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Local Business Leader Sees Balance as the Key to Peachtree Corners Longevity



Photos by George Hunter.

Photos by George Hunter.

As a refugee fleeing the war in Vietnam, Tim Le never envisioned the life he has today. With his wife Amy, they have a real estate business with officers in Peachtree Corners and Duluth.

Possibly more important, he is an advocate for the American dream for those with comparable stories as his — and for those who’ve never had to endure the uncertainties of a poverty-stricken homeland.

Hard choices to get to safety

Le came to the U.S. in 1982 when he was nine after leaving Vietnam by boat. He said it was it was an extremely dangerous time, so the family traveled in small groups. Le was with his parents, and his sister was with an uncle.

“We had to separate the families to minimize the risk. In times of turmoil, you have to make a decision — and then no matter how hard it is, you just have to stick with it,” Le said. “And that’s what our whole extended family did.”

Slowly, they put together their escape plans and eventually left, he said. “But my sister took it very hard.”

In the Vietnamese culture, family unity is extraordinarily strong so the abandonment his sister felt at the time has remained. “I’m sure they didn’t make that decision lightly,” said Le. “But she was only six at the time and it cost so much money to leave. I have two other sisters that had to stay back.”

Through the journey, a cousin’s boat sank. Everyone perished except one survivor who chose to live in Canada. She was just a teen at the time, and recently revealed to the family that she had been raped by pirates before eventually finding a home.

“These things that happened long ago stay with us,” said Le. “You think you’ve gotten over them and sometimes they bubble up years later.”

That’s one reason family and community responsibilities mean so much to Le.

From California to Georgia

His family was sent to Chicago for a little while, but ended up in California, where Le met his wife in junior high school.

Le completed San Bernardino High School in 1990 before going to college at California Polytech Pomona, where he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1995. “Since then, I have worked as a Senior Equipment Engineer for NEC Electronics USA and eventually became an entrepreneur and real estate investor,” he said.

Although California presented many opportunities, it was fraught with challenges. “California is really tough because everything is so expensive,” said Le. “That is why we feel so blessed that we live in the state of Georgia, especially Peachtree Corners. …I feel safe in business. The regulations and everything are pretty good.”

In California, Le said he grew up in the ghettos. When he and his wife became professionals, the competition was almost unbearable. “Competing just to climb that ladder, the corporate politics is tough, especially if you’re a minority,” he said. “I did my time and then in 2001, we had a recession. The internet bubble burst.”

He obtained a real estate license and began investing in properties. Le is quick to point out that he wasn’t a flipper. “Flipping is just doing a job, but if you hold onto real estate for the long term, that’s an investment,” he said.

With real estate costs so exorbitant in California, it took all their savings, plus borrowing from friends and family, just to get the 50% down payment to get the credit for the remaining cost. “We had to get everything out just to do one project. So, we were like, ‘Let’s look at another option,’” said Le.

In the 1990s, his uncle sponsored hundreds of families who had been in refugee camps to come to the United States. Many bypassed California because the jobs were so hard to come by. They started looking to different locations and Atlanta became a huge draw because of the 1996 Olympics.

“We sold our house in California and we were able to bring a significant amount of money with us,” said Le.

We educate them about resources from the mainstream community or chamber. For example, when the SBA EIDL loan program was introduced or the stimulus package came out, our chamber put together a campaign to let the business owners know about the available resources.

Tim Le

Strong community ties

The couple continued in the real estate business and now the family is entrenched in the community. Le has been on the Gateway Community Improvement District board since 2012 and he is a member of the Gwinnett Rotary Club. He is also involved with the Vietnamese community and the Asian American and Pacific Islanders activities.

Le serves on the board of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the Peachtree Corners Downtown Development Authority, Leadership Gwinnett and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Both Tim and Amy are involved with nonprofit organizations that are focused on helping new refugees that come to the United States, as well as the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, to help other business owners from their country be more effective and more efficient.

“We educate them about resources from the mainstream community or chamber,” said Le. “For example, when the SBA EIDL loan program was introduced or the stimulus package came out, our chamber put together a campaign to let the business owners know about the available resources.”

They even helped businesses fill out the application.

Building business in Peachtree Corners

Le’s Peachtree Corners office is another example of making the best of a dire situation. “It was vacant for …a few years. The grass in the front …was like six feet high. It got put on the market, so we put in an offer and then the owner went into bankruptcy,” Le said.

After a long process, the property finally became his and the company rehabbed it into mid-level office space.

