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Home Improvement Expert Lindsay Tillie Joins Artisan Custom Closets as CEO

(Atlanta Business Chronicle) Slow, normal growth is the economic outlook for 2023: Atlanta financial experts discuss forecast in recent panel

Stacy Sutton Joins Georgia Oak

Georgia Oak Partners Invests in Artisan Custom Closets

Georgia Oak Partners Adds Emerald Transportation Solutions to its Portfolio

Lars Heck Joins Georgia Oak Partners

GA Governor Kemp Announces Sailfish Expansion

Georgia Oak Partners Invests in Aditi Consulting

Georgia Oak Partners: Our History, Your Future

Forbes Features Farm Burger Invasive Species Sandwich Launch

Former Back Yard Burgers CEO Joins Your Pie as COO

Spectrum Staffing Named Finalist for Pinnacle Small Business Awards

Farm Burger Honored on Good Good 100 Restaurants™ List

Georgia Oak Partners Founder Named to 2018 40 Under Forty by Atlanta Business Chronicle

Your Pie Celebrates 10 Years with Franchise Fest, Contest

Your Pie Named to Restaurant Business "Future 50" List

Georgia Oak Partners Founder Named to 2018 Emerging Leaders by The M&A Advisor

Farm Burger Named a "Sizzling Better-Burger Concept to Watch" by QSR Magazine

QSR Magazine: Your Pie Opens 5 Locations in First Quarter

Spectrum Staffing Wins Movers & Makers MVP Award

Farm Burger Named to QSR Magazine's 40 Under 40 Units List

Home Improvement Expert Lindsay Tillie Joins Artisan Custom Closets as CEO

Profile photo of Lindsay Chason Tillie

ATLANTA, May 22, 2023 - Home improvement expert Lindsay Tillie has joined Artisan Custom Closets as Chief Executive Officer. Lindsay is a visionary omnichannel retail business executive and "product whisperer" with a track record of impressive sales growth.

Prior to joining Artisan, Lindsay served as Merchandising Vice President for Floor & Decor for Laminate, Vinyl, and Resilient flooring, one of the largest and fastest growing departments for the company. During her tenure, the team produced double digit sales comps, which is twice the company average, and drove her categories to exceed $1 billion in annual turnover. Previously, she was General Manager of Co-Branded & Combined Store Formats for Carter's / OshKosh B'gosh, where she spearheaded the new store concept, opening 50+ new stores per year. Before that, Lindsay was Director of Merchandising (Merchant) for The Home Depot, where she managed a wide variety of product categories including interior doors, plumbing fixtures, and air circulation. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Artisan Custom Closets was founded in 2011 by Lisa Carlquist, a closet industry veteran. Lisa successfully grew Artisan to become a leading custom closet company in both Atlanta and Nashville. Under Lisa's guidance, Artisan has enhanced the homes of tens of thousands of customers and won numerous awards. Lisa will step aside from her day-to-day responsibilities but remains active on Artisan's Board of Directors. 

Georgia Oak Partners partnered with Artisan in December 2022.

(Atlanta Business Chronicle) Slow, normal growth is the economic outlook for 2023: Atlanta financial experts discuss forecast in recent panel

By Jessica Saunders


A recession is not likely in 2023, Atlanta-based economic observers agreed, and although the post-Covid growth surge is visibly slowing, it appears to be headed to a sustainable pace commensurate with the labor force, rather than turning negative.

Metro Atlanta Chamber Vice President and Principal Economist Ian Wyatt gave his 2023 forecast and then joined a panel that included Allison Dukes, senior managing director and chief financial officer, Invesco Ltd.; Michael Lonergan, managing partner, Georgia Oak Partners; and Bartow Morgan, CEO and board member, Georgia Banking Coompany, at the sold-out “Economic Outlook” event Jan. 19, presented by Atlanta Business Chronicle and Georgia Banking Company, before an audience of 200 at Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta. David Rubinger, publisher and market president, Atlanta Business Chronicle, moderated.

The U.S. will have 1% to 1.5% growth in gross domestic product in 2023, with the strength of the labor market and a slowing rate of inflation as key drivers, while Fed interest rate hikes and slow demand for goods are headwinds, Wyatt said. China’s reopening after relaxing its zero-Covid policy is the big unknown, according to Wyatt’s presentation.

Although there has been widespread, persistent media coverage of the possibility of a 2023 recession — “The R-word is out there all the time. We almost are trying to talk ourselves into it,” he noted — Wyatt says he’s more optimistic than the crowd and that he’s not alone. Currently, most forecasters expect positive GDP growth this year.


Normal — not a recession

In terms of job growth since the pre-Covid peak in February 2020, Atlanta has outperformed the nation and certain major metropolitan areas like Washington, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data Wyatt presented.

“We had an incredible period of growth. Atlanta definitely outperformed for a while the national economy. Now we’re more in line with the growth of the national economy,” Wyatt said. “But also we see a pace of growth getting back to a more sustainable level. What we’ve been experiencing since 2021 is not something our labor force, our economy can sustain. That’s why we’ve seen all this inflation: partly, you know, simply the economy was overheating. Think of it, you rev an engine too hard. You can only do it for so long until that engine starts to overheat. Well, that’s what we’ve been experiencing in terms of inflation.”

2022 had a substantially slower pace of job growth compared to 2021, especially in certain industries like hotels where the post-pandemic recovery curve was very sharp. “Obviously hotels are not going to grow 25% year over year repeatedly,” Wyatt said. Transportation and warehousing was another big driver of growth that now is pulling back.

Looking at the middle ground between competing interpretations of economic indicators is where Wyatt expected reality to lie. “You can see some sort of very slow growth, a bit slower growth than we’ve been experiencing, a more sustainable pace of growth, but not something turning negative,” he said. “But overall, definitely on a state-by-state level, we’re slowing.”

Wage growth has been very strong nationwide, and Georgia had one of the tighter labor markets, but the number of job openings is starting to fall statewide and nationally.

“We’ve gotten so used to almost a period of craziness, a period of crazy hiring, of just unbelievable turnover, that we’ve forgotten what a normal economy feels like,” Wyatt said. “And I think this is more what a normal economy feels like.”

Indicators of inflation are also in decline, including in Atlanta apartment rents, driven by rising vacancy, he said. “Overall, that’s a really healthy thing.”

Long-term labor shortage

Looking to the future, the current worker shortage is a long-term story. It is the trend that matters most over the next 10 years, because the U.S. population is getting older and the prime working-age population is declining as a share of the overall population, Wyatt said. That raises the stakes for states that are losing the domestic migration battle, like California and New York, which both lost 300,000 people over the past year, and gives a strong advantage to regions like the Sun Belt where domestic migration is tending to head.

” So if you’re a company, do you want to go to a place with declining population or somewhere that’s still able to attract domestic migration, attract inward growth?” Wyatt asked.

Georgia grew by 125,000 people last year, and its labor force has 60,000 more people than before Covid, according to Wyatt’s presentation.

“The U.S. labor force is only 7% bigger than it was in 2010. Atlanta’s is 16% bigger,” he said. “This is the long-run story and this is getting worse. The pace of growth of the U.S. labor force is slowing. It’s not going to be even 7% over the next 10 years. You have to think like, ‘this is going to be a long-run challenge my company’s going to face, how am I dealing with it?'”

Another labor force challenge is diversity, and Atlanta is doing well on that front, Wyatt said. The metropolitan area added more than 100,000 Black college graduates in the last five years — the most of any metro area. In terms of the Black population with a college degree, Atlanta is second only to New York, with over 500,000, Wyatt said, noting New York’s population is three times Atlanta’s.

Global outlook

Invesco Ltd. manages approximately $1.4 trillion in assets across Asia, Europe and North America, so it looks at individual dynamics on each content and regionally in each of the countries, said Dukes. “It’s an incredibly difficult year to have an economic outlook. Every CFO I’m talking to is having a hard time landing their plan for the year, because really no one knows where the market’s going to go, where the economy’s going to go” for all the reasons Wyatt cited, she said, noting the Federal Reserve is trying to take some steam out of the overheated economy with higher interest rates. “And that has its own implications. Our business is entirely market driven.”

The U.S. is coming off what might have been the worst year in nearly 50 years, with the equity markets down 20% plus and bond markets down 15% in 2022. “You very rarely see those two things turn negative at the same time. So we’re coming out of a very difficult period. I actually can’t say we’re coming out of it yet — we’re still in it,” Dukes said.

Invesco is looking for growth catalysts across various areas. In Asia, a unique situation is facing China as it eliminates zero-Covid policy and goes through the spread of the virus. “That is a very significant part of our business. It’s definitely having an impact on consumer sentiment in China,” Dukes said. “You’re seeing the lag effect of their Covid policies impact all of their economic data, and that’s slowing a lot of the growth in China down. As you know, they care deeply about economic growth. I expect this to be short term,” she said, adding that 40% of the wealth flows are expected to come out of China alone in the next 10 years.

Europe has been highly impacted by the war and the cost and availability of energy, Dukes noted. “There are very few growth catalysts on the horizon in Europe. I think until the market has some conviction around where the Fed’s going to end, when we think we’re actually starting to tame inflation and the Fed is reaching peak rates — until we’re there, the markets are going to continue to be volatile. It’s a pretty difficult environment to have conviction in right now.”

Private equity and banking perspective

In the private equity arena, there were 5,400 deals in 2021, more than in the 36 months preceding the downfall of Lehman Brothers, Lonergan noted. “An amazing amount of deal flow,” he added.

The three big ingredients to the private equities boom in 2021 were “low interest rates, access to capital or big balance sheets built up over time, and a rosy economic outlook.” Lonergan continued. “The consumer has certainly been buying over the last 30 months, and that’s 68% of the U.S. GDP. If you’re selling to the U.S. consumer, you probably had a pretty good run. That meant deal flow in spades in 2021. While we’re slower now, this is versus a record high, so deals are still getting done.”

But those three boom-producing ingredients are not there any longer. “(Leveraged loan) interest rates are up easily three to five points from the trough. Capital markets are pretty dysfunctional — bond market, IPO market. For the banks, credit committees are getting much tighter. So access to capital is down and investment committees just don’t know where the world’s going over the next 12 months,” he said. “Are they bullish? Bearish? Probably neither, but it’s uncertain, so you factor those three things in.”

For an investment committee looking at a financial model, the three keys to the model — revenue line, interest rate and equity check — are all not as good as they were 18 months ago, Lonergan said.

“We’ve got to slow down. A final point on this — is that valuations haven’t really gone down a lot, because there’s been a flight to quality. Certain assets that are trading are recurring revenue businesses, health care tech — they’re rock solids. You haven’t seen that precipitous drop as of yet,” he said.

Lonergan is advising owners of Georgia Oak’s partner businesses to be cautiously skeptical about what lies ahead, noting that $6 out of $7 of revenue in the United States comes from private companies. “It’s most of us in this room. One out of seven is a public company,” whose earnings, downturns and layoffs get reported publicly and covered by the media. “The six of seven that I’m dealing with, day in and day out, are doing pretty well. They’re hustling and they’re making it work and they’re not executing layoffs. That’s what I’m seeing.”

Dukes noted that recent big bank earnings reports had encouraging data regarding charge-off formation. “You’re just not seeing a lot of data that would be particularly concerning that we’ve got a credit wave coming,” she said.

Morgan concurred, noting the current banking industry conditions are very different than those preceding the Great Recession. “If you look at the bank earnings, you see the large banks putting back massive amounts into their account against losses. But those losses are not any losses that they’re recognizing right now. They’re just guessing that there’s a dark cloud out there in the future somewhere.”

Banks have to reserve based on what their forecasts are, Wyatt noted. “They’re reserving for losses, but those losses aren’t actually happening yet. The charge-offs aren’t showing up, and even when you look at the non-performing loan rates, they’re not showing up. It’s just their models are telling them this.”


When it comes to banking, you have a choice. We’re your local bank that’s invested in you as well as our communities. Our commitment to our relationships, service, and expertise help guide us in our vision to be your “Bank of Choice.” Visit us at and let’s connect today.

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Stacy Sutton Joins Georgia Oak

We are thrilled to announce the addition of Stacy Sutton to Georgia Oak Partners as Director of Growth!

Stacy brings years of data-driven marketing and management experience to Georgia Oak. As Director of Growth, she will provide her marketing expertise to work closely with and advise the Georgia Oak team as well as its portfolio companies. Previously, Stacy served as Chief Marketing Officer for Rule 1 Ventures as well as Vice President of Marketing for two tech startups, FactorCloud and Clean Hands - Safe Hands.

Early in her career, Stacy founded Big Drum, a digital marketing agency. Throughout her 15 years at Big Drum, Stacy established herself as an early pioneer of search engine marketing, receiving a number of accolades including the international “Search Engine Marketer of the Year - Female” LANDY Award by Search Engine Land. To learn more about Stacy, check out her bio.

Please join us in welcoming Stacy to the team!

Georgia Oak Partners Invests in Artisan Custom Closets

ATLANTA, Dec. 22, 2022 – Georgia Oak Partners, an Atlanta-based investment firm, announced today that it has completed a majority equity investment in Artisan Custom Closets, a leading vertically integrated designer, manufacturer and installer of custom closets and storage solutions for residential homes.

Founded in 2011, Artisan Custom Closets designs, manufactures, and installs custom-designed home storage solutions and has served more than 20,000 customers in the Atlanta and Nashville areas. Artisan is one of only a few companies in the Southeast that is vertically integrated and specializes in designing, manufacturing, and installing custom-designed storage systems. Each solution is designed to the client’s needs in terms of storage requirements as well as unique vision and style, including high-end custom features to provide a more luxurious organizational experience. Artisan provides solutions for virtually every room in the home, including primary and secondary closets, pantries, garages, mud rooms, laundry rooms, craft rooms, entertainment centers, and wall beds.

“Artisan Custom Closets has established itself as a leading home storage solutions provider in a highly fragmented industry,” said Lisa Carlquist, CEO of Artisan Custom Closets. “Georgia Oak not only brings operational expertise in the home services industry, but a uniquely hands-on approach that will launch us into our next phase of growth as the clear market leader in the Southeast.”

Artisan’s multifaceted team of expert designers, engineers and installers deliver tailored solutions to their thousands of clients each year. Having served over 20,000 customers in the last decade, Artisan has grown at an approximate 20% CAGR due to its exceptional service as well as strong referral and repeat business. Their designers are certified by the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals. They are experts in working with homeowners on optimizing their living spaces, providing peace of mind while navigating a wide array of choices. Adding an Artisan Custom Closet also increases the value of customers’ homes.

Located in Marietta, Ga. and Nashville, Tenn., Artisan is situated in the fastest-growing region of the United States for custom closets and storage companies. The Southeast, a top destination for retirees, is also predicted to continue to experience high population growth, an influx of highly skilled workers, and continued increases in home values. 

“We are thrilled to be in a partnership with Artisan Custom Closets,” stated Michael Lonergan, Managing Partner of Georgia Oak Partners. “We see a lot of opportunity and growth in the home services sector here in the Southeast and believe in the business that Lisa and her management team have built. Artisan’s highly-rated products and customer satisfaction are a clear result of the high-touch culture in place throughout the entire customer experience.”

Georgia Oak brings institutional capital and operational know-how to local businesses in the Southeast. This acquisition adds to Georgia Oak’s growing portfolio of manufacturing and consumer goods companies, which includes its existing partnerships with Sailfish Boats, Emerald Transportation Solutions, Farm Burger, and Your Pie, among others. Georgia Oak believes the home services sector will continue to experience strong tailwinds as people increasingly invest in their primary residences with an intensified focus on comfort. This trend, in combination with an aging population of homes in the U.S. that require renovations and remodeling, bodes well for the future of home services.

About Artisan Custom Closets

Artisan Custom Closets is a locally-owned and operated custom closet company with a mission to provide perfectly functional and aesthetically appealing storage systems to clients according to their storage requirements, budget, and style preferences. Artisan strives to bring organization to your closet with custom features that create a designated place for every item. To learn more, visit 

About Georgia Oak Partners

Georgia Oak Partners focuses on making equity investments in founder- and family-owned companies in Georgia and the broader Southeast. Using a local, hands-on approach, Georgia Oak works side-by-side with founders to achieve sustainable growth while maintaining culture and legacy. For more information about Georgia Oak Partners, please visit 

Georgia Oak Partners Adds Emerald Transportation Solutions to its Portfolio

ATLANTA – Georgia Oak Partners, an Atlanta-based investment firm, has officially announced their minority equity investment in Emerald Transportation Solutions, a premier manufacturer and seller of refrigerated trucks and vans. 

Founded in 2014 by Joe Dickman with co-owner Todd Cawley, Emerald Transportation Solutions designs and retrofits custom vehicles. Emerald consistently provides a highly innovative line of refrigerated vehicle solutions to their broad customer base, which ranges from local retail businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Their solutions have a payload range from 1,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds. 

In just under a decade, Emerald has grown at an approximate 25% CAGR due to a reliable, efficient product line, quick turnaround, and attentive customer care. The company operates on a commitment to “The Emerald Standard” – a single-source solution, a consultative approach, efficiencies/cost effectiveness, and a team of industry-leading experts. 

