Auto dealer cuts ribbon for new location in Florence

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Employees and executives from U.S. Auto Sales joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the grand opening of its new location with a ribbon cutting Friday morning.

U.S. Auto Sales, a company based in Lawrenceville, Georgia, has 22 locations across the U.S. and five in South Carolina.

President Bob Andersen said the new Florence location, at 1448 N. Cashua Drive, rounds out the company’s reach in South Carolina.

“We’re excited to be in the Florence community,” Andersen said. “This is a great location for us and we are excited to be a part of the town. It was a great opportunity for us to enter Florence and it allows us to be able to care of the full state.”

Andersen said that U.S. Auto Sales has a selection of more than 2,000 vehicles and that fresh vehicles will arrive at the Florence location daily.

“We think we have a unique niche, particularly in this market,” Andersen said. “We offer a warranty with every vehicle and it’s part of our core to treat our guests with respect and maintain them as guests so they will want to come back.”

Andersen said joining the chamber was a way for the company to be part of the community.

“I think it’s important to always be a part of the community and to add to the community in both jobs and spirit,” Andersen said. “We want to keep focus on doing the right things in the community for the folks that live here.”

Neill Waters, chief marketing officer for U.S. Auto Sales, added that the chamber offers unique networking opportunities.

“When you’re selling cars, anyone can be a customer,” Waters said. “Being a part of the chamber allows us the opportunity to network, which create greats value to us as a company.”

As part of the festivities, Cowboy’s Famous Ribs & Chicken was on location to provide lunch. Andersen said the grand opening was a way to introduce the new dealership to the community.

“We’re always excited to open a new facility,” Andersen said. “We’re growing and continuing to expand our brand. We know that this location will do well and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

For more information on careers or available vehicles, visit

Clarke & Company cuts ribbon on new downtown Florence office space

By: Andrew Boardwine

FLORENCE, S.C. — Clarke & Company Benefits celebrated the grand opening of its new office at 122 S. Irby St. Tuesday afternoon.

Employees and executives from the company joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce for a ribbon cutting.

Norman Clarke, owner of the Columbia-based business, said the company had been looking for new offices due to growth over the past couple of years.

“We looked at several places, but really liked the downtown area,” Clarke said. “We really like our office because it’s close to everything in downtown and we have room to grow. We want to be part of the community and the downtown business community.”

Clarke & Company bought Insurance Services of South Carolina, a local company, three and a half years ago. Since then, Clarke said, the company has enjoyed being a part of the Florence area and seeing the development of the community.

“We like what’s going on downtown,” Clarke said. “We really like the accessibility. Everything is in walking distance of what you need and the business community is so close. A lot of our clients are downtown, so it was just a great fit.”

Clarke & Company insures companies of all sizes. Clarke said the company offers insurance products and helps human resources departments with modern technology and an array of different tools.

“Our real job is to help employers and bring value to the employer,” Clarke said. “We’re not just offering insurance, we’re offering technology. We’re trying to make buying insurance a little easier and making things a little bit more efficient for them.”

In addition to the ribbon cutting, Clarke & Company celebrated the grand opening of its new offices by holding a Tax Reform Seminar from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., which featured speakers Joe Griffin and Leann Childs with WebsterRogers, who talked about the new tax bill and how it will affect local businesses going forward.

Some of the topics discussed were the lowered corporate tax rate, the new Section 199A Deduction for owners of pass-through entities, and depreciation tax breaks.

Following the seminar, the company showed off its new office space to attendees with light refreshments.

For more information, visit

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Chick-fil-A app provides for curb-side delivery at Magnolia Mall in Florence

By: Rebecca Cross, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Chick-fil-A inside the Magnolia Mall joined the Florence Chamber and recently opened additional curbside delivery parking spots.

To celebrate, Chick-fil-A employees and representatives from the Florence Chamber held a ribbon cutting on Wednesday afternoon outside Magnolia Mall.

Customers can use the Chick-fil-A One app to order their food and then pick it up at one of the four identified curbside delivery parking spots in the food court parking lot. Sara Black, franchise owner, said this is one of the preparations her store is making to prepare for an influx of customers.

The drive-thru only Chick-fil-A will temporarily close starting April 23 before the freestanding Chick-fil-A outside Magnolia Mall opens later in the summer.

“We’re trying to get the word out to take care of those guests,” Black said. “If they don’t want to get out of the car, we can deliver it to their car. They just use the mobile app.”

The Chick-fil-A app is free to download for Apple and Android devices and is a rewards system. Customers receive treats periodically for using the app.