“We took a blighted property and then turned it around, and we brought a whole bunch of businesses into the building,” said Le. “It brings a lot of tax revenue into the city.” Peachtree Corners doesn’t have a residential property tax, so the revenue that comes from business licensing is significant.

“We have pretty good leadership that makes the city grow without increasing or establishing the city tax,” he said. Le added that he believes in the city government’s vision and is confident that some of the issues, such as affordable housing, staffing issues and safety, will get resolved.

“There’s a reason why I also serve on the Department of Community Affairs,” Le said. “We deal with Section Eight, and the problem is we don’t have funding to subsidize housing for low-income families.”

Le added that there are developers who’d like to establish more affordable housing, but there’s a way to do it that will fit in with the city’s master plan. “We’re already seeing development projects that are mixing business and residential, but in a different way,” he explained. “That’s a healthy community.”

“We just have to keep balance in mind, and we won’t have to look to different counties or other parts of Gwinnett for our labor force,” Le continued. “We can accommodate them right here. Peachtree Corners is a wonderful place. I’m confident it will remain so.”

Honoring his heritage and his adopted country

Although Le loves his adopted country, his family keeps many aspects of their culture alive. For example, he and his wife speak to each other in both English and Vietnamese. His parents prefer to converse in Vietnamese when interacting with the family.

“My parents lived in Rialto, California where my father was in the landscape, and later the water purification, business until they moved to Norcross in 2005,” Le said. “We are blessed to have them in Georgia.”

He added, “I am grateful for the Americans that fought for democracy and freedom throughout the world. I am also grateful for America helping and admitting all of the Vietnamese refugees into the United States and giving us the platform to build our foundation to prosper and thrive.”

The friends he has made, the things he’s learned and the opportunities he’s had to prosper and help others mean a lot to Le.

“I think that’s the key — it’s understanding the other culture, because when we understand them, we will have freedom. And the thing is, as human beings when we see somebody that’s different, then we have something against them,” he said. “If you understand them and understand their culture, then it reduces fear,” Le pointed out. “Like our staff here …we have pretty much every nationality represented.”

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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Peachtree Corners Businesses Encouraged to Join Security Camera Registration



Chris Lindenau, Fusus

After spending years with the U.S. military and companies that develop safety systems, Chris Lindenau wanted to offer that same level of security to average citizens.

“I have been leading and serving a team of dedicated, brilliant professionals as we help communities, directors of security for businesses and public safety leaders establish interoperability between community and public safety camera, AI and alert assets at an unprecedented scale,” Lindenau, CEO of Fusus, said.

He addressed an audience gathered on September 28 at the Peachtree Corners Business Association Business After Hours Speaker Series at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast.

The technology Lindenau’s company has created, the fususONE ecosystem of software and hardware solutions, is the foundational platform for the world’s real-time operations centers. It has helped hundreds of cities and businesses establish a unified security footprint unrestrained by proprietary technology limitations, according to the company’s literature.

In order to make it work at its optimal capacity, however, it needs the community — especially business owners — to join in.

“As I understand from our friends at GCPD [Gwinnett County Police Department], you’ve got a success story recently utilizing the system to catch a homicide suspect — I think it was within 45 minutes from the time of the incident,” Lindenau said. “This isn’t something that just exists here in our backyard, it exists all over the country.”

He encouraged everyone in attendance to sign up for Connect Peachtree Corners, a camera registration for businesses and homes. Right now, there are only 247 cameras registered within the Peachtree Corners city limits. Without interconnectivity, crimes that could have been solved in minutes may end up taking days or months — or may never be solved.

“That lack of information impacts the timeliness of response. It’s not just about apprehending the suspects, it’s also about bringing closure to families, because they are out on a limb until these people are apprehended,” Lindenau said.

For more information, visit connectpeachtreecorners.org.

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DW1 Unveils New Peachtree Corners Headquarters and Brand Identity



DW1, formerly known as Discount Waste, Inc., has now settled in its office in Technology Park. As Peachtree Corners sees a surge of development, DW1’s move and rebranding stand out.

Situated at 250 Scientific Drive NW, the 45,000-square-foot building has 150 private offices and seven conference rooms. It also has an advanced training room and a “Town Center” designed for company lunches.

Additionally, the space doubles as an art collection that adds character to the workspace.

This move brings together their previous locations at Engineering Drive and Triangle Parkway. It consolidates over 100 employees who have been dispersed since 2019.

The inauguration event took place on September 28, 2023, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Vice Mayor Weare Gratwick, City Councilwoman Lorri Christopher, Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC) Chairman Bill Diehl and Executive Director Beth Coffey attended the event.

