Pest Control Specialist Joins Florence Chamber

by Ardie Arvidson

Great Quality Pest Solutions of Effingham joined ambassadors of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Monday to celebrate its chamber membership. The celebration included a ribbon cutting at the chamber.

Bruce Turner, a pest control specialist, has approximately 10 years of experience in the field. He is the sole proprietor of the business. He opened approximately three months ago and is currently licensed for mosquito control but will be licensed for termites, fire ant control and residential pest control in the next three months.

“We are committed to helping and educating the communities we serve through our experience and knowledge of the pest control field,” states the company website.

Turner worked in pest control in Georgia before opening his own company. He said he liked the customer service aspect of the business.

He said going inside people’s homes requires trust from the customer.

“Once people learned to trust me, I felt like this was the job for me,” Turner said.

He said the most important thing about the job is to know that you have technicians you can trust, he said.

He offers organic and regular pest control treatments.

“Our prices are very affordable,” Turner said. “I will help anybody, especially the elderly. I like helping people. I will work with them to manage their problem.”

On his website, Turner states that his mission is to be a “moving pillar in every community around the Pee Dee area to show common courtesy, friendliness, professionalism and acts of kindness.”

“I grew up in Florence and always knew I wanted to come back here to start my business,” he said.

He is a graduate of West Florence High School, is single and works from his home. His grandmother still lives in the Florence area. His parents and sister live in Georgia.

He is an active member of the Effingham community and is helping organize a community cleanup on July 20.

He is in the process of becoming a member of the Florence Kiwanis Club.

He said from discussions with people in the community he was told the chamber offers networking opportunities and a place to get involved.

He hopes to be an active member of the chamber.

“I hope it will help launch my business,” Turner said.

In addition to his pest control business, Turner mows lawns on weekends.

He likes “shooting pool,” spending time with family, four-wheeling and traveling.

For more information, visit or call 843-799-0863 for work estimates.

Greater Quality Pest Solutions is located at 2605 Javelin Circle in Effingham.

To read the full article on SC Now, click here.

Florence Chamber Has New Officers and Board Members

by Ardie Arvidson

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce will begin its 2019-20 year on July 1 with seven new members of its board of directors.

Mark Buyck III of Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA; Scott Collins of Collins Architecture; Brian Fast of First Citizens Bank; Kevin Gause of Wells Fargo; Ed Hoffman of Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School; Tyron Jones of Florence-Darlington Technical College; and Linda Johnson of the Senior Citizens Association have all agreed to serve.

Mindy Taylor of Duke Energy, who served as chamber board chair during 2018-19, will now serve as past chairman, and Ken Jackson of RE/MAX Professionals will become the new chair.

“Being chair of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce board of directors has truly been an honor for me, and I am extremely proud of everything we have been able to accomplish – together – for our community,” Taylor said. “Mike [Miller] and the entire chamber team made my job as chair a blessing, and I cannot thank them enough for their efforts every day.

“I step down knowing the chamber will continue to serve our community well as Ken Jackson takes the gavel, and I look forward to all that’s yet to come for our chamber and our great city.”

Miller, the president of the chamber, said he and his staff members are thrilled that Jackson is the new chairman.

“We will continue to expand community and business opportunities under his watch,” Miller said. “The chamber takes pride in its planning efforts for the growing list of programs and events it implements each year. We know Ken will help us enhance those projects with the community support needed for our future success.”

Jackson said he is excited about the coming year. He has been on the chamber board on and off for the past 30 years. He just completed a year as chair-elect. This will be his first time serving as chair.

He said the board approves a Chamber Business Plan each year. The key initiatives for 2019-20 are to achieve a goal of 700 plus memberships, expand efforts in capital and president level Foundation membership, continue efforts in communications to members and associates, continue to expand partnerships in educational and workforce programs and continue to grow relationships with media to promote and educate on chamber efforts. These and other parts of the business plan are available on the chamber website.

Jackson said there are several things that he is particularly interested in, including increasing membership to a level that will help the chamber become more successful.

The current membership, Jackson said, is between 625 and 650.

“I would like to cross the 700 threshold this year,” he said. “Things are trending upward, and I hope to continue that on my watch.”

Jackson is also hoping to get more board members directly involved in chamber programs year round.

He said he also wants to get membership more involved.

“We have about 60 different programs and events, from Business After Hours to CEO breakfast to Leadership Florence Alumni,” Jackson said.

There is something for everyone, he said.

“There are a lot of great things happening in Florence,” Jackson said. “The downtown has a lot to be proud of. It is a good time to be a part of the chamber and the business community.”

