Rapid Growth Spurs LSINC to Purchase Building in CRP

LSINC has moved to 490 Discovery Drive. (LSINC Photo)

Less than a year from a ribbon-cutting ceremony when it moved into Cummings Research Park, LSINC has now changed addresses with the purchase of its own building elsewhere in the park.

The time of rapid growth necessitated the purchase for the Huntsville-based company. It will allow LSINC to better serve current customers, as well as allow for planned, targeted expansion into new markets.

“Purchasing a building is our commitment to our customers, employees, and the community,” said CEO Alicia Ryan. “We now have significantly more space and that will allow us to work multiple product-development projects for our clients and more easily accommodate our customers’ propriety and classified projects.

“The timing is wonderful, too, as we’ve recently begun work on our own research and design initiatives, and we now have more room to develop LSINC-branded products.”

The company’s new location is a 51,300 square-foot facility at 490 Discovery Drive. It includes 36,000 square feet of laboratory and manufacturing space with a loading dock and two drive-in doors. Assisting LSINC in site-selection were Binswanger Management and Samples Properties. Fuqua and Partners Architects is assisting with the remodeling and design.

The building will feature a specially designed innovation space with a collaborative environment for creative meetings with clients when launching the design phase of the product development process.

“By integrating our strategy approach with the product development process, we help clients think through all the possibilities and markets for how a product can be used prior to starting the design phase,” said company President Robert Lightfoot. “Our Strategy Assurance approach results in products that are engineered for the right solutions.”

The innovation space also will be used for internal R&D meetings for LSINC-branded products.

25 Area Businesses Ranked Among Inc. 5000

 

Fresh on the heels of the Huntsville Madison County Chamber’s annual Small Business Awards celebration, several local companies received news Wednesday they have joined an elite group.

The annual Inc. 5000 list was unveiled and it included 25 Madison County small businesses.

“If your company is on the Inc. 5000, it’s unparalleled recognition of your years of hard work and sacrifice,” said James Ledbetter, the magazine’s editor in chief. “The lines of business may come and go, or come and stay.

“What doesn’t change is the way entrepreneurs create and accelerate the forces that shape our lives.”

Reflective of Huntsville’s “Federal City” moniker, 21 of the 25 businesses are in government services.

Cintel was the highest-ranked local business, coming in at 252. It was followed by Yorktown Services, 749; Hill Technical Solutions, 797; R2C Support Services, 1263; Pinnacle Solutions, 1558; Mission Driven Research, 1638; Shearer, 1690; IronMountain Solutions, 1741; Matt Curtis Real Estate, 1791; MSB Analytics, 1827; Spur, 2047; Kord Technologies, 2298; nLogic, 2350; MartinFederal, 2575; Sentar, 2853; Venturi, 2860; TriVector Services, 3040; Thompson Gray, 3235; Monte Sano Research, 3338; nouSystems, 3396; Torch Technologies, 3397; Keel Point Partners, 3752; LSINC, 3904; Trideum, 4870; and enVention, 4903.

The complete list can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2018 and in the September issue of Inc. magazine, which is on newsstands now.

 

 

Small Business Awards celebration honors Huntsville’s best

Lynn Troy of Troy 7 receives the Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award from Chamber Vice Chair Hank Isenberg (Photo by Steve Babin)

Amidst a gala “Masquerade Ball” atmosphere of a masked audience in formal attire, the Huntsville Madison County Chamber celebrated the city’s entrepreneurial community in the 33rd annual Small Business Awards.

Gary Bolton, the Chamber board chair and vice president of global marketing for Adtran, welcomed the crowd to Tuesday night’s affair. Hank Isenberg, Chamber vice president, small business and events, and Haley Baker of WAFF-TV were the emcees.

“We are celebrating the most successful” small businesses, Bolton said.

“We received 650 nominations and there are 155 contenders,” he said. “There are 1,100 people here” … in the soldout event held in the Von Braun Center’s North Hall.

Lynn Troy of Troy 7 received the prestigious Russell G. Brown Executive Leadership Award, the top honor presented annually.

Canvas was a double-winner, capturing the Woman-owned Business of the Year and the Government Contracting – Technology Business of the Year awards.

Mary Taylor Griffith with Aleta Technologies was named the HASBAT Small Business Advocate for Excellence.

A new category debuted, saluting the area’s booming growth – Local “Creative” of the Year. It was won by Pizzelle’s Confections.

The other winners were: Rocket City Digital, Emerging Business of the Year; Flint River Dental, Medical Practice of the Year; Capstone Realty, Professional Services Business of the Year; Kristina Sexton of NXTSTEP Family Law, Young Professional of the Year; Downtown Rescue Mission, Nonprofit of the Year; MartinFederal, Government Contracting – Professional Services Business of the Year; Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza, Culinary Business of the Year; Matt Curtis Real Estate, Service Business of the Year; and Summit Information Solutions, Technology Business of the Year.

