Fresenius Kidney Care expands in Florence

By:  Matthew Christian, Morning News

Shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dr. John Pittard cut the ribbon to mark the expansion of Fresenius Kidney Care in Florence.

Fresenius Kidney Care has expanded into a new facility that will allow more patients to be cared for individually. It had more clients than it could handle at its previous location.

The new facility is at 1453 Pamplico Highway.

Fresenius Kidney Care trains patients with end-stage kidney failure how to perform dialysis at home except for one visit per month to a kidney center. Dialysis is the process that attempts to replicate the removal of poisons from the human body that the kidneys normally perform. Fresenius Kidney Care offers patients with failed kidneys the opportunity to learn how to perform one of two types of kidney dialysis depending on their needs.

Being able to dialyze at home offers patients with end-stage kidney failure the freedom to continue to live their life.

“It’s tough,” Pittard said. “One of my favorite stories: I was coming back from Wyoming about four years ago, and I went to turn in a car at 4:30 in the morning. There’s a couple, a man and his daughter from Galveston [Texas], because of the flood problems, he has to travel 45 minutes to Houston to dialyze.”

Pittard said the man’s situation was even worse on vacation in Wyoming. In that state, near Jackson Hole, the closest place for him to go was in Idaho, an 85-mile trip across the southern end of the Teton Mountains.

“On top of it, the clinic he was supposed to go to messed up,” Pittard continued. “He didn’t have a spot. His vacation got canceled after four days. Had he been on home dialysis, there would have been no problem. He could have enjoyed his vacation.”

For more information on Fresenius Kidney Care, visit


Incubator on display at Florence Business After Hours event

By:  Andrew Boardwine

Florence-Darlington Tech officials showed off their Charles W. Gould Business Incubator office space Wednesday evening as part of the organization’s Business After Hours event.

Hundreds of ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce joined business and community leaders for a night of networking, fellowship and touring the facility.

The Gould Business Incubator offers a clean and modern environment for office-based and manufacturing ventures with affordable work spaces, free phone and internet service and the most modern shared support amenities.

Ashley Deaza, executive director of the SiMT Gould Business Incubator, said the business incubator is a great resource for those wanting to start or grow their business.

“I thought the Business After Hours would be a great way to make the community aware of the resource we have here at the SiMT in the business incubator,” Deaza said. “Many are still wondering what purpose the business incubator serves. It’s very simply put: We’re a great place to grow your business with all the resources you need. We’re open to working with all types of industries and it’s really exciting.”

The Gould Business Incubator was established as an extension of the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology in 2012 to help ensure the success of new business ventures in the Florence-Darlington area, according to its website.

The incubator includes seven modern, furnished office spaces and 17 multi-use bays. All spaces are expandable and many offer large roll-up doors and 480 volt, 3-phase power.

Deaza said the incubator had four new companies, including female-owned companies, join this summer.

“There’s quite a variety of different business that have joined,” Deaza said. “We’re just really excited and things really tend to kick up in the fall and the spring. We do have a few spaces left ranging in sizes, so we may be the right fit for a company looking for a place.”

For more information, visit

Active Day of the Pee Dee joins Florence Chamber, snips ribbon to celebrate

By Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Active Day of the Pee Dee joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Wednesday to celebrate the organization’s new chamber membership with a ribbon cutting.

Active Day of the Pee Dee, at 2120 Enterprise Drive, has been around for more than 18 years and serves disabled adults and seniors through many different services.

Tyra Jefferson, center director for Active Day of the Pee Dee, said the Pee Dee location is one of 13 centers in South Carolina. Nationwide, the organization operates more than 100 centers in 14 states and has been open for more than 20 years.

“We provide respite services and are a community resource for individuals who have Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and special needs,” Jefferson said. “Our members are here for socialization. When they’re come here, they’re able to meet people and it helps with their care, health and living.”

Jefferson said joining the chamber will allow the organization to be more actively involved in the Pee Dee community. She said the organization plans to build and expand within the next few years as it continues to increase its footprint in Florence.

