the opportunity to look at ourselves and go, how can we do what we do better? And how could we deliver a better product to our clients? And I think that in a way it was a good opportunity for us to learn. And so we’re growing out of that now and able to see the fruits of that kind of really just how do we move forward? Kind of thing.
[00:28:57] Rico: You know, that’s amazing. I think most companies are like that, they’re doing the work and that’s all they’re doing. And they don’t take a weekend retreat. They don’t stop. They don’t look. This forced everyone to sort of revisit what they were doing. You revisited costs that you felt, maybe there were costs even that you saw that, why are we doing this? Type of costs. And that may continue on, those cost savings maybe. But you have Dream Hat coming to Atlanta. Atlanta is so full of stuff like this. 5G enabled technology. You’re at the cusp of really moving forward so fast in the next few years on these things, I don’t know how you’re going to keep up with it.
[00:29:37] Tyler: I guess that’s my challenge.
[00:29:40] Karl: I could see one in, is there a collision that happens when live entertainment comes back full force? And you’re having to meet pent up demand where everyone’s stuffing more into a fixed schedule and you’ve wet the appetite for this new digital future. So they’re going to want that. It sounds like you may have a growth challenge finding people to scale spaces. I hear there’s a few malls that might have some vacancies near Amazon that could be filled in with some XR related studio space and others for expansion. How did your team come out of this? What’s the state today? How are people feeling? What’s that like?
[00:30:23] Tyler: Yeah, we’re super excited about moving forward as soon as we started seeing the progression of events slowly coming back. So last June, July, we started doing parking lot concerts. And so we were able to start again, getting live music going again, getting people and contractors, working, getting gear out on the road. And so really starting then we started to see this like excitement and building again of what’s coming out. And we definitely, as I mentioned the pause and readdressing our needs and where we’re going. This last few months has been incredibly exciting to be a part of our company. And we’re back to full staff. We’ve hired additionally. We are really forecasting and looking ahead and going, you know, like you said we do have this crossroads. Where we have all these events that didn’t happen for a year and a half are all trying to squeeze into about an 8 to 10 week period. That’s just the live events on themselves. That’s not including the XR. That’s not including corporate. we have definitely grown out of this. We have acquired more trucks, more trailers, more labor. Everything is growing and everybody’s just excited to see this movement forward. And I’m certainly super excited. It’s a challenge, you know? last year or two years ago, I would say like the busiest week, maybe we had eight tractor trailers on the road, something like that. This year, we have a couple of weeks in October where we have 16 on the road. So we’ve doubled and just trying to move forward logistically on that has really been an exciting part of my role the last couple of months. And then I know just as a company as a whole with our growth opportunities in the corporate sector, the XR sector, it’s just been bananas. It’s been crazy, but it’s been great. We’re so excited.
[00:32:05] Karl: I tell you it’s exciting times. I know this pandemic it’s going to get into our rear view mirror at some point. Despite Delta and all these others, I think we’re going to figure all that out. And what ways can people learn more about what you’re doing and do you have events or anything coming up that people could learn more about what you do or even partake in some of the concerts that you guys help put on?
[00:32:29] Lindsay: Yeah. So all of our social media, we’re super active, very communicative that way. You can find us on Instagram @MusicMattersProd . So MusicMattersPROD same thing on Facebook. We really try to keep everybody informed about what’s going on for partnering with a promoter locally will promote their events, that sort of thing as well. And our website MMP-atl.com constantly updating with newsworthy things. New content, new images. It’s exciting because we’re in such a cool, for me as the marketing manager, I have the greatest content to work with because we are in such a visual, obviously audio kind of thing, but we’re in a very visual industry as well. It’s fun to get new content and get it out there to everybody.
[00:33:27] Karl: Well, I want to thank you, Lindsay Schwartz and Tyler Scott with Music Matters Production. One of the innovative companies here in Peachtree Corners, Gwinnett county, and in the Metro Atlanta area, that’s helping bring smiles to people’s faces. Getting people out back to concerts and even extending them into a virtual reality and bringing content to more people using technologies in some of their studio space and some of the technology they’re able to deploy. So really excited for sharing some of your insights and sharing your experience through this past year and sharing where the industry is going when it comes to live events, virtual events, and some of the great things that are going on here locally in Peachtree Corners. So definitely want to thank you for being our guests today. Really appreciate it.
[00:34:17] Lindsay: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having us. And one more thing I forgot to mention. Probably in November around the time all the fall events taper off, we will most likely be doing a studio open house at our shop for the XR studio. We’ll announce that on Instagram, it may be an RSVP kind of thing where we want to know if you’re coming. But it’ll probably be a pretty fun little peel behind the onion, sneak peek into the studio. Really give people a good idea of the capabilities there with all the upgrades coming to the studio space. So be on the lookout for that in November.
[00:34:55] Karl: We’ll absolutely do that. Really appreciate it. To close out we’d like to thank Atlanta Tech Park for being part of hosting the Capitalist Sage Podcast, whether we’re virtual or in person. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors. Me and my team are here to talk and learn and share with local business owners when they’re ready to exit their business, we help with sales. When someone’s looking to invest in a business and acquire a business, we help with that as well. You can reach out to us on our website, www.tworld.com/AtlantaPeachtree, or reach out to Karl Barham. I’m on LinkedIn or you can reach me at KBarham@tworld.com. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got going on and another great issue of the magazine just came out, so great job again.
[00:35:46] Rico: Yeah, Peachtree Corner Magazine we just hit last week, I think. So we had really some great features. The cover story was about two child actors. Actually their parents are friends of mine. They’ve been in, I can’t even say some of the stuff that they’re actually going to be in. That’s coming out. 10 and 12, they’re just young kids starting out in the industry. So there’s that story, there’s a bunch of other great stories I think, features, I feel in that. So you can find Peachtree Corners Magazine in probably 80 to a hundred locations in Peachtree Corners. Go online, you can search Peachtree Corners Magazine or go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. You’ll find that there. As far as me, Rico Figliolini, just look me on LinkedIn. I’m a creative director, publisher, podcaster, social media junkie, political junkie. I love to talk shops. So, if you need my work, just let me know and just reach out to me on LinkedIn or email me. But this is great. Tyler, Lindsay, I am waiting for that invite for November, because I want to be out there. I love that stuff.
[00:36:48] Lindsay: I’ll send it to you first.
[00:36:50] Rico: Thank you. It’s an industry I would love to be working in. Unfortunately I never got there. Yeah, I’d love to see what you guys got Thank you.
[00:36:58] Karl: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you for tuning into this episode of the Capitalist Sage podcast. Look forward to talking with more great businesses here locally and folks to help share a little bit about their experiences running and owning businesses locally. Take care everyone. Thanks.
Gwinnett Partnership, It’s Influence, What Trends they See, and Resources to Empower Businesses [Podcast]
Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development initiative behind some of the most exciting business ventures that have started or relocated to Peachtree Corners. Brian Dorelus, project manager with Partnership Gwinnett, is our guest on today’s episode of the Capitalist Sage. Join Karl Karham, Rico Figliolini, and Brian, as they discuss what exactly Partnership Gwinnett is and does for business in our community.
Brain’s Email: BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com
[00:00:30] – Opening
[00:02:14] – About Brian and Partnership Gwinnett
[00:03:29] – How Partnership Gwinnett helps Businesses
[00:04:34] – Why Businesses Choose Gwinnett
[00:05:47] – Industries that are Thriving
[00:06:59] – Activity in Peachtree Corners
[00:08:12] – Bringing Startups to Peachtree Corners
[00:15:02] – Resources that Partnership Gwinnett Provides
[00:22:12] – Closing
“Partnership Gwinnett is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors… And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community.”Brian Dorelus
[00:00:30] Karl: 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 Corner Magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?
[00:00:48] Rico: Hey Karl, great. Looking forward to this interview right now with Brian.
[00:00:53] Karl: Absolutely. We’re going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett can do for businesses locally here in Gwinnett county, and Georgia overall. But let’s talk a little bit about our sponsors today.
[00:01:04] Rico: Sure. So Peachtree Corners Magazine is supporting this podcast along with the family podcasts that we do. And we just put our last issue to the printer. It’s coming out in about two days. So keep an eye out for it. Go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll see the digital version of that print edition that will be coming out this week.
[00:01:24] Karl: Fabulous. Great job with the Peachtree Corner Magazine. Lots of great articles in there, keeping up with what’s going on locally. So I really appreciate all that information that’s shared through that. Today we are going to talk about what Partnership Gwinnett, one of the organizations within Gwinnett county can do to help business owners, large and small. Help drive economic development within the community. Today I’m honored to have Brian Dorelus, who is a project manager with Partnership Gwinnett to talk a little bit about some of the mission of the organization, some of the successes and some of the things, resources that are available to business owners to help them with their businesses. Hey, Brian, how are you doing today?
[00:02:09] Brian: Doing good. Just trying to stay dry in today’s rainy weather, but doing good.
[00:02:14] Karl: Absolutely. No, I appreciate you joining us today. Why don’t you start by introducing yourself to our audience and tell a little bit about yourself and what you do with Partnership Gwinnett.
[00:02:25] Brian: Of course. Thank you. So once again, my name is Brian Dorelus. I’m the project manager for technology and life science with a focus and concentration in entrepreneurs and small business here at Partnership Gwinnett. And Partnership Gwinnett for those of you who might not know is the economic development agency for Gwinnett County. So it’s our job and our privilege to wake up every single day to recruit, retain, and expand industries in our five target sectors. And then as I mentioned, I lead the initiatives for technology and life science, but my counterpart leads the manufacturing and supply chain sector. And our leadership leads the kind of bigger corporate headquarters relocation projects. And so what we do every day is just provide resources and be a one-stop shop for companies big and small, so they could continue to grow in our community. And then prior to this, I was actually a Peace Corps Volunteer at the Republic of Moldova doing very similar work. Doing economic activities with a local mayor focusing on infrastructure and capacity building with the local village that I was stationed at.
[00:03:29] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. I’m going to jump in with the first question and thanks for the introduction for Partnership Gwinnett. Can you describe a little bit about how you work with business owners? And I would also guess some of the other city economic development departments, to help support thriving businesses in our communities.
[00:03:48] Brian: Yeah, definitely. So one thing we do is we try to give a concierge level service to businesses and companies in our communities, within our 16 cities. So typically on average day I work with the local economic development managers or city managers in each one of our beloved cities. And just hear about some of the issues that some of our businesses, large and small, are facing and trying to connect them with resources that typically they might not be aware of. And one of the good things about Partnership Gwinnett, is that all of our services are free and complimentary. So if you’re looking for research data, or looking to get connected, or even needing help with business plans or getting exposure. If we can’t do it, it’s our job to hunt down a person who can do it for you.
[00:04:34] Karl: I’m curious, when you think about Metro Atlanta and Gwinnett County, what’s the selling point for businesses to come and thrive here in this community? What have you found to be some of the things that really attract large and small businesses to Gwinnett?
[00:04:50] Brian: I think typically we have some, big pieces of infrastructure and systems in place that make businesses thrive. One obviously being the airport. Being the busiest airport and being two hours flight from all major airports, it really helps the interconnectivity between us locally and internationally, between places of business. But on a more maybe personal and cultural aspect, one thing that Georgia has and in Atlanta that really stands apart is that we are just pro-business and a friendly environment. Ironically, I had a lunch with a couple of international prospects. They literally said the first thing they said that to other international companies is that Georgia is nice. Which you would think is a weird selling point. But I would say as a community, we really have thrived because we’ve worked together really well with other partners within our community, within our cities, and across the Metro Atlanta region.