 

 

 

BAM provides a ‘catalyst’ to area small businesses

Small businesses across North Alabama are getting a $5 million boost from a new program that will provide access to $5,000 to $25,000 microloans.

It’s called Business Assistance Microloan (BAM), announced Joanne Randolph, president & CEO of The Catalyst Center for Business & Entrepreneurship, during a Monday morning news conference. BAM is a new way to keep small businesses going and growing through a partnership with The Catalyst, Neighborhood Concepts Inc., and Redstone Federal Credit Union.

Orlando and Tawanda Pitts and their cleaning business, Office Pride, based in Madison, are already a Redstone small business loan success story.

Microloan program announced Monday is a new way to keep small businesses going and growing through a partnership with The Catalyst, Neighborhood Concepts Inc., and Redstone Federal Credit Union.

“We started our company with a dream, a mop bucket and vacuum cleaner,” Orlando said, recalling how a loan officer coached him and his wife through the process. “We only had about five employees at the time … and over the past three or four years we have grown and now have 78 employees.”

He said it was small loans along the way that made the difference.

“That one key, ‘Yes,’ was instrumental in us getting on the right path and helped us grow and turn our thing from a business into a company,” Orlando said. “I knew we were finally in a good place when (the loan officer) called asking if we needed some money.”

Orlando was able to tell him “No.”

“Small businesses make up 94 percent of the companies in the Huntsville metro area,” said Joe Newberry, president and CEO of Redstone Federal Credit Union. “Many of these are small shops and start-ups that need immediate access to microloans to stay afloat until the next big order or contract comes through.”

Newberry said partnering with the two nonprofits to provide a much-needed funding boost will give small businesses a better chance at success.

“I believe it’s a very important element to keep Tennessee Valley businesses growing,” he said.

Emmie Mayne, owner of Lightning and Lace, LLC, based at Lowe Mill in Huntsville, said The Catalyst program she went through prepared her for starting her business in which she uses 3-D printing, sewing and embroidery, among other techniques to create custom pieces for clients.

“Redstone has been with me the whole way and as my business is growing, I’m constantly looking to offer new processes … and that means looking for new and better equipment and as we grow the microloan program … it’s giving me what I need to grow,” she said.

“The real winners today are the small businesses in our community,” said Mary Ellen Judah, executive director, Neighborhood Concepts Inc., (NCI) a nonprofit committed to strengthening neighborhoods through the development of affordable housing and the advancement of economic opportunities in those communities. One tool used to get there is the North Alabama Revolving Loan Fund, which will be used to facilitate BAM.

Redstone is providing a $5 million loan to NCI, which will use the funds to grant loans between $5,000 and $25,000 to small businesses. NCI has other funding options as well that go up to $250,000, Judah said. But it’s the microloans that are often requested by small business owners.

“If we can deploy $5 million in small business loans it is not only substantial to our economy but also to us as a nonprofit,” Judah said. The $5 million loan fund will support itself and help the nonprofit maintain its status as a community development financial institution. NCI was among the first in the state to earn the designation.

Support services for the loans, from application and after it’s granted, will be handled by The Catalyst. A loan clinic will be held the first Tuesday of every month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at The Catalyst office at 515 Sparkman Drive in Huntsville, Randolph said.

It’s good news for entrepreneurs starting out.

Ariel Foster, founding director of Elyon’s School of Dance and Performing Arts, said the timing of the microloan program has been perfect for her new studio, which will soon have its grand opening in Meridianville.

She said knowing the smaller loans are an option gives her peace of mind and a sense of stability “because of the power of economic partnerships and community building from the inside out.”

 

Trump SBA appointee hosts area Small Business Roundtable

Bruce LeVell addresses the recent Huntsville Small Business Roundtable.

Dozens of Huntsville small business owners had an opportunity to take their concerns, ask questions and provide feedback on a wide variety of topics that affect their businesses directly to the White House, President Trump, federal agencies and Congress – and they did not hold back.

Bruce LeVell, Region 4 advocate for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, led a small business roundtable at the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce. Based in Atlanta, LeVell’s region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Mayor Tommy Battle opened the discussions by pointing out that small businesses make up 85 percent of the Huntsville business community.

“We have a very diversified small business community that represents every sector of business in this city, from the service industries to high tech,” he said. “In each of them we face our own separate challenges and those challenges end up being things that we can take nationally to our government.”

Among the topics discussed were deregulation; effects of the North American Industry Classification System codes have on small contractors bidding on large government contracts; federal acquisition regulations; realignment of government agencies; and availability of SBA 504 loans.

“I have experience in the day-to-day grind,” said LeVell, an Atlanta small business owner. “Meeting a quarterly payroll, paying quarterly payroll taxes and federal income taxes.

