South Huntsville Businesses Receive Facade Improvement Grants

There will soon be a new look to some South Huntsville businesses.

Nearly a dozen small businesses will be able to improve their storefronts, facades and even landscaping thanks to Façade Improvement Grants, the South Huntsville Main Business Association announced.

Business owners applied for the grants, sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union. The businesses demonstrated how the improvements to their storefronts would affect the overall appearance, quality, growth and vitality of the South Huntsville district.

The grants provide up to two-to-one in matching funds for 11 projects ranging from $800 to $4,000. The total economic impact is $184,000 in the South Huntsville community.

“The Façade Improvement Grants are contributing to a positive business environment in South Huntsville,” said Bekah Schmidt, executive director for the South Huntsville Main Business Association. “Through the grant, we are encouraging the revitalization of buildings and supporting business improvement. We look forward to seeing these projects completed over the next six months, and greatly appreciate our presenting sponsor, Redstone Federal Credit Union for making this all possible.”

The grant program is part of South Huntsville’s participation in the Main Street Alabama, a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. South Huntsville was designated a Main Street Alabama community in June 2018.

The following businesses and or shopping centers will be utilizing the matching grant funds to complete façade renovations, building enhancements, or landscape improvements.

  • Angel’s Island Coffee Shop
  • Apollo Animal Hospital
  • Bubby’s Diner
  • Das Stahl Bierhaus
  • Earth Touch Garden Center
  • Eleanor Murphy Library
  • 8200 Memorial Parkway
  • Off the Rack Boutique
  • Main Street South
  • Sabghi’s Jewelers
  • Village Center

For information, call 256-701-2290, email bekah@shba.biz or visit southhuntsvillemain.org/façade.

The Catalyst Receives Grant for Small Business Training Program

As Huntsville and Madison County continue to grow, there’s been an exponential surge in small business development over the past several years.

Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims: “More qualified workers increase the quality of life in our community.” (Photo/Lori Connors)

Here in North Alabama, small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures have been welcomed with open arms.

Economic development is essential for community growth and stability. To that end, the U.S. Small Business Administration recently awarded The Catalyst Center for Business and Entrepreneurship a $350,000 Management & Technical Assistance Program grant.

“I’m delighted to come here and participate,” said SBA Deputy District Director L.D. Ralph at the announcement hosted at Drake State Community and Technical College.

“We are excited about this endeavor,” said Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims. “The overall, overarching goal is to meet the workforce needs and those needs are growing. We are part of the workforce solution.

“More qualified workers increase the quality of life in our community.”

Over the past 21 years, Ralph has enjoyed a strong affiliation with the Catalyst Center, then known as the Women’s Business Center of North Alabama.

“It’s been a long-term, beneficial relationship,” he said.

The program’s assistance encompasses a wide spectrum of services to include one-to-one customized coaching, business training, and networking/matchmaking opportunities. A key goal of the program is to help firms compete for federal, state and local contracts as a prime contractor or subcontractor.

To participate in the free training program, small businesses must be:

  • Owned and managed by economically and/or socially disadvantaged individuals
  • Located in areas of high unemployment or low-income
  • Certified 8(a) participant or HUBZone small business
  • Economically disadvantaged and woman-owned

Resources are provided through SBA’s network of strategic partners, including The Catalyst, Drake State Community and Technical College, Neighborhood Concepts, Regions Bank, Redstone Federal Credit Union, and Live Oak Bank.

Drake State will provide a certificate program in Entrepreneurship. Neighborhood Concepts and Redstone Federal Credit Union are partnered to provide loans through the Business Assistance Microloan Program.

Live Oak Bank will provide support to 7(j) companies relative to mergers and acquisitions and growth through contract mobilization. Regions Bank will provide facilities, coaches and assistance designed to reach low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs within North Alabama.

For information, visit catalystcenter.org

Madison Shoppers Can Follow the Small Business Word Trail to a $250 Grand Prize

MADISON — The Madison Chamber of Commerce is sending shoppers on a word hunt Saturday, in a quest to discover 12 words to complete a secret Small Business Saturday sentence and a chance to win a $250 grand prize.

The Madison Chamber of Commerce is sending shoppers on a word hunt to support Small Business Saturday. (Photo/Madison Chamber of Commerce)

Kick off the Word Trail by downloading the official Madison Small Business Word Trail sheet found here.

Each of 12 participating Madison retail stores have stickers with one secret word from a 12-word sentence. Shop each store and collect all 12 stickers to form the complete secret sentence.