[00:05:47] Karl: So, when you think about Atlanta and how it’s grown since the Olympics over the last 20 odd, 20 plus years, where do you see industries that are really starting to thrive in the Metro Atlanta region?
[00:06:01] Brian: Just a little more about my background, I went to Georgia State University downtown. I was able and fortunate to see that growth happening almost before my eyes. And so some of the industries that just appeared and blossomed, we can’t talk about Atlanta without talking about FinTech. The financial technical center, it’s called the FinTech capital of the world, just because there’s so many FinTech companies located here. So when you think about entertainment, FinTech, conjoining with the tech ecosystem here, it just became a natural boom. Because I guess before, if you look at Georgia and in Metro Atlanta, we was a huge manufacturing sector. And we still are. When you think of Georgia, you cannot not highlight some of the manufacturing pieces. But within the past 20 years, you’ve just seen a huge boom and kind of major corporations coming to find that talent for that tech pieces and engaging the new generation. With just the amount of startups that are appearing and them just engaging into the market.
[00:06:59] Karl: So I know locally here in Peachtree Corners, Atlanta Tech Park, and in this area there’s been a thriving tech community that’s been developing here. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the past and current activity you’re seeing in this part of town?
[00:07:17] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing Peachtree Corners has done really well, is really brand themselves as a city of the future. And a city to engage the technology, not existing today, but existing or will be in a market 10, 15 years from now. So when you think about Peachtree Corners in particular, and some success stories, they’ve branded themselves as I mentioned that city of the future by engaging with that 5g technology or the internet of things. Which is the interconnection between everyday appliance into the interweb. And just because they have made themselves the centerpiece and the tip of the spear in that, now companies are searching and looking to be a part of just kind of the platform and the energy here. And that’s not even talking about that autonomous vehicle track that’s been deployed in Peachtree Corners and what they’re doing with electric vehicles and self-driving cars.
[00:08:12] Karl: Yeah. I know that we’ve heard an announcement about a company that’s really expanding in the surgical, medical space here. Can you share with us just a little bit about that and how does something like that come about? And what role does Partnership Gwinnett play in helping make things like that happen?
[00:08:29] Brian: Yeah, definitely. We were brought in very early into their project as the company Intuitive Surgical was looking to expand and grow. And for those who might not be familiar, Intuitive Surgical is the creator of the DaVinci robot. The small robot that does surgery on individuals. And I’m not gonna lie, I will be the first to admit that I was hesitant to think about having someone perform surgery on me that isn’t a human body. But once you’ve seen the application and seen the success rate and seen what they’ve developed. You just wouldn’t go back to human hands. And so Partnership Gwinnett, in collaboration with the local city administration in Peachtree Corners, and then with our state partners all worked together, hand by hand. And kind of stepping forward, of bringing the company here. And just kind of doing what we do every day, is telling the story of Atlanta and Gwinnett County. Explaining that the workforce here, one thing that’s great about Metro Atlanta, is that we actually graduate more engineers than any other region. So telling them about the great work that’s done at Georgia Tech and Georgia State and Kennesaw, and SCAD. And then combined that with the quality of life then a few corners in the, some, the other innovation hub across the street, across Wynette county, it was a no brainer. And, we really just work well with our community partners, with the local administration. And we brought all the resources kind of bundled together and made a compelling case that, eventually, they decided that this is where they want to be their new home. So it was our team in congruence with everybody else. And we worked hard for this past summer to land a plane. And we’re proud to say that they’ve opened and it’s one of the largest projects in Gwinnett County history.
[00:10:05] Karl: Wow. That’s fabulous, the work that’s being done and seeing so many people playing a role, working together to make that happen. If I could ask a little bit around your area of specialty, when you think of startup companies, technology companies, and so on. What are some of the things that you see that can help bring more of that? How does that work to get more of that ecosystem developed here in greater Atlanta and Gwinnett County in specific.
[00:10:33] Brian: I think when people typically think of startups, there’s a little divide and there’s a lot of misconceptions on what startups will need and what they’re looking for. And the first thing that startups themselves and other people sometimes get wrong. Is that they’re looking for capital, they’re looking for funding. And everybody’s looking for funding. But one thing that we have here in Atlanta that really pushes the needle for these startups to grow is something that I mentioned earlier, it’s that just the interconnectedness between all parties and that mentorship and exposure. We’re in an ecosystem where generally speaking it’s pretty close knit. Even from Gwinnett to Atlanta or from Gwinnett to our community partners. It’s a small knit community where transportation time isn’t that far. And so when talking to these startups thinking about relocating or growing, we just tell him like, Hey, this is an area where innovation is booming fast. Innovation comes from areas where there is a problem and there’s someone looking to solve. And Gwinnett County has set themselves apart, being that problem solution for a lot of the world societal problems. And so these startups, they come here and they find a lot of success and become leaders very quickly because of that.
[00:11:42] Karl: Can you tell us a little bit about any specific startup that you’re watching, some exciting stuff that’s going on? Just to give people a feel of the activity that’s happening here.
[00:11:54] Brian: I could tell about some startups, but even some innovation hubs that we have where these startups are breeding. If we’re looking back on in your neck of the neighborhoods in Peachtree Corners, there’s a lot of startups that are focusing on 5g and cyber security. And one of them that their common conversation is Smart Eye Technology using that retina scanning to scan for security purposes for documents or providing cybersecurity solutions to municipalities. And especially with security and data breaches being something that was talked about maybe 10 years ago, but now being a necessity, these companies, these startups are becoming the face of what it means to protect yourselves in a new digital age. Kind of as you go up Gwinnett County, you have the water tower, which is a water innovation hub. Innovation hub, actually more of an innovation campus, if you really think about it. It’s an area built solely for the innovation of water development technologies and water workforce. And there’s just so many exciting water startups there from providing clean water to the masses using hydro stations that could tell you, not only the level of certainty how clean it is, but pull data about your current water usage and scan for that. To even some startups working on trying to gather water from solar panels. And then if you kind move across from the water tower, up north all the way up through 16 is kind of the biggest and largest innovation hub, which is called Rowan. Recently in Gwinnett county just purchased 2000 acres to build this kind of life science community. Life science community focusing solely on renewable energy. That life, science, and agriculture. And you can most accurately think about it as like adjacent or something very similar to what you see at the Research Triangle Park. And there’s something so similar that we’ve actually hired the COO of Research Triangle Park to run the Rowan foundation, to lead to that development. And so while the development is still ongoing, since it’s such a massive project for Gwinnett County, we’ve just engaged a lot of startups and larger corporations.
[00:13:55] Karl: Gotcha. I’m curious when you’re talking about some of these innovation hubs and so on, what are some of the things that make us more attractive than other cities around them? What infrastructure is in place that entrepreneurs and tech folks can come to Gwinnett County and leverage?
[00:14:13] Brian: One of them is just the level of service that we offer here at Partnership Gwinnett. As I mentioned a little briefly, we like to call ourselves, community connectors. So they’re kind of, the one-stop shop. So we have partners at score or SBDC or SBA and ACE capital who are willing to sit down with these entrepreneurs on one-on-one, and give them that service and that training they need to find capital. To find exposure, to find that mentorship that could really take them to the next level. But also we’ve got some, a lot of resources just around a region that provides that same level of service at very little to no cost. And one thing that’s, the best thing about Gwinnett that’s also sometimes may be the worst thing about Gwinnett, is that it’s so big that entrepreneurs don’t know where to go. And so we could help them point to that direction.
[00:15:02] Karl: Now I wanted to talk a little bit of specific resources. So if I’m thinking of starting a business, whether I’m a CEO of a large company looking to expand into the Southeast, or I’m a tech company, that’s looking to establish operations here locally, what are some of the specific resources and tools you have that I can come to and get help with that most people may not know about?
[00:15:25] Brian: And if you, as a small business, I would actually first you come to me as the, kind of the first level of inquiry, just get some general questions. And then what we’ll do from that process is kind of. direct you to the next staff. And you could think about this as almost as stages. So first the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce would be the first step, just to network. The community here and all the businesses that’s under that umbrella can really help you brandish yourself and find the market that you’re looking for. And then after that, we’ll probably divert you to Score. Which is an organization built from volunteers to help you with your business plan. To help you figure out what your target market is, what’s your SWAT analysis, who are you trying to aim for and kind of really solidify and drill down your kind of needs for your business. And then depending on your type of business and depending on if you’re a startup, we also have an Angel Investment Network. Where, similar to what Shark Tank has become, you can apply and pitch to Angel investors who are looking desperately trying to invest in startups in the region. To kind of find that next unicorn status startup. So there’s just a bunch of resources here between a lot of the agencies here that can really help you go to the next level.
[00:16:40] Karl: What if I’m a large company and I wanted to move here locally? What are some of the tools and resources available for people that are helping with that type of search?
[00:16:49] Brian: Well, if you’re a large company, the first thing you’re looking for is space. Where am I going to have my production facility? Where am I going to house my employees? Even though you might be an office, there’s the trend of working from home. You want a place where you can build that company and culture. And so one of the things we do is connect you with, well first find a property that kind of fits the parameters of your needs and connect you with our network of brokers. And then after that, pull some data and research into, where’s the best place for you? Are you looking for somewhere close to the airport or close to a major interstate? Or are you looking for a place where the city is, has a lively festival culture? And so we really work hand in hand to make sure that we find a facility for you. And then after that we pull research, we pull our state partners to help with the tax incentives that companies all often qualify for creating new jobs in our region and putting in capital investment. And then after we kind of helped you relocate you, your company, your employees, and their families. We like to do a grand opening and press release to kind of welcome you in the community. And we’ve seen some press releases that have gone and grand openings that are just minuscule. They just want to let the community know they’re here. And then we’ve also seen ones that want to do a whole festival. They want to have a ferris wheel and a barbecue. And what we try to do is have the elected officials, key stakeholders, people in the community that fits the needs and people that you want to get in front of, all at your grand opening. Just to show that the community is here for you. And then after that, it’s not after you’ve landed that we’re just done with you. One thing we always say is that one of the good things about us, that once you find us, we’re always going to be contacting you. So you then after kind of move into our retention program, where we have our director for business retention and expansion kind of keep our eye on you. Do checkups and just make sure that you’re growing and expanding. One of the services that we offer of course, is helping with permitting needs. So if you’re a company here located and you have some permitting concerns, or it’s just trouble getting someone in contact, or you need a Fire Marshall to do a quick survey of your building, we can help facilitate and expedite that process for you.
[00:19:03] Karl: If there was one thing that you, from your perspective, would really leapfrog Gwinnett County into the clear leader for companies of all sorts. What kind of infrastructure improvement would you say would need to be here, put in place so we could develop over the next five to 10 years to really become that easy decision for businesses to come and play here?
[00:19:29] Brian: It would be hard to say, because I feel like a lot of the things that Gwinnett County is already working on. So one thing typically that we’ve talked about internally in our offices, that quality of life piece. But one thing Gwinnett County it’s already one step ahead of me. Is that, you know, one thing of our 16 cities is all of them are developing their downtown area. Downtown Suwanee is very different than downtown Peachtree Corners or downtown Norcross or downtown Lawrenceville. But they all have bubbly activity. And it’s those little key pieces that are really important to the companies that are relocating. Because you have to remember, they are people too. These companies are comprised of people and of employees. And after work, they also want to unbutton their shirt and grab a beer or go to a beer garden. So just having a community that has activities, not only for the older generation, but even for the millennial generation as well. So for them to build their families. And Gwinnett County has led the way in developing that. So I would say, as for Gwinnett County it has continued to grow, we have almost a million people as a population is just to further develop. And redevelop. Which has become a huge thing in economic development, it’s redevelopment. And it’s something Partnership Gwinnett has now taken a role into is redeveloping old areas that have been long forgotten and making those areas of attraction and beauty and entertainment. Where family meets, and friends, and coworkers, and millennials, all alike can kind of enjoy the services.
