Real estate market showing gains in Pee Dee

Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — The real estate market in the Pee Dee is trending upward at the midyear point of 2018.

The market saw increases in new listings and median sales prices for the year to date, as well as a decrease in days on the market.

Keon Aldrich, president of the Pee Dee Realtor Association, said she was excited looking at the overall body of work and statistics thus far in the year.

Pee Dee Real Estate
A look at the real estate statistics for Florence in June and year-to-date in 2018.

“It’s really exciting to see how good the numbers look,” Aldrich said. “We’re really seeing growth, and it’s a great thing for the entire community.”

In June of 2018, new listings for Florence were up 8.9 percent from 2017, and the days on the market decreased from an average of 135 in June 2017 to 106 in June 2018. The inventory of homes for sale was up to 654, as opposed to just 460 in 2017, creating a 42.2 positive percent change.

“Normally you get a lot of agents saying they’re not busy during the summer, but that hasn’t been the case this year,” Aldrich said. “It’s been a busy time for the entire Pee Dee area.”

In Florence, year-to-date numbers show good signs for the future, Aldrich said.

Pee Dee Real Estate
The Florence market saw increases in new listings and median sales prices year-to-date, as well as a decrease in days on the market.

New listings have increased from 870 in 2017 to 895 in 2018. The median sales price has increased from $157,950 to $163,800 and days on the market until sale have dipped from 139 to 120.

Closed sales were down 7.9 percent from 569 in 2017 to 524 in 2018 while percent of list price received remained almost unchanged.

“People out there are seriously considering purchasing homes,” Aldrich said. “People want to buy houses. Though that ‘closed sales’ number is a bit down from last year, that doesn’t really concern me. People are continuing to move to our area, and everything is as good as it has been in quite some time.”

Pee Dee Real Estate
A look at the real estate statistics for Darlington in June and year-to-date in 2018.

In Darlington, new listings are up 4.8 percent from last year. The median sales price has increased from $92,783 in 2017 to $117,200, and the days on the market have decreased from 150 in 2017 to 138 in 2018.

“It speaks to the overall quality of houses we have on the market,” Aldrich said. “People are willing to pay more, and that also speaks to the health of our overall economy.”

Aldrich credited the growth in the Pee Dee to several things, including the downtown development in both Florence and Darlington, as well as the location of the area.

“We’re not a fast community, but we’re just right,” Aldrich said. “People are coming to retire here. I’ve found that a lot of people really like it in Florence, because it is the middle point for a lot of things. Downtown, not just residential, but also the new businesses that are coming to our area have really contributed to the growth.”

Pee Dee Real Estate
In Darlington, new listings are up 4.8 percent from last year. The median sales price has increased from $92,783 in 2017 to $117,200 and the days on the market have decreased from 150 in 2017 to 138 in 2018.

Aldrich said the outlook for the real estate market for the future looks bright and doesn’t see any reason that entire Pee Dee community won’t benefit from the continued growth.

“I think it’s going to continue to get better,” Aldrich said. “I don’t see us going back. I see growth. I love the fact that everything is changing for the better, and it’s just wonderful to see and be a part of.”

Hyundai dealership in Florence holds ribbon cutting

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Lee Hyundai of Florence joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Friday morning.

Lee Hyundai purchased Florence Hyundai and opened a new facility in November at 2542 W. Palmetto St.

James Ervin, general manager of Lee Hyundai of Florence, said the business has enjoyed its time in Florence.

“We feel very blessed to be here in the Florence community,” Ervin said. “We look forward to serving the people in Florence and the surrounding areas. Our motto is ‘We do business the right way.’ Please come in and visit.”

Lee Hyundai sells new cars, and it is a CARFAX certified dealership with 75 preowned vehicles to choose from.

In addition to selling cars, the dealership offers several services for Hyundai vehicles, including oil changes, tire repairs and replacements, wheel alignments and brakes as well as specialized Hyundai part maintenance and replacements.