Shoppers whose sheet contains all 12 words must drop their completed sheet into the bucket at the Madison Chamber of Commerce at 103 Spenryn Drive, Suite 100; or take a picture of your completed sheet and email it to felecia@madisonalchamber.com by noon, Dec. 2, to be eligible for a drawing to win the $250 grand prize.

The winner will be drawn at 3 p.m. and will be contacted by phone, email, and/or Facebook Monday afternoon.

The Madison Chamber of Commerce is known for creating fun and quirky promotions such as the Great Chicken Caper at the Madison Business Expo this past spring.

According to Pam Honeycutt, executive director of the Madison Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Word Trail idea was presented to the Chamber by a member business as a way to increase traffic to locally owned businesses on Small Business Saturday.

“We loved the idea, and from there it was just a matter of working out the details and executing it,” said Honeycutt. “We came up with a special 12-word Small Business Saturday sentence, so we needed 12 participating businesses we thought would be fun places to eat or popular with families holiday shopping together.”

All of the participating businesses are home-grown small businesses in Madison or the Madison location of a locally owned franchise with less than 10 full-time employees.

All 12 are members of the Madison Chamber; they are Ace Hardware, Earth & Stone Wood Fired Pizza, Insanity Complex, Interiors by Consign, Madison Station Antiques, Main Street Café, Pet Supplies Plus, Rita’s Italian Ice, South & Pine Home, Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, The Dessert Fork, and Zion Gourmet Popcorn.

“We are excited to offer this new and entertaining way to experience Madison small businesses on Small Business Saturday,” said Honeycutt. “This is a great family fun activity and a wonderful way to shop local for all your holiday gift-giving.

“Supporting all our local businesses, now and throughout the year, enables our community to thrive and grow.”

She said if the Word Trail is successful this year, the Chamber will select different businesses and highlight other Madison shopping areas next year.

The Time is Right to Start a Small Business in Alabama

What a great time to start a business in Huntsville.

Bolstered by a welcoming atmosphere and supported by a conducive business ecosystem, Northern Alabama is, by far, an entrepreneurial mecca.

The Small Business Development Center at UAH recently presented a “Starting a Business in Alabama” workshop. Hosted at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, the workshop presented a comprehensive overview of the steps required for starting a small business in Alabama.

Led by Hilary Claybourne, SBDC director and senior consultant, the two-hour workshop focused on the important things a potential entrepreneur needs to consider before starting that new business venture.

A business often comes into being as a solution to a problem. Would-be entrepreneurs need to make sure that their solution is the right one. And if it is the right solution, will people embrace it? What is the unique value proposition? Are there alternatives? How much are customers willing to pay?

“Who is your customer? Where do your potential customers hang out? Go talk to the customer, don’t just talk to your best friends about your business idea,” said Claybourne. “Just because you think it’s a great idea, doesn’t mean it is.

“Do your primary and secondary market research, evaluate the competition. Find out about things that have failed and why they failed. There’s a plethora of secondary research available; it will arm you to be better at primary research.”

It’s also important for potential entrepreneurs to familiarize themselves with the various legal entities and determine which ones are best for their business.

“I encourage to clients to incorporate,” said Claybourne. “You’re at risk as a small business; you can get sued as a sole proprietor. As a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or S Corp, you can define your business. You will have to be able to track the finances. If you’re a sole proprietor, your business is more likely to be audited by the IRS. If you incorporate as an S-Corp or an LLC, the IRS expects you to have business expenses.”

“Partnerships aren’t my favorite business form. Partnerships have twice the liability and half the profits. A (LLC) gives you much more flexibility; it’s easier to modify structures.”

For those seeking financial resources to fund their ventures, “You’ve got to start a business first before you can get a loan,” said Claybourne. She also recommends that startups “do it as cheaply as you can using your own resources first.”

“An exception to that would be planning for the unexpected,” said Claybourne. “To set up a line of credit, just in case something happens. Banks will lend money when your credit is good. So, it’s a good idea to have that line of credit when things are good.

“Realize that you can’t be an expert at everything. Get acquainted with your business ‘Core Four’: You will need a good accountant, business lawyer, banker, and business advisors.”

Vertiv Joins Stovehouse as Newest Office Tenant

Vertiv, a global IT infrastructure provider, will join the Stovehouse development on Governors Drive in West Huntsville, according to a release from Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate and Stovehouse Properties.