[00:20:58] Karl: You know, reinvention is always a key part of rebirth. Reinvention, being able to do that. I’m curious, Brian, is there anything coming up that, what are you working on? What are some of the things that are coming up where people can engage in the community around Partnership Gwinnett?
[00:21:14] Brian: Yeah, definitely. One thing that I’ve been working on with my team is how to provide more resources to entrepreneurs. There seems to be a little bit of a gap between small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs to the larger corporations. So one thing that we’re working on is how to bridge that gap. How to match make where, a small business can apply to be a subcontractor for a larger company and incorporation. And see, that’s the thing that we’re hoping to try to roll out as a program or a database where larger corporations, not only in Gwinnett County but in general, a large corporation can have our RFI and these small businesses could apply. Can go to the website, apply, and to be awarded I guess a small subcontract work where they could work and kind of bridge the gap. As one thing, working in technology innovation is, innovation definitely comes from within. And it also comes with collaboration with other partners. So we’re actively looking at different ways and methods for that to happen.
[00:22:12] Karl: Oh, fabulous. Well, Brian, I want to thank you. How can people reach you? If they wanted to reach you, what’s the best way to contact you?
[00:22:19] Brian: Yes. Best way to contact me is go on our website, www.PartnershipGwinnett.com, going to teams and under my profile of Brian Dorelus. Or you can go on LinkedIn and reach me there. Or you can reach me by email at BDorelus@ParntershipGwinnett.com.
[00:22:38] Karl: Oh, that’s fabulous. Well, you know what, I want to thank you, Brian. For everybody that is joining us midway, this is Brian Dorelus of Partnership Gwinnett. Sharing some of the exciting things that are happening here in Gwinnett County, and Metro Atlanta, and here in Georgia. From on the small side entrepreneurs, startup community, the resources and the help that they’re bringing to the local cities as well as business owners. But also how they’re bringing large companies into the areas, working collaboratively, across many different stakeholders to make those things happen. Thank you so much for sharing some of the insight and introducing yourself to the local business community. Thank you, Brian. Thank you very much. And I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are available to help consult business owners, connect them to folks like Brian and other people in economic development. And if you’re looking for real estate, commercial real estate, et cetera, we have a network of folks that can help people. And also if you’re looking at planning for your business growth through acquisition, if you’re looking at doing something else, we help with business sales and business exiting planning. If you want to contact me, you can reach me at KBarham@TWorld.com. Or visit our website, www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. We’re here in the community to help. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got coming up?
[00:24:04] Rico: Sure. Sorry about, I’ve been acting more as an engineer on this episode than anything else. But we just went to press with the printer in Monroe, Georgia. To do a shout out to Walton Press. They do a great job of printing the publication. We’re at 88 pages this issue, the largest issue we’ve had since we started over two years ago. Lots of stuff in it. And the lead feature story is actually about the people that run the day-to-day activities, the five department heads of the city of Peachtree Corners. So it highlights them. Also, Judy Putnam is profiled in there. She’s the communications director who’s retiring. And we have a new communications director that will be taken over shortly. And a lot of other stories in there along with photographs from Peachtree Corners Photography Club. They did a great fall-ish photo spread for us. And it’s also the pet issue. So lots of pet pictures and the end of the giveaway that we’ve run for the last four or five weeks. So check that out and you can actually see the digital edition online at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Other than that, Mighty Rockets is my company as well. A publisher of Peachtree Corners Magazine, the purveyor of these podcasts and other marketing and product videos that we do for clients. So check that out. And if you need to reach me, it’s Rico Figliolini on LinkedIn. You can get me there. I’m probably the only Figliolini short of two others that are my siblings, if you find them. So Figliolini just checked that out and you can reach me.
[00:25:32] Karl: And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention, if you want to keep up with what’s going on locally, multiple ways to follow us. Follow us on Facebook. What are some of the other ways that folks can hear the podcast and follow what’s going on locally?
[00:25:46] Rico: Sure. So the video podcast, if you go to Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook or the Capitalist Sage on Facebook, there’ll be streams. We always stream those as a simulcast live stream. Search YouTube channel for Peachtree Corners Life. You can subscribe there and you’ll get notified when we go live on the simulcasts. And if you’re looking to audio podcasts, anywhere that you find the podcast, right? I Heart Radio, Spotify, Apple. Anywhere that you find audio podcasts, you can find us. Just Google the Capitalist Sage Podcast and you’ll pick up all sorts of resources that way.
[00:26:19] Karl: Absolutely. Thank you for that. And the last thing I’ll mention, if you have ideas for stories and articles, is there a way for folks to send that in to you Rico?
[00:26:29] Rico: Great, great question. Thank you. You can send any story, any ideas that you have suggestions to Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. And if you’re thinking it’s going to be a great subject matter for the Capitalist Sage Podcast, certainly reach out to that email as well. And we’ll be able to talk to you a bit about that. And quite frankly, let me do this as well. If you’re looking to advertise or be a sponsor of the family of podcasts that we do, which includes the Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Life and Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager, which is a monthly podcast, reach out to me at Editor@LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com.
[00:27:08] Karl: Excellent. How many homes do you reach currently with the magazine?
[00:27:11] Rico: We mailed 19,700 homes, households, get the magazine. And then another 1200 out to about a hundred locations.
[00:27:20] Karl: Lots of reach there.
[00:27:22] Rico: Oh, for sure. And more online because of the digital edition as well. And the weekly newsletters and website and all that, sure.
[00:27:30] Karl: Absolutely. Well, Rico, thank you very much. And for everybody that joined us today, thank you for supporting and watching the Capitalist Sage. We’re going to continue to have great topics for business owners and for people in the community. Let’s talk about business. Well everyone have a great day. Take care.
[00:27:46] Rico: Take care guys.
Two Craft Brewers: Facing Challenges, Creating Opportunities, and Branding their Own Local Identities
There’s a lot more to the Brewery business than just making beer. Despite the challenges facing businesses today, Anderby Brewing and Kettlerock Brewery have found their path. Their owners, Preston Smelt and Stephen Peet (respectively) talk about the collaboration as well as the competition in this line of business. Plus, they take an in-depth look at shippers, licensing, the marketplace, solving supply chain issues, and more. Join your hosts Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini with their latest Capitalist Sage Podcast.
Kettlerock Website: https://kettlerockbrewing.com
Kettlerock Social: @KettlerockBrewing
Anderby Website: https://www.anderbybrewing.com
Anderby Social: @AnderbyBrewing
PC Mashers Homebrew Club: PCMashers.com
“As soon as you open your doors, you’re no longer brewing for you. Your personal tastes don’t matter anymore. You’re brewing for the people who come into your doors, or in my case are ordering us at restaurants or picking up cans at package stores. And so what I want from a beer, 9 times out of 10, doesn’t matter if that’s not what the consumer is willing to pay for. It’s the biggest change from homebrewing to being a commercial brewer, you’re a business now. So your personal tastes no longer matter if people are not willing to pay for it.”pRESTON sMelt
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:46] – About Stephen and Preston
[00:03:23] – How Preston Got into Brewing
[00:05:33] – How Stephen Got into Brewing
[00:07:50] – Trial and Error and Making Beer for the Consumer
[00:11:38] – Regional and Seasonal Beers
[00:15:12] – The Business Models of Brewing
[00:22:17] – The Exciting Part of This Industry
[00:30:08] – How COVID has Impacted the Breweries
[00:31:47] – Supply Chain Issues
[00:39:18] – Upcoming Events at Both Breweries
[00:42:07] – Closing
[00:00:30] Karl: Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts and 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 our local and favorite Peachtree Corner Magazine. Hey Rico how are you doing?
[00:00:50] Rico: Hey, Karl. Good, thanks. Been a beautiful day after all that rain.
[00:00:54] Karl: It is, we are here in fall, which is going to lead to a fun topic today. We’re going to talk about a brewery. Local brewery businesses here in Peachtree Corners and surrounding areas. And we’re really honored to have Stephen Pete CEO of Kettlerock Brewing as well as Preston Smelt with Anderby Brewery to share a little bit about their experience. But first, why don’t you introduce our sponsors today Rico?
[00:01:19] Rico: Sure. Peachtree Corners Magazine is the sponsor of this show along with the family of podcasts that we do. Including Prime Lunchtime with City Manager and Peachtree Corners Life. We’re working on our next issue right now, actually. It goes to the press late next week. And you guys will be getting it the first week of October. It’s going to be a good, full packed issue. So I’m all excited to get it out and off my hands. So it’ll be in the mailbox hopefully sometime the week after next.
[00:01:46] Karl: Excellent. That sounds great. Well, I’m going to re-introduce my guests. The first is Stephen Peet, the CEO of Kettlerock Brewing. A local brewery business right here in Peachtree Corners. And he’s joined by Preston Smelt of Anderby Brewery, located in the Atlanta Tech Park area of Peachtree Corners. Why don’t we start off by Stephen, you introducing yourself a little bit and then we’ll have Preston give a quick bio and introduction.
[00:02:12] Preston: So I’ve been in Peachtree Corners here for a little over 30 years now and been involved in the community. The entire family has been involved in the community and the entire family is involved in kettle rock brewing. I’m not sure what all else you need to know other than come by and have a beer.
[00:02:30] Karl: I appreciate that. Preston?
[00:02:34] Preston: Yeah. My name is Preston Smelt and I’m president and head brewer here at Anderby Brewing. And we’ve been open since the end of July of 2019. So we got open just before everything went to hell. So we’ve been here just over two years, getting ready to actually hold our official second birthday party here next month. We’re going to be excited to get a lot of new stuff out for that. And a nice, big, outdoor area for everybody to come enjoy this nice fall weather we’re finally getting.
[00:03:00] Karl: Yeah. I’m excited for this season and getting out to visit both locations. But let’s talk a little bit, start by talking about, why the brewery industry. And we’ve seen a whole lot of new activity and businesses in this. What made you, and if I could start with Preston, get into brewing? How did you get into it? What made you think about opening up Anderby?
[00:03:23] Preston: All of our stories, I think we’re past the 7,000 brewery mark in the United States, a lot of us have a very similar story. Most of us started home brewing as did I. My wife bought me a Groupon to Brew Masters Warehouses, an old place in Marietta. That’s I think closed now that was doing a Learn to Homebrew class. This was seven, eight years ago. Loved it and immediately bought everything we needed to brew out of the kitchen while I was there. And then it just quickly expanded. It went from just little five gallon batches on the stove top to 15 gallon batches. They’re on a custom rig that I built in my backyard. And then that grew into a one barrel system in my garage, which then, two years ago grew into a 10 barrel system here at Anderby Brewing. So it escalated pretty quickly over seven years. And during that time, I also went and studied with places like The Siebel Institute out in Chicago, which is one of the country’s leading brewing schools for professional side to kind of hone everything in. Knowing this is what we wanted to do at some point in time. Got it done in the summer, right before we opened, actually. And yeah, then decided to open a brewery. SB85 passed, I don’t know what was that? 2017-ish if I remember. Yeah. So that allowed, this tap room model that you’re seeing us, Kettlerock, Social Fox, Cultivation, all the new breweries that are opening up are all following this tap room model. It allowed that to actually happen in the state of Georgia. Prior to that, you can only do tours and you had to be relying on distribution. You couldn’t just open a neighborhood tap room and survive. But as soon as SB85 passed, Peachtree Corners was one of the first kind of Northeast perimeter cities to adjust their local laws, to allow for this to happen. Which is a necessary step. I live in Dunwoody. I really wanted to put this in Dunwoody Dunwoody, not that, not that much foresight. So Dunwoody lost out on this opportunity. So we found a great place here in Peachtree Corners with a great landlord and made it happen. The city’s has been phenomenal to work with. And that’s kind of how we ended up here.