“It was important for us to work with someone who could add to what we were doing – not just working for money, but helping us accomplish our goals and wanting to see us succeed,” said Joe Dickman, CEO of Emerald Transportation Solutions. 

“Before Georgia Oak, we decided we wanted to put ourselves out there for private equity, but it wasn’t a good experience,” Dickman continued. “Then, when we met Mike and Dean, there was an immediate sense of comfort. That meeting went really well. Looking to the future, I know Georgia Oak will be instrumental in growing Emerald to new heights.”

At the beginning of 2022, Emerald consolidated its previous 35,000 square feet of four separate facilities into a new 92,000-square-foot facility in Griffin, Georgia. Located a mere 45 minute drive from Atlanta, Emerald sits at the center of the Southeast distribution hub, reaping the benefits of a rapidly growing population and Southeastern distributors’ delivery needs. 

“The outlook for refrigerated transportation in a small-vehicle, short-haul format is incredibly bright,” stated Michael Lonergan, Managing Partner of Georgia Oak Partners. “Emerald is the best in this growth category as the leading one-stop shop for all your refrigerated transportation needs. We are thrilled to be a part of the next chapter for Emerald.”

Georgia Oak foresees a strong future for Emerald as a new group of buyers comfortable with the digital economy enter the market. With the rapidly increasing pace of online ordering, food distributors are faced with an unprecedented opportunity to expand their customer reach and increase profit margins. 

This announcement adds to Georgia Oak’s growing portfolio of manufacturing and transportation & logistics businesses, including their current partnerships with Sailfish Boats, TeamOne Logistics, and others. The firm boasts a team of expert operational and financial executives who work closely with local family- and founder-owned businesses to accelerate growth. 


About Georgia Oak Partners

Georgia Oak Partners focuses on making equity investments in founder- and family-owned companies in Georgia and the broader Southeast. Using a local, hands-on approach, Georgia Oak works side-by-side with founders to achieve sustainable growth while maintaining culture and legacy. For more information about Georgia Oak Partners, please visit

Lars Heck Joins Georgia Oak Partners

We are very excited to announce the addition of Lars Heck to the Georgia Oak team! Lars comes to us from ThyssenKrupp where he led the North American Business Unit’s Finance team with a focus on FP&A, M&A, and reporting. He earned his MBA from the University of Cambridge and has spent his career working with companies like PWC, Coliseum Capital and Deloitte, to name a few. At Georgia Oak, Lars will be focused on providing support and financial supervision within our partner/portfolio companies. Please join us in welcoming Lars!


GA Governor Kemp Announces Sailfish Expansion


Sailfish Boats Manufacturing Headquarters to Expand in Grady County, Create 70 Jobs


Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that Sailfish Boats will invest more than $1 million and increase their workforce by more than 30% as they expand their manufacturing headquarters in Grady County. This investment at Sailfish Boats and in Grady County will create 70 jobs in southwest Georgia and results from a sharp increase in customer demand for fishing and recreational boats.


“Boating and water sports are big business in Georgia, creating opportunities in two of our critical industries – manufacturing and tourism,” said Governor Kemp. “It’s a pleasure to see a Georgia-based manufacturer like Sailfish Boats continue to grow and create solid jobs for the hardworking Georgians of Grady County and throughout southwest Georgia.”


Established in 1986, Sailfish Boats produces dual and center console boats built for offshore and inshore fishing. The company is headquartered in Cairo, Georgia, and currently employs more than 130 Georgians. Once this expansion is complete, the company will employ close to 200 people in southwest Georgia.


“For 35 years, we have called Cairo, Georgia, and Grady County home. Our growth now and throughout our history has been as a result of the hundreds of skilled, hardworking, and dedicated employees that call this area home,” said Sailfish Boats President and CEO Rob Parmentier. “Our current and forecasted growth is the result of upcoming new product introductions and development, a 35% increase of our distribution network, and sheer market demand for offshore/inshore fishing boats.”


The company will be hiring for careers in engineering as well as production areas of lamination and assembly. Individuals interested in opportunities with Sailfish Boats are encouraged to visit for additional information.


“Sailfish Boats is an amazing company in Grady County. Their new CEO, Rob Parmentier, and his team have the experience and vision to take the company to the next level,” said Executive Director of the Grady County Joint Development Authority Julian Brown. “It is great to know that some of the best boats in the world are made right here in Cairo, Georgia.”


Senior Project Manager Tina Herring represented the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Global Commerce division on this project in partnership with the Grady County Joint Development Authority and the Technical College System of Georgia.


“Over the last year, Georgians have reintroduced themselves to the diverse selection of outdoor activities available here as they explored our beautiful state. It is always gratifying when our existing industries continue to succeed and expand, but even more so when that growth is based on industry trends that will help us continue to revitalize our economy,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “I extend my thanks to Governor Kemp for his unwavering support of our advanced manufacturing industries and to our partners in Grady County for continuing to foster a strong relationship with the Sailfish Boats team.”


About Sailfish Boats

Sailfish Boats is a fishing focused, family-friendly boat builder located in Cairo, Georgia. For 35 years, Sailfish Boats has been dedicated to building quality inshore and offshore fishing boats. Sailfish Boats designs, engineers, and manufacturers center console and dual console inshore and offshore fishing boats from 22-to-36-feet for dedicated anglers and for those who just want a great day out on the water. For more information on Sailfish Boats, visit

Georgia Oak Partners Invests in Aditi Consulting

Aditi Consulting, a leading global technology solutions provider, announced it has raised capital led by private equity firm Georgia Oak Partners. The new capital will expand Aditi’s go-to-market efforts, and continued development of its service capabilities to help customers accelerate their digital transformation journey. Michael Lonergan and Kevin LeCompte of Georgia Oak Partners have joined Aditi Consulting’s Board of Directors.

Aditi Consulting builds strategies, systems and teams to help clients solve some of their most complex business challenges. As companies face a new way of working and a need for accelerated digital transformation, this partnership will further fuel Aditi’s full-stack tech capabilities and ability to deliver customized solutions that will propel change and connect data to real business outcomes for customers.

“Organizations are facing extraordinary challenges and an accelerated need for revolutionizing their digital strategies,” said Raja Narayana, CEO, Aditi Consulting. “With their depth of knowledge and ‘people-first’ philosophy, Georgia Oak Partners is the preferred partner to help us continue to build and deliver unique, future-proof technology and talent management solutions to our clients.”

As one of the fastest-growing tech consulting companies, with revenue more than tripling in the last five years, Aditi’s strong people-first culture emphasizes sustainable and exciting careers for consultants. Aditi continues to be recognized as one of the best companies to work for by Forbes and Washington’s Great Places to Work.

“Aditi is leading the way in designing innovative workforce and talent management solutions to meet the challenges of the future directly,” said Michael Lonergan, Managing Partner, Georgia Oak Partners. “Their commitment to building a diverse and inclusive culture for their employees and consultants is unmatched. We look forward to partnering with Aditi’s talented management team to help the company continue its notable growth trajectory.”

“This new partnership is a testament to our confidence in our ability to build an inclusive and sustainable future together with Aditi,” said Kevin LeCompte, Operating Partner, Georgia Oak Partners and former CEO, Global Employment Solutions and Fahrenheit IT. “We are excited to work with this team given their deep experience in the industry, and we look forward to helping the company accelerate growth.”


About Aditi Consulting:

Aditi Consulting is a leading global technology services company known for leveraging talent to transform ideas into plans and plans into actions. Aditi’s approach combines over 25 years of technology consulting experience with precise deployment of expertly trained talent. From discovery to completion, Aditi combines your vision with our unrivaled capabilities to accelerate your digital transformation journey. More information can be found at

About Georgia Oak Partners:

Georgia Oak Partners is a highly differentiated investment platform focused on growth private equity investments in business services, manufacturing, and consumer companies. Georgia Oak’s team includes seasoned industry executives who work to support world class management teams. More information can be found at

Georgia Oak Partners: Our History, Your Future

As 2020 draws to a close—and we continue to grapple with the unique challenges and opportunities it has presented all of us—we at Georgia Oak are pausing to reflect on our history as we gear up for the future in 2021. It’s the time of year to count our blessings, give back to others, and to focus on those important values and partnerships that have brought us to where we are today.

This holiday season, we partnered with our portfolio company, Farm Burger, and the Gateway Center of Atlanta, in providing meals for the men of Upward and Recuperative Care. The Gateway Center is located in downtown Atlanta, GA, and connects people experiencing homelessness with the necessary support to become self-sufficient and to find a permanent home.

Gateway Center  Mens Dorm  Step and repeat

Gateway Center programs are designed to address the underlying barriers that prevent individuals and families from transitioning out of homelessness, such as unemployment, behavioral health, housing affordability, and/or medical conditions. Gateway Center provides a trauma-informed and client-centered environment where individuals can receive the tools they need to end their homelessness and achieve self-sufficiency. To ensure the alignment of services, Gateway Center has focused its efforts on the five keys to success. 

Five Keys to Success:

1. Housing Placement and Stability 
2. Health and Wellness
3. Family and Community Engagement
4. Job Skills Training and Placement
5. Literacy

Local Focus, World-Class Results

At Georgia Oak, we invest exclusively in Georgia- and Southeast-based companies, and we do so with specific intention. Georgia is our home, in both geography and spirit. The Southeast is our community. We invest locally and deeply, knowing full well that we can’t disappear into the mist or pack our bags for Wall Street when times get tough. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We are committed to the long-term viability of companies and communities in our home state. Investing here makes the most of our passion and proximity, while fostering stability for our partners. The key to this is pretty simple: being in the neighborhood lets us do business face-to-face and stay focused on the people involved in every partnership. From hands-on support for managers to deep knowledge of the suppliers, employees and customer base: we get it because we live here, too.

Putting Partners First: Then and Now

Our first partnership started in 2013 with our flagship investment in TeamOne logistics. Since then, we have supported TeamOne on multiple fronts, including placing our operating partner, Dean Ditmar as Chief Commercial Officer to support CEO Page Siplon in taking the company’s growth to the next level by 2022.
As Page Siplon, CEO of TeamOne, reflects:
"Sharing my vision for growth with the team drives strong morale in a big way. The growth impacts every single one of us on the team, and we all need to work together to make it happen. In sharing our growth plan, which we have branded The Road to 100, the team learned we are adding several people to fast track reaching our growth goals. Sharing a bright spot in challenging times is a great way to strengthen everyone’s spirit."

We have been working in partnership with the nation’s first fast-casual pizza franchise since 2013. Leveraging our knowledge of local markets and talent, Georgia Oak helped place Lisa Dimson as Your Pie’s first-ever Chief Marketing Officer in 2019, as well as Ashley Williams as Director of Training—with a combined 28 years of restaurant industry experience. As 2021 approaches, YourPie has added veteran Mike Tillis as its VP of Operations & Support and added a partnership with InMoment to improve customer experiences in the new year.  With a full roster of talented executive leadership, Your Pie is positioned for growth and ready to meet the challenges of the new year and beyond.

Sailfish Logo

We partnered with family- and fishing-friendly Sailfish Boats in 2017. In 2020, we helped place a new President CEO, Rob Parmentier, and supported him as he navigated onboarding with the Sailfish team through the limitations of the pandemic. As of November, Sailfish has experienced a growth spurt: adding nine new dealers in 60 days. According to Parmentier, the new dealer partners “not only fill open markets and opportunities for Sailfish, but also represent the best in their individual markets for sales, service, and building customer relationships.”  With their new leadership and distribution venues in line, Sailfish is ready to capitalize on growth opportunities as families seek new adventures in the coming year.

Pivoting to Meet Important Trends

At Georgia Oak, we are always balancing our long-term focus with the ability to adjust to meet broader investment trends happening globally. Like most investment groups, we’ve refined our approach this year to include lessons learned from the pandemic, as well as cultural and social movements that challenge us to question assumptions and create more inclusive and empowering opportunities for local companies. We’ve seen the need for quick reactions and recoveries, as well as for solid contingency planning. We believe the lessons learned from this year will translate long into the future.

As Silvia Mah writes for
"With an eye toward intersectionality, strong communication and transparency, I hope and imagine we’ll come out of isolation even better than before, tackling the world’s most challenging problems with strong innovation leaders and the investors ready to invest."

Ready to Grow? Serving You in 2021 and Beyond

If you have your company’s mission, vision and strategy in place, and you think you’re ready to take things to the next level, we can help! We’re here to help you assess your company’s potential and strategy with an objective eye, as well as to provide critical material and personnel resources to make your vision a reality.

This year has been a test of fortitude for all of us, but we’ve also seen wonderful opportunities to change the way we do business and open up new opportunities for growth and iteration. If you are ready to make 2021 the year of new beginnings for your company, we are ready to stand beside you on that journey.


The Georgia Oak team wishes you health, happiness and prosperity in the new year!


Links & Resources
• Investment and Innovation Trends 2020:
• Three Questions to Ask if You’re Ready to Grow your Company:
• Partner Link, TeamOne Logistics:
• Partner Link, YourPie:
• Partner Link, Sailfish Boats:
• YourPie InMoment Partnership:
• YourPie Leadership Changes 2020:

Forbes Features Farm Burger Invasive Species Sandwich Launch

Farm Burger Catfish Sandwich SARA HANNA PHOTOGRAPHY


With plant-based burgers at the forefront of menu trends, Southern-based Farm Burger is bringing a new option to fast casual dining tables. Farm Burger has launched a Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish sandwich with the invasive species protein at its base. The farm-to-table fast casual restaurant’s invasive species option is guided not only by sustainability but also a cultural background.


“Farm Burger carries the Impossible Burger in all 11 locations nationwide as a plant-based meat alternative for customers. We had been looking to incorporate seafood onto the menu for a while and wanted to craft a sandwich that would fit well with our menu and match our sustainable ethos. As we learned more about the Blue Catfish and the environmental issues associated with it, it seemed to meet all of our criteria: tasty, sustainable and thought-provoking,” said Farm Burger Executive Chef Cameron Thompson.


The Farm Burger Catfish Sandwich doesn’t just serve up the Chesapeake Bay invasive species. It pays homage to the culture of the area with chef-chosen toppings of Farm Burger slaw, house-made pickled jalapeños and a side of fries seasoned with Old Bay. With a nod to Fish Fridays during Lent, the  new sandwich will be available at Farm Burger locations beginning March 5th. 


“Crispy catfish and slaw, to me, is a classic combination like peanut butter and jelly. The slaw is tossed in our signature FB sauce to add some Farm Burger flair to a classic pairing. We’re rounding out the meal with Old Bay fries as a tribute to the Chesapeake region,” said Thompson.


Founded in 2010, Farm Burger is known as a “better burger” restaurant group committed to a sustainable food future through ethical eating. Founded in Atlanta by farmer/rancher Jason Mann and restaurateur George Frangos in 2010, FB Burger has ranked in Food & Wine’s Best Burgers in the US. At its locations nationwide, Farm Burger already focused on crafting 100 percent grass-fed, grass-finished beef burgers, dry-aged and ground fresh, as well as other menu items made with local and sustainably-sourced ingredients. Introducing an invasive species was an easy choice for the culinary team.


Farm Burger Blue Catfish Sandwich and Old Bay Fries  SARA HANNA PHOTOGRAPHY


In 2018, Farm Burger earned a spot on Good Food 100 Restaurants for their work promoting good food and sustainable food systems. Bringing an invasive species option to fast casual was the perfect match for continuing that work. Choosing Blue Catfish as the invasive species to add to their menu was a well-thought out process for Farm Burger. Though Farm Burger currently has no further plans to expand their invasive species menu options, other potential options include Lionfish, Asian Carp, Blue Catfish, Rusty Crayfish and Wild Boar.


“Trying to find a fish species that wasn’t threatened was a little bit more difficult than we expected. Farm Burger co-founder George Frangos is from the Chesapeake Bay area and was familiar with what was happening with the Blue Catfish from some fishmonger friends. We liked the idea that we could help with the invasive species problem—and that it is a wild-caught fish rather than farm-raised. It dove-tailed nicely with what we stand for,” said Thompson.


Read the full article on

Former Back Yard Burgers CEO Joins Your Pie as COO

Excerpt from Nation's Restaurant News


Your Pie, the 10-year-old fast-casual pizza concept, has tapped the former CEO of Back Yard Burgers as the company’s first chief operating officer.

Dave McDougall, who left Back Yard Burgers in the spring, will oversee operations and marketing at Your Pie “with an emphasis on market research and new product development to help hone and strengthen the brand’s voice while fueling franchise growth,” the Athens, Ga.-based chain said.

Your Pie founder and president Drew French said McDougall steps into the newly created role as the chain, which has more than 60 units, looks to expand its national footprint. The build-your-own pizza brand, which hand tosses its dough and cooks pizza in a brick oven, has 50 more stores in development.

“Dave will help us to navigate high-volume growth while maintaining the unique experience that has always defined the Your Pie brand,” French said in a statement. “We look forward to increasing our current momentum under Dave’s leadership and are excited to see how his expertise will amplify our brand.”

McDougall has more than 30 years of experience in franchise operations and development. He led a turnaround at Back Yard Burgers after the chain emerged from bankruptcy. Previously, at Focus Brands, he led the marketing team during the international expansion of Cinnabon.