Recently ranked as the No. 1 supplier of remote IT management devices worldwide by analytics IHS Markit, Vertiv  expects to complete its move by the first quarter next year and will remain open at its facility on Corporate Drive during the move. Vertiv brings together hardware, software, analytics and ongoing services for data centers, communications networks and commercial and industrial facilities.

“Our new site at Stovehouse will help us match the facility to our people and our business,” said Patrick Quirk, vice president and general manager, IT systems at Vertiv. “When we decided to relocate, we prioritized finding a facility that captured the innovative nature of our company. We have roots as a small, Huntsville-based IT management device startup (formerly Cybex, then Avocent), so having the chance to connect our history with the historic Martin Stove factory was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. It should be able to accommodate our growth for years to come.

“We are excited to create a modern, collaborative work environment that builds on the bones of this historic structure. Our new office will incorporate a state-of-the-science development data center, training and demo space within a high-energy, community-driven environment. We plan to make it a place that will draw in fresh new talent and take care of our current employees.”

The owners of Stovehouse said they are excited to have Vertiv on board.

“It’s an honor to have Vertiv join our list of office tenants at the Stovehouse campus,” said Danny Yancey, owner and developer of Stovehouse. “We hope that the development will offer several amenities that are coveted in the modern workplace, like access to local cuisine, fitness studios, leisure activities, and many other things we plan to add in the future.

“Vertiv will be able to highlight these features when attracting new talent to its team.”

Estimates show when Stovehouse is at full capacity there will be around 500 people working on campus daily at the businesses along with thousands of visitors coming for food and nightly entertainment throughout the week.

“Stovehouse was created to blend the modern workplace with opportunities for leisure,” said Crunkleton’s Eric St. John. “Developers have put together an exceptional space for both emerging and established businesses like Vertiv. Office users have an enhanced quality of life thanks to other nearby services that make their workday more enjoyable and productive.”

 

Regymen Fitness: Feel the Burn … and Afterburn

Ready to Burn, Box, and Build?

Then, let’s get HLIT with High Level Intensity Training at Regymen Fitness in Times Plaza on South Parkway.

Featuring a trailblazing method that’s guaranteed to disrupt any ho-hum workout routine, Regymen’s Burn-Box-Build consists of three programs in 90-minute intervals. Designed to challenge your body for muscle gain, calorie burn, flexibility, and agility, the workouts have been developed with variety and excitement in mind, to prevent muscle complacency and boredom.

“In the world of boutique fitness, most are concentrated on one form,” said Jason Haynes, owner of the Huntsville location. “We offer a lot more variety for our customers; not just for individuals, but for families, too.”

The Regymen program maximizes the potential of afterburn, Haynes said. Scientifically known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC), afterburn is caused by the body’s need for oxygen after cardio and resistance training. It must replenish its energy sources to return to its normal state. The body needs to consume energy, and that energy comes directly from the body. This is how calories really burn.

After a long career in federal government, Haynes always had a long-term vision of owning his own business. Jason, his wife Anu, and their two sons enjoy an active lifestyle based on health and fitness.

Regymen Fitness owner Jason Haynes. (Photo/Steve Babin)

After their oldest son, Steven, graduated with a degree in exercise science, he got a job with the Regymen studio in Niceville, Fla. Steven liked the premise and the corporate culture, encouraging his dad to check it out.

Soon after, Jason met with the corporate team, “It seemed like a perfect fit,” he said.

Regymen’s corporate headquarters are in Baton Rouge and the company strongly emphasizes pre-testing at its four locations.

“They’re visionaries, continuously evolving their product in front of industry leaders,” said Haynes. “A lot of forward-thinking staff with a great understanding of fitness. It’s not a closed system; there’s a continuous feedback loop. All the coaches from the studios dial in weekly for ‘boots on the ground;’ not just the fitness side, but the corporate side, too.”

Haynes said the studio provides a local-feel, unique to the Huntsville-Madison County community.

“Regymen’s corporate culture is for us to be involved with the community, getting out into the community, having social events and hosting monthly events to build relationships that go beyond a workout,” said Haynes.

Kutta and Sierra Nevada Creating ‘Melting Technology Pot and Integration Model’

With the opening of its new facility, Kutta Technologies plans to implement what they and the Sierra Nevada Corp. call their first integration model here in Huntsville.

When Sierra Nevada acquired Kutta Technologies in 2015, Kutta was a small avionics consulting company that develops controller software for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the United States military.