[00:05:24] Karl: How about you Stephen? Your experience and why you got into it. And you’re doing it as a family endeavor, so that brings an extra interesting aspect to this.
[00:05:33] Stephen: Absolutely. So it’s my wife and I. Diana and I are the owners and all four kids are involved in the brewery. Everyone has a full-time job outside of this. I’m the only full-time person that’s here at the brewery right now. Everybody’s just helping out in different areas. So my two oldest boys have been home brewing for 10 years now. And we are the founding members of the PC Mashers Homebrew Club here in Peachtree Corners, which if you’d like to be involved in that check out PCMashers.com. We meet the third Wednesday of every month. Most Homebrew clubs are bottle shares and ours is a bottle share as well. However, we have a style that we brew to each month and then we compare our beers to each others. And what that allows us to do is to help each other brew better beer. And a testament to that is that we entered the Suwanee Homebrew Fest a couple of years ago. And Sterling had not been wanting to enter beers in contests. I don’t know why, just he grumbles about that. But he did and he won second place with what is now our Float Trip IPA. But the Homebrew Club was first place in that competition because enough of us had gotten better. Enough of us had entered. There’s only about 10 to 14 of us in the club and enough of us entered and metaled. So that’s a testament to us all getting better. The local growler store Peachtree Growler had changed hands and had been talking about opening a brewery or brew pub in Peachtree Corners. And since that changed hands and didn’t happen, we kind of took that up. And decided as a family we could make this work. And Sterling is still the head brewer. Started out and still is. My daughter, Krista is actually one of the assistant brewers. And my second oldest Taylor, who was doing home brewing with Sterling. He’s one of the assistant brewers as well. And then Devin does marketing and everybody does a little bit of everything as you might guess when you’re a small business like this.
[00:07:50] Rico: It’s interesting because this business has, you have to have passion for this business, right?
[00:07:55] Stephen: Absolutely.
[00:07:56] Rico: Because it’s trial and error on almost every batch you do.
[00:08:01] Stephen: You’re right.
[00:08:02] Rico: So mistakes happen, I know. I was discussing with Preston last week when I visited with him at Anderby’s, it’s just like my father when he made wine at home. Because he was a wine maker at home for himself, three whiskey barrels was enough for the season he felt. He shared a lot of it with friends and family around Brooklyn. But you know, it’s trial and error. That’s one season of making grapes. You guys are constantly making different brews, adding different things to it, flavors and stuff. So how do you learn to do that? I mean, I know how Preston learned to do that, obviously. Getting formal education to a degree. But still right, Preston? I mean, you’re, still doing experimenting. That’s the best part of this, isn’t it? Being able to do that?
[00:08:48] Preston: Oh most definitely. I mean, there’s a lot of ways to learn. And Dana, my assistant brewer she’s a grad student, getting her master’s in microbiology. Which is a great asset to have in a field that is really, it’s part chemistry, part cooking, kind of all right. It’s an art and a science. And so we do a lot of experimenting. We brew on average twice a week, every week. So you can imagine we go through a lot of beer. And out of all the beers we make only five or six are staples, right? So everything’s, brew one time, move on, brew something different the next time. And so that allows you to iteratively learn. But then you also start to build connections within the brewing community, both in Georgia and in other states. And then you start to say, Hey, I really like this beer from you. How did you do X? Whatever it might be. It might be a fruit. How are you adding your fruits to your beers? There’s a lot of ways you can fruit a beer. You could put them in on the hot side. You can put them in pre-fermentation. You can put them in post fermentation. You don’t have to use real fruit at all. You can just use artificial flavors if you want to, just for whatever you’re trying to do. There are a lot of ways to accomplish things and trial and error is the best way for you to figure out what works for your system, for your pallet, for your customers. What works for the drinkers here in Atlanta may not sit well with the drinkers in California. So you have to kind of balance, what is your market? What is your demo preferring? And then make adjustments. And the first thing you learn, and I’m sure Stephen and then Sterling in the team at Kettlerock can attach to this. As soon as you open your doors, you’re no longer brewing for you. Your personal tastes don’t matter anymore. You’re brewing for the people who come into your doors, or in my case are ordering us at restaurants or picking up cans at package stores. And so what I want from a beer may 9 times out of 10, doesn’t matter if that’s not what the consumer is willing to pay for. And when you’re a business, it’s the biggest change from home brewing to being a commercial brewer is, you’re a business now. So your personal tastes no longer matter if people are not willing to pay for it.
[00:11:01] Stephen: That’s a really good point. And I’m going to throw out, Hard Seltzers is a big example of that. Most brewers will look at a hard seltzer and say, that’s not beer. That’s not beer. But Sam Adams, their major income is hard seltzers. Sam Adams is a beer company, but that’s their major income. That’s most breweries, micro-breweries will have a seltzer. It’s just something you have to have, because as Preston says, that’s what the market desires. That’s what the people want.
[00:11:38] Karl: Can I ask a question along that line? So, everything is local. If you’re from New York or Boston, there’s going to be certain pallets and tastes in what’s popular. If you were to describe what’s popular here in Georgia, or even in Gwinnett county and in the surrounding areas, what would be popular? In your opinion, in this area? And in specifically for each of you, what do you find to be some of the things that you do differently?
[00:12:04] Stephen: Well, that’s kind of a hard question, because I’m going to say that if you were in California, West Coast IPAs are the thing. That is the thing, a hoppy, hoppy beer. In Atlanta, people like hoppy beers. But not to the same extent, I think, as in folks along the West Coast. So that’s one example. Another would be, I think the fruit sours and such like that, that’s a little more of a Southern thing. It’s certainly, big breweries are, big microbreweries, I gotta be careful with that, are making sour beer. So clearly it’s a thing everywhere, but I think it’s a bigger thing when you’re talking in the south, in warmer climates.
[00:12:47] Preston: And I would echo a lot of that. You know, during the summer the fruity sours were a very good seller for us. We personally have seen that taper off here over the last month or so. I know regionally or in the Metro area, it’s tapered off a little bit. But the new England style IPA, the big hazy ones, those are ever popular. Whether they’re being made by us or importing from breweries from other states. There are a lot of the hazy IPA’s moved very fast. The Atlanta beer community also has a pretty big heavy stout following, right? So there’s a big portion of the Atlanta beer drinkers that love that big, heavy sweet stout, right? A candy stout or a flavored stout, things of that nature. And those are not easy to do well, right? To balance the boozy-ness of a 13% Imperial stout with that thickness, with the sweetness and whatever flavors you’re trying to introduce. And we’ve got a few here in town that are doing well. And there are a few heavily sought after breweries in the greater region. Especially with some of the guys out of Florida, that do this stuff pretty well, also being sought after. So, that’s where I see the beer drinker being right now as we move into the fall. I definitely think the bigger, darker beers are gonna turn on. It’s weird. I hear a lot of people ask for a lot of the classic styles, blonde, English mild, but it’s weird because as a brewery, they don’t sell as much. So people seem to, there was a vocal minority that wants these types of beers, but then when you have them, they don’t move as quickly as the others. And, you know, beer does have a shelf life. So that’s something that you have to kind of weigh. I also think some of the classic styles cannibalize each other in sales. So if you have too many at one time, none of them are really going to sell well. So you’ve just got, like for us with 19 taps. We just have to be careful how many of each style we have at any one point in time, because then everything will just cannibalize each other and then it just, some of it can go bad and we have to dump it and that’s not fun.
[00:14:45] Stephen: So beers tend to be more seasonal, I think, than regional in a sense. I mean the darker beers, the heavier beers, the barrel aged beers, those tend to be in the winter months more interested by the consumers. And obviously in the summertime, then you’re looking for, as they call it lawnmower beers, porch beers, poolside beers, things like that. So there’s certainly a seasonal aspect of it as well.
[00:15:12] Karl: I’m curious about the business side of this, the different revenue models. Can you describe some of the options you explored in your businesses? And which ones you really found to be areas that you want to focus on?
[00:15:27] Stephen: In our case our business model is, right now is just the taproom. Draft beer sales right here at Kettlerock and also hosting events. We’ve already had a number of events. We have a number of events that are scheduled. That’s a big deal. We’re going to be doing distribution and that way we can have our beer available in the local restaurants and the local stores and such like that. So obviously that’s a future. The other business model, which is typical of microbreweries is having some entertainment here, be it trivia or music. We’ve just started the music. The issue with that is licensing. You can’t just say, oh, I want to have some music in the taproom and I’m going to turn on the radio. No, you have to have the right thing that’s been licensed properly and paying for that with ASCAP and BMI. And when you have live entertainment, then you have to pay BMI and ASCAP directly so that the royalties go to the right people and all that sort of good stuff. So we’ve just started that. We’ve had two events, two of the same band and one of another. And we’ve got some others coming up. And others that have been interested in coming by and playing for us. So that’s kind of our model at this moment. And then, like I say, we’ll be getting into the distribution.
[00:16:50] Karl: Preston, how about you guys?
[00:16:51] Preston: As a brewery there’s really two ways to make money. You drive people into your taproom or you distribute. We do both. We’re trying to do both. We picked our location because of the dearth of offices that had lots of people working in them in 2019. So you know, our challenge on the taproom side is that there aren’t as many people working in Tech Park as there were two years ago. So that’s been a weekday challenge, especially. And there’s only so much you can do on the weekends. So yeah, we do trivia. We have a very successful trivia night .It’s probably one of our most consistent best days of week. We’ve been running it short of the shutdown period, pretty much every Thursday night since we opened. So it’s become a regular. We have, five, six regular teams that come and play every week with us. So it’s a fun event here, which does help. The live music we have a licensing now. We definitely have a band scheduled for our second birthday party in October. But it’s a catch 22. And for the longest time, I just refused to do it simply because of what Stephen was talking about with that licensing. That is the best racket out there. They charge you based off how many people they physically think can fit in your building, whether or not you ever have that kind of foot traffic. Fire Marshall codes may include your production facility as part of your occupancy number. Even though you’re not going to let people just hang out in your production facility and in our case, it’s closed off. You physically can’t go back there. You know, including that in our occupancy numbers drives up our price point on things like music licenses. And we’ve finally been able to negotiate with those guys to get something reasonable. But then yeah, then you have to pay a band. You have to make sure that whoever you hired to do live music fits the vibe of your establishment. We, my wife and I, Michelle, she manages all of our sales and marketing and does all of our social media. Our vibe is hard rock. We are hard rock fans from across multiple generations. So like our typical station here is rock ball. All of a sudden we bring in blues guitarists. While I love blues guitar, that’s not the vibe and the ambience that we’ve created here. And so then it doesn’t fit. And then our customers are confused by it. Like, how does this connect to Anderby? So we have to always like, we’re very careful about when we do bring in light music or consider artists. We’re staying true to who we are and the brand that we’ve established is Anderby Brewing and not just hey, some guy with a guitar showed up. We’re just gonna let him set up and play. Which people do they show up with the guitar and say, Hey.