Georgia arena football team will relocate to Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Arena football will return to Florence for the first time since 2009. It’s in the form of the American Arena League champion, Atlanta Havoc.

Make that, when next season starts: The Carolina Havoc.

Havoc general manager Josh Resignalo, who confirmed the move to the Morning News on Thursday, said the team has signed a one-year lease with the Florence Center.

“Everything is done. I’ve got all the turf and everything moved there this past weekend,” said Resignalo, who was offensive coordinator last season but will also take over as coach after the team relocates to Florence. “Ultimately, they gave us a great deal as far as being a tenant there with our arena lease.”

The 2019 campaign will be the second overall for not only the Havoc but the league. It has a 12-game regular season, from March until June, with a two-game postseason.

The Florence Phantoms (2006-09) were the last arena team to play in Florence, winning the American Indoor Football Association championship in 2008. And in 2016, a South Carolina Ravens American Indoor Football League squad tried to gain traction in Florence. But it never came to fruition. The team is now in Charleston and part of the Supreme Indoor Football League.

The Havoc made their championship run with their home field being the Buford City Arena, in Buford, Ga.

Resignalo said the team had two other new sites to choose besides Florence: Little Rock, Ark., and Pensacola, Fla.

So why Florence?

“It’s strictly business,” Resignalo said. “They were talking about raising our rent. And going into the second year there in Buford, we had already paid quite a bit of money per game. It did not fit the business model for the owners.”

The team’s owner when last season started was former XFINITY and Truck Series driver Tim Viens. But Viens resigned midway through the season, leaving the ownership to Heath Tate, Kelli Powers and Chris Duffy. Those three remain the co-owners as the team moves to Florence.

“When the new owners assumed majority ownership of the team, they found that remaining in Buford was not necessarily the best business decision,” Resignalo said. “So for them to keep operating a team, they needed a better city to go to that’s more in line with their business model, and we felt Florence is that in all aspects for us.”

Resignalo also explained why the team agreed to just a one-year lease.

“We wanted a multiple-year lease,” Resignalo said. “But we want to get situated and make sure we’re all on the same page.”

Playing in Florence is also a treat for Resignalo, since he played against the Phantoms during the 2006 and ’07 seasons with teams based out of North Carolina. And he lives one state over.

“My home is right outside of Raleigh, N.C., in Garner,” Resignalo said. “So, it’s much closer for me to go to Florence than the other two cities we were looking at.”

The 2019 campaign will be Resignalo’s 13th overall in the league. After coaching the High Country Grizzlies in 2017, he resigned before the 2018 campaign and joined the Havoc under then-coach Gerald “Boo” Mitchell, a former Vanderbilt football star. Mitchell will remain an assistant at North Gwinnett High School, in Georgia.

Now that Resignalo will be the coach next season, as well as G.M., he thinks his team can quickly gain a lot of momentum.

“I think (being the league champion) will create a buzz in our favor in showing we’re not an expansion team,” he said. “A lot of our success in Atlanta came from the product we put on the field.”

And Resignalo thinks this team will make a bigger impact than the Phantoms did.

“It’s about our ownership group and the business model,” Resignalo said. “Arena football itself is entertainment. It’s about putting on a show, being involved with the community. On game day, it’s basically going to be a show, and then a football game breaks out.”

A youth arena football league and cheer team are among the team’s goals.

“We’d even like to start a reading program with the elementary schools,” Resignalo said. “We think if we can prove to the city and the Pee Dee area that we’re there for the right reasons, we’ll get the support we want.

“We won’t last without the support from the area.”

Company picks Florence location for computer-cooling products

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — ARCTIC, an international company specializing in computer-cooling devices, will locate its first American venture in Quinby with plans to convert the former IGA building in the Quinby Plaza into a combination of warehouse and office space, officials told the Morning News on Thursday.

ARCTIC, headquartered in Hong Kong with operations in Germany, will use its new facility in Florence County to distribute products throughout the United States. Employees have been hired for warehouse and marketing positions with more set to be hired for sales positions.