As that demand grew, Sierra Nevada saw an opportunity to expand that expertise into its Integrated Missions Systems business in Huntsville. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Sierra Nevada, Kutta has 65 employees and is growing.

Tim Owings, executive vice president of Integrated Missions Systems for Sierra Nevada. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

The new location at 4000 Market Street in the new Redstone Gateway, just steps outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 9, will help Kutta increase its presence and footprint on Redstone Arsenal.

“Sierra Nevada is a very innovative company with four business groups,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of Integrated Missions Systems for Sierra Nevada. “Our space team is involved in the development of the Dreamchaser, so we are building our own spacecraft. In aviation we have our own surveillance aircraft; we have people here involved in electronic warfare; and we have people working in cyber.

“All those intersect here in Huntsville … a sort of melting technology pot and integration model for Sierra Nevada that we are all really excited about.”

For the past eight years, Kutta has shared space on Discovery Drive with Sierra Nevada. Owings said they have built great new friendships and great working relationships during that time.

“Kutta is on a roll right now and we owe that to Tim Owings and Sierra Nevada, who have made it possible,” said Matt Savoca, executive vice president of Kutta and one of the company’s founders. “UAS is one of our biggest customers and they along with our vendors are on Redstone Arsenal. Our software controls all of the small and large unmanned vehicles at Redstone and it has been a passion of ours to expand our unmanned aerial systems capabilities in Huntsville.

“We are excited and proud to be part of the Huntsville community.”

According to Owings, some more big announcements concerning Kutta and SNC are upcoming.

“Kutta is on a roll right now and we owe that to Tim Owing and Sierra Nevada” – Matt Savoca, executive vice president of Kutta. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

“The next part of all this is – you have to win some work! Sometimes timing is everything, and last week we saw an announcement about two major programs we have been selected to win,” he said.

“One is a very large program hatched out of the United Kingdom that we will be doing work for out of this office; but more important locally is the EMARSS-E contract with L3 Technologies.”

The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS-E) contract is an aircraft integration contract to develop up to two EMARSS prototype aircraft. Owings said the initial contract award is around $30 million.

“If we are going to build airplanes in our Huntsville hangar in Meridianville, we are also going to support them engineering-wise,” Owings said. “The program office for that will be run from Huntsville so that’s a big deal towards what we are trying to achieve here. However, there is a lot of aircraft follow-on from that contract that has the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars over time as we provide more of these platforms.”

Today, the Huntsville office is hosting Sierra Nevada’s quarterly technology meeting and, according to Owings, the entire senior leadership from SNC will be at the new Kutta office.

Savoca and Owings also gave a shout-out to the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce who presented them with a new membership plaque.

“The Chamber always does a fabulous job with these things and is supportive of everything we’ve done,” said Savoca. “The entire city and its culture have really embraced what we want to do, so ‘Thank You’.”

Rocket City Trash Pandas, Inline Electric Announce Partnership

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas and Inline Electric have announced a long- term strategic partnership to include naming rights for the Inline Electric Rock Porch bar.

The Inline Electric Rock Porch will offer a unique view of the action in Toyota Field. (Photo/Steve Babin)

“We are excited to have Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply join the Trash Pandas family,” said Trash Pandas President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “Inline Electric is a home-grown business that has been known throughout our region for their quality products and customer service for three decades. Since we designed the Rock Porch, I have always felt it will become everybody’s favorite spot in the ballpark. We are thrilled that Inline Electric, a North Alabama business institution, has elected to sponsor it.


“The Inline Electric Rock Porch will be providing our fans with the most unique vantage point in Minor League Baseball.”

As part of the agreement, Inline Lighting & Electrical Supply has been named a Founding Partner of the Trash Pandas and Toyota Field. The Inline Electric brand and logo will be prominently featured throughout the stadium, including the Inline Electric Rock Porch bar overlooking right field.

“Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply is proud to be a sponsor of the Rocket City Trash Pandas new venture in North Alabama,” said Bruce Summerville, President of Inline Lighting and Electrical Supply. “Our customers in Huntsville, Athens, Sheffield, Cullman and Albertville are certainly excited to participate with
in making this a huge success for all of North Alabama.”

‘Tis the Season to Shop Small Business

Crisp air and the crunch of leaves underfoot seem to suggest that fall has finally arrived in Huntsville, and along with that seasonal shift arrives the promise of the holidays just around the corner.