[00:19:24] Stephen: I had one last week show up.
[00:19:28] Preston: Yep.
[00:19:28] Rico: Everyone’s looking for a gig, right? Everyone’s looking.
[00:19:32] Karl: On one side you have that, but then, there’s the open mic kind of vibe where folks are coming in and they’re trying.
[00:19:40] Preston: We tried comedy night. And it was fine. We’ve tried a lot of things and this is a business podcast, right? So you have to look at ROI, right? If you make, I’m just gonna throw out numbers, if you make $2,000 on a Friday. And remember we’re talking beer sales, like both Kettlerock and I, we only make money on beer sales. 6, $7 a glass, you’re pouring a lot of beer to get to $2,000 in sales. And then all of a sudden, some band comes up and says, Hey, three hours, Friday night, $500. And you’re like well, you may be worth $500 because you’re good. But am I going to increase my sales by at least $500?
[00:20:15] Stephen: Exactly.
[00:20:15] Preston: Preferably more, because if the answer’s no, then go away, right? No, there’s no point in doing it. And so every time we evaluate this is what happened with comedy night. Like we closed our doors to the public, ticketed event, sold beer by the pint. And I think we actually lost money on the deal because I think we turned away more regular customers who didn’t care about the comedy night and just wanted to come in and drink beer. Then we would have gotten on ticket sales. So it’s just, you have to be very careful in how you evaluate events and understand what the ROI is and what ROI you need. Especially if you’re going to be outlaying money to do it.
[00:20:50] Karl: Oh, that’s a very good point. And a lot of that comes with, you know, you try some things. And there might be, what is it that your ideal client would be willing to pay or could draw in more? And at the beginning and in an area when you bring anything new, it’s feeling that out and trying it out and trying to get that established. And you can see a lot of businesses will struggle with that early on, but then they’ll find their niche. I remember the local restaurant that did blues and a band that came on the Sunday night, band that would play. And it had been doing it for 10 years. And I will tell you, it would absolutely be like people can not get in the door on that night. But they had established that as a thing. They had a promoter that probably helped promote that. And it was their thing. And it drew enough extra people to obviously more than make the ROI on that. But of course, that probably didn’t happen the first night they did it. They probably had to invest in it over a long period of time, build up a following, et cetera. So those are all some of the challenges that business owners have to go through. So that makes perfect sense. If I could broaden out a little bit, help me understand some of the trends you’re seeing in brewing that you’re intrigued by. Is there things that are happening new in the industry that you think, that’s getting you pretty excited?
[00:22:17] Preston: I’ll take this one first. The best thing about this industry is everybody’s always trying to innovate. And so the argument now is who invented the hazy IPA, right? The new England style IPA. A couple of breweries tried to claim credit for it. And then you hear people in Chicago saying, oh, no, we were making them around the same time. So everybody’s always trying to innovate and find the next thing that hits at a macro level. Because that can put you on the map. Creature Comforts found Tropicalia and it blew up and then they blew up because of Tropicalia blowing up. So the best thing about this business is everybody is always trying different stuff. Again, we’ve brewed 60 different beers this year. Just this year, right? That doesn’t even include last year or the little bit in 19. We’re always trying things and saying, Hey what worked, what didn’t, what flavor combinations work? What flavor combinations didn’t? We have hundreds of grain varietals at our disposal. We have hundreds of hop varieties at our disposal. We have hundreds of yeast varietals at our disposal. Every single one of those bring their own unique flavor to a beer. Stephen and I could make the same beer using the same ingredients, it maybe radically different just by the ratios or the timing of when we use certain things or didn’t. You know, it’s a fun business. And that’s what I love about it. There is such a thing as bad beer. You can make a bad beer and that does happen. But the reality is everybody’s just trying to innovate and you have to be willing to take chances and try something new. Or you’re just going to squander in obscurity, just making the same stuff everybody else makes. And that’s the trick.
[00:24:00] Stephen: I want to take that just a little bit differently and I’m going to say one of the things that’s really cool about this industry that I’ve enjoyed before we started in it. I knew that it was happening. And I’m going to take two words out of, first robotics, core values, and philosophies. Gracious professionalism and coopertition. The craft brewing industry is very cooperative. And obviously there’s competition. There’s competition between Preston and I obviously. I’m selling beer, he’s selling beer. Clearly my beer is better than him. From his point of view, his beer is better than mine. Or our beers compliment each other, depending on which styles I have. And he doesn’t and which styles he has that I don’t. So you have both of those things going on. The other day, he ran out of nitrogen. I have a tank. He can borrow my tank until he gets it. That’s no big deal. You’ll see the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild actually facilitates this. And also the brewers association helps a little bit. But with the craft brewers Guild, for instance, somebody had put out an email blast, Hey, I was supposed to get 500 pounds of Pilsner malt and it didn’t come in. Does anybody have some and somebody else goes, oh yeah, sure. Come and get mine. You can either pay me for it or replace it. I mean, how many other industries do you see doing things like that? That’s been an incredible trend that I’ve seen before we got involved in it. And since I’ve been involved in it. I think it’s really cool.
[00:25:37] Rico: I mean, that’s because it is a passionate business. It is artists and it is people crafting, literally crafting, you know, art. I mean, that’s what it is right?
[00:25:48] Stephen: It’s an art and a science. There’s no doubt there’s a science to it, especially for repeatability. Measuring and all those sorts of things. But then there’s the art part just like Preston was saying with cooking and baking,
[00:26:01] Rico: Because when do you stop the fermentation or when do you heat it? What temperatures you go? I mean, it’s just really something that most people should appreciate.
[00:26:11] Preston: The great thing that we’ve seen here, is we have four breweries all in the Peachtree Corners, Norcross area. So what is that, three miles? I think the farthest distance from any one of us is three miles.
[00:26:22] Stephen: Yep.
[00:26:22] Preston: All four of us are doing, we’ve all created a different vibe. We all have our own way and approach to how we make beer. And there’s enough uniqueness, especially between the four of us right now that we’re all doing something different. The coopertition side of things. I came out of the hotel industry and we used that a lot, especially in downtown Atlanta. Where we were always, yes, we were competing, but at the same time, we’ve worked together on things too. Cultivation and I have a collaboration in my tanks right now that we’ll be releasing in November. They came here and we actually brewed together for an entire day and that collaboration’s coming out here in late November. So we do work together on a lot of things, but we are also competing for the same people. Especially, in a limited demand cycle we’re in right now. But we’re also all doing enough things differently. And we’ve found our own voices that it’s not really direct. There are things Cultivation does very well that I don’t do. And I can’t. Just to be honest with my scale versus compared to their scale, I just can’t do it. Likewise, there are styles that we’re making that are just a little bit different and we put a different twist on it then everybody else around town. So it works harmoniously. And it should be, right? Downtown Asheville has almost as many breweries just in downtown Asheville as the entire Atlanta Metro has. There’s like 50 breweries in Atlanta metro. There’s not quite that many downtown Asheville, but there’s definitely like 20 you could just walk to. They all coexist and they all coexist because they work together. They all find their own niche in what they want to focus on and what they want to specialize in versus what everybody else is doing. And it starts to create a community and bring people in. And that’s what we’re trying to do between the four of us with the Norcross Peachtree corners community. Is get people to come in from Roswell or Stone Mountain or Duluth or Suwanee or wherever else. There may be beer crowds that are reasonably drive in. Come spend a day in Peachtree corners in Norcross and experience all four of us.
[00:28:18] Rico: This is so different from other businesses. It’s almost like shoe business in a way. Where people want to see five stores because they’re going to go visit each one of them. That’s almost what it’s like, isn’t it? I mean, you want to be able to know the city has three or four or five places. You can just bounce around and try everyone’s brew.
[00:28:36] Stephen: Yeah. I have several customers that come in and say, you’re one of the four I’m going to. I’m supporting all four of you. And I get a different beer at each place.
[00:28:45] Karl: And I could say even expanding. I spent 15 years traveling, corporate, to meeting salesman, client meetings. And you’d spend all day in a conference room or meeting rooms working through meetings. And in each one of those, if you flied in on Monday, there’s a Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, possibly Thursday night before everybody flied out on Friday. And I used to admire the staff that would coordinate all of that. People are in hotel rooms. There’d be dinners every night. And there would be pre dinner, there would be dinner and there would be post dinner. And very often in some cities we’d go to a brewery first, and then we’d go to dinner somewhere. And then those would go back and do work in their rooms or sleep. And then there’d be a group that would stay a little bit later and go to another. And so we always looked for cities and towns that had enough of those kinds of places so that you can feature different places. So as the economy comes back and people start coming back to offices and people start doing conferences again, I could see having this group of breweries and in both of the two in Peachtree Corners and have options, that’ll make it easier for people planning meetings and hosting meetings. To not have to think about do we have to go to one place every night? Nope, you’ve got options and everyone ends up winning and being successful in that.
[00:30:08] Rico: And I think, Preston when we had our conversation last week. You mentioned that in March, between like March and May or something? Around that area. When people were finally looking like they were opening up, coming back, things would be, this was before the variant came, the Delta thing. But you mentioned that it was like you saw a window of what it would look like once we were back to a place where everything was open and that was a good place, wasn’t it?
[00:30:33] Preston: Oh, yeah, it was great. It was, yeah, it was like a 10 week window that we got of, this is what life would look like. It’s a brewery, it’s on Tech Park with even just a hint of normalcy. Like we weren’t even back then, there wasn’t even really, truly normal. We were just closer to normal than we had been since March of 2020. And we just got that little glimpse of it. And then, yeah, by the end of June, July, all of it was gone. It was just back to nobody’s going out. I mean, anybody who knows Tech Park or that’s listening to the podcast, four o’clock at Tech Park prior to March of 2020 was a nightmare to get in out of. There’s just lines of cars, either side, all three, four exits out of Tech Park, all of them were backed up. There was no good way to go. I used to sit on the patio during build-out and just watch 45 minutes of traffic of just people trying to get onto Spalding. And you’re like, yeah, this location is going to rock once we can get to the spring. We just need to get to spring. And now you go sit any day of the week on Tech Park and at four o’clock and you may see three, four cars. And so we got a little bit of that in March and April, May. And then by June, it just all started to evaporate again.
[00:31:47] Rico: So I want to ask another question if you don’t mind. I guess to either one, so maybe Peet first. Supply chain. I know that’s an issue with a lot of businesses right now. And especially in your business with where it’s like on demand almost or like at the moment that you need it. Has supply chain been an issue?
[00:32:04] Stephen: It has not been an issue for us in general. I’ve had a specific supplier who has struggled. He’s messed up with deliveries and some other things. So I don’t want to call them out on that. It’s not really a supply chain issue. Now there has been, and has been talked about, an aluminum cans shortage. There were several soft drinks that last year this time, I could not get it in can. I am pretty sure it’s because it was not as popular a soda. Therefore they were putting it in other packaging, plastic bottles and such like that. I’ve talked with a can supplier if I want half a pallet, not a big deal. If I want an entire truckload, that can be a problem from a supply chain point of view. Because of the aluminum shortage that happened last year, when you know, the world stopped going out. And they started going to grocery stores and buying their beer in cans or sodas and cans. Everybody’s going to canned goods instead of the opposite. The draft beer industry really tanked at that time, because you couldn’t go out to restaurants and such. So what are you going to do with a keg of beer? That was a big problem. It’s not as much of a problem now, but there are other things. I haven’t seen it as far as raw materials coming in to our brewery, but more just the general groceries and things like that you hear about.