Denise Stein, executive team leader for ARCTIC, said Florence County’s location made it the best choice for the company as it expanded its operations in the United States.

“We considered other locations on the East Coast that would have suited our needs, but we had a gut feeling that Florence County was the best fit for us, mostly because of the overwhelming support we received from every point of contact throughout this decision process,” Stein said in an announcement.

Florence County discovered ARCTIC last year at a Select USA Investment Summit, where Lauren Stanton, assistant director of the Florence County Economic Development Partnership, met with ARCTIC representatives. The Gould Business Incubator, proximity to ports and business-friendly climate were key factors in ARCTIC’s decision to locate in Florence County.

Joe W. King, executive director of the Florence County Economic Development Partnership, said the Gould Business Incubator was significant in the company’s decision to come to Florence.

“We met them last year in Maryland,” King said. “They felt comfortable in the community, and it was important for them to have a place like the Gould Business Incubator where they could get started right away.”

ARCTIC operations are taking place at the Gould Business Incubator until renovations are complete at the Quinby facility.

Peter Jankowski, branch and sales director for ARCTIC, said the company looks forward to growing in the United States through its new Florence County presence.

“We look forward to growing our U.S. presence and expanding our brand awareness,” Jankowski said. “The Gould Business Incubator offered us the chance to get started right away, which is a unique opportunity that helped set Florence County apart from other locations.”

For more information about ARCTIC or the various products it offers, visit

Family, art go together at new Florence framing shop

Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Art and family have always been two of the top priorities for Troy Cottrill. Now, he gets the opportunity to work with both simultaneously.

Cottrill’s Landmark Art joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce Wednesday to hold a ribbon cutting to celebrate the new store.

Cottrill’s Landmark Art, at 1308 Celebration Blvd., is a family-owned custom frame shop and art gallery. The shop has now been open for a week.

The shop offers “view it before you buy it” technology in which the customers can scan their art piece or photo into a software program that will then allow them to drag and drop different frames and maps, showing them the finished product before they order it.

“We are able to frame and mat very quickly and get it back to the customer in a timely manner,” Cottrill said. “It was very important for us that prices were lower than that of what you’d normally pay and we wanted to offer the very best.”

In addition to framing and matting, the gallery showcases artwork from six artists, five of whom are local and one who is from Paris, France. Cottrill said he can also order other art pieces that may not be displayed in the gallery.

Cottrill, who was raised in Ohio, has lived in South Carolina for 19 years. As an artist, he specializes in pencil drawings of historical sites and other vintage objects. Cottrill said the idea to open a frame shop came when he and his wife, Melissa, started looking into buying their own art printers and framing equipment to avoid paying high costs when looking to sell and showcase their art.

“It was always a dream of mine to open a gallery and it just kind of evolved from there,” Cottrill said. “We began framing and printing on our own and started to do it for many other artists, as well.”

“My wife has been very involved with art,” Cottrill said. “This is definitely going to be family ran. My 23-year-old son will be one of our main framers. My wife is very techy and installed the software that we use to show our customers their product before they buy it. Our youngest is 10 years old and she is already looking forward to working here someday, but she made it clear that she will require a hefty salary.”

The store will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Cottrill’s Landmark Art at 843-799-0328, or visit its website at They can also be reached via e-mail at

Chick-fil-A West Florence opens its doors

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — The newly constructed Chick-fil-A West Florence restaurant opened its doors for the very first time Thursday morning.

One hundred people received free Chick-fil-A for a year, including dozens of campers who braved the heat, a short rain spell and the elements to camp outside the store 24 hours prior to the official opening.

Employees and executives from the restaurant, which previously was drive-thru only, joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the grand opening with a program, ribbon cutting and a ceremonial “first bite.”

Blake Pate, owner and operator of the store, said that the Chick-fil-A drive-thru opened 24 years ago, and for 23 of those years, they have waited for a dining room.

“I want to thank everybody that came out and everyone that has been really supportive throughout the community,” Pate said. “We’re happy to finally have that dining room and really excited to be here.”