Cured and Company features charcuterie gifts. (Photo/Olivia Reed)

For many Huntsvillians, the harried pace of the holidays translates to long lists and the merriment of multi-tasking.

Family, full-time jobs, travel commitments, and social engagements crowd the calendar, and modern day “smart shopping” can typically translate to online shopping carts and expedited shipping.

Although big-box retailers such as Amazon and Target can offer a fast fix in the holiday crunch, community leaders advocate that in the long run supporting small business is synonymous with smart shopping.

“As a consumer, you have purchasing power,” said Bekah Schmidt, Executive Director of South Huntsville Business Association. “If you chose to purchase a product for cheaper at a big box retailer instead of shopping local, you send that purchasing power to support a different economy.

“And, while you may see a return in the short run, when you have a strong local economy, you have a strong quality of life.”

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30 nationwide and, as the date approaches, Huntsville small business owners strive to remind locals that not only do small businesses offer unique finds, they also offer an experience that can’t be found from filling an online shopping cart.

Whether it’s for corporate clients, holiday host/hostesses, teachers, or just friends and family, gift giving can be tricky, and small stores can offer insight, ideas, and inspiration that is harder to come by at big box chains.

This vision of a more personalized purchasing experience was part of the inspiration when Stephanie Lowe and Emily Rogers, co-owners of Cured and Company, created their custom charcuterie board business.

“We know the holidays are a time for gift giving and many people like to gift food for corporate clients,” said Lowe. “We created this business around the idea that food brings people together, and when you are going to someone’s house to a party, instead of bringing wine or liquor, a box of charcuterie is a fabulous gift.

“It’s something special and unique and pretty. And it’s also delicious.”

Like many other small business owners, Lowe says they are creating special items just for the holidays, including wrapped gift boxes of artfully arranged meat and cheese that can serve up to six.

Stylish presentation is another reason shopping small makes for a more unique gift.

Gina Garrett, owner of South Huntsville gift shop Sweet Pineapple, said although they offer complimentary gift wrapping year-round, their holiday packaging is especially beautiful.

Sweet Pineapple offers cozy sweaters by Barefoot Dreams, Ronaldo Jewelry, and a huge selection of candles and other home goods. (Photo/Olivia Reed)

“It’s hard to order something online and it arrive beautifully wrapped,” she said. “And online shopping can be really overwhelming. Once you start scrolling online, you feel like you need to scroll thorough every single thing to see all of your options.

“It’s nice to be able to just walk into a shop where a lovely display has been curated for you.”

Sweet Pineapple offers cozy sweaters by Barefoot Dreams, Ronaldo Jewelry, and a huge selection of candles and other home goods at price points that Garrett says will fit any budget.

For little ones, The Toy Place in Five Points is another spot where in-store service is a key part of the shopping experience.

“There is no algorithm for the investment that a small business makes in its customers,” said owner Susan Blevins. “I take pride in being able to offer guidance to anyone who walks through my door, especially someone who is buying a gift for a child and needs help finding the right item.”

For art enthusiasts and foodies, Harrison Brothers Hardware on the downtown square has become a staple for seeking special and whimsical gifts like gourmet cookware, books, art, fine crafts, and children toys.

TKH Leather Goods by Thad Hooper can be found at OTBX.

And much of Harrison Brother’s merchandise is by local artisans and authors.

Just blocks away from the square, OTBX (Olde Towne Beer Exchange) will offer crate gift bundles with craft beer selections, fun novelty t-shirts, Timbrook toys, and even custom leather goods by local artisan Thad Hooper.

With endless options for unique gifts, exceptional customer care, and the added bonus of supporting a strong local economy, shop owners insist that shopping small isn’t only smart, it’s also a chance to slow down and actually enjoy the season.

“People want an authentic experience,” said Schmidt. “They want to go to Clinton Row and get a cup of coffee at Honest Coffee and then browse the stores like Roosevelt & Co. and In Bloom and Elitaire. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but as a society we are going back to it.

“People crave that authentic find, and that’s exactly what you get when you shop local.”

 

 

Madison’s Best in ‘buss-iness’: The Physical Therapist, The Technology Specialist, A Shared Kiss, and Two Awards

MADISON — The 2019 Madison Chamber of Commerce Best in Business Awards may have been the most romantic awards presentation ever.

It is tradition that the winner of the previous year’s Best in Business Award in each category present the trophy to the winner of the current year’s award.