[00:33:33] Karl: How about you Preston?
[00:33:33] Preston: I don’t know if anyone saw my facial reaction when that question was asked, but, I got the exact opposite impact. It’s a cluster. We order fresh fruit. Like anytime you see Anderby selling anything with fruit in it, it’s a hundred percent real fruit. So I have suppliers all over the country that we work with on a regular basis. And it is a nightmare right now. Trying to get anything. Saturday we were supposed to be releasing a blood orange cranberry seltzer as part of our big Seltzer Fest for Saturday. And we ordered the blood orange and the cranberries from Oregon. Oh, three weeks ago. They were supposed to be delivered no later than Tuesday. And then Tuesday, they’d only made it to Utah. I don’t know where they’re at right now. I might get them next week. And this is after paying for priority freight to make sure nothing happened. And they actually got here. And this isn’t a one-off. This happens fairly often and most of the, Stephen mentioned earlier like, hey, somebody is like, oh, I need 500 pounds of Pilsner, or I need 40 pounds of hops. That’s all because of supply chain issues. And the logistics companies, I don’t care who they are all having problems. And again, there’s no need to name them because literally everyone has had a problem.
[00:34:51] Stephen: Right.
[00:34:52] Preston: It’s not even worth naming names. Because I don’t care who the supplier is and I don’t care who the freight company is. None of them are perfect right now. Or anywhere near perfect. To the point where I told one of them yesterday, or this morning, that charging people for priority service is basically theft. Because they can’t deliver it. So why are you charging people for priority service when it’s worse than your actual economy service? And that’s not an over-exaggeration. You pay somebody, a freight company, an extra couple of hundred dollars to make sure you get something here on time from across the country. Again, we’re small businesses. We’re two years in surviving COVID. We’re breaking even proposition at best right now. And so you actually do something to spend a couple extra hundred dollars to get something that you really need here on time. And then the freight companies can’t deliver it and do it simply because, I don’t care. I mean, you call anybody right now, you have any sort of problems, nobody takes accountability. They just say, oh well, you know, it’s COVID. That’s all you hear. I’ve been waiting on the IRS for 370 days on tax returns from 2019. And they go, okay, it’s COVID. I think most businesses who are in operation last year who got the…
[00:36:03] Karl: The PPP?
[00:36:03] Preston: The PPP they were actually pretty efficient on. The SBA did a really good job on that one, but there was something else the IRS, there’s a tax credit. Employee retention tax credit. I think everybody’s still waiting on their employee retention tax credits. And they said the turnaround time was like eight weeks. We’re at like 16, 20, something like that. So forget eight weeks. And when you’re small businesses, you need this kind of reinjection of capital. Because that’s what’s going to help sustain you through the next round of, through the current downturn we’re still fighting in. You want that capital, whatever it is. 5,000 who cares? It’s going to help you get the next thing. So when you tell a freight company, Hey, I’ll pay a couple extra hundred dollars just so you don’t screw this one up and then they can’t deliver. They don’t give you back to $200. They’re hardly apologetic. I still don’t know when my blood oranges and cranberries are coming, but they definitely won’t be here for Saturday. So that ship’s sailed. So it’s hard as a brewery or anybody right now to say you’re going to do X on a certain day and have it ready. And it doesn’t like, again, we plan three weeks ahead of time for a buffer and then they’re blowing through the three weeks, the buffer, and then it’s going to be a week later after that. So five weeks to get something from Oregon to Atlanta.
[00:37:11] Karl: I’m noticing something now, too. That’s affecting a lot of business owners and even consumers as the holiday season approaches. We were talking even in our household, ordering things on Amazon. If you start looking at the delivery dates, really simple, basic things. They’re not even promising delivery, things that would be what, two days, three days. They’re talking up sometime in mid-November to get. So I could imagine what Christmas will look like for kids or for businesses as they scale up for a holiday season and can’t get supplies and a supply chain. So folks are starting to, I think, start ordering more sooner. Which makes it worse, because I feel like some of the stuff that happened with toilet paper, will start happening on certain commodities and items. Because everyone’s going to order a lot early because they’re afraid that it won’t get there and then it makes the problem worse. So it is a challenging time for business owners.
[00:38:10] Preston: And for us it’s hard, but there’s certain things that are just hard to stock up on. A lot of this stuff you want to use fresh, if you’re doing stuff with fruit. I mean, ‘A’ it’s cashflow, right? I mean, this is again, a business focused podcast. Most of us don’t have the kind of cashflow where we could absorb in June ordering $20,000 worth of fruit to get us through the next six months on everything we think we might want to make and just have it sit in a warehouse in Atlanta, in the summer. The risk of spoilage is greater. There are a lot of risks to buds, contaminations. And then, so you try to do just-in-time as much as you can. But then because of just supply chain issues maybe the producers have a bad crop. I mean, crap. We’re about to run into a bad crop year for hops for next year because the weather, the climate in the Pacific Northwest this year was horrible. And it devastated hundreds of acres of hops that will now create shortages for certain varietals for 2022. And so I had to take a lot of my summer cash and stock up on some of my key hops for next year, just to make sure we could make a couple of our core beers for six months.
[00:39:18] Karl: No, that makes sense. Well, I do want to ask a question just coming into the fall season now. Do you have things going on? Why don’t you tell folks a little bit about what you’ve got going on and how they can find you? Maybe addresses and locations for folks in the surrounding community or visiting can come and visit both locations. Start with you, Stephen
[00:39:39] Stephen: Well, we’re at 6025 Peachtree Parkway right here on 141. Catty-corner from the Marriott. So we’re pretty easy to find. We’re at KettlerockBrewing.com as our website. And we’re on Facebook as Kettlerock and Instagram as @KettleRockBrewing. So those are choices for that. Then you said this fall?
[00:40:00] Karl: Any events coming up that you’d like to share with folks?
[00:40:02] Stephen: We have, again, you’ll have to check the website to see when. And if you sign up for email, go to the website, sign up for emails or follow us on Facebook or Instagram to get the latest as we add the different events and things. We have a wedding rehearsal party tonight. It’ll be right here at the brewery and headed to the wedding tomorrow for that. That’s how to find us. We’re right here. It’s easy to see.
[00:40:27] Karl: Thanks. Preston, how about you?
[00:40:29] Preston: So we’re 110 technology Parkway right next to the Spalding animal clinic off of Spalding and Tech Park. So we’re also very easy to find. Saturday the 25th, so I don’t know when it’s getting released to the public, but two days from now is the launch of our Cat Lady Seltzer brand. We’ll have Fur Kids out here, all the seltzer sales, a portion of proceeds benefit Fur Kids. They’ll be here with cat adoptions, cat lady contest, all sorts of stuff. Lot of cats going around on the brewery Saturday, it’ll be fun. We are pet friendly. So dogs, we like dogs too. In fact, we love dogs. End of October, I think it’s the 30th, whatever this last Saturday of October is our second birthday party. We’ll have four stout releases, six stout releases, sorry. Four barrel aged stout variant releases and then two other stouts that will be coming out. All of them are 12 and a half, 13%. So very big stouts. It’ll be a big stout day here. A live band, a couple of food trucks. Outside of that food trucks, five days a week. So Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sundays, we’ll have food trucks out here. You can find us at AnderbyBrewing.com or @AnderbyBrewing on Insta, Facebook and Twitter. Food truck lineups are posted. So who’s going to be here, what times they’ll be here, all on our social media and our website.
[00:41:41] Stephen: You reminded me that as you can see, we have Oktoberfest here and that’s something that’s happening. It’s not as much a future thing. Mayor Mason was here Saturday. As the mayor of Munich would tap the first keg Mayor Mason was here to pull our first Fest beer. So we’ve certainly got that going on. and like I said, we have live music going on, so all that’s happening.
[00:42:07] Karl: Well, I really want to thank both Stephen Peet of Kettlerock Brewing and Preston Amelt of Anderby Brewing. Just highlighting some of the great things here in Peachtree Corners. This ecosystem of breweries that’s creating something unique in this area, Metro Atlanta. That helps folks after work can go out and grab a beer and enjoy themselves. They can do that as well. I want to thank both of you for joining us and bringing your stories and just sharing with the community how you started and managing your business. And we emplore everybody, come out and support local brewing. Go grab a beer when you get a chance.
[00:42:43] Stephen: And thanks for hosting this. We really appreciate it, both Preston and I, and the other breweries in the area. Come have a beer.
[00:42:51] Karl: It’s our pleasure. The Capitalist Sage Podcast is here in Peachtree Corners to talk to business owners, share about some of the successes and challenges and just be part of that cooperative. On the theme of some of the conversation today, we want all business owners to kind of understand what it’s like to be part of this community. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are available to consult with businesses, whether you’re looking to improve through growth and acquisition, whether you’re looking to exit the business, we help with business sales. You can schedule a consultation at KBarham@TWorld.com. You can email me there or visit our website, www.TWorld.com/Atlanta-Peachtree. We’re here to help the local business community in any way we can. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got coming up?
[00:43:40] Rico: Sure. So the next issue, as I mentioned before, of Peachtree Corners Magazine will be coming out the first week of October. You can visit the website at LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Check out the podcasts, we have the news that goes on that website and follow us on social media. We also do other things, I’m a creative director, social media marketing as well, video production to a degree. So if you’re looking for that, check out MightyRockets.com or just look for Rico Figliolini on LinkedIn, because there aren’t that many of us. To spell it, F I G L I O L I N I, and we’ll be all good. Thank you guys. This was excellent. I’m going to have to go get a beer after this.
[00:44:19] Karl: Absolutely. Thank you guys. I’ll be seeing both of you soon. I’m coming out to visit. Take care.
[00:44:27] Rico: Thank you.
ASHRAE: Changing the value of a building and setting standards for the world
ASHRAE, and the engineers that make up its society, are responsible for setting the standard of building in the United States and many countries. Today’s guest, Ginger Scoggins, is the current Treasurer and served as chair for the Building Headquarters Ad Hoc Committee at ASHRAE. In addition to her work there, she is also president and co-founder of Engineered Designs, Inc. In this episode, Karl and Rico talk with Ginger about the new ASHRAE Headquarters in Peachtree Corners and this society’s amazing work.
ASHRAE is a global professional society committed to serving humanity by advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and their allied fields.
“It’s just hyper important, especially right now in this world we’re in, to make sure that the standards that people need to adhere to when they’re designing buildings really help the occupants and the planet. And that we’re not contributing to the issues that we see today in terms of global warming and all of that.”Ginger Scoggins
[00:00:30] Karl: Hello. Today we’re speaking with ASHRAE and talking about advances in building technologies here in Peachtree Corners. Our guest will be Ginger Scoggins, ASHRAE Treasurer and Fellow, and the chair of the ASHRAE Building Headquarters Ad Hoc committee. And president of Engineered Designs Inc. I’d like to welcome everybody 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 Rico, how are you doing today?
[00:01:08] Rico: Good, Karl. How are you? Ginger, good to see you.
[00:01:11] Ginger: Good to see you both.
[00:01:13] Karl: Excellent. Why don’t you tell us about our sponsor today?