McDougall said he’ll be focused on laying the foundation for the brand’s next 10 years of success.

See the full story from Nation’s Restaurant News here.

Spectrum Staffing Named Finalist for Pinnacle Small Business Awards

Spectrum Staffing has been selected from 1,200 nominations as a finalist for the 2018 Gwinnett Chamber Pinnacle Small Business Awards. Among the Gwinnett Chamber’s most prestigious honors, the Pinnacle Small Business Awards pay tribute to leading small businesses that dare to start, strive to sustain and persevere to succeed.

Held each year during the Gwinnett Small Business Summit, the Pinnacle Small Business Awards honor the top performers in the following categories:

  • Family-Owned Small Business of the Year
  • Minority-Owned Small Business of the Year
  • Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year
  • Home-Based Small Business of the Year
  • Rising Star of the Year (New Business)
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Nonprofit of the Year
  • Small Business 0-5 Employees
  • Small Business 6-24 Employees
  • Small Business 25+ Employees
  • Small Business Resource Partner

View the complete list of 2018 finalists here.

Winners in each category, and one Overall Small Business of the Year will be announced on October 17th at the Pinnacle Small Business Awards luncheon at the Infinite Energy Forum. The event takes place from 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM, during the Gwinnett Small Business Summit.

Visit to learn more about Spectrum Staffing.

Farm Burger Honored on Good Good 100 Restaurants™ List

Farm Burger Recognized For Promoting Good Food, Sustainable Food Systems

Farm Burger, a restaurant group offering 100 percent grassfed, grass-finished beef burgers, has been recognized for its role in promoting good food and sustainable food systems on the annual Good Food 100 Restaurants List from the Good Food Media Network.

The Good Food 100 Restaurants list is carefully curated based on the quantitative measurement of participating restaurants’ self-reported annual food purchasing data. Farm Burger was recognized in Georgia and California, earning five out of six links—symbolizing links in the food chain—based on the percent of total good food purchases. These purchases support state, regional and national good food producers and purveyors.

“When we started Farm Burger, our vision was to create a community of farmers, ranchers, chefs and restaurateurs working together as an ecosystem rather than a corporation,” said George Frangos, co-founder of Farm Burger. “We’re continually working to honor and support every link of the food chain, and we’re proud to have ranked among many great brands who share that same goal.”

A corresponding economic report conducted by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder on behalf of the Good Food Media Network, found that the overall food purchases of the 125 participating restaurants totaled $120.1 million. Of this, restaurants reported domestic spending $80.1 million on good food, which translates to a $255 million economic impact on the national good food economy.

“Food is better when it’s fulfilling, not just filling,” said Sara Brito, co-founder and president of Good Food Media Network. “Transparency in food sourcing is an increasingly important issue. By offering a snapshot of what happens behind kitchen doors and restaurants’ commitment to sustainable purchasing practices, the Good Food 100 holds chefs accountable and instills consumer confidence so eaters are empowered to make the best possible dining decisions. Congratulations to all the 2018 Good Food 100 Restaurants. We look forward to continuing our collective mission of creating a good food system for all.”

Founded in 2008, Farm Burger is an ethical burger restaurant group committed to leading the fast-casual industry in forging a sustainable food future. At its 13 locations nationwide, Farm Burger crafts 100 percent grassfed, grass-finished beef burgers, dry-aged and ground fresh. In addition to its beef burgers, the chef-driven menu offers a host of other items made with locally sourced ingredients, including chicken and veggie burgers, farm-fresh salads, sweet potato fries and more, with an emphasis on in-house production of cured meats, pickles, sauces, jams and preserves.

“At Farm Burger, we strive to create a meaningful restaurant experience by honoring the integrity of ingredients, promoting sustainable practices and connecting the farmers behind the fare to the communities they serve,” said Jason Mann, co-founder of Farm Burger. “We believe good food doesn’t have to come with a high-end price tag.”

For more information on Farm Burger’s partner farmers, locations, menu and story, visit

About Farm Burger

Farm Burger is a restaurant group committed to serving 100 percent grassfed, grass-finished beef burgers. Farm Burger was founded in Atlanta, Ga. by farmer and rancher Jason Mann and restaurateur George Frangos. Since 2008, the Farm Burger team has brought communities together through creative menus and locally sourced ingredients. In 2018, Farm Burger ranked on the Good Food 100 Restaurants™ List, for promoting good food and sustainable food systems. Currently, the brand operates 13 locations across the United States. For more information, visit

Georgia Oak Partners Founder Named to 2018 40 Under Forty by Atlanta Business Chronicle

Georgia Oak Partners is pleased to announce the selection of Founder and Managing Partner Michael Lonergan for the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 40 Under Forty Awards.

Each year, the Atlanta Business Chronicle spotlights the next generation of Atlanta business leaders. Honorees include 40 people under the age of forty who are making a mark in their industries and leading in their communities.

40 Under Forty Honorees include business leaders from various industries who are making significant career achievements and demonstrating social responsibility in their local communities through service and philanthropy.

Learn more about the 40 Under Forty Awards and Lonergan’s fellow honorees here.

About Michael Lonergan

Michael Lonergan works with Georgia Oak’s partner companies to grow revenue, while also evaluating new investment opportunities. Michael’s Georgia roots helped shape our mission and commitment to promoting economic growth and sustainability throughout the state and the broader Southeast.

Prior to founding Georgia Oak, Michael was Vice President of Private Equity for Strategic Value Partners (SVP), a global hedge fund. Based in London, Michael led the diligence efforts on control buyout transactions and evaluated credit investments for SVP’s “loan to own” strategy.

Before joining SVP, Michael was with Sun European Partners in London and Sun Capital Partners in Boca Raton, Fla. Sun Capital is one of the world’s most active turnaround private equity investors. While at Sun Capital, he evaluated and facilitated control buyout investments.

Early in his career, Michael worked at the Atlanta offices of Houlihan Lokey and Wells Fargo’s asset-based lending group (legacy Wachovia Bank).

Michael received a B.B.A., cum laude, in Finance and Management from the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia. In 2018, he was selected by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a 40 Under Forty Honoree and by The M&A Advisor as an Emerging Leaders Award Winner. He is an active alumnus of the Beta-Lambda chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He enjoys working out, tennis, boxing, Georgia Bulldog football and weekend trips to his hometown of St. Simons Island.

Michael and his wife Jacqueline live in Ansley Park (Atlanta) with their son Jordan, daughter Louise, and their dogs Murray and Joni. Jacqueline serves as a Senior Advisor for, a non-profit that uses communication technologies to improve the health of underserved and disconnected communities.

Your Pie Celebrates 10 Years with Franchise Fest, Contest

As Seen in The Athens Banner-Herald

Your Pie Founder Drew FrenchDrew French, co-founder of the Athens-based Your Pie, re-invented the pizza business when he and his wife, co-founder Natalie, started the franchise.

However, French’s dream started in an unlikely place.

While enjoying their honeymoon in Ischia, Italy, a small town 19 miles off the coast of Naples, Drew and Natalie took notice of Italian culture and wanted to bring it back to America. Two of the most prominent features of the culture – brick-oven pizzas and gelato – are well-known staples of the Your Pie franchise today.

“We saw the brick ovens and gelato, and elements that are core to the brand at Your Pie,” French said. “When we opened, there was nobody else doing pizza the way we were doing it. You come in and get your own pizza, built the exact way you want it.”

French says those unique aspects of Your Pie are what separate his franchise from the rest.

“That was a unique spin on pizza,” French said. “It got people excited.”

French opened his first Your Pie in 2008, two years after the couple’s honeymoon. By 2010, the franchise had expanded into more communities throughout the region.

Your Pie ultimately took off – the store now boasts locations in 19 states – and French credits much of its growth to the experience offered in each individual restaurant.
“When I opened up the first store in the Beechwood Shopping Center, I was focused on just letting other people experience pizza,” French said. “I did have hopes and dreams of growing beyond the one store, but I knew it had to be done by growing the right way.”

The franchise quickly joined the likes of Zaxby’s and Barberitos as another Athens-based franchise enjoying remarkable success. Your Pie’s Athens locations have allowed Drew and Natalie to try out new menu items such as gluten-free dough and vegan cheese.

Using Athens as a test market has yielded results for the franchise.

“Different things that the Athens community has asked for, we’ve tested out,” French said. “The fact that we did things differently back then is paramount to why we’ve run into many different communities.”

French and Your Pie are celebrating 10 years of operation with a sweepstakes and a special celebration in Athens.

Your Pie is hosting its annual Franchise Fest, where franchisees from across the country gather to connect with the team, share where the brand is and where it’s going, and re-energize the franchise. The conference is significant this year, with the franchise’s 10-year anniversary.

Per Suzanne Rutledge, French’s spokesperson, franchisees will gather in Athens this week to enjoy informative sessions and company events. The conference will culminate with an awards dinner on Thursday at the Georgia Theater. The red-carpet event will recognize and honor leading franchisees within the 56-store system and celebrate the team’s success in the first decade.

Prizes for the sweepstakes include a trip to Florida for a gelato tasting, a custom outdoor table from Your Pie’s table vendor, a dine-and-donate event benefiting the winner’s favorite local charity, and a Your Pie franchise fee to a qualified winner.

Capping off the sweepstakes is a $5,000 prize toward a vacation to Ischia, Italy – the place Drew and Natalie first envisioned the ever-growing pizza chain.

As part of the promotion, Your Pie has displayed its history on six limited-edition pizza boxes, which will be released throughout the summer. Each box highlights a unique aspect of the franchise’s history.

To be entered to win the $5,000 prize toward a trip to Italy, customers must collect all six boxes, color in the last box and share a photo of the complete set using the hashtag #expressyourinnerpizza.

The prize trip to Italy is a sentimental one for French, who hopes to inspire others through the giveaway.

“When we were thinking of what we wanted to do for our 10-year anniversary, for us it was more about giving back to our customers,” French said. “We wanted to give that experience to other people. We want people to go back to where we had our honeymoon, and maybe inspire themselves.”

Your Pie Named to Restaurant Business "Future 50" List

As Seen on


There’s perhaps no better method of detecting bankable trends than examining the country’s fastest-growing small chains. These concepts earned their spots on Restaurant Business’ annual Future 50 ranking by posting impressive sales growth while also differentiating their menu, format and operation, signaling that innovation is in.


Your Pie first opened in 2008, making it relatively old in the fast-casual pizza sector. The chain has been overshadowed by a number of larger players in more recent years, but that could change based on its recent growth in sales and unit count. The chain boasts pizzas such as the Southern Heat, with Buffalo sauce, mozzarella, chicken, red onions and jalapeno. And unlike some of its competitors, its menu goes beyond pizza with panini and gelato, along with chopped salads and a selection of beer and wine.
Click here to see the full Future 50 List.

Georgia Oak Partners Founder Named to 2018 Emerging Leaders by The M&A Advisor

Georgia Oak Partners is pleased to announce the selection of Founder and Managing Partner Michael Lonergan for the 2018 Emerging Leaders Awards, presented by The M&A Advisor.

The M&A Advisor is renowned globally as a leading source of insight for M&A, financing and turnaround professionals.
Lonergan was selected from a pool of prominent nominees for his notable accomplishments in business and in service to the community. Evaluation and selection of the nominees was completed by an independent judging panel.

“The Annual M&A Advisor Emerging Leaders Awards was born as the 40 Under 40 Awards in the United States in 2010 to recognize and celebrate the achievements of young M&A, Financing and Turnaround professionals who had reached a significant level of success and made a notable contribution to their industry and community. With the expansion of the Emerging Leaders program to the United Kingdom, and Europe in 2016, the 2018 US award winners join a truly global network of outstanding young professionals,” said David Fergusson, President and Co-CEO of The M&A Advisor.

Added Fergusson, “It is our belief that the Emerging Leader Award winners will continue to have a significant effect on the advancement of our industry.”

About Michael Lonergan

Michael Lonergan works with Georgia Oak’s partner companies to grow revenue, while also evaluating new investment opportunities. Michael’s Georgia roots helped shape our mission and commitment to promoting economic growth and sustainability throughout the state and the broader Southeast.

Prior to founding Georgia Oak, Michael was Vice President of Private Equity for Strategic Value Partners (SVP), a global hedge fund. Based in London, Michael led the diligence efforts on control buyout transactions and evaluated credit investments for SVP’s “loan to own” strategy.

Before joining SVP, Michael was with Sun European Partners in London and Sun Capital Partners in Boca Raton, Fla. Sun Capital is one of the world’s most active turnaround private equity investors. While at Sun Capital, he evaluated and facilitated control buyout investments.

Early in his career, Michael worked at the Atlanta offices of Houlihan Lokey and Wells Fargo’s asset-based lending group (legacy Wachovia Bank).

Michael received a B.B.A., cum laude, in Finance and Management from the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia. In 2018, he was selected by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a 40 Under Forty Honoree and by The M&A Advisor as an Emerging Leaders Award Winner. He is an active alumnus of the Beta-Lambda chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He enjoys working out, tennis, boxing, Georgia Bulldog football and weekend trips to his hometown of St. Simons Island.

Michael and his wife Jacqueline live in Ansley Park (Atlanta) with their son Jordan, daughter Louise, and their dogs Murray and Joni. Jacqueline serves as a Senior Advisor for, a non-profit that uses communication technologies to improve the health of underserved and disconnected communities.

About The M&A Advisor

The M&A Advisor was founded in 1998 to offer insights and intelligence on M&A activities. Over the past twenty years it has established the premier global network of M&A, Turnaround and Finance professionals. The M& Advisor presents, recognizes the achievements of, and facilitates connections between the industry’s top performers throughout the world with a comprehensive range of services. To learn more visit

Farm Burger Named a "Sizzling Better-Burger Concept to Watch" by QSR Magazine

As seen on

QSR Magazine Logo

Woman holding two burgers

Farm Burger

If you’re going to put the word “farm” in your name you better back it up. Especially in an industry where the farm-to-table mantra is about as worn out as last week’s lettuce. Here’s what gives the 12-unit chain instant credibility: co-founder Jason Mann was actually a farmer before joining George Frangos to create the brand nearly a decade ago. He worked as an organic farmer in California before moving to Athens, Georgia. There he ran an agricultural facility at the University of Georgia, but also opened a sit-down Farm 255 and founded an organic co-op farm to supply the restaurant. Mann told QSR that Farm Burger “really was an experiment in that, how does a farmer – aka me – develop a concept that is driven by the producers?” Even as its grown to California (two units), Alabama (two), North Carolina (two), Tennessee (two), and continued to build out Georgia (four), Farm Burger remains true to its agricultural roots by sourcing local, antibiotic-free, ethically raised meats, and by using the whole animal. There’s a unit inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium that Mann said is the only NFL stadium spot to boast local, 100 percent grass-fed burgers.

See the full story on here.

QSR Magazine: Your Pie Opens 5 Locations in First Quarter

As Seen on

Your Pie announced significant growth for the first quarter of 2018, boasting a total of five new stores across the U.S. These first quarter additions bring the brand’s total footprint to 53 locations across 18 states.

Between January 1 and March 31, Your Pie launched in three new markets: Nashville, Tennessee; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Houma, Louisiana. The brand also expanded in Augusta, Georgia and Raleigh, North Carolina.

On March 14, Your Pie celebrated its 10th annual Pi(e) Day event at stores nationwide. The 2018 theme was “Out of This World,” and the brand launched a pizza into space to celebrate a decade of Pi(e) Day. Across more than 50 locations from California to Florida, Your Pie served $3.14 pizzas to more than 45,000 customers. Additionally, each store awarded free pizza for a year to one lucky customer, and one grand prize winner received a GoPro Karma Drone and GoPro HERO6 camera.

Other first quarter milestones included two new additions to the corporate leadership team in Athens, Georgia. Trevor Jorgensen was named a franchise support manager and will help to ensure that franchise locations across the country are equipped to provide the best possible experience for guests. Trevor joined the Your Pie Family in 2013 and has served as General Manager at Your Pie Jacksonville since 2017.

Chris Biesiadecki also joined the team as a franchise support manager and will oversee corporate Your Pie locations, team member training and professional development programs. Biesiadecki brings 10 years of corporate accounting experience, in addition to six years in the food service industry with Chick-fil-A.

 “We have a vision to see Your Pie expand its reach and serve customers in every corner of the U.S.,” says Drew French, Your Pie founder and president. “We attribute our strong and steady growth to our dedication to craftsmanship, customer service and close knit culture. We’re very proud of the team we’ve built, the products we serve and our commitment to creating shareable experiences in each of the communities we call home.”

Between April 1 and June 30, Your Pie expects to open four to six stores in new markets including Chattanooga, Tennessee; Fayetteville, Georgia; Gloucester, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; and St. Augustine, Florida. The brand aims to have 75 stores in operation by the end of 2018.

Your Pie was founded in 2008 by culinary entrepreneur Drew French, who aimed to create a first-of-its-kind restaurant concept offering high quality, brick-oven pizza at incredible speed. While family recipes and Italian culture helped lay the foundation for its processes and exceptional quality, Your Pie has continued to build upon this foundation with new ingredients, innovative recipes and endless choices to create a pizza experience with traditional roots, but a flair all its own.

