Thursday, December 18, 2014

Klassic Rides in Lincoln Co. under new ownership

Three former customers and the founder's son have officially assumed ownership of Klassic Rides, a Lincoln County automobile restoration shop specializing in vintage and classic cars.

Klassic Rides announced its new owners on Thursday.

The business is housed in a 20,400-square-foot facility in Denver with 22 employees, generated about $2 million in revenue this year and attracts customers from the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The shop disassembles, reconstructs and restores muscle, classic and vintage cars from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Employees take pictures of the restoration process and post them online each Friday so customers can track their vehicle's progress.

The new ownership team includes operations manager Billy West, who started Klassic Rides with his father, Floyd West, in 2005; Fred Rice, a 70-year-old retiree; Olindo Mare, who serves as the business' sales, public relations and marketing manager; and Steve Lyon, a "silent owner" who lives in Vermont.

Over time, Floyd and Billy West developed a "difference of opinion as to what the future should be," Rice said.

The new ownership team at Klassic Rides.
 (From left) Fred Rice, Olindo Mare, Steve Lyon and Billy West.
"You have a 30-something year old son and a 60-year-old father with slightly different interests in what the traction should be," he said. "Fathers and sons, they get to the point where they have the contest of who is going to be in charge to go forward.

"As you get older, your risk tolerance goes down a little bit and you want to step back a little," Rice added. Meanwhile, "the young son is trying to put his stamp on the business."

Billy West reached out to three customers to see if they would be interested in becoming co-owners, Rice said. They agreed.

Papers were signed in January and it took the four owners about four days to gather the money to buy out Floyd West, Rice said. In July, they started negotiations to purchase the real estate -- a deal they finalized in November.

Rice declined to disclose the value of the deal, but said it was a "mutually-agreed upon price" with Floyd West, who is no longer associated with the business.

The company's vision, he said, remains the same: Continue to remain true to a commitment for "quality over quantity."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Survey: Small-biz owners upbeat, hopeful for 2015

Small-business owners are feeling pretty good about 2015.

Business owners are more optimistic than they have been in more than six years, and are feeling the most cheerful about the year ahead since the Great Recession, according to the most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index Survey.

The fourth-quarter survey, which polled private business owners for a week last month, returned a Small Business Index score of "positive 58," up from a "positive 49" in July and up 34 total points from a year ago.

The score is the highest its been since January 2008 when it was a "positive 83."

The survey cites several reasons for their cheery dispositions, including:

  • More than 70 percent of small-business owners feel their company's financial situation will be very or somewhat good over the next year.
  • Hiring will increase as 26 percent of small-business owners reported they plan to increase the number of jobs at their companies "a little or a lot."
  • Business owners plan to make investments in their businesses over the next year with 29 percent of them expecting to increase the amount of money they spend on capital.
  • And, more than 50 percent of business owners expect their company's revenues to increase a little or a lot. Only 14 percent expect a decrease.
But, the survey isn't all smiles. Business owners listed attracting customers and new business among their top concerns for next year, followed by government regulations and financial stability. 

The survey also questioned small-business owners about health insurance coverage, with 56 percent of them reporting that they believe the cost for healthcare in 2015 will result in some kind of financial hardship. In 2015, 25 percent of small-business owners plan to offer health insurance options for their employees, up from 19 percent in 2010.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Customers support Shop Micro Local on its big shopping day

Shop Micro Local vendors say they saw twice the amount of customer traffic this past Small Business Saturday compared to last year.

From left to right: Olive Stewart of Bushelle Seasonings, Caroline Starnes of Guava Love Foods and Leslie Suber of Sadie's Caribbean Fish Cakes. Photo by Alana Dawson.

Close to 30 merchants participated in Shop Micro Local, a coordinated pop-up store housed inside Triple C Brewery in SouthEnd. (Pop-ups are small, temporary businesses that operate in one location for a day or longer, and then leave.)

Here's how Olive Stewart, creator of the marinades line Bushelle Seasonings, described the day in an email to ShopTalk:

"Shop Micro Local was AWESOME! The atmosphere was joyous and PRO local small business. A D.J. kicked off the event and local bands followed. A variety of great food samples was served and many customers shopped while walking around with their Triple C Brew. The event hosted everyone from families to four legged friends with their owners!

The staff of Shop Micro Local, Center City Partners, Triple C Brewery and CPCC did an excellent job in getting the word out. The attendance rate increased two-fold from last year.