[00:01:17] Rico: Sure. Peachtree Corners Magazine, which I publish six times a year is the publication that covers Peachtree Corners, not only in print, but online. And we cover it through podcasts, like the Capitalist Sage, Peachtree Corners Life, and even Prime Lunchtime with City Manager. So check us out, go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll find out more information.
[00:01:37] Karl: Thank you so much for that. It is a pleasure to welcome Ginger Scoggins a member of ASHRAE and the current Treasurer. She’s also a Fellow with ASHRAE and the Chair of the building HQ Ad Hoc Committee for ASHRAE that helped build and design the new ASHRAE headquarters right here in Peachtree Corners. She’s also the President of Engineered Designs Inc. out of Raleigh, North Carolina. And a lifelong supporter of engineering buildings and design on the mechanical side. Hi, Ginger, how are you doing today?
[00:02:13] Ginger: Good. How are you Karl?
[00:02:15] Karl: I’m doing fabulous. As we get started in talking about the new headquarters. I’d probably like to just start with us learning a little bit about you and your journey in the business that you’re doing and with ASHRAE.
[00:02:27] Ginger: Sure. So I am a consulting engineer. I’m a mechanical engineer by training. Actually from Tennessee. I went to an engineering school called Tennessee Tech University. I’ve got about 30 years experience designing buildings. Started right out of college and worked for a consulting firm here in Raleigh. Worked for a couple of different firms for the first 10 years and then actually went out on my own about 24 years ago. So I’ve been running this business for 24 years, designing buildings in and around North Carolina, South Carolina area. So focusing on different types of buildings, we do a lot of university work. We do a lot of mission critical work, which is telecommunications or data center type work. And I’ve been an ASHRAE volunteer for almost that entire 30 years. Which ASHRAE is a volunteer driven organization. We have 56,000 plus members across the world. We work on designing and building sustainable buildings, promoting the industry. We write the standards for our industry. Most of the work I do is based on ASHRAE standards. We do write the standards that drive our industry and drive the building code when it comes to energy and indoor air quality. Which is especially important right now with the pandemic going on. The ASHRAE epidemic task force has been hugely instrumental in setting some standards and what to do with buildings. All different types of buildings in terms of outside air quality, how to deal with the pandemic, filtration levels. All of those items are hugely important right now. And always, but especially right now. And so ASHRAE works with all those standards and helps set the stage for how people like me do our job of designing healthy buildings.
[00:04:17] Karl: That’s fabulous. I noticed for folks that don’t know, ASHRAE stands for American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, Air Conditioning Engineer. Did I get that right?
[00:04:27] Ginger: You got that perfect.
[00:04:29] Karl: Oh, excellent. Why don’t you tell folks a little bit about the mission around ASHRAE? Why does such an organization exist and how does it help, you know, people, investors, building owners, build more sustainable, safe, and comfortable buildings.
[00:04:43] Ginger: Well, sure. So ASHRAE whether, you know or don’t know, most states in the country have an energy code. And that energy code is based on ASHRAE standard 90.1 in most instances. And so those standards like 90.1 and ASHRAE 62, which is an outside air requirement standard. Those help us make sure we’re building buildings that are healthy for the people in the building, as well as to conserve energy use, to help our planet. ASHRAE is working really hard right now in the decarbonisation world. And we have a task force for building decarbonisation. On how we can build buildings that use less carbon, reduce our carbon footprint. It’s just hyper important, especially right now in this world we’re in, to make sure that the standards that people need to adhere to when they’re designing buildings really help the occupants and the planet. And that we’re not contributing to the issues that we see today in terms of global warming and all of that.
[00:05:53] Rico: Yeah. It’s interesting. I think that the standards that you set don’t just affect, like what some people might think is just air conditioning, heating. It probably affects the standards of windows that are being installed in buildings, the double pane, the gas, installation of those. There’s a variety of industries actually that ASHRAE effects.
[00:06:12] Ginger: Well, exactly right. And when you’re designing a building, and it’s not just mechanical engineers, such as myself, but architects, electrical engineers. You know, ASHRAE sets those levels of the lighting, light power density that you can put in buildings so you know how much energy you’re using for those. We also set what the U values should be for your walls and your roof in order to meet the energy code and to be 90.1 compliant. In terms of the entire building, ASHRAE standard 90.1 is in our industry, what we use to make sure we have a building that is compliant with energy code.
[00:06:47] Karl: I’ve seen data that shows when you think about energy use in the country, buildings account for anywhere from 20 to 35% of energy use. People think of cars and pollution, or they might think of just industry. But if you think about how many commercial and residential buildings there are in the country, it’s a large contributor of energy use that affects the energy grid itself, as well as global warming. And I know that ASHRAE has been leading the challenge in education for engineers today and in the future on how to be more efficient in their designs, and were able to incorporate that right here in Peachtree Corners and in the headquarter building. How did that come about and how did you get involved in bringing some of that technology to the headquarter building in Peachtree Corners?
[00:07:42] Ginger: So we were actually down the road a little bit in Brookhaven, And had renovated our building in 2010 to be a lead platinum building. And were very happy there, but we started getting surrounded by the new CHOA campus that has gone there. And that’s taken over that entire block if not more right there.
[00:08:06] Karl: Children’s Hospital of Atlanta?
[00:08:08] Ginger: Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, yeah. So as ASHRAE does with anything, we set up a committee. And I was actually an ASHRAE Vice President at the time and was asked to lead that committee to study whether we should stay where we were or move. And wether we should build or renovate or lease. So we took about nine months, I think, to evaluate our building, see what we could get for it, whether it was worth moving. Should we lease, should we buy, should we renovate? We were very fortunate in that process that CHOA offered to buy our building and they offered to buy it at a very good rate. So we made that decision to move. And they also, as part of that deal, allowed us to stay there for a little bit over a year while we figured out where we were going to go and got that under control. Which was great. So we stayed there and we looked at a couple of different places for leasing and decided leasing wasn’t really us. We like to own our buildings because we stay in a long place for a long time. We had been in that building, I think since the 1980s. So we discussed building new and felt like really for our constituents, it’s better if we showed, we walked the walk. And we renovated because there’s been a lot of analysis that at least 50% of the building stock that’s going to be in use in 2050 has already been built. And much of it is not performing in a very energy efficient manner. So we wanted to make sure that we could show that you could renovate an older building to a net zero condition, a net zero energy condition. Which was our goal once we made that decision. So we looked around quite a bit. We found this building in Peachtree Corners, which if you saw it before and saw it after it looks a lot different, right?
[00:09:59] Rico: By a lot, yes.
[00:10:02] Ginger: So we took on a big challenge with this building. It was actually more of a challenge than we thought it was going to be when we started. But we ended up getting it done on time, even with the pandemic, which was a big concern during construction. Because we had a finite time to get out of our existing building before they threw us out. We ended up making it. We had a good team, a good design team and a good construction team. So we got it done.
[00:10:24] Karl: I’m curious about one thing. So you mentioned with the former building that you were able to sell it at a good price. Do you think being lead certified and some of the improvements you made in building, how does that impact the value of a building in your experience?
[00:10:41] Ginger: Well, if we’re selling it to a normal client, not like a CHOA, a normal client. I would think it would be of huge value, the energy efficiency of the building. The fact that the energy costs were lower than a normal building of its size and type. We had a geothermal system, we had a lot in that building. I think CHOA really wanted the land more than the building. Although my understanding is they’re going to use it for some office space for a short term duration, I’m not sure for how long. So they really were more interested in the land than the building. But the building itself had it been a normal client, would have I think because of its condition, done very well on its own even without CHOA involved.
[00:11:22] Karl: So many energy savings. If you think about operating costs of the building, when they value most buildings, it’s a function of profit. Net operating profit. And if you can lower the operating cost of a building that translates directly into increasing the value. Is that some of the economic analysis building owners make when choosing to implement technologies in buildings like the headquarters?
[00:11:47] Ginger: Absolutely. I think more informed owners that intend to own their buildings for long periods of time, always would like a life cycle cost analysis done. Which is what engineers in my role do a lot. To determine if I put this extra feature into my building to save energy, how long will it take before this extra feature pays me back? Is it a five-year payback, a ten-year payback? Like I said, we do a lot of university projects, and universities in particular keep their buildings forever. So you know, what you put in up front dictates when they’re going to see that payback. So lifecycle cost analysis is a huge component of making decisions on a lot of things in the building. The envelope, the lighting system, obviously the HVAC system, all of that. You can model through a lifecycle cost analysis.
[00:12:44] Rico: Also I would think that unlike homes, you know, if I’m only living in this house for another five years. Do I replace the windows? Or not replace the windows, for example. Different measurement, right on that? But when it comes to business, there are write-offs, there are government incentives also that are provided to businesses to be able to go down this road, to encourage that.
[00:13:03] Ginger: You know, I don’t do a lot of work with the government incentive aspect of it. I know that for ASHRAE we’re a nonprofit. So nonprofits don’t get the tax benefit of for-profit companies. So that was not a factor in our decision-making process. But I could see that a factor in others.
[00:13:20] Rico: I think that’s something that has to be added to the equation for a business. That’s looking to do this.
[00:13:26] Karl: Well, I’m wondering. So if we were talking to a business, a future building owner, or some current one, and they’re going through that decision process on renovating a building, building new, et cetera. What are some of the blind spots you see a lot of the less informed building owners? When it comes to making these kind of investments, are there areas that they’re not considering that you’d recommend them learning about and seeking out ASHRAE and other organizations to get educated on it?
[00:13:57] Ginger: Absolutely. I mean, I own a building myself. I own the building that my company is in. I think one of the things that you see when we do projects for one-off, if you will, building owners, is that it tends to be a more short term look at first costs, right? There’s not really a huge discussion on payback or long-term costs or energy savings. And I would think if they could engage their design team to at least have those conversations about what can we do to save energy? What can we do to reduce our carbon footprint? Then I think they would hear from their design teams, if they’re an informed design team, that there are a lot of options out there that you could do with very little cost impact that would save you a lot of money and headaches over the long term and be better for the environment. You know, I think you said earlier that buildings are 40% of energy use. Also buildings or the building industry is close to 40% of the carbon footprint in the world. And it’s getting worse with more developing countries. So the building industry plays a big part in the whole climate change situation.
[00:15:09] Karl: Well, I’m curious about some features in the headquarters that were incorporated. Can you share an example or two of some technologies that was featured in the buildings and how they help the building, for example?
[00:15:23] Ginger: Sure. So we have I don’t know if you’ve seen it right, we have our photovoltaic system that’s going on the roof and near the side of the building. We’re waiting on approval from Georgia power to make that live so we can create hopefully as much energy as we use, which will be fantastic. So we can verify that we are going to be in that zero operation, because that’s our goal. Net zero energy is when you create as much energy as you use. And so you’re net zero in terms of that situation. So that’s our goal. We’re waiting to find out if we’re going to make that we’re going to do a measurement and verification phase once we get that live so we can model that. So that’s outside the building. Inside the building, we have, and I don’t want to get into too detailed of a mechanical discussion here. But we got a pretty elaborate mechanical system with radiant panels and outdoor air units on the roof. We are once through air on our air side. So we don’t have a lot of concerns with recirculation of air for pandemic reasons. And we did that before the pandemic. So it luckily played out to help us a lot. When the pandemic started and we also have ceiling fans. So one of the really cool energy saving items is that you can raise your space temperature if you’ve got some air movement, by at least a couple of degrees. So we have some ceiling fans throughout the entire space that just keep the air moving. So with the design conditions for our space was at 78 degrees interior, which some people might say well, that’s way too hot. And others would be like, that’s way too cold. But if you keep the air moving, you can keep it a couple of degrees warmer, which really does help save the energy.