To view the original article on, click here. To learn more about Your Pie, visit their website here.

Spectrum Staffing Wins Movers & Makers MVP Award

Spectrum Staffing Named Most Valuable Provider (MVP) at 2018 Partnership Gwinnett Movers & Makers Awards 

(GWINNETT- METRO ATLANTA)— Spectrum Staffing was selected as the Most Valuable Provider to Gwinnett County’s manufacturing and logistics companies at the 2018 Partnership Gwinnett Movers & Makers Awards. The event recognizes exceptional companies in Gwinnett involved in the manufacture, processing, or distribution of tangible products.
The Movers & Makers Awards ceremony was held on March 29 at the Infinite Energy Forum. The event is Georgia’s largest local awards ceremony for manufacturing and supply chain companies. More than 350 local industry and business leaders were in attendance.

“We are honored to be selected by Partnership Gwinnett as the MVP (Most Valuable Provider) for the renowned Movers & Makers Awards,” said Kat Hargrove, President at Spectrum Staffing. “This acknowledgement is a celebration of the impact that our industry is making in this community.”

Companies were selected based upon criteria involving economic impact in the community, corporate responsibility, and workforce excellence programs. Winners were named in three manufacturing and three supply chain categories.

“It is our privilege to recognize Gwinnett’s leading manufacturing and supply chain companies, whose innovation and competitiveness help drive our global economy,” said Deven Cason, Sr. Project Manager for Partnership Gwinnett. “These companies create significant job opportunities and are essential to our community’s economic vitality.”

The Movers & Makers Awards are presented by Jackson EMC, in collaboration with Partnership Gwinnett and Gwinnett Technical College. Additional sponsors include the Millennium Mat Company, Warren Averett, Mighty 8th Media, Hire Dynamics, HLB Gross Collins, NAI Brannen Goddard, Aprio, Next Generation Manufacturing, Arkad & Associates and Sterling Rose Consulting.

For more information on the Movers & Makers Awards ceremony, visit or contact Haley Tolbert at htolbert@partnershipgwinnett.comor by phone at 770.232.1174.


About (Spectrum Staffing)


Spectrum Staffing, headquartered in Duluth, GA, is a leading supplier of professional, technical and industrial staffing and HR solutions for the technology leaders and advanced manufacturers of Georgia.  Founded in 1999, Spectrum Staffing offers a professional and personal approach to customized staffing solutions, partnering with clients in pursuit of finding the best recruit for your Team. For more information, visit

About Partnership Gwinnett

Partnership Gwinnett is a public-private initiative dedicated to bringing new jobs and capital investment to Gwinnett County, Georgia. Since 2006, Partnership Gwinnett has worked with its local partners to attract and retain jobs, cultivate capital investment, support educational institutions, foster workforce development and contribute to the exceptional quality of life found in Gwinnett. Fueled by the support of over one hundred companies, municipalities, Gwinnett County, K-12 and higher education systems, the mission of Partnership Gwinnett is to strengthen the community’s diverse economy to compete in the global marketplace and position Gwinnett as the premiere place to live, work and play.

Farm Burger Named to QSR Magazine's 40 Under 40 Units List

Excerpt from QSR Magazine Featuring Farm Burger

QSR Magazine has named Farm Burger to its list of 40 innovative fast casual brands under 40 units. The 40/40 List highlights brands with the potential to be the “next big thing”. Featured in the February 2018 issue of the magazine, Farm Burger’s commitment to “walking the walk” of farm to table dining in a fast casual setting is praised as bringing “a certain heft and legitimacy” to the terms “farm to table” and “better burger”. You can view the full list and read more about why Farm Burger made the cut here.


GO Grow Value Creation Series: Home Services Spotlight

GO Grow Value Creation Series: Manufacturing Spotlight

GO Grow: Supply Chain & Logistics Update

GO Grow: Consulting & Talent Management Focus

GO Grow: Manufacturing Spotlight

GO Grow: Consumer Marketing Spotlight

GO Grow: Franchising Spotlight

GO Grow: Supply Chain Spotlight

GO Grow Value Creation Series: Home Services Spotlight

In the newest installment of Georgia Oak's GO Grow Value Creation Series, Georgia Oak Operating Partner Tony White checks in with Lisa Carlquist, founder of Artisan Custom Closets, to discuss the current trends and challenges in the home services industry.

GO Grow Value Creation Series: Manufacturing Spotlight

This episode of our GO Grow Value Creation Series features Georgia Oak Operating Partner Dean Ditmar and COO of Emerald Transportation Solutions Wes Funsch. The two sit down to discuss what Wes and his team see as the current trends, challenges, and themes in the manufacturing industry.

GO Grow: Supply Chain & Logistics Update

In the latest episode of Georgia Oak’s "GO Grow” video series, Managing Partner Mike Lonergan discusses updates in the supply chain disruption with Logistics Industry Veteran Page Siplon. Page is the CEO of TeamOne Logistics, one of our partner companies.

In this Spotlight, we discuss challenges both foreign and domestic, and the impact the strain has put on companies and what can be done to overcome the current challenges.


GO Grow: Consulting & Talent Management Focus

The latest episode in Georgia Oak Partner’s "GO Grow” video series features Managing Partner Mike Lonergan's conversation with Adiiti Consulting President & CEO, Raja Narayana. They discuss how, due to the pandemic, we've entered a new era that has employers less focused on where the work is happening, but more focused on how the work is being done. To stay competitive in an ever-evolving business landscape, teams are removing geographical boundaries and exploring new talent markets - making it possible to have conversations about whether teams built with a blended workforce can integrate well into the greater organizational structure and roadmap.

What does your talent strategy look like in 2022 and beyond? Listen here to learn about:

* Covid-19's impact on the talent landscape 

* How organizations are restructuring to cater to a new wave of hiring 

* The benefits of expanding a team outside of your region

* The most in-demand skills and roles across multiple industries


GO Grow: Manufacturing Spotlight

The latest episode in Georgia Oak’s "GO Grow” video series features Managing Partner Mike Lonergan's conversation with Georgia Association of Manufacturers President Roy Bowen.

Created by Georgia's textile industry, the Georgia Association of Manufacturers (GAM) has steadily diversified its membership and broadened its reach and the scope of issues it addresses. While its mission has remained constant over the years, today GAM works on behalf of all Georgia manufacturers to enhance their competitiveness in a global marketplace.

In this Manufacturing Spotlight, Mike and Roy discuss key trends impacting the manufacturing industry and how leaders can leverage creative approaches to tackle skilled labor issues.



GO Grow: Consumer Marketing Spotlight

The latest episode in Georgia Oak’s "GO Grow” video series features Managing Partner Mike Lonergan's conversation with Your Pie Chief Marketing Officer and Marketing Expert Lisa Dimson.

With more than 20 years of marketing experience on behalf of consumer brands, Lisa discusses digital marketing trends accelerated by the pandemic and how to leverage those trends to grow brand awareness and build deeper digital customer relationships.



GO Grow: Franchising Spotlight

The second episode in Georgia Oak’s "GO Grow” video series features Managing Partner Mike Lonergan's conversation with Operating Partner and franchising expert David Barr.

David has been part of the Georgia Oak family for nearly 10 years and sits on the board of two of Georgia Oak’s partner companies, Your Pie and Farm Burger. He is the Immediate Past Chairman of the International Franchise Association and has provided board-level leadership to nearly 20 franchising businesses, both domestic and international.

In this Spotlight on Franchising, Mike and David discuss business trends accelerated by the pandemic and how the macro environment has impacted franchise development, franchisee interest, and M&A.


GO Grow: Supply Chain Spotlight

The first episode in Georgia Oak’s "GO Grow” video series features Managing Partner Mike Lonergan's conversation with logistics industry veteran Page Siplon. Page is the CEO of TeamOne Logistics, one of our partner companies.

In this Spotlight on Supply Chain, we dive deep into worldwide supply chain dynamics, from ocean freight to trucking, and their impacts on businesses in Georgia. Page also shares insights and strategies for manufacturing and logistics companies to overcome the current challenges.




Can You Raise Prices in This Market? If Not, When?

Putting People First

Staffing Industry Insights

Remote Work: A Permanent Part of Every Industry

A Year of Growth: Focusing on Human Capital in 2021

COVID-19 Leadership with Page Siplon, CEO of TeamOne Logistics

Culture Shifts During COVID-19 and Beyond

Miked Up: Organizational Diversity - Volume 2, Part 1

Georgia & National Labor Market Trends: A Look at Six Key Industries

Harnessing the Power of Technology

Virtual Communication in Uncertain Times

Miked Up: Volume 1, Part 1

Navigating the New Normal

The Front Lines of Business Continuity

Build Successful Teams with These 5 Elements

Recruiting and Maintaining Manufacturing Talent

Minority vs. Majority Deals

What Is Your Legacy?

Navigating the Sale Process: From LOI to Post-Close

Selling to Your Management Team

Can You Raise Prices in This Market? If Not, When?


Here is some advice for how to handle it in the current market.

It is hard to look over the fact that our current economy is riddled with inflation. Many experts say a little inflation is a sign of a healthy economy. The Federal Reserve aims to keep the inflation rate at around 2%. But from October 2020 to October 2021, the Consumer Price Index rose 6.2% – the fastest in more than 30 years.

Question 1: Why is there inflation in the economy?

Two major reasons for the current inflation in the economy are:

1. Economic recovery

When the economy starts to pick back up after a downturn (after COVID), prices tend to go up. Because people are more willing to spend when they have more money and corporations raise prices when people are buying more.

2. Supply chain disruptions

Producing goods is a process. And if it breaks down anywhere along the line, it can impact how much of a product is available to the public. That can happen when there’s an internal interruption, like a shortage of workers. Or an external interruption, like a major storm that prevents a company from being able to distribute its goods.

With inflation, most businesses raise prices to meet the demand and increase CPI. Thus, a business owner must strategically raise prices to keep customers happy while reinsuring business continuity.

Question 2: How should you go about raising prices?

There are simple steps that a business owner can follow to strategically raise prices. Raising prices can be a tricky situation, and the business owner must ensure that new and old customers are attracted to the business even when the prices rise.

Study what your competitors are doing: If everyone in your industry has been raising prices, customers will be more amenable to the change. If you're the only one doing it, however, you’ll need to offer something unique that your competitors don't.

Customer Disclosure: Retail or restaurant businesses can often raise prices without customers noticing. However, if you own a service business or B2B company, don't try to sneak a price increase into the bill after the fact. Let customers know in advance when you plan to raise your prices. This can actually be a good tactic for retaining customers

Explain your reasons: This does not mean you must disclose your profit margins or details on pricing to the customer. However,  you can simply share the basics as to why you are raising your prices, with a focus on the benefits to the customer.

Question 3: What steps should be made to implement price changes?

Finally, you must increase prices by carefully considering how you are raising prices. Selling goods and services is a nuanced activity, but selling them at a higher price than before is even more challenging. Here are some ways you can do so.

Introduce Fees: Instead of raising prices for your primary product or service, consider adding fees to cover rising costs. This works exceptionally well if one specific cost, such as raw materials or transportation, is rising.

Pricing in Stages: try raising prices for a small group of clients first to see how they react.  If most of them accept it, you can expand the increase to your entire customer base.

Adding Value Products: Create product or service bundles by adding features that don't hurt your profit margins, but make a big impression on the customer. This can be an added insurance or warranty for the product you sell.


Putting People First


I spent most of my career working in the advertising business. If I were to take a guess at how many brands I have worked on over the years, it would definitely be over one hundred. They have ranged from local restaurants, to companies like Home Depot, and even agencies like the Department of State. Believe me - I have seen trends come and go, bad decisions made, and have even been lucky enough to work on an account that can make you laugh and cry at the same time.

Over the last 10 years, social media and platforms like Glassdoor have given unprecedented transparency into what it’s really like to work for almost any given company. Employees now have powerful tools to amplify their voices regarding their employer – good or bad. We’ve seen the love employees have for companies like Microsoft, and conversely heard what folks like Frances Haugen thinks about her former employer, Facebook.

It is no surprise that after making the decision to leave the advertising world I find myself at a company like Georgia Oak. As a marketer, I understand that you can’t just talk-the-talk. Authenticity is the name of the game. Do what you say you are going to do, and always put people first. Georgia Oak understands this, and that is why I'm here.

Question 1: What does it mean to be “people-first”?

The goal of a people-first approach is to boost an organization's employee engagement, retention, productivity and creativity. It is about making sure each employee has both the tools and clear lines of communication to reach their full potential. This clarity of vision benefits employees and companies alike.

This was an approach Georgia Oak was based upon when we opened our doors in 2011. GO understands that by supporting organizations from the bottom-up, you are able to build trust that is invaluable when you inevitably navigate change. If you are open and transparent about the challenges and difficulties to come, people are able to prepare themselves and commit to become part of the process instead of resisting it.

Question 2: When you look at your portfolio partners, can you provide an example of a people-first best practice?

A good example that comes to mind is Sailfish, which is a Cairo, Georgia based offshore fishing boat manufacturing company we invested in a few years ago. We first met the founder, Paul Hoppes, in early 2017. Paul was, and remains, deeply passionate about the employees of Sailfish - “they are family," he made clear. As we spent more time with Sailfish they began to realize Georgia Oak saw the world the same way. We were also adamant about ensuring the success of the Sailfish family and growing the relationships he had worked so hard to establish.

Last year, Paul and Georgia Oak recruited a new CEO who shared these people-first ideals. He made it a priority to maintain a strong, cohesive company culture through employee engagement and empowerment. We saw an increase in productivity and employee retention from work he did establishing clear paths for professional growth . These advances, in tandem with the adjustments done to the rest of the business, have set Sailfish up for success for many years to come.

Question 3: Where are some areas that you are able to add value to your portfolio companies that put people-first?

The Georgia Oak group is a team of professionals largely assembled to support the growth of our portfolio partners. We have built a team of experts that can assist our portfolio companies on everything from marketing to finance to operations.

One great example of this is my role as a Marketing Director. I share similar processes in my work for GO as my cohorts at our portfolio companies. This provides me with the opportunity to share resources, discuss trends, and have branding sessions that would otherwise be done in isolation. Most small to medium businesses do not function with a full marketing team, it just doesn’t make financial sense, but with the wider network staying in communication with me, I am able to bring their ideas together for the greater good.

Question 4: Can you share an example on a larger scale?

An investment company we had engaged with was working on a major relocation project and were unsure how to do it. We did not wait until we closed our investment - our team was able to provide them with expertise on production flow, facility planning, and construction. With our help they were able to save a substantial amount of money in the facility move and the new facility should add about $1.5m of EBITDA.

At this point in our relationship we were not actually partners, but the value we were able to show was helpful in their decision to move forward with our partnership proposal. The work we did highlights our commitment to our partners and overall productivity.

Question 5: Any final words of advice?

The purpose of putting people-first is to align everyone with a common goal. Make sure everyone sees the company through the same lens no matter their title or pay grade. Additionally, knowledge is meant to be shared. Giving others the benefit of your expertise and past experiences is a formula for success. To do this, there's no better way than to focus on a people-first approach.

Staffing Industry Insights



By Kevin P. LeCompte

Before I entered the staffing world 25 years ago, I served as an officer in the Army National Guard. The lessons I began learning in the Army about cultivating successful team environments, I refined during my years as an executive at Aerotek, Staffmark, and Global Employment Solutions.
I became right at home in the world of corporate deal-making, founding businesses, and riding the growth curve through more acquisitions, integrations, re-orgs, pivots, shifts, market adaptations, re-brandings, and exits than I can remember! While the last year is certainly one I won’t soon forget, it has reinforced my belief that organizations must be nimble and stay curious in order to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. The person with the courage to ask the right questions is often the most valuable in an organization.
In my current role as an Operating Partner at Georgia Oak Partners (where our portfolio includes three staffing businesses), we begin new dialogues with staffing company founders with that same passionate curiosity. We have questions we like to ask of any staffing business owner we have the good fortune to meet, and we think they’re essential to building the kind of partnership that helps write major chapters in all of our life stories. After all, we make equity investments in founder and family-owned companies, so our partnership is usually a pivotal moment.

As the economy revs back up, companies are looking for assistance in adapting to a fast-evolving labor market and workplace expectations shifted by Covid-19. Many are in desperate need of staffing support to fill gaps and execute essential change. They also have lots of important questions that a great staffing partner can help them answer.
This dynamic, along with potential impending tax changes, has led many owners to contemplate strategic alternatives and liquidity options. (Again, there’s that curiosity!) If you’re preparing to have meaningful conversations with potential investment partners, it’s critical to think about what you would like to ask the folks on the other side of the table. Backing strong management teams is in Georgia Oak’s DNA, so we would expect you to be just as curious about our approach as we would be about your business. But asking yourself the right questions is also essential. Below are some questions you might ask yourself before engaging in a partnership dialogue.

Question 1: What’s your transaction objective?

Knowing what you want from a transaction will help guide any conversations you may have with potential partners.

Are you looking to remain in control of the business but take on a minority investor?

  • If so, are you looking simply for growth capital, or do you want a partner who will bring industry expertise, serve as an active board member and help with growth opportunities?

If you would prefer to exit the business, have you considered who would step into your shoes?