Black said she enjoys bettering a community. That is one of the reasons she decided to leave the medical field after 15 years of work as a physician assistant and in medical sales.

“I grew up in a family business in Anderson, South Carolina, and just wanted to own my own business and be able to have an impact on lives like I did in medicine but on a longer term basis like helping … people of all ages reach their higher goals and impacting the community,” Black said.

Black became the owner of the Chick-fil-A inside Magnolia Mall during January of 2017.

“I never look at it as that I’m coming to work because when you own your own business, and you’re working for yourself, you just have I think this internal motivation to always want to be more,” Black said. “It’s just to be able to set the tone of the business.”

Black said she wants to serve guests with excellence.

Chick-fil-A employees will now do table delivery and in-mall delivery for guests who use the Chick-fil-A app. Black said this is helpful for mall employees who may have short work breaks.

“We’re just really trying to think outside the box and be convenient,” Black said. “That’s one of our main missions here is to be surprisingly fast and convenient for our guests.”

Black said a goal for her Chick-fil-A is to grow the catering business. The store’s number is 843-665-9259.

Signarama of Florence cuts ribbon, celebrates Chamber membership

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Signarama of Florence, at 2047 W. Evans St., provides anything from the smallest letters that stick on a door to huge signs and anything in between to business owners, as well as banners, magnets and much more that can go on vehicles and other items.

On Wednesday, the store joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting.

Stephen Heriot, who co-owns Signarama of Florence with his wife, Malissia, said the store has been open since late January, but they wanted to wait until March to hold a ribbon cutting to establish the foundation of the business. “A business with no sign is a sign of no business,” Heriot says.

“We’re a business-to-business type,” Heriot said. “We work with the community, but we do a lot more with businesses. The main reason we came over to Florence was because I knew so many business owners here in the community. Everybody’s been so nice and everything’s been progressing well. We’re very excited to be growing in Florence.”

Heriot said joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce has helped the business get into the community.

“Being a member of the chamber has been a great benefit for us,” Heriot said. “The events we’ve been able to go to and the people that we’ve been able to meet have been really helpful.”

In addition to the chamber, Heriot cited the growing nature of Florence, especially in the business community, for the company’s development.

“The economy is heading in the right direction,” Heriot said. “There have been some recent laws passed that help businesses and it’s just an exciting time to be a business owner. We just got lucky and fell into this at the right time.”

Heriot said sometimes it takes a setback to find out what the next chapter in your life may be.

“I was getting kind of burnt out and I got laid off from my job,” Heriot said. “I was talking to Signarama and it was almost like a sign. So, my wife and I made a decision to pursue this and we’ve worked tirelessly to get the store open and we’re just loving it.”

For more information, visit or follow Signarama on Facebook.

Golden scissors cut ribbon for Florence’s new courthouse

By: Matthew Christian, Morning News

FLORENCE— With the snip of a few pairs of golden scissors, the new Florence County Judicial Center was officially opened a few minutes after 11 a.m. Friday.

State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, 12th Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles, County Councilman James Schofield and Master-in-Equity Haigh Porter spoke in a brief ceremony. Then Council Chairman Kent Caudle called city, county and state officials to the top step outside the entrance and counted down to the ribbon cutting.

“The citizens of Florence County now have a courthouse they can be proud of,” Leatherman said during his speech. “I see great nothing but great things for this county.”

The new building is on Irby Street, across from the Florence County Complex. It opened March 5 after county officials and workers moved in.

The idea for a new judicial center for Florence County was originally Judge Ralph King Anderson’s, according to Porter. Porter added that the new facility is the fourth courthouse in Florence County. The original building was built during the 1890s. That building was replaced during the 1930s, and facility currently in use opened in the 1960s.

The facility built during the 1930s had a major flaw: no air conditioning, which is not a good thing in the oppressive heat and humidity of South Carolina summers.

“They used to just throw the windows in the courtroom open in the summer,” said Porter, who worked as a young lawyer in the facility. “When a big truck went by you had to wait your turn to speak again.”

The facility built during the 1960s had air conditioning but was still not adequate so, Anderson’s idea was eventually embraced by Schofield and current County Administrator K.G. “Rusty” Smith.

“[Schofield] was like a bulldog with a bone,” Council Chairman Kent Caudle said as he introduced Schofield at the ceremony. “He wasn’t going to stop until the job was done. Well, now it’s done.”

Leatherman and Nettles also noted Schofield’s dedication to opening the facility.

Nettles added that he felt the facility represented Florence County’s continued commitment to the rule of law, the idea that laws, not arbitrary decisions, should govern society.

