Interview of Tremaine Kwasikpui
By Chris Towle
University: Western Carolina University – Masters of Entrepreneurship
Employer: Roanoke-Chowan Community College
Position: Student Activities Coordinator/Recruiter
Areas of expertise: Leadership, mentoring, customer service, and public speaking.
What background information can you provide that would help us better understand who you are?
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chip Culpepper, a Partner from BGM International. Chip, father of two and grandfather of two has work experience ranging from washing dishes to owning a business. He states that he has, “an insatiable curiosity for all things American and observing human nature.” He has lived in nine states, traveled to thirteen different countries and chooses to live life, ”with a smile on my face, a gun on my hip and always willing to lend a hand.”
BGM International sells plastic laminates that are used in a wide array of products that include electrical insulation, ex-ray tables, tubes for shoulder fired missiles, integral parts for aircraft and MRI machines, boat bumper guards for the US Navy Seals and all cryogenic tubes used in the reproduction process. These laminates are known for their durability with special performance properties that include chemical, fire and wear resistance.
Chip started this business when he was “broke, out of work and living in my parents basement.” He sought a product that he could build a business around that met the following criteria:
1. The target product must be made and consumed in China thereby creating domestic demand;
2. The product must already be imported into the US and accepted by US consumers;
3. The USA manufacturer could not be a Fortune 1000 company;
4. The product could not be eaten, applied to the body, marketed to children or related to safety.
Can you tell me a brief history about your business?
In 1996 my son and I started Norris Heating and Air installing and servicing units in our local area.
Why did you start your own business?
I wanted a business to pass down from generation to generation.
What challenges did you face when you first started your business (i.e. permits, license)?
Insights into IT Service Management Practice
An Interview with Mr. Scott Rose, Founder, Passion IT Group
Recorded on February 28th, 2014
Hosted by Amit Ginotra,
Master of Entrepreneurship (2014-2015), Western Carolina University
Click here to listen interview podcast
[Amit Ginotra] Hi, I am Amit Ginotra and today I have with me Mr. Scott Rose, founder of Passion IT group and an industry expert in field of IT Service Management.
An Interview with Meryl Brown
An Interview with Jesse Jacoby, Founder of Emergent LLC
By Amit Ginotra on February 19th, 2014
I had a great opportunity to speak with an entrepreneur and industry expert who I have admired for some time and also had firsthand experience working with.
Jesse Jacoby is the founder of Emergent (www.EmergentConsultants.com) and a recognized expert in business transformation and organizational change leadership. He and his team work with Fortune 500 and mid-market companies across North America to deliver successful people and change strategies, supporting a range of business initiatives including organizational restructurings, technology deployments, shared service implementations, process re-engineering efforts, and mergers.
Mr. Jacoby’s background includes nearly 20 years of management and strategy consulting experience, having led many engagements with Emergent, Booz & Company, and Accenture. His company is the creator of the Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) model, and developer of organizational performance tools: New Leader Accelerator (http://NewLeaderAccelerator.com) and Change Accelerator (www.ChangeAccelerator.com), TransformationReady (www.TransformationReady.com).
Interview with owners Amy Kiszely and Laura Stanley of
An Interview with Pam Higdon – Owner and President of Express Employment Professionals of Durham and Raleigh
I had the opportunity to speak with an entrepreneur who I have admired for quite some time. She is a leader in my chosen profession, Human Resources, and a leader in the community. Her name is Pam Higdon and she is the owner and President of Express Employment Professionals of Durham and Raleigh.
Sharon Lankford Dameron – Owner of Sharon Lankford Realtor Inc.
“Meet your REALTOR…Sharon Lankford Dameron. A true Carolina Girl, I have lived in the Carolina regions all of my life and began my real estate career here in Greensboro after college. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with over a thousand satisfied families throughout the world and introducing them to our wonderful community and helping them call “The Carolinas” home.”
1. Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Walter Williams – Owner of William’s Stone Masonry
1. Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Walter Williams; I am a 51-year-old man that has been involved in stone masonry for the majority of my life. I was born and raised in Fairview, North Carolina and have always been an athlete. I always try to enjoy life and I like talking to people. I consider myself a hard worker and believe in doing a good job for all customers. My favorite activity is spending as much time with my grandson as I possibly can.
2. Can you tell me how you got involved with Stone Masonry?
When I was 17 I observed some Stone Mason’s laying rock and decided that was a trade I wanted to pursue. I started as a laborer and after 7-8 years I felt that I had mastered the trade. The trade is nothing but hard work. When I originally started there were no stone yards to pick up your rocks, you had to go out into the mountains and dig them up, carry them to the truck and haul them to the job site. When you’re doing a large home it takes a lot of rocks, 1 ton covers 30-35 square feet. I like the trade because it keeps me in shape and I love the thrill of heights. I had a mentor named Raymond Pressley who not only taught him the trade but inspired me and drove me to success.
3. Could you give me some examples to illustrate the challenges you have faced starting your own business?
When I first started the challenge was to convince customers that my services were legitimate and good. I really had to get out there and show the clients what I was made out of and what I could do. Some challenges I faced when starting my business was coming up with the initial amount of money that it took to get the business started, and finding reliable help. Starting your own business is a challenge in itself in every aspect. You have to have confidence and believe in yourself no matter what.