  • If you’d like to step back, the conversation with potential investors becomes focused on your desired timeline and the strength of your leadership team. Every staffing business needs strong executive leadership, so talking through a plan for who’s going to lead the company, whether from within or from outside, is essential.
  • If you’re a founder, are you confident you have two or three strong players on the senior leadership team who will remain in the business post-transaction? Would an investor be able to work alongside you and them to run a succession playbook that the rest of your organization would enthusiastically back? Would they need to bring in reinforcements?

Is your business a logical tuck-in to an existing business, where you bring a niche focus or expertise in a specific area that would significantly strengthen an acquiring company?

  • In that scenario, an investor will emphasize your people, management team, and depth. They’re likely to ask about your ability to maintain strategic advantage and leadership in your niche.
  • They will also want to better understand your company’s culture. For example, how do we think your people will respond to being integrated into a larger platform? Is your firm’s culture one of flexibility and adaptation? Looking at how the business has evolved over the last five to 10 years will likely help everyone understand how the company’s employees may respond to future changes.

If you believe your business is a logical platform from which to grow and expand into other niches—and you’re committed to leading that charge—your conversations will likely be about your leadership style and vision.

  • What is your vision for growth?
  • How do you interact with your team?
  • How open are you to input and feedback?
  • Are you and your management team willing to roll equity into a new platform? Are you willing to bet on yourselves as the leaders?

If an investor is going to acquire your business as a platform and you’re going to stay on and run it, they’re primarily investing in you and your team. Likewise, you’re selecting a partner for growth with whom you will work alongside for the next several years.

Question 2: What’s your financial story?

Post-Covid, it’s more important than ever to have an answer for this particular question. Three years’ worth of financial reports (audited to the generally accepted standards for private companies) that tell a clear growth story about your business are ideal. If you made acquisitions during that period, it’s important to communicate how you accomplished those integrations and how they’ve been additive to the business’s bottom line.

The strongest performers in the staffing industry have gross profit margins in the 25-30% range. If you have a story to tell about your 2020 results, it is helpful for a potential partner to understand how it aligns with the pandemic’s impacts on your company’s sector focus areas. Businesses that pivoted to serve the unique needs of their sectors and come out of the pandemic stronger are especially appealing.

Question 3: What’s your operational story?

You’ve heard all the metaphors and catchphrases: What’s your secret sauce? What’s your Unique Value Proposition? How have you built a better mousetrap?
When you’re contemplating a partnership or transaction, this translates into the story you can share about your business’s operational advantages.

  • What technology stack do you use to identify customers and temporary staffers/consultants?
  • How are you finding people and placing them faster than competitors?
  • How do you create a uniquely better experience for your team, your consultants, and your clients?

Question 4: What’s your vision for the next chapter of your life?

Regardless of your desired transaction type, knowing what you want in your life and being honest with yourself and potential partners is key. For example, do you plan to retire, or do you want to keep working in the business? What does the transaction mean for your day-to-day life? How do you want to spend your time? Ensuring a transaction fulfills your personal goals and life vision is just as critical as fulfilling your company goals and business vision.

For our team, a successful investment begins with alignment with the founder or owner. Do you ooze with passion for the business, your people, and your clients—bringing the energy that will help spark growth? Do you offer a compelling narrative about how your team does it better than other people in the industry and how they can carry on as rock stars, even after your retirement? If so, there’s a high likelihood we will be excited about a continued conversation because these statements would align with what you truly want from a partner and believe is best for yourself and your company.

Question 5: Who else is on your team?

While we deeply understand the need for discretion when a business is in the market or considering a transaction, success in the staffing industry is uniquely predicated on the effective collaboration of leadership team members. It is always head-scratching to learn when an investor completes a transaction after meeting only the CEO during management meetings. That signals to us that a lot of important questions may have gone unanswered!

For our team to commit to a partnership, we need to understand the culture and the people you’re already working alongside. So, there’s one final question to ask yourself—would you want to partner with an investor who doesn’t really know the team they’re investing in?

Kevin Headshot

Kevin LeCompte is the former CEO of Global Employment Solutions (GES), serving with that company from 2006 through its 2020 acquisition by Ettain Group. During his time with GES, Kevin served in multiple roles, including as the company’s COO and President, responsible for nationwide sales and recruiting operations, as well as performance management across all divisions. He now serves as an Operating Partner at Georgia Oak and sits on the board of Aditi Consulting, a Georgia Oak partner company.

We’re always happy to answer them. Feel free to email me at

Remote Work: A Permanent Part of Every Industry

As we all know, 2020 turned the economy on its head and created an unparalleled demand for remote work across nearly every industry. Now that we’ve gotten through that initial, quick-fire change, the question is: “Is remote work here to stay?” We at Georgia Oak believe the answer is yes. Not only do we believe remote work is going to remain as relevant as it was in 2020, but we believe it’s going to grow exponentially, too.

If you want to stay competitive and maintain a well-oiled staff, there are a few things you should know about remote work and its permanent place in any industry.


Remote Work

A Growing Acceptance of Remote Work

At the beginning of 2020, many companies of various sizes had no idea whether remote work was possible within their company’s structure.

Over the last year, that uncertainty has changed across the board, and companies like Google, Zillow, REI, and a multitude of others are now embracing remote work as the next step toward their company’s success. Many of these companies, along with countless unlisted ones, used 2020 as an opportunity to work out the kinks involved with transitioning their workforce to a remote setting, and they were able to experience firsthand the benefits of having work-from-home employees.

Remote Work by the Numbers

Recent statistics show that not only is remote work growing, but it’s also growing at an astounding rate. The majority of companies surveyed plan to implement remote work further into their business model. Below you will find are some statistics to show you just how much of a boom remote work is seeing in 2021:

  • At least 80% of companies plan to keep remote work in some capacity.
  • 47% of those companies will allow full-time remote work for applicable positions.

  • 78% will continue to implement remote settings for collaboration, which will reduce costs and streamline the process.
  • 96% of workers state that they want some degree of remote work available to them, and the majority prefer full-time remote work over traditional work environments. This means that remote work will be key to employee satisfaction.

How to Support Remote Employees










The biggest factor in whether or not remote work will benefit your company is how well you support your remote employees.

Preserving Focus

First and foremost, distractions and a lack of supervision are major pitfalls for remote workers. They’re suddenly expected to stay focused in their own households without supervision.

The use of small-step, in-depth goals and organized processes can help them remain focused even when their environment is at its most distracting.

IT Setup

A large percentage of workers simply don’t have the tech necessary to cover every IT solution you put in place. There are two main ways to solve this issue for your employees.

First, some companies have decided to reimburse employees for setting up their own home office with all the technology necessary to complete work tasks. That’s not a practical solution for smaller, less financially empowered companies. Luckily, diversifying tech solutions can make a huge difference. For example, ensure that you’re offering multiple avenues of communication.

At-Work Relationships

Finally, employees lose the ability to form or maintain at-work relationships when they work remotely, and this takes its toll on almost everyone. The primary way of addressing this challenge has to do with the methods of communication your company utilizes.

Providing opportunities for casual conversation can help a lot now that their co-workers aren’t available, and you can also help by asking for their input on how the job can be made easier. When you ask for input – empathize, sympathize, listen, and act. Don’t just go through the motions.

Security Issues to Acknowledge and Address

Security issues present themselves when employees work from home via computers and smart devices. You can combat these issues through company policy and tech solutions.

Company policy solutions:

  • Encourage VPN usage on private devices
  • Develop an internal policy about leaving devices unattended or in vehicles
  • Only encourage the use of company devices for official work
  • Discourage public Wi-Fi or unsecured hotspots

Tech solutions:

  • Provide IT services remotely for work devices (virus scans, updates, malware protection, etc.)
  • Limit work devices to relevant usage

Benefits of Remote Work

Besides lower overhead costs, there are multiple benefits to implementing remote work.

First, your potential employee pool is vastly larger since you don’t have to recruit employees from your local area. Anyone in the country, or even around the globe, can become a vital part of your workforce.

Secondly, you gain the ability to foster a long-term team without the hassle of maintaining an office. Since work is produced individually, and from a remote location, you can more easily identify areas needing improvement and immediately address them.

Finally, remote work makes collaboration an easy endeavor. With programs such as Zoom, Dropbox, and even some industry-specific options, your employees can collaborate even more effectively than they did in the office.

How to Get It Done

Regardless of your business’ size, you can implement remote work and experience the above benefits. However, there are a few ways you can make the transition easier, even if you’re not a Fortune 500 company.

Most of this has to do with your tech solutions and the challenge solutions presented earlier. For tech, try the following platforms:

  • Google Workspace and Dropbox are prime file storage and collaboration platforms, and Google Workspace has built-in communication.
  • Slack helps employees communicate with each other with ease.
  • Zoom has been a reliable face-to-face alternative throughout the pandemic.
  • Asana and Trello can be used to handle task management and project management remotely and efficiently.
  • Upwork and similar freelancing sites are the perfect way to outsource less pressing work and focus your on-board employee efforts on the tasks they excel at.

Applying the solutions and policies we’ve presented throughout this article will help you build and maintain a remote workforce, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve as remote work becomes a permanent part of every industry.

A Year of Growth: Focusing on Human Capital in 2021

As our partners across industries search for ways to move forward from the trials and tribulations of 2020, we’re seeing an increased focus on developing and supporting people – well beyond the human resources function or the staffing industry. From technology, manufacturing and logistics, to hospitality and healthcare, human capital is more important than ever. Identifying and retaining the right people in the right jobs is as essential to surviving in uncertain times as it is to thriving in the future.

Putting Employees First Across the Org Chart

We’ve spent several months focusing on recruiting and retaining the right people in key leadership roles. Since one of our specialties at Georgia Oak is to assist our partners in filling those roles, we have deep expertise in the importance of making the right choices for the executive team.
But the importance of focusing on people goes well beyond the C-Suite. Strong team leadership and company culture is as important on the factory floor and the hospital hallways as it is in the corner office. By expanding your people-first focus to include the full spectrum of human resources, you increase both the opportunities and the strength to leverage toward success.

Employee Retention

Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspect of keeping a business healthy, employee retention rarely gets the attention it deserves from company leadership. What’s more, the attention focused in this area is often based on misguided assumptions or a lack of understanding what is important to workers.

According to Adam Borstein of Entrepreneur:

"Entrepreneurs know how to make customers happy: We learn their needs and then create products and services to match. But too often, we don’t do the same thing with our employees. We make incorrect assumptions about what workers value—and, in the process, overlook what will give them long-term."


Contrary to supply-and-demand management wisdom, wages, salary and profit-sharing bonuses are often loosely related (at best) to a strong employee retention policy. Take-home pay ranks high as a consideration with most workers when deciding whether to accept a position, and a lack of equitable or steadily increasing pay can certainly be a factor in employee discouragement. It turns out, however, that the reverse isn’t necessarily true. A competitive pay scale or even frequent increases in pay based on performance don’t necessarily lead to employee retention or loyalty.

So, what does keep people around?

According to Thomas Smale, writing for Entrepreneur, the 4 keys are growth opportunities, recognition of not only achievement but effort, flexibility and a healthy work environment. Each of these constructs will be translated differently depending on the industry and job function – flexibility, for example, looks different in a manufacturing plant than it does on a software development team. Looking for tangible ways to incorporate these motivations into your employee retention plan, however, will enhance your competitiveness as an employer and improve productivity and loyalty among current employees.


Employee Satisfaction

Employee Retention and Satisfaction are related concepts, but not interchangeable. Job Satisfaction is one of many reasons employees will stay with a company, but it also has implications for the quality of work a person produces, as well as the extent to which her job integrates with her life, health and overall well being.
Many of us assume that if we find interesting and fulfilling work, and are paid well (or at least fairly), our job satisfaction will be high. An extensive meta-analysis of job satisfaction studies conducted at the University of Houston, however, concludes that the people with whom we work has a much greater impact on job satisfaction than previously assumed.

Kevin Hoff, assistant professor of industrial-organizational psychology, notes in the Journal of Vocational Behavior: 

“Our main finding was that interest fit significantly predicts satisfaction, but it's not as strong of a relation as people expect…Other things that lead to satisfaction include the organization you work for, your supervisor, colleagues and pay.”

The lesson here for company leaders is that culture matters. Recruiting and supporting supervisors and managers with whom employees enjoy working—and creating an environment in which workers feel connected, valued, and appreciated—may have far-reaching personal and professional impact.

Performance, Compensation and Benefits

None of this is to say that compensation is irrelevant. In fact, fair and productive evaluation of performance is one of the most efficient ways to help employees understand their roles, attributes, and paths to growth. Performance evaluations provide essential data for the company and workers alike. They ensure that employees receive acknowledgement for their contributions and additional training or support in areas where they are struggling. They also provide an opportunity for both employee and manager to verbalize what they see (or hope to see) on the path ahead.

While performance is not always tied to compensation, the two are part of a critical two-pronged approach to ensuring that employees receive compensation that is not only competitive but targeted to acknowledge their contributions and grow with their careers.


Tying it all Together: Organizational Development

As you may have already guessed, none of these critical areas of personnel development can exist in a vacuum, or be championed by a single person or department (even if that person is the company’s founder or CEO). To function as a healthy system, the tenets of employee retention, satisfaction and performance must be integrated into the heart and soul of the company culture.

This requires a knowledge of, and attention to, Organizational Development—especially in the company’s early years. Your company’s purpose, and its commitment to its employees, must be woven into the structure of the organization itself: from the onboarding process for new employees to conflict resolution and meeting culture.

In this respect, 2021 presents an opportunity for companies of all sizes, to reinvent themselves with the structure and culture that will serve them best in the future.


Links & Resources

• 3 Ways to Retain Your Top Employees:
• Employee Retention: 4 Tips
• Job Satisfaction (Forbes):
• Job Satisfaction – University of Houston Study:
• Tracking Performance:
• Organizational Development:
• Investors and Human Capital:
• Why 2021 is the Year of Change:

COVID-19 Leadership with Page Siplon, CEO of TeamOne Logistics

Page Siplon

As the CEO of TeamOne Logistics, communication with my “work family” has always been a top priority.  In our office, I “walk the corners” daily and check-in with all of my team to keep up with any challenges they may be facing, both on or off the job. I try to remind myself to speak with the intention of creating opportunities to listen, not just to put words out there.  I care more about what my teammates have to say than what I have to say. When the pandemic arrived, my efforts to keep in touch with the team did not change, but definitely requires a bit more creativity sometimes. More meetings may now be remote, but we all still meet weekly to review how we are making the workplace safe and where our business stands. We try and keep it light and conversational, as this catch-up kind of conversation is what we all seem to miss the most not being together in one office.

We consistently talk about maintaining social distance within the office and everyone’s commitment to stay home if they do not feel well. In July, we implemented a voluntary return-to-office schedule so that employees can work in the office or remotely, depending on what works best for their family’s situation.

Also, to keep everyone engaged, I regularly review where we are as a company from a financial stability perspective.  We also share updates on what is happening with our customers and what they are going through. With TeamOne Logistics being a national Third-Party Logistics (3PL) company laser-focused on the people-side of the industry, our business and that of our partners is essential, and mostly thrived during these challenging times. Since we are staying closer to home right now, we used this time to strategize on future growth and how to bring TeamOne Logistics to the next level of success.

Sharing my vision for growth with the team drives strong morale in a big way. The growth impacts every single one of us on the team, and we all need to work together to make it happen. In sharing our growth plan, which we have branded The Road to 100, the team learned we are adding several people to fast track reaching our growth goals. Sharing a bright spot in challenging times is a great way to strengthen everyone’s spirit.

I believe communicating with my team is the key to maintaining a strong company in ANY economy, not just during a pandemic. I find transparency and authenticity in regular communication with my team creates a culture of unity and passion in moving the company forward.

Culture Shifts During COVID-19 and Beyond

By Camille Cantrell

Hero Image

Beyond Remote Work: COVID-19 Culture Challenges

Since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, much of our focus has necessarily been on logistics: the nuts and bolts of reorganizing the workplace. As companies scrambled to continue operations as safely as possible, health guidelines have changed the physical layout of offices and factories. For employees able to work remotely, technology issues, virtual schooling and scheduling challenges have littered our working days as we adjust to an ever-evolving new normal.

As time goes on, our focus has to shift to the long-term challenges of working in a COVID and even post-COVID world. The pandemic has precipitated changes in company culture, and today’s leaders are tasked with not only righting the ship, but also charting a sustainable long-term course.

Long-term Shifts and CEO Attitudes

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A PwC survey of nearly 700 CEOs indicates that the majority believe operational changes spurred by COVID-19 are here to stay. These CEOs predict more remote collaboration (78%), automation (76%) and fewer employees in the office (61%), beyond the pandemic and into the future. More than half say their business will be more digital in the future.

These changes require leaders to do more than simply adapt their organization’s technology program and leave policies. For remote work to succeed, there must also be a cultural shift to foster trust, engagement and a focus on results. For many companies this means C-Suite leadership teams must adjust their approach.

In July, Siemens became the latest Fortune Global 500 powerhouse to announce a new remote work policy, allowing employees to work remotely in the location of their choice 2-3 days each week, permanently. CEO Roland Busch indicated the policy “will also be associated with a different leadership style, one that focuses on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office. We trust our employees and empower them to shape their work themselves so that they can achieve the best possible results.”