He said the chamber is a great source for people to network and increase their professional development.

“I am a more seasoned business person,” he said.” It is kind of fun to be around younger business people who are just starting their careers.”

The chair-elect will be Mike Reichenbach of Mike Reichenbach Ford. Keith Buckhouse of Synovus Bank will continue to serve as treasurer.

Leaving the board will be Bailey Dabney, Morning News; Drew Chaplin, Palmetto Commercial Real Estate; Adam Connolly, Coker College; Bret Greer, Toledo Carolina; Debbie Hyler, The School Foundation; Mathew Langston, BB&T; Britt Poston, Zaxby’s; Teressa Tabor, The Manor; and James Tolston III, North American Assemblies.

To view the full story on SC Now, click here.

Emerging Leaders Summer Institute Kicks Off Summer Sessions

The Chambers 18 member Emerging Leaders Summer Institute class kicked off their summer sessions with a meet and greet and summit/retreat on Wednesday, June 19th.

The purpose of the program is to identify, develop and empower “Emerging Leaders”, specifically minorities, small business owners and innovative professionals poised to move into the next level of community and business leadership.

The retreat was facilitated by Pivot10 Results.

To view the Chamber’s Facebook and see more pictures, click here.

Palmetto Staffing Holds Ribbon Cutting with Florence Chamber

by Ardie Arvidson

The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors joined Palmetto Staffing Agency, LLC on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate its new chamber membership with a ribbon cutting.

Palmetto Staffing is located at 420 W. Cheves St. in Florence. Ronnie Shirlaw is president.

The business was started about four years ago and has two locations, one in Florence and one in Hartsville at 853 W. Carolina Ave.

There are six employees at the Florence location and two in the Hartsville office.

They help businesses with temporary hiring needs while helping people find temporary employment. Most are temporary assignments lasting about three or four months.

Palmetto Staffing is a temporary staffing agency that in some instances results in full time employment, he said. 

Shirlaw said people can come to the office and fill out applications or leave their resumes.

In the next three or four months, Shirlaw said Palmetto Staffing will be moving to a new location on West Evans Street.

“We are in the process of moving,” he said.

Shirlaw and his wife, Angel, have two children and four grandchildren. They live in Florence.

He said he is looking forward to getting involved with the chamber.

For more information about Palmetto Staffing, call 843-407-6361 in Florence and 843-309-9806 in Hartsville.

Published with the permission of Morning News.

Waitr Inc. Brings Meals to Your Door in Florence

by Ardie Arvidson

Waitr Inc. has grown since it launched in Louisiana in 2013. Now it is in more than 15 states serving 235 citiies, including Florence.

Waitr Inc. representatives joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on June 13 to celebrate its chamber membership with a ribbon cutting at the chamber office in downtown Florence.

Waitr Inc. was started by Chris Meaux. The first market launch was in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in 2015, said Kimberly Davis, city manager with Waitr.

Davis said the Florence market was launched on Feb. 4. She said the service is simple. A customer goes to the app andselects a restaurant and items from the menu. Waitr places the restaurant order, picks it up and delivers it to the customer.

The Waitr app lets you order food in the Florence-Darlington area and have it delivered to your doorstep for a fee of $5.

“We have 80 restaurants on our app, which you can see a full list on the Waitr app or online at,” Davis said. “We have over 50 drivers on our team and look to hire more.”

Drivers must be 18 years old with a valid driver’s license that shows insurance coverage to drive the car, and must pass a background check.

Davis is based in Florence. She oversees field operations, hires and manages the driver team and monitors delivery times.

The team includes Misty Schiltz, the mobile restaurant success manager. She oversees restaurant operations, installs Waitr equipment in restaurants, manages restaurant menus and visits all restaurant partners. The business development manager is Jason Hill. He oversees the acquisition of new restaurants. The brand ambassador is Lindsey Davis. She oversees marketing needs and opportunities, supplies restaurants, hotels and businesses with promotional materials, visits restaurant partners and community planners to plan and execute all marketing events.

To read the full story on SC Now, click here.

Downtown Splash Pad Now Open

Florence area kids will now be able to take a summer break from the heat in a new addition to downtown. The city has announced that the opening of the Andrew H. Griffin Plaza, which has an interactive water feature. The space is landscaped providing space for special downtown events and for general public use.

The interactive water feature is designed for children 12 and under and will be open from 9:00am through 11:00am and again from 2:00pm through 6:00pm. It includes eight spray jets with a center column of water to cool off on those hot summer days. During operating hours an attendant will be present in the plaza area.