However, when Stephanie Johnson, owner of Compass Physical Therapy, presented Michael Johnson, owner of Mosaic Audio Video Integration, with his Small Business of the Year trophy this year, she also gave him a big kiss, much to the oohs and ahhs of a flabbergasted audience!

Michael and Stephanie Johnson keeping Best in Business awards in the family.

“Boy, I wish I had won that award,” someone in the audience piped up to uproarious laughter.

Few in the audience realized at the time that Stephanie and Michael Johnson are married, and both own award-winning small businesses in Madison. Earlier that evening, Stephanie accepted a trophy for the Best Medical Practice – less the kiss of course!

“I was thrilled to have been nominated but I never expected to win because the Small Business of the Year category is very competitive,” said Michael Johnson. “I was excited and honored to have won among so many deserving businesses here in our community.”

Johnson has been in the home automation business for more than 20 years but, five years ago, broke away to form his own company. Specializing in whole home and office automation including smart lighting, motorized window shades, multiroom music and audio, home theatre, cameras and surveillance, as well as Wi-Fi networks for both home and office conference rooms, Johnson said he wears the nickname “The Speaker Guy” as a badge of honor.

“People automatically think about what we do in terms of surround-sound and home theatre, but that is just a small part of what we can do,” he said. “If it’s technology-based electronics and automation, Mosaic Audio Video Integration can help you design and install it.”

In addition to residential, Mosaic does commercial work for companies in Research Park. He said Huntsville and Madison are great markets for technology-based systems because it is a well-educated community where people are in tune with what is available.

Stephanie has been a licensed physical therapist for nearly 15 years but bought the business six years ago, renaming it Compass Physical Therapy in 2017. She specializes in physical therapy for children ages 1 to 18 and includes rehabilitation for special needs children, traumatic pediatric injuries and rehab for school athletics and other injuries resulting from physical activities.

“Alabama is a ‘direct access’ state so anyone can come in and get evaluated without a doctor’s prescription; however, some insurance may require that you get some form of medical preauthorization,” Stephanie said. “If needed, we communicate with the doctor after they come in and let them know what is going on.”

Compass Physical Therapy is also engaged with the local schools. Madison Schools have health advisory boards in which they invite professionals in engineering, IT, and the medical fields into their classrooms to talk to students who are interested in those fields. Stephanie speaks to students and fields questions from them about prepping a career in physical therapy.

“Compass also accommodates student observation hours in the physical therapy field,” she said. “Students interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, or who may be looking to go to college or physician’s assistant’s school, need observation hours.

“The high schools are aware that we host students here so they can get their observation hours. It can help advance their professional careers.”

She said they also take on student interns when they can. “It’s our way of helping perpetuate the next generation of physical therapists.”

Michael’s expertise is on full display at Stephanie’s practice.

“Music and special lighting are important to inspiring and keeping children engaged during the rehabilitation process,” Stephanie said. “Michael has installed smart lighting and music in some of our work areas that can be adjusted from a tablet-like remote.”

From a business owner’s standpoint, she said her favorite feature is the one-button access to opening and closing her business every day.

“In the morning when I arrive, I usually have my hands full and all I have to do is push one button and the door unlocks and opens,” she said. “It turns on the lights and brings up our favorite TV station in the waiting room. When we leave at night, I push one button and it turns off the lights, sets the thermostat, and locks the door behind me.”

“Stephanie’s work with special needs children has a profound effect on people’s lives. She comes home at night talking about how she helped a baby learn to walk today,” said Michael. “I implemented home automation technology in the master bathroom of a wealthy homeowner that day, so I like to believe that good stuff rubs off on me just a little.”

Clearly it does. Three years ago, the Johnsons began hosting a joint annual fundraiser called Blues, Brews and Booze in which they choose a local charity for which they raise money. Among those charities are Kids to Love, Clothe Our Kids of North Alabama and BeArded Warriors.

“It’s important because the local Madison community has been so great to us,” said Stephanie. “We try find ways we can give back to the community and reach out to people who need help, It has grown from just a handful of supporters three years ago to over 4,000 participants this year.”

Both of the Johnsons give a shout-out to the Madison Chamber of Commerce.

“The Chamber brings Madison small businesses together for networking opportunities, and they really get the business community talking to each other, making it easier to work together when needed,” said Stephanie.

“Madison is a friendly Chamber, involved and engaged with all businesses in our area,” said Michael. “We get together on a regular basis to network and help each other grow. It really is a community effort and we are fortunate the Madison Chamber is so supportive of small business.”