“I am one of you  – not someone from the government offering to help. I’m with you on this.”

LeVell also discussed what he went through in the 2008 crash.

“I understand what it’s like to have everything you have worked for wiped away because your loans are called for no reason,” he says. “I have a lot of experience in transportation, revitalization, and construction. That experience honestly, is what catapulted me into wanting to serve. I asked myself, what can I do to get out and help advocate for someone else, so it doesn’t happen to them? I wasn’t trying to get appointed to this position, it just happened this way.”

The roundtable attracted small government contractors focusing on IT, cyber, logistics, and engineering services such as Mb Solutions. Company President and CEO Rosalyn Blackwell and Executive Vice President Rod Herron are retired military with a company barely two years old.

“We’re just there to listen and to ask questions as opportunities arise,” Blackwell said.

Kim Lewis, CEO of ProjectXYZ, a woman-owned small business in the engineering, logistics, IT, and alternative energy field said, “I want to know exactly what the SBA’s plans are under this administration; what goals have they set and how are they going to accomplish them.”

Owners such as Greg Franks of Total Quality Systems said he attended the roundtable because he wanted more information and reassurances about expansion.

“Our company is out of Utah and I am a small satellite office here in Huntsville,” Franks said. “We are still a small business with 20 or so people but we have a counterpart in Hopkinsville, Ky., and we want to open in Clarksville, Tenn. I need to know that is sustainable.”

Allison Rand with MJLM Engineering & Technical Services said, “A lot of the time, small businesses run into issues with the NAICS codes small business size standards.

“A lot of times it is based on employee numbers versus revenue. So, you can have 1,500 employees and $1 billion in revenue. How are you still considered a small business? So, in talking about changes to regulation, are you looking at NAICS codes as well?”

Another small business owner asked about a plan to realign many of the government agencies.

“I’ve heard people say you have a chicken, an egg, and an omelet – which government agency oversees that? USDA? FDA? Going forward, is there a streamlining process for lessening regulations? Where do you see that going? Is there any traction or just a buzz saw in Congress to make those sorts of changes to improve efficiencies?”

“In the end, all the (company) president cares about is profits a losses,” said LeVell. “The balance sheet doesn’t have a party affiliation; only a bottom line. The banker wants to see profits. The mayor wants to see profits for the city.

“You are the guys on the battlefront trying to make payroll, trying to pay payroll taxes but you want to see profits. I’m very optimistic!”

 

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”

 

SHBA begins search for executive director

The South Huntsville Business Association (SHBA) announced today an executive search for the association’s first executive director. Applications will be accepted through June 20.

The SHBA was recently selected as one of three new Main Street designated communities in Alabama.

According to the organization, the new director will help promote economic development among South Huntsville businesses and spearhead activities related to the new Main Street Alabama designation. SHBA expects to have the right candidate in place by Aug. 6, in time for the official Main Street Alabama kickoff scheduled for the second week in August.

South Huntsville’s selection is unique because it is one of the first communities chose by the statewide delegation not located in a downtown urban district. The South Huntsville designation is essentially a commercial urban corridor that begins just north of Martin Road and extends south along Memorial Parkway to Ditto Landing and the Tennessee River.

The new SHBA executive director must have proven leadership skills, executive management and strategic economic planning experience, and possess a passion for impacting growth while viewing challenges through a creative lens, SHBA said.

Contact SHBA for more information at info@SHBA.biz.

South Huntsville selected as Main Street Alabama Community

South Huntsville has been designated a Main Street Alabama community, according to a statement Friday from the nonprofit Main Street Alabama organization.

The area of Huntsville will join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization.

Main Street Alabama uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success to designate the towns and neighborhoods after a rigorous application process.

According to State Coordinator Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama will immediately provide intensive board development, goal-setting, work-planning, market study with implementable economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance, and quarterly training related to downtown development.

“When a community is ready for Main Street, as South Huntsville is, the time-tested Four Point Approach works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to neighborhood commercial districts.”

Helmer said the interview panel was impressed by the presentation from the South Huntsville Business Association and civic leaders that demonstrated a love of their community, a vision for what they could be, and the drive to make it happen. She said South Huntsville demonstrated strong community partnerships, an impressive organizational structure with exceptional leadership, and ability to financially support a program, which made them stand out in the field of applicants.

Developed starting in the 1950s, the era of the atomic ranch house, mid-century modern architecture reigns supreme in this community and recalls its historic connection to the nearby Redstone Arsenal (and Marshall Space Flight Center) and the golden era of space exploration,” the Main Street Alabama announcement said. “As home to numerous scientists throughout its history, this community’s residents produced scientific advancements that were the envy of the world. Over the past decade, (Huntsville) has been Alabama’s growth engine, and this local commercial district has become the preferred daytime destination for 40,000 employees at the … arsenal.