Chamber’s Les Echols Wins Second in Florence Lip Sync Battle

Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce’s very own Director of Community and Minority Enterprise, Les Echols, took home second place at the Florence Lip Sync Battle for lip syncing his rendition of James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”

by Shamira McCray

Charlotte Smith of St. John’s Church won first place for her performance at the Florence Area Literacy Council’s Lip Sync Battle on Thursday.

Smith’s performance to “Firework” by Katy Perry also won her the first-place award for fan favorite.

Nine performances were done Thursday evening by people representing various organizations in the Pee Dee. All proceeds raised will benefit the literacy council.

“Keep contributing to the literacy council,” Smith said after accepting her award. “They need y’all. They don’t need you tonight. They need you throughout the year. Go volunteer there. Contribute your services.”

Smith said the literacy council benefits the community. And Kenya Walker is a testament to that. She told the audience at Thursday’s event how she obtained her GED last month after receiving services through the literacy council.

“I did not think that I had the talents to do anything,” Walker said.

But the people at the literacy council made her feel confident that she could accomplish her goal, Walker said.

“She (Walker) is the reason that we do what we do every single day,” said Christina Lawson, director of the literacy council.

Because of the support received from the Lip Sync Battle, Lawson said, the council is able to do a lot of great things for people who need it. The council works with students who are at all different grade levels, but the average student is at a third-grade level, she said.

The goal of Thursday’s fundraiser was to raise $30,000 for the council.

To view the full article on SC Now, click here.

Bela Family Dentistry Celebrates Opening in Florence

by Ardie Arvidson

Bela Family Dentistry of Florence joined ambassadors of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to celebrate its grand opening and its chamber membership. The celebration included a ribbon cutting with chamber ambassadors.

Dr. John DuRant, who was formerly at the Bela office on West Palmetto Street, and Dr. Liz Shelly from the Darlington office have moved into this facility to better serve the community.

They have seven dentistry rooms to serve patients. Bela provides general dentistry to children through adults. Services include restoring implants, denture services, gum treatments, filings, crowns and bridges.

“It is a great location with state-of-the-art equipment,” DuRant said.

Shelly has been in South Carolina for 30 years but is originally from Chicago. She attended Northwestern University Dental School in Chicago.

DuRant is a native of Gable. He received his undergraduate degree from Clemson University and his dental degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. He did a one-year residency at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“We are happy to be a part of this community,” Shelly said.

“I am very excited,” DuRant said.

Dr. Matthew Cook, the chief executive officer, welcomed guests to the ribbon cutting. He thanked the ambassadors for coming out and supporting them.

For additional information about the services, call 843-662-8413.

To view the full story on SC Now, click here.

Chamber and Agape Hospice Host Business After Hours

The Florence Chamber of Commerce held a Business After Hours with Agapé Hospice at their new location in Florence on 1516 W Palmetto St on Thursday, May 23.

The guests were able to enjoy food, drinks, music, and fresh air as they networked with other professionals in their area.

Agape decorated their building with a multitude of flower umbrellas in correspondence with their theme “Life Blooms Eternally.”

Chamber welcomes Carolina Kickboxing Academy

by Ardie Arvidson

A ribbon cutting was held Monday at Carolina Kickboxing Academy, 1717 W. Palmetto St. to announce the opening and recognize a new member of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. Chamber ambassadors helped to celebrate the occasion.

Chief executive officer and head trainer Walker Vivian said his academy has been open for approximately three months.

He has been teaching kickboxing for roughly 12 years. Before opening his own establishment in Florence, Vivian taught in Las Vegas at Syndicate Mixed Martial Arts.

“I wanted to move back home,” Vivian said.

“I started when I was 17 years old in Myrtle Beach,” Vivian said.

He said he moved to Thailand for approximately five years between 2010 and 2015 to fight and train.

Vivian said he likes the competition aspect, but he started kickboxing for health reasons. He said he is a Type 1 diabetic and needs to stay healthy.“That is why I got into it,” he said. “It is a good challenge mentally and physically. You learn a life-long skill.”

He said it is a lot of fun, too.

Vivian has taught his 10-year-old son, Brody, to kick box. His son helps him teach classes. Vivian said his son is the West Coast kickboxing champion for his age group.

Vivian teaches Muay Thai, kickboxing, self-defense and anti-bullying classes.

“I have about 25 students, but I want 125 students,” he said.

He said he teaches ages 5 to 100.

“People can come and try their first class for free,” he said.

Hours are 10 to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and 4 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

To sign up, stop by or call 843-380-3037.

To view the full story on SC Now, click here.