Also given credit during the speeches were designers Stevens and Wilkinson, Goforth and Brown, and Justice Planning Associates, contractor BE&K Building Group, the Judicial Facility Advisory Group of Schofield, Nettles, former Clerk of Court Connie Reel-Shearin, Sheriff Kenny Boone and Suzanne King. Doris O’Hara, the current clerk of court, and Connie Haselden, clerk to the County Council, were also thanked.

The colors were presented by the Wilson High School Air Force JROTC and Jerrod Deas, director of music at Wilson, played the national anthem on his saxophone during the ceremony.

SCNow Web Article – Golden scissors cut ribbon for Florence’s new courthouse

Florence company planning April treasure hunt

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — R. Skelton Enterprise joined Ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to hold a ribbon cutting.

R. Skelton Enterprise is owned by Bob Skelton and oversees several business endeavors.

The next endeavor for the company, Skelton said, will be the Discover Florence Treasure Hunt.

“We wanted it to be something that had more value than just an event,” Skelton said. “We wanted to integrate something that would bring families together and create an experience here in the Florence area. It’s an event where people can turn their TVs off, go have dinner and go on a treasure hunt.”

Skelton said the event, which is scheduled to begin in April, will take treasure hunters on a journey around town to find clues.

Each month, 15 to 20 clues will be posted on the Discover Florence Treasure Hunt website. Skelton said residents must go to the business or historical landmark where a clue can be found, complete a task, and take a picture to document their experience.

Those who complete the monthly tasks will be entered to win $1,000. The 12 monthly winners will then compete for a grand prize of $10,000 next year.

Skelton said joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce was very important to get the local businesses involved.

“This is a perfect fit for the Chamber of Commerce,” Skelton said. “We feel like we can bring excitement to the business community and create a great experience to make a difference to our city and give back in an appreciative way.”

Skelton said the event is about bringing the Florence community together.

“It seems that everything is pulling our country apart,” Skelton said. “What we want to do is to bring our city together and unify the citizens. Something like this is just fun and it’s a great opportunity for us to grow closer together.”

Registration is limited to 500 applicants and Skelton said 300 have already registered. For more information, visit

SCNow Web Article – Florence company planning April treasure hunt

Same business, new brand for Florence family

By: Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Martin’s Lawn Care & Landscaping Irrigation is rebranding after many years of service in the Pee Dee.

On Monday, the business joined the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and held a ribbon cutting to celebrate its decision.

Derrick Martin, owner of Martin’s Lawn care & Landscaping, said joining the chamber was an important move for the business.

“Since we’ve been in business, we’ve pretty much gone by word of mouth,” Martin said. “Joining the chamber gives us a chance to network and kind of rebrand. I have six kids altogether and some of them may be taking over the business and I want to put them in the very best position as possible.”

Martin’s Lawn care & Landscaping has been in business since 1993. Prior to opening the business, Martin graduated from South Florence High School in 1988 and then served three and a half years in the U.S. Army.

“I’m actually a second-generation landscaper,” Martin said. “I learned everything I know from my dad and I hope to pass that down to my kids.”

Martin said he looks at his business as a chance to bond with his family.

“My son and my daughters help me in the summer time and with different projects,” Martin said. “That’s why I’m trying to build it up so people will recognize it. The goal is to make it one more generation.”

Martin’s Lawn care & Landscaping offers a full range of landscaping design, construction, irrigation design and installation, and maintenance.

Martin said the business does lawn care, landscaping, irrigation, drainage, tree work, pressure washing, hedge trims, and other services.

“Our slogan is ‘we do it all,’” Martin said. “Anything you can think of, we offer.”

For more information, contact Martin’s Lawn care & Landscaping at 843-409-1683 or at The business also has a website at

“My dad always told me if you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all,” Martin said. “Everything we do, we try to make sure the customer is 100 percent satisfied when we leave. I make sure that I’m involved in all the business operations and we put our best foot forward in everything that we do.”

SCNow Web Article – Same business, new brand for Florence family

Future Entrepreneurs Foundation cuts ribbon in Effingham

By:Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

EFFINGHAM, S.C. — Nanaefua Eshun believes investing in the lives of youth today will result in stronger and better leadership tomorrow.

Eshun, the president and chief executive officer of Future Entrepreneurs Foundation, joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting for the organization on Tuesday at Savannah Grove Baptist Church in Effingham.

Eshun said the Future Entrepreneurs Foundation was started with the goal of helping teenagers become better businessmen and women.

