The following column appeared in the July 9, 2014 issue of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper (For the Record page 39).
In the last few weeks, Motovo.com, a real estate website, ranked the Lake Norman town of Cornelius as the fourth sexiest community in the nation and Huntersville as the seventh most exciting town in North Carolina.
In addition, Ashley Madison (ashleymadison.com), an online dating service that caters to people already in relationships, says Huntersville leads its rankings of the “Most Unfaithful Neighborhoods” in the Charlotte area. The rankings were based on the percentage of membership from respective ZIP codes in the region.
My first take on reading the Ashley Madison statistic was astonishment. First, that there was a website that encouraged that type of behavior. Second, I was not aware the Town of Huntersville was a neighborhood of Charlotte. But I suppose when you have sexy and exciting folks living near each other, it stands to reason they might be susceptible to temptation.
At my last check, there are approximately 500,000 words in the English language and there are 100,000 or so adjectives. I suspect over the summer, we’re liable to hear quite a few more accolades from these online websites. Perhaps Davidson will earn the “Most Educated” and Mooresville will be declared the “Fastest City” with all of its race shops and drivers who reside in the region.
All that said, the adjectives sexy and exciting are not lost on the business community. At the Lake Norman Chamber’s June “Lunch and Learn” event, we had the opportunity to hear from the owners of our outstanding Small Businesses of the Year. The one word that continued to resonate with the three business owners — Dr. John Ballas, Armin Desch and Penny Benkeser — was “passion.”
Ballas, owner of Ballas Chiropractic in Huntersville pointed out that to succeed, you must create a plan of action and hire employees to get it done. Ballas said, “Hire people and associates who share your vision and passion.” Penny Benkeser, whose business Servpro of Northwest Charlotte has grown 400 percent in 18 months, pointed out, “Don’t limit your benchmarks to your market or region. Look across the board — across the nation and find the very best. Use those examples as your benchmark and surpass them!”
Desch shared that the secret to his business success started with his employees. He reminded us all, “Treat your people special and they will in turn treat your customers special.”
Ballas Chiropractic was named the Small Business of the Year in large part because of Ballas’ hiring practices. “My dad gave me great advice,” he said. “Treat people with respect and empower your people. I hire slow, fire fast, train hard — and manage soft.”
“Take your time to hire the right people,” he continued. “Give employees every opportunity to perform their job, but if they do not meet expected levels of performance, move them out. … Train your folks hard and then get out of their way.”
When all three of our Small Business of the Year finalists were asked if they had any final thoughts about success to share, John, Armin and Penny looked at each other and agreed, “It all keeps going back to passion.”
Maybe Motovo.com is on to something. Some think of us as exciting. Others might find us sexy. But one thing for sure — in the Lake Norman region, we’re passionate about business.
Bill Russell is the president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with approximately 1,000 members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and greater Lake Norman region.