Pate originally took over the Chick-fil-A inside the Magnolia Mall before transitioning to the drive-thru-only one at 2705 David H. McLeod Blvd two years ago. He said that the store added 35 more jobs, bringing the total number of employment to 105 at the new restaurant.

“We want to keep it simple,” Pate said. “We want to sell you good food and be really friendly while doing it. That’s our mission and our goal here at Chick-fil-A West Florence. We want to do exactly what [Chick-fil-A founder] Truett Cathy said: ‘To treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect’ and to serve you a great chicken sandwich at the same time.”

Nicole Hill, the marketing director of Chick-fil-A West Florence, said she was happy for the entire Pate family as their dream came true Thursday morning.

“For us, it’s been such a joyful experience,” Hill said. “A lot of us have been working with Blake when he was in the mall and followed him to drive-thru, but we knew the long-term plan was to build this store. It’s been his dream, and the fact that he gets to have something so new makes me extremely excited for him. He really is a people’s person. He wants to be able to get out of the office and into the dining room to interact with guests. I think having this new store is going to be amazing for him.”

Hill said the location right off the interstate will provide a good amount of volume for the store.

“With this particular location, we have so many people traveling through on the interstate that will get off and want to eat here,” Hill said. “If they want something a bit faster or if they have a really large family, they actually have a dining room to come and sit in together, which is awesome.”

Chick-fil-A West Florence will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Three J Properties holds ribbon cutting in Florence; business offers handyman services

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Three J Properties joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Wednesday afternoon.

Three J Properties, a maintenance and repair company, offers a variety of services for both residential and commercial properties.

Joe Linder, owner of Three J Properties, said his favorite part about being a handyman is seeing his clients’ face when the job is completed.

“There are different personalities day to day,” Linder said. “No one person is the same, no one job is the same. I love seeing that finished result. Everyone has different things that they want, but always at the end they are like ‘wow’ and that makes it all worth it.”

Linder said the company does anything including repairs, renovation, refinishing and remodeling for both residential and commercial properties.

He said joining the chamber was a way to extend his company’s reach and let the Florence community know about the services his business offers.

Linder was joined by many family members, including his brother James and father, Joe Sr., who help with the business.

“I’m no better than anyone else, but I will work hard to make sure I get it right,” Linder said. “It’s awesome getting to work with my family. A lot of times, you have to choose between work and family. Through our business, we get to do both and I look forward to building relationships with people and letting them know about us in the Florence community.

For more information, contact Three J Properties at 843-615-2131.

Florence company offers all kinds of fencing work

FLORENCE, S.C. — Flat Out Fencing joined ambassadors with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning to hold a ribbon cutting.

Flat Out Fencing, a Florence-based company, does fencing of all kinds, including chain-link, wood, privacy or pickets, and gates, as well as repairs or demolition for both commercial and residential property.

Nicholas Hodges, who co-owns the company with his wife, Valentina, said the company began business in September 2017.

“Previously, I had worked with a guy who was a contractor for Lowes, Home Depot and Sears,” Nicholas said. “The last part before I left, they had me branching off of fencing and doing other housework and I really wanted to get back to doing fencing. I enjoy working outside and seeing the productivity of working with my hands.”

Valentina said that Nicholas is a perfectionist, which results in him making sure to put in the highest quality of work on each project he is assigned.

“Whatever he does, whether it be fencing or working with me in the house or anything else, he’ll redo it again and again to make sure he gets it right,” Valentina said. “For him, quality is important and he wants everything to look good.”

Nicholas was referred to the Chamber by a board member, Robby Hill, and said the networking opportunities will help grow his business.

He said the business is excited about its opportunities in the future and will look to provide its customers with the best quality and service.

“As a new company, we are trying to have the lowest price,” Nicholas said. “If a customer were to find a lower price, we would try our best not just to match it, but to beat it.”