Pivoting Leadership Style in the New Paradigm

What does a change in leadership style look like? According to Sue Bingham in Harvard Business Review, leaders should focus on developing a mindset for complexity—which is unpredictable and requires flexible thinking—rather than for complication, which requires linear problem-solving. “Complexity conscious HR leaders view company performance as the result of open and clear communication, positive assumptions, and self-management.”

With a distributed workplace, leading across locations and time zones can be complicated, to say the least. It is particularly challenging for leaders who are new at the helm themselves, who may be trying to lead a group of people whom they’ve never met in person. For example, our portfolio company Sailfish Boats successfully transitioned in new CEO earlier this month, Rob Parmentier, who even dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak within the first two weeks of his tenure. Rob acted quickly and practiced CDC protocol to maintain safety throughout the manufacturing facility. He used CDC recommended contact tracing and the entire team was tested immediately.  Within a day, the entire facility was disinfected, and test results began to come in.

Successful leaders foster inclusion, model flattening the hierarchy, and give employees more control over complex decisions. “Now is the time to focus on interpersonal relationships,” Bingham writes, “rather than control, standards, and hierarchy.”

Protecting Your Team Against Continued Risk

Page Quote

Until the pandemic recedes, obviously all leadership approaches must include considerations for employee health and safety. Page Siplon, CEO of a portfolio company of ours, TeamOne Logistics, says, “we consistently talk about maintaining social distance within the office and everyone’s commitment to stay home if they do not feel well.”

And as Parmentier learned quickly, it’s important to have a procedure in place for when an employee tests positive for COVID-19. This plan should include steps for protecting the infected employee and their coworkers, collaborating with the CDC and local health authorities, determining appropriate closing, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and acting in accordance with both the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Creating A Seamless Culture Across Locations

Intentional communication is more important than ever, and not just for handling crises or running effective meetings. Leaders should also create opportunities for employees to connect and contribute informally as well—a space to generate ideas and share concerns that may not fit neatly into the day’s agenda.

Page Siplon

Page Siplon puts it this way: “I remind myself to speak with the intention of creating opportunities to listen…. When the pandemic arrived, my efforts to keep in touch with the team did not change but require more creativity sometimes.”

Once some staff return to the office, it will be even more critical to create time and space for all employees to be heard and acknowledged, regardless of their location. Leaders should make a concerted effort to include remote workers in recognition and staff development plans, to avoid falling prey to an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.


Whether you are a new leader finding your bearings at a company, or a long-established captain of the ship, embracing a positive remote work culture is key to navigating today’s workplace environment. We recommend creating a culture of trust and open communication to get the best from your employees.

When in doubt? Focus on the positive. As Siplon says of his future-focused strategy, “sharing a bright spot in challenging times is a great way to strengthen everyone’s spirit.”

Resources & References

  • CEOS: Post-COVID Changes are Permanent and There are More to Come:
  • Remote Work Best Practices:
  • Siemens Mobile Work Policy Announcement:
  • Leaders Adapting to Uncertain Times:
  • 4 Ways to Inspire and Build Culture with Remote Workers:
  • New CEOs and Assimilating:
  • How to Respond if an Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19:
  • Sample Department of Health Employer Guidelines (VT):

Miked Up: Organizational Diversity - Volume 2, Part 1

"Miked Up" is a series of videos where we speak candidly with the brightest minds and most experienced executives in the Georgia business community. Our goal of these conversations is to provide business owners with not only great information from highly respected leaders, but to also bring a local perspective from those in our community to those in our community.

Dr. Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander, University of Georgia
Yendelela Neely Holston, Kilpatrick Townsend

Diversity in the workplace is a priority, but more than that, inclusion and fairness are what need to be emphasized. "Not being racist is Not enough" is a quote that has resonated with us. Businesses should hold themselves to a higher standard than simply the lack of racism within their organization. In this volume of "Miked Up," we sit down with two of the most well respected women in their field to discuss what issues Black professionals are facing in the American workplace and what steps can be taken by business owners and employees to make a material difference for the sake of true organizational diversity.

Georgia & National Labor Market Trends: A Look at Six Key Industries


Overall, the June Jobs Report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflected the expected chaos across the employment market, along with clear evidence of continued improvement related to the reopening of many sectors of the economy. Payrolls were up by 4.8 million, with many job gains in leisure, hospitality, and health services, some of the industries hardest hit by shutdowns due to the pandemic.

In Georgia, we saw the largest uptick in unemployment in March and April (from 3.1% pre-COVID to 12.6% in April). May and June, however, have shown steady improvements at 9.7% and 7.6% (preliminary) respectively.

Given the current uncertainty and volatility in the markets, we won’t know the true impact of COVID-19 across key economic sectors for at least three to six months. That said, a closer look at six key critical industries can provide some insight into the impact of COVID and potential future trends.



Manufacturing was hit hard by closures related to COVID-19. In the second quarter of 2020, factory production shrank by a 47% annualized rate, and industrial production by 42.6%, the largest decline since World War II.

As the economy began to reopen In June, Manufacturing experienced a partial snap-back of 7.2%—the largest gain since March 1947—following a 3.8% climb in May. A surge in auto production boosted these numbers, with the rest of manufacturing held to 3.9% growth. Overall factory output, however, was still 11.1% below February levels. Experts, including economists polled by Reuters, agree that new COVID-19 cases are likely to slow the rebound rates in this sector in the coming months.

In Georgia, there has been significant growth in Manufacturing, as Frito Lay, Creative Flooring Solutions and Wellmade Flooring all increased investment in Georgia-based facilities, with jobs following suit.


Hospitality, Leisure, and Restaurants

With a sharp drop-off of travel and eating out during the early days of the pandemic, leisure and hospitality (including restaurants and bars) experienced the biggest drop in jobs – losing 7.7 million jobs, or 47% of total positions.

Many of those hospitality jobs are returning, however, as many people—particularly those in the younger demographic—seek to re-engage with their pre-COVID leisure and travel activities. Again, rising COVID cases could impact these gains as well, but there is optimism as restaurants and hotels pivot to new ways of making employees and guests safer and more comfortable. This includes re-configuring spaces for social distancing guidelines and widespread mask usage, which according to industry titans like Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson is essential for the continued recovery of the industry.


Logistics, Warehousing, & Distribution

Logistics and warehousing have seen less severe damage than some other industries, buttressed against some of the more drastic losses as consumers bought more online, resulting in higher need for delivery and shipping services. Less traffic on the road contributed to shorter trip times for both short- and long-haul transportation, allowing carriers to turn trucks around more often. Less stop-and-go traffic also lessens wear and tear on truck components. Perhaps influenced by job losses in other industries, driver turnover is also at an all-time low, lowering the cost of hiring and training new drivers.

The industry has still faced a downturn, however, which began before the pandemic and has been worsened by economic conditions starting in March 2020. Transportation and warehousing have also been at the front lines of the pandemic, employing heightened safety measures for workers and drivers early and consistently.

According to Katie Pyzyk in Transport Topics, truck drivers “have a higher average age than many other professions, and many harbor pre-existing conditions such as obesity or heart disease. Those factors put them at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19. Carriers are acutely aware of this and take extra precautions to protect this core segment of their ­workforce.”


IT, Software &Technology

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform many industries with a sharp drop in demand, the tech industry and IT/technology jobs across all industries have remained relatively unscathed. According to CompTIA, the nonprofit trade association for the tech industry worldwide, the industry itself showed modest losses of 5,600 jobs in June—with three of five tech sectors showing employment gains.

As an occupation, IT jobs in various industries have increased by 227,000, while tech occupation employment increased in five of the first six months of 2020. According to Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA Hiring is expected to continue to accelerate "in areas such as software development, IT support, cloud infrastructure, cybersecurity, and certain emerging tech fields."

In Georgia, Atlanta’s growing tech sector is a big contributor to job gains. Atlanta was among the top five metro areas for job gains from May to June, along with New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston.



After a slight dip in May, Healthcare added nearly 360,000 jobs in June. It’s no surprise this industry is hiring, as those in the healthcare industry have battled burnout and risked themselves on the frontlines of the pandemic for the past four months. Now that states are beginning to reopen, increased COVID-19 cases will lead to a greater need for healthcare workers in all fields. Additional closures may impact elective procedures, however, causing a shift for workers in those fields as income from non-emergency procedures declines.

After a slight dip in May, Healthcare added nearly 360,000 jobs in June. It’s no surprise this industry is hiring, as those in the healthcare industry have battled burnout and risked themselves on the frontlines of the pandemic for the past four months. Now that states are beginning to reopen, increased COVID-19 cases will lead to a greater need for healthcare workers in all fields. Additional closures may impact elective procedures, however, causing a shift for workers in those fields as income from non-emergency procedures declines.

Human Resources & Staffing

Staffing and Human Resources jobs were also up nationally in May and June. Georgia placed in the top tier of states for HR and staffing employment, with 5,670 HR Manager jobs added for the month. HR managers have become an increasingly critical function as the pandemic pushed workers to remote working; their role will continue to be vital as the return-to-work requires new policies, documentation and staffing changes.

Riding the Positive Trends

While the overall economic and employment news is still uncertain, businesses can take this opportunity to implement better hiring practices and take advantage of some upside trends. Industries like IT, Healthcare & Social Care, Fitness, Engineering, Online Retail, and Warehousing will all see booms in the coming months—particularly for those forward-looking companies that can adapt to post-COVID realities and consumer expectations.

In addition, the trend toward remote working gives employers access to qualified talent across the globe, as location becomes a less relevant metric for hiring overall. There are more workers available, and some may be (at least temporarily) available at lower rates than they would previously—though we’d caution that paying below market can have an inverse relationship with employee productivity and loyalty in the long run. Many workers—having been through the tumult of the pandemic and resulting job losses—may also be less risk averse, which is good news for startups who are less able to offer guaranteed long-term security.

Harnessing the Power of Technology


COVID-19 has forced companies to rethink business-as-usual strategies and realize the benefits of fast-tracking digital transformation. Out of sheer necessity, technological advancements we’ve been considering for nearly a decade were kicked into high gear in an effort to remain competitive, and in some cases, simply stay afloat.

While companies that implemented digitization strategies prior to the pandemic were better positioned to maintain operations with minimal disruption, companies that are just now jumping on the digital bandwagon are reaping plenty of benefits as well, including finding themselves ahead of the competitive curve.

What is Digitization?

In Gartner’s IT Glossary, digitization is defined as the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.

However, this begs the question: what is a digital business? In essence, digital businesses use technology and digitalization processes to create new value in business models, customer experiences and the internal capabilities that support its core operations.

With technology moving from a supporting player to a leading player in innovation, we’re seeing more businesses evolve into digital businesses with a focus on the competitive advantages that technology provides. Whether it’s digitally transforming processes to reduce overhead or working to improve value to customers, businesses are relying on digitalization to remain competitive, differentiate themselves, and as a means to survive post-pandemic.

Technological Advancements Reshape Growth

New technologies are transforming the world of business in a myriad of ways. And the transformation has just begun. Successful companies are reorienting their entire business model around technology while finding clever ways to incorporate automation into business development, customer experiences, marketing, and other business processes to capitalize on and maximize the long-term value.


According to the 2020 Manufacturing Industry Outlook, the coming year promises to challenge manufacturers as they attempt to regain their foothold amidst continued volatility in costs and policy decisions. However, there is growth on the horizon for manufacturers that position themselves for the year ahead with greater agility. Manufacturing leaders should increase resilience in their operations by building “digital muscle” across areas like their supply chain, mobilizing partnerships to drive business goals and leaning into corporate social responsibility.

Supply Disruption

COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities of the modern supply chain. Although supply chains have been building resiliency by facing tariffs, focusing on environmental sustainability and responding to evolving consumer expectations, the pandemic still put them to the test.

With powerful lessons to be learned in the wake of the crisis, experts agree that diverse sourcing and digitization will be the key to building stronger, smarter supply chains and ensuring a lasting recovery. Another important step toward future resilience is supply chain mapping – documenting the exact source of every material, process, and shipment involved in bringing goods to market.

Organizations that had the foresight to map their supply chain prior to COVID-19 are emerging with better visibility and mobility to secure inventory at alternate sites. Yet, few companies invest the time to map their supply chain which leaves them vulnerable to future disruptions.

Smart Factories

Over the last several decades, the manufacturing industry has been characterized by seismic change and increased automation. Smart factories, specifically, are pushing those advancements even further with AI and data-driven systems and highly connected workflows.

In the United States alone, 86% of manufacturers believe that smart factories will be the main thrust of competition by 2025. Furthermore, 83% believe that smart factories will transform the way products are made. Yet, only 5% of United States manufacturers have converted at least one factory to “smart” status, which means a large percentage of companies are leaving substantial and demonstrated value on the table. It’s estimated that by 2022 factories that adopt smart factory technology will be up to seven times more productive.

Frictionless Payments

There’s no question that consumers are gravitating toward companies that provide a streamlined online experience. (Think Amazon, the iconic one-click check-out leader responsible for more than a third of all e-commerce in the United States). These frictionless transactions, aimed at reducing or eliminating red tape altogether, are the mega driver behind the $284 billion mobile eCommerce industry.

As the world reels from the effects of COVID-19, no business is exempt. However, with consumers demanding new, convenient and more efficient payment and transaction solutions, including eSignatures, eNotes and ePayment platforms such as Venmo or Zelle, businesses across nearly every industry sector hold a unique opportunity to capitalize on the booming e-commerce trend that’s expected to reach $4.9 trillion by 2021.

Digitalization, both on the home front and globally, will be the driver of innovation, productivity, and growth as we turn the corner post-pandemic. Technological transformation, making change a core initiative, placing evolving consumer expectations at the forefront of ingenuity and having the ability to modify practices in response to digital technology progress will be business’s vital armor against future crisis adversity and unpredictability.

Virtual Communication in Uncertain Times

The Brave New(ish) World of Virtual Communication

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit around the world this spring, many leaders were forced into a sudden, intense relationship with virtual technology to keep their teams together.

Many office workers will continue to work remotely until the COVID-19 crisis has fully stabilized, months or even years from now. Some teams—having demonstrated their ability to function and even thrive remotely—may not return to the office at all.

As the pandemic lingers and companies take steps toward a new normal, we’re seeing the benefits—and drawbacks—of virtual communication writ large. Good communication has always been critical. Good virtual communication requires a new set of norms and skills.

Zoom Call  Slack  Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 11.55.39 AM

Lessons Learned & Gaps Identified

In part, the extent to which businesses had adopted remote work pre-pandemic determined the steepness of the learning curve. But even for decentralized, work-from-home veterans, the challenges with communication during social distancing have been numerous.

Examples of what not to do began flooding the internet almost as quickly as the pandemic began. Some have been a punchline: visible employee eyerolls as Zoom calls ended, a worker who took her laptop to the restroom without muting the microphone.

Individual foibles have served as comic relief in a time of crisis and transition. We’ve also seen more serious examples of trial and error, including sensitive conversations handled poorly and platform security concerns leading to disruptions.

But it’s important to note that not all virtual missteps make headlines. Remote work demands more of leaders, and many are struggling to navigate the new paradigm and the skill set it requires.

Where do we begin?

Context is Critical

Going virtual fundamentally shifts how we take in information, including context and nuance, and how leaders share information with their teams. Virtual environments reduce the opportunities for informal interactions, which are critical for leaders to gather information and connect with teams.

When scheduling virtual meetings, make sure to provide the context and desired outcome of the meeting, even when a formal agenda isn’t necessary. Teams need to know if they’re participating in a brainstorming session, giving status updates or solving a specific problem.

Seek Clarity 

Clarity is another virtual challenge. Leaders can practice active listening skills to ensure everyone is on the same page. For critical issues, follow up with meeting summaries by email, including action items and responsibilities, along with individual meetings as needed. Remember that everyone communicates and learns differently, so using a variety of communication methods is important.

Encourage Participation

Virtual meetings can create barriers to participation because of delays and limitations on video and audio. Take advantage of participation tools at your disposal, including anonymous polls, chat, emojis, and other visual signals. Keep your own video on and encourage teams to do the same (bandwidth permitting) to capture nonverbals whenever possible.

Leaders should directly seek out opinions from quieter team members or those experiencing technology issues during the meeting. Pause between topics to allow ample opportunity for each participant to weigh in, and train managers to do the same in their own meetings.

Sensitive Topics & Morale 

It may go without saying that mass firings over Zoom do nothing to promote employee morale, but it’s important to note that all sensitive topics require additional care and attention when you can’t be in the same room with your team.

Difficult conversations—performance reviews, terminations, changes in status or compensation—are still best held one-on-one, even when the setting is virtual. Be sure to schedule a private follow-up conversation after employees have processed the information.

The old adage, “praise in public, criticize in private” carries special weight in the context of virtual meetings. The informal interactions and team support that soften difficult conversations are few and far between and the end of a meeting leaves each employee alone at home. If you must offer constructive criticism in a team environment, keep it brief and objective, and follow up quickly to offer individual support.

Increased communication and empathy can help leaders determine whether a morale issue exists and actively seek to address it.