Board members Margie Asef, Larry Benator and Patty Thumann were also present.

Since its start in 1999, Discount Waste, Inc., now transitioning to DW1, has been a provider of waste removal and job site solutions.

Serving a wide range of clients, from general contractors and retailers to commercial establishments, the company has always emphasized strong client relationships and service.

Outside of the business realm, CEO Ed Foye‘s commitment to societal change is evident with All Children, Inc. This initiative focuses on delivering essential resources, such as nutrition, education and shelter, to children with disabilities in developing countries.

To know more about this effort, visit AllChildren.org.

A representative from DW1 shared, “We were thrilled to welcome our employees and their families to the new location on September 28. To learn more about our company’s next chapter, please visit DW1.com.”

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New Retail Concepts Join Merchandise Collection at The Forum Peachtree Corners



As North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate (Nuveen) transform The Forum Peachtree Corners into a mixed-use development, several new businesses are joining the merchandise mix. 

National retailers that signed long-term leases include Lovesac, Petfolk and Stretchlab. Temporary license agreements were reached with Auburn Candle Company, The Baby Nook and Girl Tribe Co.

Meet the retailers

Lovesac – This company designs, manufactures and sells unique furniture that’s guaranteed for life. It offers modular couches called Sactionals, foam beanbag chairs called Sacs and associated home décor accessories, including home audio systems.

Upon opening next to Chico’s in spring 2024, Lovesac at The Forum will be the ninth location in Georgia and fourth in NAP’s portfolio. 

Petfolk – Founded by vets with decades of experience in clinical practice, Petfolk is an animal hospital and pet care center built with pets and their owners in mind. 

Veterinary services include exams, vaccinations, urgent care, nutrition, diagnostic testing, digital radiology and more. 

The Forum location opens this October by Chipotle, marking the brand’s second brick-and-mortar in metro Atlanta.

Stretchlab – Recognized for its customized, assisted-stretch sessions, Stretchlab is a wellness concept specializing in one-on-one routines led by nationally accredited flexologists. 

Using a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) approach, paired with dynamic and static stretching, the team is able to identify tightness and imbalances in the body. They then build a custom routine for each client to develop a wider range of motion and flexibility. 

Stretchlab opens next to Club Pilates at The Forum this winter.

Auburn Candle Company – Established in 2020 and based out of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn Candle Company hand-crafts signature candles and fragrances, free from additives and dyes.

In addition to shopping for pre-poured candles as well as other bath, body and home goods, candle lovers can develop their own creations at the in-store pour bar. 

Its year-long pop-up at The Forum, opening in October, will be the company’s first venture in Georgia.  

The Baby Nook – A haven for anyone seeking baby essentials and gifts, The Baby Nook will feature a select collection of baby items that combine functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal. 

The year-long pop-up will open in October next to Soft Surroundings.

Girl Tribe Co. – NAP is expanding its existing relationship with Charlotte-based Girl Tribe Co. to bring a temporary store to The Forum from October 6 through December 31. 

Created by childhood best friends and co-founders Sarah Baucom and Carrie Barker, the brand offers a collection of clothing, graphic tees, accessories and lifestyle products.

A combination of proprietary products and items made by local female entrepreneurs will be available for purchase in Suite 505, next to HomeGoods. Girl Tribe Co. also plans to host a series of events, workshops and networking sessions during its stay at The Forum.

The Forum’s merchandise mix continues to grow

These forthcoming brands join KeenaBelaGifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games as the latest additions to The Forum’s tenant collection. 

KeenaBela, an Atlanta-based, eco-friendly sleep, lounge and resort-wear brand, officially opened its year-long pop-up at The Forum last month. 

Additionally, specialty boutiques Gifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games, have once again returned for the holiday season.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest from small, local business owners looking to grow their brands in a low-risk, incubator-style environment,” said Emily Narchus, director of ancillary revenue at NAP. 

“As our leasing and development teams continue moving forward on The Forum’s renaissance, we are excited to play a part in upgrading the center’s retail makeup.”

NAP is nearing completion on the north end plaza and anticipates an early fall delivery of the 1,700-square-foot greenspace. This is the first, and smaller, of two community-driven spaces being adding to the property as part of its overall redevelopment. 

Along with the ongoing retail improvements, renovations to the office lobby in building 5185, anchored by Trader Joe’s, are now complete. 

The Forum has partnered with the Peachtree Corners Photography Club to display and sell winning pieces from its first juried exhibition in the revamped entrance.

To stay up to date on the latest property news and happenings, follow The Forum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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