“Local residents and business owners have done their research and discovered a formula to develop connectivity between its natural resources and business assets, with greenways, river access and a natural preserve. They are ready to apply our UrbanMain Street approach, and we welcome this group of innovators, otherwise known as the South Huntsville Business Association, to our program. We know you will take your community to new heights!”

Each designated community reports its success by tracking reinvestment statistics. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 488 net new businesses; 1,932 net new job; $282,679,772 in private investment; $74,257,229 in public improvements; and 61,201 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June 2014.

For towns interested in becoming a designated Main Street Alabama community, application workshops will be held in January. Until then, communities interested in downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization can participate in Main Street Alabama’s Network.

Visit mainstreetalabama.org for information.

Cyber Job Fair to be held during National Cyber Summit in Huntsville

With cybersecurity threatening businesses, large and small, as well as our national security, the demand for cyber security professionals is ever increasing.

A local effort to reduce that employment gap and connect cyber security professionals and students with employers is the National Cyber Summit Cyber Job Fair, held Wednesday, June 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is part of the annual National Cyber Summit on June 5-7 in the Von Braun Center in Huntsville.

The job fair is a hiring event for cleared and non-cleared cybersecurity professionals as well as college-level students in a cybersecurity degree program. Hosted by ClearJobs.Net and CyberSecJobs.com, the job fair features national and local employers filling cyber security positions including Decisive Analytics, Deloitte, Fulcrum, IBM, Parsons, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, SAIC, Scientific Research and more.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.nationalcybersummit.com/Program/Cyber-Job-Fair

Huntsville’s T-H Marine Supplies acquires Blue Water LED

T-H Marine Supplies has acquired Blue Water LED, a producer of LED light kits and components for recreation vehicles.

Jeff Huntley, president of Huntsville-based T-H Marine, made the announcement of the deal Monday.

“We are so excited to announce the acquisition of the Blue Water assets,” Huntley said. “We have long admired the quality of their products and the market share leader status they enjoyed in the aftermarket LED Light Kit market.

“The team at Blue Water have built a great company of super quality products, with a lifetime warranty,
and we are looking forward of taking their ‘vision’ to the next level.”

Blue Water designs, assembles, and sells a broad and unique line of LED light kits and lighting components for boats, kayaks, autos/trucks, trailers, ATVs/UTVs, golf carts, RVs, off-road vehicles, public safety vehicles, and
utility trucks.

Blue Water has also long been known as the pioneer and market leader in LED light kits for bass boats and
professional bass anglers.

“It’s been an awesome experience to grow our company and to meet so many of our customers and dealers,” Jeff Hillard, one of the original founders and president of Blue Water LED said. “Our faith-based company has operated on the principles of providing superior quality products, excellent customer service, and an unprecedented lifetime warranty.

“We have loved serving our loyal customers over the years and we are excited that even more customers will now have access to Blue Water products through an industry leader, T-H Marine. We know T-H Marine cares about quality, stands behind its products, and really cares for its customers, so it’s a great fit. We are proud to know they will nurture the line of Blue Water products into the future.”

T-H Marine is known as an industry leader in supplying LED lights to the boat manufacturers, Huntley said. “But Blue Water was the visionary in creating easy to buy, easy to understand, and easy to install LED light kits.”

“It is astonishing to me that Blue Water has been doing LED kits since 2005 – yes 13 years! – so they have an established and diverse dealer network in place across the U.S., and a customer base like no one else in the boating market. We look forward to continuing and growing all of those dealer relationships and establishing even more thru our wide distribution network, so that more dealers and do-it-yourself customers can really light up their boats.”

Huntley said that the Blue Water assets are being moved to T-H Marine headquarters in Huntsville, where future
assembly and shipping of the product will occur. There will be no disruption to Blue Water customers or suppliers, just more access to the products through more locations than ever. Blue Water LED products will be up and running as a T-H Marine brand in a matter of days.
“Quality brands and products like Blue Water are what we seek to add to our strong portfolio of brands,” Huntley said. “This is our fifth acquisition in the past five years along with many product license acquisitions. We love being known as the go-to company for launching and acquiring innovative brands and products . We have proven our ability to take great ideas, from inside our plant, from our boat building customers, from inventors, and from smaller
companies, and really blowing them up in the market. We have experienced compound annual growth of over 20% per year over the past 8 years and we are not planning to slow down.

“The acquisition of the Blue Water assets puts us into a clear market leadership position in aftermarket LED light kits that we looking forward to growing even more. This brand also gives us immediate access to several other markets outside of boats.”

T-H Marine is celebrating its 43 rd Anniversary of business and has grown to be one of the largest manufacturers of boating and fishing accessories in the U.S.

To learn more about T-H Marine, www.thmarine.com; to learn more about the Blue Water LED Enterprises products, please visit www.bluewaterled.com.