“I’ve seen the chamber do so many things in the community,” Jefferson said. “They do awesome work for community engagement and I think that fits our mission and our vision of where we’re going.”

Active Day cares for more than 7,000 members.

“The members are personal to me,” Jefferson said. “My son is autistic, so I get to come to work and do what I do at home. I’m a caregiver myself, so I get it both ways. I know what it’s like to provide the service and receive the service. I really love the members and our great staff.”

Active Day will be celebrating National Adult Day Health Services Week Sunday, Sept. 16, through Saturday, Sept. 22. The organization has a list of events on its Facebook page and welcomes volunteers.

For more information, contact Active Day at 843-665-1919 or e-mail You can also follow Active Day of the Pee Dee on Facebook or visit

2018 – 2019 Leadership Florence Meet & Greet

The Leadership Florence journey has started for the class of 2019. Today, we welcome our 35 member class of business and community leaders to Leadership Florence with the annual Meet and Greet event facilitated by Pivot10 Results.


Chamber’s 2018 Annual Membership Luncheon

By:  Matthew Christian, Morning News

A speech given Thursday by former S.C. Gov. David Beasley at the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 Annual Membership Luncheon inspired an anonymous donor to help start a fund in Beasley’s honor.

Sarah Shelley, the executive director of the Eastern Carolina Community Foundation, said Thursday afternoon that the donor was so inspired by Beasley’s description of his work as executive director of the United Nations World Food Program that after the speeches and ceremonies ended, she was approached by the donor.

Beasley was appointed to the food program in 2017 after being nominated by Nikki Haley, the current ambassador to the United Nations and also a former governor of South Carolina.

The donor asked if the foundation could do something, and Shelley was able to get it done.

“The donor was struck by how so little can help so many,” Shelley said.

In his speech, Beasley said it took less than 50 cents to feed a person a single meal. Children can be fed with approximately 25 cents.

Shelley added that the donor hadn’t previously considered the connection between international security and food security, the ability of individuals to access food, that Beasley spoke of in his speech to those attending the luncheon.

Beasley described conversations with mothers who said their husbands joined organizations classified by the United States as terroristic as a way of providing food for their families. With food provided by the food program, the recruiting tactics of those organizations are lowered.

He also mentioned that food-security problems cause many people in the Sahel, the transition zone between the Sahara Desert and the rainforests of southern Africa, to leave their homelands in search of better opportunities in Europe. Organizations classified as terroristic by the United States can use these migrations to enter those areas as well. With no migrations, the likelihood of an terroristic attack would be lessened.

Shelley also said the donor was inspired by Beasley.

“It shows that we can grow pretty good people here in the Pee Dee,” she said.

Beasley, a Darlington County native, was the governor of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999. Prior to being elected, he served as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. After being defeated by Democrat Jim Hodges in 1998, Beasley served as a fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and was awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his request to the South Carolina General Assembly to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse. Beasley lost to Jim DeMint in a 2004 Senate election.

He also was a co-incorporator of the Center for Global Strategies.

Schipp Johnston named Business Person of Year at Florence Chamber’s Annual Membership Luncheon

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Schipp Johnston, the owner of Crown Beverages in Florence, was named the 2018 Business Person of the Year during the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership Luncheon on Thursday.

Johnston, a Florence native, said he was thankful for his staff, his family and those who gave him an opportunity in his career.

“It’s a humbling honor,” Johnston said. “I want to thank everyone who works at Crown Beverages and all of our partners. I also want to thank my family and the support they’ve given me.”

Johnston graduated from South Florence High School before attending the University of South Carolina. After working in Charlotte for a few years, Johnston returned home in 1991 to work for DuBard Beverages. He worked in several capacities, including controller, sales manager, general manager and partner. In 2006, Johnston purchased the business and formed what is known today as Crown Beverages Inc.

At the time of the purchase, the company had just one supplier — Anheuser-Busch, Inc. — but has since grown to more than 40 suppliers, employs about 80 people and serves over 800 customers in seven counties in the Pee Dee.

“Mr. DuBard means everything to me,” Johnston said. “He gave me a chance and fortunately, I’ve been surrounding by great people, great friends and a great family. It’s been awesome and I really appreciate it.”