Team Building & Trust

A common concern in organizations is that remote employees have more opportunities to violate company trust. By cultivating a culture of mutual trust, leaders can significantly reduce risk and increase team cohesion.

First and foremost, establish trust by earning it: fulfill promises, communicate honestly, and come to meetings on time. Demonstrate respect for employees’ time as well as their needs for flexibility. Ensure that accountability measures are clear, measurable and applied fairly to everyone.

Teambuilding is more important than ever for cultivating trust, as well as maintaining morale and establishing clarity of purpose. Allow time for social connection before, after or outside of regular meetings. Keep everyone engaged with formal and informal teambuilding activities.

Will Virtual Communication Ever End?

The short answer: no.

While the new virtual paradigm will become more natural with time, leaders always need to intentionally provide efficient and effective communication. In addition to accurate and timely information, we need to build and maintain rapport and engagement in a time when a high level of trust is essential.

You’ll never cross "communication" off of your to-do List, because the ways to communicate effectively will never stop changing, and the need will never end.

Miked Up: Volume 1, Part 1

Miked Up is a series of videos where we speak candidly with the brightest minds and most experienced executives in the Georgia business community. Our goal of these conversations is to provide business owners with not only great information from highly respected leaders, but to also bring a local perspective from those in our community to those in our community.

Heidi LaMarca, Managing Partner of Windham Brannon

Over the last several weeks our inboxes have been flooded with articles, webinars, and other content about how businesses are adapting in the age of COVID. On the first episode of Miked Up we welcome Heidi LaMarca, Managing Partner at Windham Brannon, a leading accounting firm here in Atlanta, to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on financial modeling, net operating loss strategy and important aspects of the PPP loan program.

Navigating the New Normal

By Dean Ditmar

Navigating a New Normal

Businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of their employees, customers, and suppliers. Financial and operational challenges are front and center, and companies across the globe are working to cut costs. We are all questioning how to get back to growing our business when this crisis subsides. How do we prepare for the ‘new normal’ as we come out of this pandemic?

Max McKeown, influential author on adaptability and change, said "Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win." The amount of change can be overwhelming, but we are here to help.


new business trends are emerging and will remain in place (1)

Supply chains have taken a hit. 

Many companies are having their vulnerabilities exposed. Those that rely heavily on a limited number of vendors face a new wave of challenges.

Businesses have little cash on hand.

Small and medium sized businesses are struggling to pay workers, which means higher unemployment. Many businesses live “paycheck to paycheck” and declines in consumer demand can tip them into the red.

Consumer purchases are focused primarily on staple products. 

Consumer confidence is low in this pandemic. If you are a B2C company, how will you make your products appealing in a post-crisis time?

Consumers have shifted to online-only channels.

The recent environment has forced consumers to completely turn to online channels.

How Will Businesses Survive and Emerge Stronger?

Understand how market and consumer behaviors have changed and how this impacts your business. Focus on these 5 key areas to prepare your company for future disruptions and emerge a winner.


     2     4     5    3

Act in Ways that are in Keeping with Your Culture

Act in Ways that are in Keeping with Your Culture

Culture is guided by purpose and values. Values exhibited by strong cultures are collaboration, agility, integrity, innovation, and accountability. Companies that exhibit a winning culture inspire their employees. Take a moment to reflect on your company’s purpose. A crisis can bring these into sharp focus.

Communicate to customers, employees, and suppliers in a way that is consistent with your values. Communicating openly and empathetically helps customers and employees understand tough decisions.

Use technology to enhance communications and trust during this time. One example is the tool Star Me Up. It’s an online app that lets employees recognize colleagues who have been helpful. Another example is “BeThere”, where people can share photos. These work-appropriate platforms make it possible to keep your brand ambassadors and build upon your culture.

Empathetic leadership and communication aid human resilience in difficult times.

 Know that Remote Working is Here to Stay

COVID-19 forced companies to switch to remote working very quickly. To be successful in the long term, a structured approach is needed. Success requires clear guidelines, new tools and frequent communication. Business leaders need to set up practices to be able to communicate clearly with employees and stakeholders. Communication should include regular feedback rounds.  This improves collaboration and builds necessary trust. Leaders can help employees understand not only why, but also what and how.

Fortunately today, the technical aspects of remote work are much easier. Everything from Google docs, Hangouts, Zoom, and Skype for communication, as well as cloud-based process management tools such as Jira, make life easier.

Secure Your Customers, People and Systems

COVID-19 is forcing companies to work in new ways, and systems resilience is being tested. Companies are operating under a new reality that puts great strain on their systems.

Secure your customers, people and systems wherever they are to counter the bad actors who seek to take advantage during and after a crisis. On the systems side, take actions to secure your cloud solutions, individual devices (BYOD), and 3rd party apps and platforms. Ensure your teams are set up to quickly identify security abnormalities.

On the operations side, be proactive and create a long-term customer-oriented strategy. Examples include bringing in highly skilled, distributed teams that can deliver on customer promises anytime, anywhere. Work to build a long-term, resilient operations.

On the supply-chain side, build redundancy and flexibility. Product-focused businesses should standardize as many components and parts as possible. Service businesses can formalize processes to drive flexibility. Process automation improves flexibility by standardizing time-consuming, high-volume processes with speed and accuracy.

 Double Down on Digital Commerce

Those who viewed digital as a secondary channel now need to shift towards a digital commerce mindset. There is an opportunity to focus on digital commerce, enhancing existing offerings and creating new services.

This is an opportunity to grow revenue, attract new customers and drive lower costs, but digital channels need stability and the ability to scale.

Focus on the Customer

Providing compassionate customer service during and post-pandemic will increase brand perception and customer loyalty. Businesses will need to deliver quality customer service and experiences.

Leverage data and analytics to address customer needs and increase customer support. Reprioritize customer support so that the most critical needs are addressed first, with non-critical customer interactions redirected to digital. Consider setting up or enhancing virtual customer care agent capabilities.

Businesses can prepare for "the new normal" as we come out of this pandemic, but winning in the post-pandemic environment requires innovation, resilience, and adaptation in these key areas.

COVID-19 has changed our experiences – as customers, employees, and businesses. Our ability to work together to understand evolving needs and communicate changing demand will get companies through this uncertain time, and help them emerge stronger, wiser and more connected than before.


The Front Lines of Business Continuity

By Mike Lonergan

Human Resources on the Front Lines of Business Continuity (2)

At the Forefront of Crisis

In organizations large and small, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought human resources to the forefront, highlighting the essential need for the HR function in times of crisis.

For every headline highlighting the nationwide shutdown and its impact on the economy, there is an HR professional working at a frenetic pace to keep businesses going: pulling out crisis and business continuity plans, arranging remote workplaces and managing those employees unable to telework, updating childcare and leave policies to reflect the new reality of closed schools and shelter-in-place orders, responding to ever-changing guidance from the CDC, as well as state and federal leaders.

In collaboration with functions such as IT and facilities, HR professionals have been leading the way forward through the human aspect of the crisis. Their focus has been not merely on compliance and productivity, but also the health and wellbeing of each person in the organization. Never has the critical importance of taking care of employees been clearer.

Untitled design (5)Preparing for a Return to the Workplace

As we move into the next phase of the pandemic response—preparing to reopen workplaces and navigate the new normal of business—it won’t be as simple as unlocking the doors and flipping on the lights. There will be new guidelines and regulations to follow, procedures to rewrite, entire systems to reconsider and revamp. Now more than ever, businesses need someone at the helm of HR to recognize changing needs, create new policies, and disseminate information and training across the new landscape of the workplace.

According to talent industry analyst Josh Bersin, this means the HR function is due for an update—structurally and culturally.*

“Historically, we designed HR to be a low cost, high value service function: one that understands employee needs, responds quickly, and delivers services at scale,” Bersin writes in his blog. “This is not the optimum model in a crisis. We need to distribute authority fast, make sure responsible owners have strong capabilities and experience, and coordinate the response. A very different design.”

The human resources function will need to be reexamined, restructured and newly empowered to coordinate the response to future crises, as well as guide the new reality of work after COVID-19.


When employees return to the workplace in the coming months, they’ll be walking into a much-changed environment with a new set of rules. Everyday HR practices will change—from seating arrangements to remote work to travel—and with those changes will come new policies and approaches.

Many of these changes are already happening. Here’s what we’ve been seeing in our network:



The COVID-19 crisis has not only sped up the paradigm shift toward working from home, but it has also led to many tough conversations as companies face layoffs, furloughs and closures.

While managing the distribution of employees and having hard conversations, HR leaders are also establishing new policies and procedures to allow for office re-openings and to ultimately ensure that employees remain engaged, informed and protected.

Untitled design (8)HIRING PRACTICES

Without the limitations of physical boundaries, hiring managers are tapping into a geographically and ethnically diverse talent pool. This will mean an increased need for inclusion, diversity programming and communication protocols. 

We see a surge in skills-based hiring as companies outsource routine tasks to machines. The human workforce will focus more on creativity, critical thinking and innovation--which means applicant's skills may become more important than their pedigree. 


The new workplace requires a holistic approach, with consideration for employees’ financial, mental and physical well-being. Employees re-entering the workplace or moving to a permanent telecommuting position will prioritize different needs and employee benefits than before, and they'll expect their company to comply.

This shift in employee expectations has led to re-tooling health and safety policies; offering flexible hours, paid sick leave, and remote work options; and providing hazard or premium pay for high-risk periods and positions.


We’ll see these changes and many more; every industry will be impacted differently. Strategies in place prior to this year will be significantly adjusted or retooled completely. Here are some key places to start:

  • Invest in and empower the HR function of your business to prepare for short- and long-term shifts in the way we work
  • Develop a “re-entry plan” to provide transparency and guidance in a time of uncertainty
  • Be empathetic and patient with employees’ anxiety about their health, families, and finances
  • Create and disseminate health and safety protocols for operations, training, and teamwork. Follow up with signage, training and reinforcement
  • Ensure your business has updated, efficient communication channels to disseminate information to employees
  • Host pre-return training or re-orientation for staff upon return
  • Stay flexible as the workplace and the surrounding environment continue to evolve and change


We can’t overstate the importance of focusing on people as we enter the post-pandemic world. Reestablishing a workplace where employees feel comfortable and safe is a complex challenge, but crucial to the survival of your business.

Providing flexibility, resources and clear policies will give your team the tools they need to thrive in the new world of work.

*Resiliency in Organizations:

Build Successful Teams with These 5 Elements

Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.

By Tricia Forbes


We've spent a lot of time and effort curating conditions under which teams can thrive, both for our Georgia Oak team and with our partner companies. The successful functioning of teams is essential to making our investments work, and learning to work together as team takes concentrated focus. But even smart people with the best intentions sometimes struggle to get a team firing on all cylinders. We've found the best teams have the following things in common:

1. Transparency

Nothing will halt progress faster than the hoarding of information. Effective teams challenge the status quo about information-sharing. The obvious/important exception here is private HR matters. Beyond that, we've found that teams who widely share information tend to innovate more and have increased productivity. Team members feel more ownership over the process and work product. How can you expect an employee to "think like an owner" if they have only a fraction of the information needed to do so?

Takeaway: Share as much data as you can, practically and legally speaking.

2. Permission to Fail Forward

Thomas Edison is widely known for his successful inventions. The man filed 1,093 patents! But he also famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." In short, Edison seemed to believe that each misstep was a step closer to a solution. People play it safe when they believe their livelihoods are on the line if they make a wrong move. As long as earnest effort is applied to each task, failure in the innovation process should actually be celebrated. Failure is not the end. It is the middle. There are no bad ideas on a good team. Once successful processes are established, they should be respected, but always leaving room for iteration and new ways of thinking.

Takeaway: Encourage teams to innovate by acknowledging that failures along the way are a guaranteed part of the process, and they won't be punished for trying new things.

3. Vulnerability

When people are worried about being judged or shamed, they protect themselves by keeping things close to the vest. When employees struggle in silence because they fear opening up, opportunities are missed for creating stronger connections and a sense of community at work. People need to know (and be ever reminded) that they can be their true selves at work. When people mock or criticize those who are being vulnerable, they should be privately coached. If they can't grow into a team player who holds space for other people's ways of being, they should be removed from the team.

Takeaway: Embrace the fact that each team member is a human being and has an emotional and thought life as deep and complicated as your own. We all come to work in different mental places and should seek to support one another.

4. Humble Leaders

Have you ever seen the head football coach score a touchdown? Me neither. We all know the coach has an out-sized effect on the team's ability to win a game, but they can't do it without the players. The best teams have leaders who refuse to take credit for the work that only a team can accomplish. Institutionalize praise for your team members. If you've historically had trouble with this, add an entry on your calendar for recognizing their efforts.

Takeaway: Acknowledge each person's contributions to a team win, big or small, and do it consistently.

5. Glass Half Full Mentality

Stick with me here... This is not a "power of positive thinking", "woo-woo" thing, but rather a simple focus on gratitude. When leaders and team members make a conscious effort to show gratitude to one another, teams are more productive and effective. Additionally, approaching each situation with the assumption that people are doing their best (rather than being lazy, trying to sabotage, etc.) often inspires them to actually do their best. Of course, be realistic if you have real issues with someone not carrying their weight, but otherwise, say "thank you" more often than you think is humanly possible. People will notice.

Takeaway: Regularly express gratitude to your teams and encourage them to do the same among their peers.

Recruiting and Maintaining Manufacturing Talent

The Manufacturing Talent Challenge

Georgia’s manufacturing businesses create an output of $61.1 billion and employ some 270,000 production workers, but even the most successful manufacturing operations struggle with finding qualified talent in today’s employment environment. Baby Boomers, who have made up the bulk of the workforce in the past, are reaching retirement. A tight job market means there are fewer job seekers, making it difficult for companies to expand (or even maintain) their businesses.



While the task of finding and retaining top talent has become more challenging, experts say there are many steps manufacturers can take to enhance their recruiting efforts.


Engaging Millennials

Millennials currently make up about 50% of the U.S. workforce and will account for 75% of all employees globally by 2025. As more Baby Boomers leave the workforce, companies must increasingly turn to millennials (born between 1980 and the late 1990s) to fill job openings.

Just as Baby Boomers disrupted American culture, lifestyles, and the workplace when they supplanted the “Greatest Generation” of their parents, millennials have different values, objectives, and expectations than their predecessors.

For example, older workers who endured the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II tended to place the highest value job stability and the size of their paycheck. Millennials want a good salary, but they are also concerned with working for a socially responsible employer with a good reputation whose values match their own.
This demographic shift calls for new recruitment strategies to find and attract this new generation of candidates. Millennials spend a significant amount of time on their smartphones and using social media. They seldom see traditional “help wanted” newspaper ads. Add job vacancies to mobile-friendly social media platforms, and you increase the likelihood they will respond.

Other millennial-friendly suggestions include:

A simple online application and a streamlined interview process establish that your company cares about the candidate’s time. Quick hiring decisions also indicate your company is nimble and shows concern for individuals.

Millennials were raised on technology, and they prefer companies that use innovative platforms to simplify how they do business. They avoid ones they perceive as stagnant or “old fashioned”.

These individuals want to grow and learn, so provide plenty of training – especially through digital platforms. Consider using a learning management system with a video training program. Gamifying the training process with quizzes and certificates can help keep employees of all ages engaged in the content.

Millennial workers want an employer with a good reputation. Promote your sustainable and responsible practices, community involvement and philanthropy.

Millennials like being able to customize how they balance their work hours and their personal time. Flexibility to set their own hours or choose different shifts helps them achieve that balance.

While competitive pay and benefits matter to everyone, millennials attach more value to a positive environment with a supportive corporate culture. Empower employees to do their jobs and trust them to achieve results. Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable enough to be their authentic selves at work.

Millennial employees want to feel good about the impact their work has on society and the world around them. Focusing on doing right by your customer and empowering your employees to treat customers, vendors and other stakeholders fairly will increase employee satisfaction.



Another promising source for both hourly and salaried employees for manufacturing operations is former U.S. Armed Forces members. There are more than 18.2 million veterans in the United States, including some 650,000 in Georgia. Although it is sometimes skimmed over during the recruitment process, military service is an excellent training ground for manufacturers.

Veterans often possess the technical expertise, leadership skills and teamwork savvy to quickly become productive employees in the private sector.

When community members come to your factory, send invitations to local veterans. Set up a table specifically addressing opportunities for veterans. Recognize their service during your presentations. The regional Veterans Affairs office can help you identify ex-military members in your area.

Military veterans are accustomed to regular training to enhance their skills. Some will already possess the expertise you need, while others have a solid basis for retraining.

Building a reputation as a “military-friendly company” goes a long way toward attracting veterans. Sponsor and/or attend military events (including job fairs). Post your openings on military job boards, such as Vet Fast Track.

Knowing they will work with another veteran who has been through the adjustment to civilian life is particularly helpful to those recently discharged.

In the military, servicemen and women know exactly the path their career can take, and how long it will take them to get there. Uncertainty about the future can be anxiety-provoking following a transition to the private sector. Give them an understanding of the opportunities in front of them to help motivate them to move forward with your company and be promoted.


Hands in a huddle


Most manufacturers are already active in their communities, but with a little extra effort, you can leverage that engagement to enhance employee recruitment.