[00:17:07] Karl: And when you’re looking at implementing these kind of designs and so on, I know technology plays a role in capturing data, using data to make decisions. How are you integrating some of the sensor technologies and controller technologies and all of that in managing buildings and having it available to occupants, possibly, to control or monitor what’s going on.
[00:17:33] Ginger: So we have, as you can probably imagine, and I apologize somebody’s desperately trying to get in touch with me, it’s actually somebody from ASHRAE. So we have an amazing amount of analytics going on in our building. So we have at least three, if not four, different analytical programs running that are looking at fault issues in our systems, energy use in our systems. And a lot of these have been donated by different companies as a test prototype kind of situation. We have an amazingly smart building, when it comes to analytics. And we’re just getting that data in so we can really evaluate how our building is performing. And all of this is going to be open on our website because we want to be a living lab when it comes to building analytics, building operation, energy use, and all of that information.
[00:18:35] Rico: Someone can actually go to your website, see, verify. Transparently see all the data?
[00:18:42] Ginger: That’s the goal. So we’ll have a dashboard, it’s being constructed right now where you’ll be able to see how much energy we’re using, how much we’re producing, what our net zero, net positive net negative situation is throughout the year, how the systems are doing. We also have a digital twin that we’re building that is also a donated service that will be on the website where you can go through the building. You can look at the systems and how they’re operating. So it’s going to be a very transparent situation when we get all of this done.
[00:19:16] Rico: Do you think that at some point, everyone talks about AI, machine AI, the learning, the ability to let that system, that process work. Do you think that’s going to be part of this at some point?
[00:19:28] Ginger: So in terms of robots running around, probably not. In terms of the operation of the system, we already have a digital control system that’s controlling our mechanical. That’s pretty common in most large buildings these days where you have web based interface where you can see, you know, if you’ve got an alarm or if you’ve got something not working right and all of that. So that’s already, that’s a pretty common situation on larger buildings these days. Even on my small building, we have digital control. We can see if a tenant is hot or a tenant is cold, what’s going on with the system. So that’s pretty common. What’s interesting these days is that a lot of like lighting systems are going to start going power over ethernet. So instead of being 120 volt power, they’d be controlled basically through a digital control system on a low voltage basis. And if you think about now you can get plug in led lights that just have a USB plugin that are incredibly bright. And so I think that’s going to, you’re going to see more and more of that kind of growth in our industry, if you will. And inner connection between HVAC and lighting and occupancy. And walk in a room and the system comes on and the lights come on and that is already in the headquarters building.
[00:20:50] Rico: And I would think even with the process that you’re doing and all the data you’re collecting and the virtual walkthrough of the building, that at some point I can plug in my building and let’s say adjust based on your elements of your modules and say, can my building be modernized? Can it be LED certified? Can it be more, can it be net zero? That would be an interesting aspect to be able to even see that happen.
[00:21:17] Karl: I see the foundation of this digital connected building. I know some years ago I read and learned about, I think it’s called the Edge building in the Netherlands. A building that implements a lot of these technologies you’re talking about, but one of the interesting things is once you bring the lighting systems digitally you could incorporate sensors into the lights. Since lights are going to be where people are, you can use that to make adjustments. And then even with the ethernet run applications throughout the building for people. So I saw one example of something that looked like a Roomba that at the end of the day goes around and cleans the floors, which probably saves a little bit on cleaning labor, on one aspect of cleaning, and they go back home before people come in in the morning and you get a cleaner building. They’re doing things like that. They had another app where they can locate people in buildings. So if someone came to deliver food for lunch, instead of you having to go down an elevator and go to the door and pick up the food, the food can be delivered to that location, whether it’s by a person or by robotics. So you could see how buildings are the kind of backbone or the infrastructure of this more digitally engaged future.
[00:22:34] Rico: And I believe also the data you’re collecting, depending on where the sun is on the glass wall, depending on how many times the doors are opened to the outside and all that.
[00:22:45] Ginger: Yeah. The internet of things is pretty amazing in terms of what you can and can’t do. We evaluated a lot of different options for this building. And a lot of it came down to financial at the end because the opportunities are endless, right? There’s programs that we were looking at that, once you’re in the building, you can track where anybody is at any given time. So if any employee, if you need to find them, they’re in a conference room. If they’ve got their computer with them or their cell phone with them, you’ll know what conference room they’re in. And, while they’re in the building at any time and same thing for visitors. Visitor badges and they have, barcodes and once a visitor comes in and they get their badge, then you know where they are at any point of time in the building. So it’s all available now. It comes down to a matter of finances sometimes as to what you can and can’t do.
[00:23:30] Karl: Yeah. But being here in Peachtree Corners and you’re in Technology Park specifically, the Curiosity Lab, there’s great synergies of being in this high-technology environment, that’s bringing outdoor IOT, internet of things, solutions. Driverless shuttles and scooters that people could take back and forth to the building. And as the building stock here in Technology Park starts to turn over, there’s lots of opportunity to collaborate with those building owners. Sometimes they just need to be inspired. And taking a trip over and seeing some of the technology, the data, might inspire a building owner when they’re making that decision to renovate and implement some more of these technologies.
[00:24:15] Ginger: Absolutely. That’s our goal, is to try to show that you can take an older building and make it energy efficient and make it a place that you want to be. And if you are in Peachtree Corners, ASHRAE’s building once the pandemic is over, is a great place to go tour and see what you can do with an older building and make it a newer situation. And also we have screens throughout the building where you can see the dashboard, you can see how we’re producing energy, what we’re using in terms of energy. So it’s gonna be pretty transparent, both on the web and also in person.
[00:24:54] Rico: That’s cool.
[00:24:54] Karl: I’m curious about just, speaking to the future generation of engineers. If you were to speak to young high school students or college students that are thinking about the many careers and fields they can go into, what would you tell them about engineering and building engineering, consulting engineering that they may not have thought of as a career?
[00:25:17] Ginger: I think that’s a challenge in our industry because engineers graduating these days have a multitude of opportunities in a multitude of different environments. And the building sciences is one of those opportunities that I think gets overlooked sometimes. Because I don’t know how many people out there know that to build these buildings, not only do you need an architect, but you need a whole host of engineers. You’ve got civil, environmental, structural, electrical mechanical. And all of them work together to build a building that people want to be in. And that, meet all the goals and the codes and all the requirements. My kids give me a hard time because every time we walk into a building, I’m always pointing out all the HVAC systems and the lighting systems and everything in them. And they’re like, we don’t really care, because people don’t. It’s just there. They think that it just shows up, but it doesn’t show up. It takes a lot of engineers that are making it happen. So I think if I could talk to high school students and tell them how exciting this industry is, because it really is a very interesting industry when it comes to different opportunities. I can be designing a library one day and a data center the next. It just, it doesn’t get boring in that aspect for me. And I’ve been doing it for 30 years. So I think that if people could see the different aspects of what it takes to do what we do, I think they would be a lot more interested going into our field and then maybe they would be, if they didn’t know.
[00:26:49] Rico: I think you’re right. I think that if kids understood that aspect, that there’s a challenge every day, depending on the environment you’re in. And it could be a hospital, could be a research, medical research facility that has to be done in a certain way. It could even be the space station, it could be any of those things. It’s all environmentally driven. So they can be doing space engineering at some point, dealing with the insides of the environment of those places. We’re moving decades into the future and they have to start somewhere.
[00:27:21] Ginger: I like to say that, you can build the prettiest building on the planet, but unless you have lighting or HVAC or plumbing in it, you’re not going to get much use out of it. It is vitally important that we do what we do. And you talk about hospitals. My daughter is a emergency room nurse and she talks about their negative pressure rooms. And I’m like, you know who writes the standards for those right? ASHRAE.
[00:27:43] Karl: There you go. I’ll tell you here in Peachtree Corners with at least seven or eight schools, Paul Duke, just down the road, Wesleyan and Norcross high and the middle schools. Here’s an opportunity to get kids more exposure because in our backyard here, we’ve got one of the premier organizations that set the standards and walks the walk when it comes to building a sustainable building. To help us with not just emissions, but global warming and all of these other things. So hopefully there’s partnerships that can continue to start inspiring the next generation of engineers and architects in our country. I’d be curious about just things that you have going on. So for ASHRAE is there things that are coming up or how do people learn more about ASHRAE and some of the projects that they work on?
[00:28:32] Ginger: So we have a very involved website that people can go to ASHRAE.org that talks about what our mission is and what our vision is and what we’re doing. And we have in that website, connections to our decarbonisation task force and our epidemic task force, dIfferent areas that ASHRAE is working in at the moment. We have our big conference coming up in Las Vegas in January. It’s our big show all the vendors for all the different types of equipment that our industry uses show at that show. It’s a huge aspect of what we do and it’s every year and it’s in conjunction with AHRI which is the heating refrigerating Institute. So that is a big component of what we do every year. And this year coming up in January in Las Vegas is at the end of January. There’s just all kinds of information out there on the website that you could spend days going through to understand that all of the fingers in all the pies that ASHRAE has.
[00:29:32] Karl: And Ginger, if someone wanted to reach out to you for your services and just learning more about what you do, what’s the best way to reach you?
[00:29:41] Ginger: Always the best way to reach me is email, which is a GScoggins@EngineeredDesigns.com in Raleigh. Or obviously LinkedIn, I think everybody’s on LinkedIn these days. So, I am as well.
[00:29:54] Karl: I just want to thank you so much for being a guest today on the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Ginger Scoggins again, ASHRAE Treasurer and Chair of the Building HQ Ad Hoc community to help build and design and build this beautiful building here in Peachtree Corners. I want to thank you for sharing with us about the organization. And how building owners can leap forward into the future and implement technology both big and small to help improve the environment for the occupants. There’s operating costs as well as help the environment in general. So thank you for that.
[00:30:29] Ginger: Thank you.
[00:30:30] Karl: I’d like to also thank Atlanta Tech Park for hosting the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We get to do it virtually and as well as in person. And we really appreciate that. And I want to also introduce myself again, Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business advisors are able to help you consult on, whether you’re looking to improve and grow your business, whether you’re looking to exit your business. Feel free to schedule a consultation. Like ginger, I can be reached by email KBarham@TWorld.com or you can visit our website, www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’ve got going on.
[00:31:08] Rico: Sure. So I publish Peachtree Corners Magazine. That’s one of the things I do. I’m also a creative director for a couple of other publications. And I operate Mighty Rockets, which is basically a company that does social media marketing and online content management. So if you need to reach me, you can go on LinkedIn. I’m the only Rico Figliolini I think that’s listed, to spell it Figliolini and you’ll find me. Actually, if you Google me, probably like page one or something on there. Check me out if you need any work in the digital environment or video. Actually we’re beginning to do some mini documentaries on some businesses. Check me out and go online. Otherwise go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and find out more about the city and now Capitalist Sage Podcast.
[00:31:55] Karl: Absolutely. Follow us on Facebook and on LinkedIn and on YouTube, as well as all of the other iTunes and other streaming platforms. Leave us a comment, like us, subscribe, and you’ll hear more about some of the other guests we have coming in in the near future. So thank you all for joining the Capitalist Sage podcast and I look forward to sharing some more business leaders and business owners out there telling a little bit about what they do. Take care.
[00:32:23] Rico: Thanks you ginger.
[00:32:24] Ginger: Thanks guys.
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