Recently, Johnston reached an agreement with Southern Eagle Distributing Co. based in Charleston and the two companies now represent 51 counties and employ more than 500 people.

In addition to his job, Johnston loves to spend time with his family and volunteer in the community.

Raldex shows off new corporate quarters in Florence at Business After Hours

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

Raldex Hospitality unveiled its new corporate facilities Thursday evening with a grand-opening and Business After Hours event.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., business and community leaders began arriving at the group’s offices at 780 Woody Jones Blvd. for an evening of fun, food and networking.

Chad Patterson, vice president of Raldex Hospitality Group, said it was exciting to see the business community come out to support Raldex.

“We are so excited to have as many people as we do tonight,” Patterson said. “The Florence community has been great partners with us. We love being a part of it and being able to have this new office right here in the hospitality district. To see the support from the local businesses means a lot.”

The event featured live music, food and drinks as Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors and members of the public toured the new facilities, including offices, a warehouse and meeting rooms.

Patterson said the company is invested in the Florence community and looks for ways to take care of its team members, guests and the local community.

The office will provide several services to its team members, including payroll, human resources, corporate sales, upkeep and much more.

Raldex Hospitality owns and operates the Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Garden Inn and two Hampton Inn & Suites, one near the Florence Center and one on S.C. 52 in Florence.

For more information, visit

Florence Tax Service celebrates grand-opening weekend

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Gloria’s Perfection Tax Services celebrated a grand opening for its new office this past weekend with the hopes of helping the Pee Dee community get the best tax services and consultations as possible.

Gloria’s Perfection Tax Services joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Friday.

Gloria Jones, a proud graduate of Wilson High School and owner of the business, said she was excited to join the chamber.

“I wanted to get familiar with other areas around the community,” Jones said. “It’s a great way to network and help out with my community. I wanted to be able to encourage black women and small business owners who may be on their own to be successful in their fields.”

The office, at 1509 West Evans Street, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will extend its hours during tax season.

For more information, contact Gloria’s Perfection Tax Services at 843-702-2593.

Hofler Law Firm holds ribbon cutting in Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine/Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — The Hofler Law Firm joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon to hold a ribbon cutting.

The Hofler Law Firm, at 183 S. Coit St., Suite C, was founded by Jack Hofler in Florence about a year ago.

Hofler said the law firm serves people in the areas of personal injury and family law.

“I enjoy the opportunity to work directly with the clients,” Hofler said. “I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the people that I interact with on a daily basis.”

Hofler said joining the chamber will help his business establish contacts throughout the Pee Dee area.

“I’m lucky to live in Florence because of the thriving business community we have,” Hofler said. “I think that being a member of the chamber is going to help my business by fostering relationships with other successful businesspeople. I feel lucky to be a part of this group.”

Hofler said he grew up in Florence and, after graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law, he began a clerkship with Circuit Court Judge William H. Seals, Jr. in Marion. He then spent years practicing law with an established defense law firm in Florence before deciding to open his own practice.

Hofler said he couldn’t be in business without his the support of his family.

“I feel very fortunate to have a close family,” Hofler said. “I would not have been able to have the success that I’ve had opening this new law firm had it not been for the support of my family. I want to especially thank my wife Laura Anne. She has been and continues to be one of the people that is really instrumental in helping the business to flourish.”

For more information, visit


Coronal Energy announces plans for the construction

Coronal Energy, a leading independent solar power and energy storage provider, today announced plans for the construction of a new solar project — the Rankin Solar Center — in Florence County. The new development is projected to bring approximately $15 million of capital investment.

The Rankin Solar Center will generate 10 megawatts of clean, renewable solar power, which is enough to power approximately 2,000 homes annually. With world-class capabilities in development, financing, engineering and construction, Coronal Energy owns, operates and manages a 333-megawatt portfolio with a multi-gigawatt development pipeline.

Located off Corrie Farm Road in Florence, S.C., Coronal Energy’s new development is expected to come online in the fourth quarter of 2019.