Getting involved in local charities, schools, and civic events helps raise your public profile and makes you more visible to the pool of local job candidates.

It also reinforces your positive corporate brand as a good citizen. A few strategic tweaks can expand those benefits to recruitment:

Working closely with technical colleges and high schools provides your company positive exposure among young people who will soon join the work force, particularly in skilled trades. You can identify good candidates early on while they are still in school.

In a similar vein, apprenticeship programs are a great way to identify potential future job candidates. Georgia is one of 10 states working with the German-American chamber of Commerce to establish apprenticeship programs using successful European models. Students average spending 50% to 70% of their class time working for participating companies, giving employers and candidates detailed exposure to one another. The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) also conducts apprenticeship programs in several disciplines through eight of its schools.

Allow existing employees to use a certain amount of paid time to volunteer in the local community each quarter. Develop volunteering and philanthropic relationships with organizations that create a touch point between your company and potential future employees, such as trade schools, high schools and job training programs.

Although traditional job sites such as and can be useful, there are many non-traditional online platforms to help with recruiting. For example, the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance recently launched an online job posting platform. Local members post openings in a variety of categories, from engineering and warehousing to finance and executive management. Additionally, look at opportunities to post your openings on industry-specific association job boards and newsletters. While LinkedIn is not widely used by manufacturing floor employees, Facebook can be a great resource. Boosted Facebook posts, active participation in industry/geographic job groups and geographic or demographic-targeted Facebook ads can be very effective in identifying potential employees and increasing applications.

Your Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Economic Development, TCSG, and trade organizations offer a variety of programs for new and existing employees that can be customized to your specific needs and goals.



Many of the techniques for attracting talented workers will also help you retain those employees for the long-term. Finding, hiring, and training new workers is expensive and time-consuming, versus taking steps keep the good workers you have.

According to Glassdoor, the average U.S. company spends about $4,000 to hire a new employee, taking up to 52 days to fill a position.

Efforts to retain employees can often be more cost-effective than replacing them. Here are a few practices to consider:

Help them learn valuable skills to improve in their existing role prepare them for a promotion. Consider a certificate program that recognizes employees when certain skills are mastered.

Public recognition of great results goes a long way toward encouraging employees to work smarter and productively.

Not everyone wants to spend years doing the exact same job. If employees feel like they are working toward a goal – a supervisory position, a more challenging technical role, or a position where they can train other workers – they are less likely to become disengaged and look for work outside of your company.

While top performers often get the most attention, everyone in the organization deserves gratitude for the role they play in helping your team win. Encourage managers to take the time to learn the type of feedback that is most meaningful to each employee. While everyone appreciates money as a reward, some employees might crave recognition or being praised in front of the team more than they desire a small bonus.

Nothing undermines employee morale faster than whispered rumors and uncertainty about the future. Be as honest as you can about upcoming changes and ask them for their feedback when their input can actually have an impact. Every business goes through times of uncertainty, but if your workers feel like they are part of the solution, they are more likely to ride out the storm with you.

When employees regularly hear what the company’s plans and goals are, they are better able to see how the enterprise’s future meshes with their own goals.

Most companies can’t afford to be the top paying plant in their region. However, in a tight job market, low salaries and stingy benefits will drive away your best workers. Local salary surveys can help you find the proper balance in your compensation package.

Bonus pools, employee stock/equity options and similar programs give workers a chance to share in the company’s success, and reinforces their contributions toward those positive returns.



Set up a program to pay employees for referring candidates. These are typically the best source of good workers. Stagger the rewards based on length of time the new employee is retained (e.g. Distribute the total bonus at intervals between the hire date, at 30 days, at 60 days, etc.)

Letting candidates learn more about your opportunities, talk to current employees, and tour your plant improves their perception of the company and gives them an idea of the experience they might have working there.

Your website should give a basic picture of your company, your corporate values, customer base and open jobs. but to really stand out, include a page about company culture and employee experience. Consider adding testimonial videos from current employees to add a human element to the recruiting experience. A robust presence on LinkedIn can help recruit executives, but Facebook postings and YouTube videos are more likely to draw frontline employees.

Look at reviews and ratings on sites like Google, Glassdoor, Indeed and others to see what is being said about your company. Take note of any feedback that can be implemented to improve the employee experience. Craft a thoughtful response to each review, whether the comments are positive or negative. For negative reviews, avoid becoming defensive or fighting back. Thank the reviewer for their feedback and give them a way to contact management directly to express their concerns (out of public view). Showing engagement and empathy in these interactions are critical in online reputation management, and can greatly influence your company's ability to hire top talent.


The best way to attract and retain employees is to create an environment where they want to work. Going above and beyond by implementing some of these tips might just give you an edge over your competitors.

Minority vs. Majority Deals

Minority vs. Majority Deals


Founders and family business owners contemplating a transition or equity investment have many options to consider – not the least of which is the type of transaction that will meet their needs and how it will impact their company going forward.

What do you want to accomplish?

Determining your goals for the transaction will provide the appropriate lens through which to evaluate the possibilities for structuring a deal. Do you have 15 years of steam left in you to stay at the helm? Do you want to retire within the next 5 years? Do you want to make acquisitions or need capital to expand operations? Outlining your plan and identifying what you’ll need to make it a reality are the first action items in determining the type of deal that is right for you, your family, your team and your company.

Are your values aligned?

Regardless of the ultimate ownership structure, it is important to have a mutually agreeable plan for how critical decisions will be made and whose input will be valued in the process. What happens to your input into the company’s operations when you take on an equity investor? The discussion of control is critical in the consideration of a transaction—who’s got it, how much do they have, and how will they use it?
The type of transaction you contemplate will give key indicators as to who might be in control post-closing, but such things are not always black and white based on structure alone. It all comes down to selecting a partner who aligns with your goals, and more importantly, your values.



Majority Investments:

In a majority investment, the new investor acquires more than 50% of the company. Technically, the shareholder with the majority of ownership interest controls the company’s finances and operations. Traditionally, if a board of directors is established, the majority investor will be awarded more seats/votes than the non-controlling shareholders. That said, the actual operational mechanics of majority investments can vary significantly depending on the intentions of the incumbent owner and the philosophy of the investor.


If you’d like to sell a controlling stake but want to stay at work in the company, you’ll be working alongside (or “for”, in some cases) your investors, for perhaps many years to come. If you’re selling the majority of your equity in order to retire, you’re entrusting your company, your legacy and your team to the new ownership group. You also have the consideration of whether you’d like to retain a minority position of equity ownership to capitalize on future upside or execute a full buyout.

No matter which path you choose, it’s important you have confidence in how the buyer will treat your team, customers and community. Talk with them about their vision for the business, your employees and whether they will sustain or improve your company’s current level of impact on your local economy. Some buyers may value the potential financial savings of the restructuring or relocation of your business without regard to how it will impact the relationships you’ve built with your team and community. If these things are important to you, it’s critical you trust the buyers and have a solid picture of their plan for the future prior to closing the transaction.


Our philosophy:

When we make an investment, no matter the size or structure, we establish a collaborative vision for the future. Independent of their desired level of involvement beyond the transaction, we work with founders and families to ensure their legacy is preserved beyond the sale of their majority ownership stake in the company. We value the impact of companies on the communities in which they operate. Our team puts in the work to build healthy relationships with the existing management team to ensure they will endure after the deal is closed. Our long-term investment horizon lends itself to sustainable growth strategies vs. the short-term cost-cutting measures a traditional investor might favor.

Minority Deals:

Minority Equity Buyout: 

In a minority equity buyout, an owner sells a minority equity position (less than 50%) in the company, typically for the purposes of owner liquidity or buying out other existing investors. This is a great structure for owners who want to continue working in their business for the foreseeable future, but also want to take some chips off the table in the meantime. This structure would provide the incumbent owner(s) with a liquidity event and simultaneously allow the business to continue generating the cash flow required to sustain its own growth. (This is not the ideal structure if your company needs significant investment capital on its balance sheet in order to grow—see more on this below.)

Minority Growth Equity: 

Traditionally, a minority growth equity investment would place all (or most of) the invested capital onto the company’s balance sheet. This new capital would allow the company to grow—either through operational expansion, acquisitions, or both. (This would typically not be a great structure for an owner who wants a meaningful liquidity event upon closing, although growth equity investments can be structured to accommodate both goals.)

Minority growth investors need to have a very clear idea of how their money is going to be put to work in order to ensure their investment makes sense. It is in your best interest to thoroughly develop the growth strategy you wish to pursue and have a full understanding of the financial and human resources you will need to accomplish your goals. Then, based on the valuation of your company, you can determine how much equity you need to sell in order to gain the capital you need.


Finding a partner that aligns with your vision and values is also critical with a minority investment. Talk with them about their expectations of involvement, what resources they can bring to the table beyond capital, how they approach challenges, their desired investment horizon and their ultimate intentions for exiting their position in the business. It may seem like an obvious thing to avoid, but some owners can get distracted by a high valuation and find themselves in business with a partner who doesn’t care about the same things they care about. They end up with additional cash and additional stress. A properly aligned partnership will allow everyone involved to feel confident in their decision and set you and your business up for success.


Our philosophy:

Unlike traditional private equity investors, we have the flexibility and appetite for a wide range of minority investment structures. When we invest alongside a founder or family owner, our number one priority is values alignment. We believe that is the best place to start to ensure our future endeavors will be successful. In the course of operating a business over several years, there will be different ways to approach challenges and opportunities. We know that when our values are aligned, those decisions become more clear and far less turbulent. You’ll rarely see a formal “board vote” in any of our partnerships, because we know that when we’re all looking at the same data with the same values, we come to a mutually agreeable decision.

Multi-faceted Deal Structures:

With a flexible investor (like Georgia Oak), equity investments can be structured to allow for multiple boxes to be checked at once. You could feasibly buy out other existing investors, capitalize your management team to become equity owners, achieve some liquidity for yourself, add additional capital to the balance sheet, gain operational expertise to aid in growth and retain a portion of equity to capitalize in future upside. In fact, our investments often do several of these things at once.

Ready to find out more?

We’re eager to talk to business owners who are passionate about the legacy and growth prospects of their business. Contact Spencer Ciesla to schedule a confidential intro call or meeting.

What Is Your Legacy?

What is your legacy?

We believe your life’s work is defined by how you’ve impacted the people around you – your family, your team, your customers, your community.

This video gives you insight into our promise to help carry on the legacies of founders and family owners in our home state through our long-term partnerships. It’s the story of three founders of Georgia-based companies with one shared commitment to what matters most.

Learn More

Navigating the Sale Process: From LOI to Post-Close

A Guide for Business Owners Considering a Sale

Selling all or part of your business can be like going on a family camping trip. If you know what you’re getting into and prepare adequately, it’s a rewarding and enriching experience for all involved. Though no two sales are identical, we’ve provided this guide for you as you “Choose Your Own Adventure”.

The initial process of selling your business begins with an evaluation of your personal needs and goals for the outcome of the transaction, as well as those of your existing partners, employees, customers and family. This internal evaluation, when done thoroughly, will narrow down the options appropriate for your business and help you choose the right equity partner or buyer. This point is critical, as the partner or buyer you select will impact not only the future of your company, but also your personal finances and the legacy you have built. (We’ve detailed what to consider during that initial phase of the sale process here.)

Assuming you have engaged an investment partner that is the best fit for you, this short guide will help you understand the sale process from initial documentation through closing and beyond. Selling all or part of your company is a process, not a singular event, and the timeline can vary significantly based on the situation. This guide serves as a loose timeline for a typical transaction.

1. Letter of Intent (LOI)

The Letter of Intent (LOI) is a nonbinding document in which the buyer outlines in writing the terms and price to which you’ve informally agreed, and commits to confidentiality so that they can further examine your company. Signing an LOI is the first step in the effort to move a deal from informal communications to execution. It is important to make sure that everyone understands all elements, and that the document contains a reasonable amount of detail. The LOI sets the pace for the rest of the process, so it is important to do it well. Therefore, it’s possible you might exchange a number of drafts of the LOI before it is acceptable to all parties. It generally takes 30 to 60 days to negotiate the Letter of Intent.

2. Due Diligence and Purchase Agreement

Once the LOI is signed, the next steps are to negotiate the purchase agreement and perform due diligence.  These are separate processes, but they usually occur in parallel and take about 90 days to complete. During this phase, the buyer will conduct due diligence – a process through which they conduct an examination of your company in more detail to ensure that everything is as they initially understood it to be. You should also conduct your own diligence on the buyer, if you have not already done so. This may involve speaking with their existing partners to gain a better understanding of their working style and relationships or asking for other information about their track record. At the same time, you and the buyer will negotiate on the terms of a purchase agreement – the formal document that defines the terms of the deal, and any supplementary contracts such as non-competes or consulting contracts.

During this time, the buyer will work on procuring any third-party financing for the deal. Generally, outside and/or seller financing will need to be arranged by the buyer.

3. Closing

During the closing, the business actually changes hands.  This step is handled primarily by the attorneys and may take three to five days, depending on the complexity of the transaction. At closing, the buyer will pay any cash consideration by wire transfer to your bank account and/or issue shares constituting any stock consideration. Simultaneously, you will transfer the acquired shares or assets through appropriate instruments.

Managing Your Business While the Deal is Underway

You can generally expect a minimum of three to six months from the time you initially kick off the conversation with the potential buyer until the close of the transaction. During this time, it is critical to keep your eye on the ball. Be careful not to let your business performance decline because you’re too focused on the sale process. Ensuring that the business remains on track and the financial results come in as expected (or even ahead of budget), will be an important factor in your ability to successfully close the transaction.

After The Closing

After closing the transaction, your involvement with the business depends on the structure you negotiate with the buyer. Some sellers stay involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, some maintain consulting relationships and others separate their ties with the business. It is important to have a transparent discussion with the buyer about your transition plan before the deal closes to make sure there is a common understanding of your role.

Georgia Oak Partners has a unique approach to partnerships, which you can learn more about here. You may also email us to begin a confidential conversation.

Selling to Your Management Team

As the owner of a closely-held business, you have many options when looking to make a transition toward retirement. One of the most natural choices for a company with a strong management team in place is a Management Buyout (MBO). MBOs, like most transaction structures, have advantages and drawbacks to consider.



Maintain Continuity:

An MBO can help maintain the continuity of operations and ensure the customer experience is relatively unchanged. Under your guidance, your management team has experienced the company’s struggles and successes firsthand. They also have intimate knowledge of day-to-day operations. Selling your company to the management team harnesses that knowledge for the future benefit of the business.

Maintain Confidentiality:

An MBO can be a great alternative to selling your business to a strategic buyer because it eliminates the need to disclose confidential information to competitors. Strategic buyers with ulterior motives could accept your disclosure of proprietary information as part of the due diligence process and then not proceed with the transaction, leaving your business in a vulnerable position.

Reward Your Team:

A Management Buyout gives you the opportunity to reward your most loyal and effective employees for their previous hard work and their continued dedication in the future. An MBO displays your confidence and trust in the management team and incentivizes their future performance with equity. For them, it’s also a less risky, more accessible path to owning a company, since they have an existing level of comfort with the operations and viability of your established business.


Management Can't Always Afford a Complete Buyout:

Unless they’ve been anticipating the transaction for some time, managers are often under-capitalized when the opportunity arises. That could lead you to consider a Leveraged Management Buyout (LMBO), where the managers use the company assets as collateral to obtain debt financing. They could also obtain debt using personal assets, such as their homes, or other personal guarantees. These options carry an entire new set of drawbacks to consider.
How we can help: As a partner to the management team, Georgia Oak can provide the additional capital needed to facilitate a Management Buyout and eliminate the obstacle of obtaining debt financing. We also have a keen interest in companies deemed "too small" for traditional private equity firms who might offer a similar avoidance of debt to larger companies.

Navigating a Sale to Employees Can Cause Tension:

Selling your company to your employees often introduces an element of uncertainty in the relationship until after the ink is dry. Agreeing on the value of the company and the structure of the transaction requires thoughtful, in-depth and perhaps painfully honest conversations about the company you’ve worked hard to build. Negotiating the finer points of the sale can cause tension in an otherwise great working relationship.
How we can help: Having a partner like Georgia Oak involved in the transaction offers a “buffer zone” for the negotiations. We can help the entire group navigate some of the more emotionally-charged elements of a sale. Our team’s experience in completing transactions provides a framework for the entire group to focus on the points that truly matter and conduct objective proceedings.

Management Know-how Doesn't Always Translate into Ownership Know-how:

Great managers don’t always equal great owners. After the sale, managers must change their thought patterns and begin to approach the business with the mindset of an entrepreneur. This shifting of gears from working for a company to owning that company doesn’t always play out as planned, and can leave new owners feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared to succeed.
How we can help: Georgia Oak Partners helps alleviate this by providing support from our experienced operators. Our team is a resource in areas where management teams may not have expertise, such as corporate finance, acquisitions, strategy development, human resources, sales and marketing, navigating vendor relationships and others. Our goal is not to take over day-to-day operations of the company, but rather to support the management team in critical areas to increase the company’s growth potential.

If you’re considering a Management Buyout of your Georgia-based company or have questions about the process, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to begin a confidential conversation.