For more information, contact Flat Out Fencing at 843-206-6922 or email The company also has a website at

Heating and Cooling company expands from Ohio to Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Russell Christian, co-owner of Best Service Heating and Cooling Inc., pulled a marble out of his pocket with an inscription on it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He said that was the adage his company operates by.

Best Service Heating and Cooling Inc., at 1838 Habersham Square, Suite E, joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon cutting.

Russell, who co-owns the company with his wife, Cookie, said he has operated the business for more than 40 years with a location in Columbus, Ohio. After many accolades, including BBB Accreditation in 2014 and being named a 15-time Super Service Award winner by Angie’s List, the Christians looked to expand their business to South Carolina.

“We were looking to increase our footprint and extend our summer,” Russell said. “We were looking for a place that had a good, long summer and we looked all through South Carolina. Every time we came back to Florence, we just felt at home.”

His wife echoed his sentiments.

“Everybody’s been so friendly and welcoming,” Cookie Christian said. “We’re not used to that being, from Ohio, and we just really like it here. Everything is so close and we really like the accessibility.”

Leon Holden was named the operations manager for the Florence location. Russell said he believes that Leon has the knowledge and skill to perform the job effectively.

Best Services Heating and Cooling Inc. provides an array of services, including furnace and air condition repair, installation, heat pump repair, duct cleaning, and more.

“What we bring to the table is that we live what we say,” Russell said. “We’re a Christian-based company and we look to truly serve the community. Once you use our company, you’ll see that we really mean what we say.”

Russell said joining the chamber was also a way for the company to become involved in the Florence community.

“We like living and being a part of the community,” Russell said. “We all deal with big ‘no face’ companies from time to time. What we are big on is doing one-on-one business where we get to talk to people, show them our product and explain to them how they can make their products last longer. Our theory is that if we show customers how to save money, they will come to us when they need us. I don’t want the quick service; we want the long-term customer.”

For more information about Best Service Heating and Cooling, contact 843-314-2378 or visit its website at

Florence Family Medicine aims for personal touch

FLORENCE, S.C. — Florence Family Medicine employees joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Thursday morning.

Florence Family Medicine, at 315 N. Beltline Drive, Suite E, provides primary care services including sports physicals, sick visits, preventive medicine, routine health maintenance, management of chronic medical illnesses and more.

Ryan Williams, who co-owns the practice with his wife, Sabrina, and is the M.D., said the business opened in March.

“We had been working for larger facilities in the past and we kind of chatted one night and felt like we were called to open a small business and to serve the Florence and Pee Dee community with a private medical practice,” Ryan said.

Sabrina, a nurse, said the two had always joked about opening their own practice.

“All of a sudden it wasn’t a joke anymore,” she said. “We started looking and decided to really do it and here we are. It’s awesome and it certainly doesn’t feel like work.”

The two added Nikhole Mitchell to their staff as a registered nurse.

Ryan said the practice provides more of a personal touch than that of many other doctors’ offices. He said that the staff has prayed with patients and visited them in the hospital and that they seek to provide the highest care possible in every situation.

“Our main objective was to do this for God’s glory,” Ryan said. “We had our church come and dedicate this place. We claimed that He is the owner of the place and that puts things into perspective. It changes how we view patients and how we treat people. If you put God first, all else will fall into place. We strive to do the right thing in caring for people and we strive to be accessible to our patients.”

Sabrina said that the actions of the business speak louder than its words.

“We don’t push our faith on anyone, but we know that how we act and how we care about people, they will see Jesus in us,” Sabrina said. “In us caring about them, people see the difference.”

Sabrina said one way that the practice cares for its patients is by having shorter wait times.

“People are tired of waiting for their doctor,” Sabrina said. “They complain about having to wait two to three hours and still not being seen when they go back in the room. We will always strive to get our patients back and have them seen by the doctor in a quick time.”

Florence Family Medicine serves all ages and works with all the major insurance companies. The business plans to be full-service, meaning that it can admit patients into the hospital if necessary.

The practice is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed from noon to 1 p.m. each day. For more information, visit, follow the practice on Facebook or call 843-407-8192.