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 flatoutfencing@gmail.com. The company also has a website at flatoutfence.business.site.


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 bestservicehvac.com.

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 florencefamilymed.com, follow the practice on Facebook or call 843-407-8192.


Olanta, Hartsville banks announce merger

OLANTA, S.C. — Citizens Bancshares Corporation, the holding company of The Citizens Bank, and Regional Bankshares, Inc., the holding company of Heritage Community Bank, jointly announced Friday the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which Citizens has agreed to acquire Regional in a cash and stock transaction with a total current value of approximately $11.3 million, based on an assumed Citizens’ stock value of approximately $30 per share as of May 17.

The combined company would have had approximately $550 million in total assets, $476 million in total deposits, and $356 million in total loans.

The transaction will create a 19-office banking company with locations in the eastern part of South Carolina.

The merger agreement has been approved by the board of directors of each company. Closing of the transaction, which is expected to occur near the end of the third quarter of 2018, is subject to regulatory approval and approval by the shareholders of Regional.

Gosnold G. Segars, Chairman of Regional’s Board of Directors is expected to join the Citizens Board of Directors. Other current Regional Board members will have the opportunity to serve as members of The Citizens Bank’s Hartsville Advisory Board.

Additionally, Curtis A. Tyner, Sr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Regional, will serve the combined company in a consulting role for a three-year period following the completion of the acquisition.

“Our customers will continue to receive the same high quality level of service from the bankers that have served them at Heritage Community Bank. With Citizens, we have found a shared passion for our work with local businesses and professionals. This focus will continue and we are looking forward to the additional capacity that this combination of banks will bring to our customers,” Tyner said.

“Heritage Community Bank is the ideal partner for The Citizens Bank. Our banking philosophies are very similar and we have many operational similarities as well. This transaction will strengthen our ability to serve our local markets, consumers and businesses that make Heritage Community Bank and The Citizens Bank successful. I look forward to our future together as a combined institution and the substantial impact our bank will have on the communities that we serve. We welcome Heritage Community Bank customers and employees to The Citizens Bank family,” said Blake Gibbons, president of The Citizens Bank.

Andrew Boardwine, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. — Employees from the UPS Store joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon.

The UPS Store, at 2023 S. Irby St., is the second location in Florence.

David Fountain, who co-owns the store with his business partner, Susan Lee, said the store had been open since August, but the ribbon cutting was a way to celebrate and let the community know about the new store and what it offers.

“It’s very exciting,” Fountain said. “It was one of those things in the process we needed to do and we were happy to be able to do it today.”

The UPS Store offers an array of services, including packing, shipping, mailbox rentals, shredding, notary, freight service and much more.

Fountain said many people do not know about the store’s printing service. The store prints anything from stickers to brochures, banners and signage. The store has a graphic designer on staff to help with printing services.

“We’re not known for our printing,” Fountain said. “From the small things to the big things, we do them all. People see ‘UPS’ and just think that the store is a place that you ship a package. We want to be a one-stop shop for individuals or businesses. They came into one place and are able to get all the services they need done in one place.”

Fountain said joining the chamber was a way for the company to network and build relationships with other business owners and entrepreneurs.

“I made a resolution the first of the year to be active in the community and meet other people,” Fountain said. “It’s been great to be able to network and build contacts. It has enabled us to let people know that we can print and do all these other things. It really has expanded our reach.”

Lee said the location on Irby Street allows the store to reach communities not only in Florence, but around the Pee Dee area.

“This building is larger than any other store we have,” Lee said. “It helps us to offer printing production. Stuff that is getting outsourced, we’re able to do that right here. In addition to the size, there’s a lot of residential. We’re pulling in a bigger group of people and we’ve picked up a lot of traffic over here.”

The UPS Store is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit theupsstore.com or call the store at 843-407-6309.


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 usautosales.info.


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 clarkebenefits.com.

Web Article: SCNow.com

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 signarama-florencesc.com 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