 “I’m very proud to be a part of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce,” Eshun said. “I’m excited to be a part of a community that exemplifies diversity first and entrepreneurship, and I love how they promote those things within our community.”

The organization provides opportunities for students to have one-on-one mentorships, chances to ask questions to business professionals and be involved in the community through service.

“I work with students within the Florence school district, and we help them hone skills and gain resources in the field of entrepreneurship,” Eshun said. “I believe our youth are our future leaders, and it’s up to us to empower them and invest in their future.”

Eshun said the foundation will hold a fundraiser on Sept. 21 at the Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology Center on the Florence-Darlington Technical College campus.

Celebrity Christopher Gardner and Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin will be the speakers for the night. Gardner was portrayed by actor Will Smith in the movie “Pursuit of Happyness” in 2006.

“The fundraiser will go toward educational field trips for the kids,” Eshun said. “This will give us the opportunity to help the youth even more to fulfill their dreams and become the best leaders they can be within the community.”

Eshun said being involved in the growing process and seeing youth succeed is what makes it all worthwhile.

“Whatever vision they have, they have can achieve it,” Eshun said. “I can be right there beside them, coaching them and getting them to focus on their future. We want to give them all the resources that we can to help them succeed. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child.”

For more information, visit To contact the foundation, email or call 800-913-8261.

SCNow Web Article – Future Entrepreneurs Foundation cuts ribbon in Effingham

Greater Pee Dee Realtor Association holds ribbon cutting

By: Andrew Boardwine

FLORENCE, S.C. — The Greater Pee Dee Realtor Association’s motto for 2018 is “it’s a new day.”

The association kicked off the new year by joining ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting on Wednesday morning.

Keon Jordan-Aldrich, president of the realtor association at 1375 Celebration Blvd, said joining the chamber is something the association needed to do.

“Today is a great day for real estate,” Jordan-Aldrich said. “It’s been a long time coming, but we are very excited to join the chamber. We’re making sure that we stay in the community and that we continue to have our voice for the community, which is a great thing to be a part of.”

Jordan-Aldrich was elected the 2018 association president by her colleagues, and she said she is looking forward to seeing what the new year holds.

“I’ve been an agent for about 16 years,” Jordan-Aldrich said. “I just enjoy being able to meet new people and make their dream a reality. Now that I’m board president, I enjoy being able to help make the decisions and hopefully assist in taking our association to another level.”

Jennifer King, the chief executive officer of the Greater Pee Dee Realtor Association, said the partnership with the chamber will enable the association to continue to service the community.

“We are glad to be a part of the chamber,” King said. “We are excited to be able to support our community. We are the Greater Pee Dee Realtor Association and they are the Greater Florence Chamber. We both believe in bringing growth to the area, so I think it’s a great fit.”

The association helps link realtors together, provides education and looks to give back in the community.

“We are a trade association for all realtor members in the nine-county area of the Pee Dee region,” King said. “Anyone who is a licensed realtor can be part of the association, and that means the buyer and seller will be dealing with some who abides by our code of ethics and standards. We run the MLS service, which shows all current listings, and put on several community events, as well.”

For King, the realtor association has given her a chance to work with new people and meet realtors from across the Pee Dee region.

“I don’t come out of the real estate world,” King said. “My favorite thing is working with all the people. Everyone is really nice and passionate about what they do. It’s a lot of fun getting to work with people from all corners of the Pee Dee and watching them work with others to achieve their dream of homeownership.”

SCNow Web Article – Greater Pee Dee Realtor Association holds ribbon cutting

Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School cuts ribbon for a new building

By: Rebecca Cross

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Construction is complete for a new academic building and dining hall at Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School.

Representatives from the school’s board of trustees, First Reliance Bank, Hunter Builders and Munnerlyn Architects participated in a ribbon cutting on Wednesday evening at the school.

Dr. William Naso, chairman of the Trinity-Byrnes Board of Trustees, said it is an exciting time to be a part of the school.

“We are the fastest growing independent school in the Pee Dee region,” Naso said.

The school has 273 students.

“We’re really busting at the seams, and that’s why we’re here today,” Naso said.

Students are from throughout the region. Naso listed Hartsville, Darlington, Florence, Lamar and Cheraw as cities that students are from.

“We have built a school that is second to none in this region,” Naso said.

The 12,000-square-foot building features seven classrooms, two seminar rooms and one multipurpose room to also be used as a dining hall. Two of the seven classrooms are science labs. The building is designed to support advanced math and science teaching and technology for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

A reception was held in the new building after the ribbon cutting, and attendees toured the building.

SCNow Web Article – Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School cuts ribbon for a new building