The vendors had the ability to have one on one conversation with current and future customers, which we feel is one of the most important aspects of SML. Contacts were made with customers and among vendors. New vendors were able to showcase their product for the first time and they received an overwhelming response. Many vendors agreed that the event was worth participating in financially and would participate next year."

Here are photos from the event. Photos by Alana Dawson:

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Check out the Fashion Truck Rodeo on Small Business Saturday

Fashion trucks are headed to South End for Small Business Saturday. Here's how Tobe Holmes of Charlotte Center City Partners describes the event:

"We’ve all heard of food trucks… but fashion trucks? No better time to debut South End’s first fashion truck rodeo than Small Business Saturday on 11/29 in the parking lot of the Shu and Brief storefronts located at 1426 South Tryon Street.

These mobile fashion purveyors are the first step for many entrepreneurs who aspire to a bricks-and-mortar storefront. Don’t think that because these fashion boutiques operate out of the footprint of a campers, buses or delivery trucks they can’t bring some serous style to the runway. But who are we to judge?

Judge for yourself! Come check out Gypsy Jule, Pink Culture, Motor Couture, L Squared, Sole Addiction and Circa 360 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Small Business Saturday, 11/29, at the corner of South Tryon Street and Camden Road. Make a day of it by catching the Holiday Trolley that will be delivering shoppers there every 30 minutes from other its stops at Atherton Mill and a 30 vendor pop-up shop at Triple C Brewing Company."

You can see what the fashion trucks are saying on Twitter about the event: @gypstjulemerc @PinkCultrTruck @motorcouture @Shop_Lsquared @TheSoleAddictio @Circa360Style

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fifi's Fine Resale in Cornelius donates $5K to support breast cancer patients

Julia Austin, left, owner of Fifi's Fine Resale in Cornelius, presents a check for $5,000 to Beth Medlock of the Pretty in Pink Foundation during a recent presentation.

Fifi's hosted fundraising events throughout October to raise money to help pay for breast cancer treatment for some of Lake Norman's underinsured patients.

The Pretty In Pink Foundation, according to its website, serves people diagnosed with breast cancer who have limited or no health insurance. Fifi's, a men's and women's consignment shop, is located at 20601-A Torrence Chapel Road in the Fresh Market Center.

Friday, November 14, 2014

CPCC celebrates entrepreneurs worldwide with int'l trade workshop

Central Piedmont Community College will throw its support behind entrepreneurs worldwide next week after joining with an entrepreneurial hub keyed in to eight Southern cities.

In time for Global Entrepreneurship Week, the college's Small Business Center has signed on to support StartupPoint, a crowd-sourcing resource for entrepreneurs who want to make connections and collect advice.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, the world's largest celebration of entrepreneurs, innovators and job-creators, starts on Nov. 17 and features more than 140 countries hosting over 20,000 activities, according to a news release.

To celebrate, CPCC and the North Carolina Lawyers for Entrepreneurs Assistance Program on Nov. 19 will host a workshop exploring the legal aspects of international trade. The workshop, which will teach entrepreneurs how to understand exporting products and the legal framework for international trade, starts at 9:30 a.m. and lasts until noon in the center's Hall Building.

StartupPoint's connectors include supporters with companies in Asheville, Wilmington, Durham, Atlanta, Dallas, Savannah, Ga., and Beltsville, Md.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Edison Nation wants to hear from military inventors

If you're a veteran or a military member on active duty who has a great new invention, Charlotte-based Edison Nation wants to hear from you.
Edison Nation, which operates an online community for innovators and produces the public television reality show "Everyday Edisons," is partnering with Ride 2 Recovery to encourage new product ideas.
All submission fees collected in the search will be donated to Ride 2 Recovery, a nonprofit that helps injured veterans improve their health and wellness through cycling programs. (The submission fee is $25 for each new idea submitted; $20 for each new idea submitted by an insider member.)
To participate, military inventors with ideas that are "unique, marketable, patentable, and meet a need in the marketplace" submit their idea at this Edison Nation website.
Deadline is Monday, December 22 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
The goal is to raise money for California-based Ride 2 Recovery, and also successfully launch a product idea, according to Edison Nation.
To kick off the contest, one of the inventors, Ben Welsh, visited Charlotte on Veteran's Day today to deliver his prototype. His invention, called the "Modular and Portable Lighting System," is comprised of several, identical multi-color LED lighting devices that join together to form a single lighting structure.

In the photos below, Scott Dromms from Edison Nation (in the plaid shirt), Ben Welsh (in the white shirt) and his wife, Jennifer meet at Edison Nation. Photos courtesy of Edison Nation.