If you live in Lilburn and take Arcado Rd to Hwy 29, you have passed Porter Steel many times. We were very fortunate to have the company VP, Cole Porter, as our guest at the February Zoom meeting. The company was started in 1983 by Cole's father Lowe who became interested in working with steel from his father.
The company employs 80-90 people and does about $12 million in projects in a year. About 90% of their orders are for light structural (not supportive) which is used in high end homes and apartments as gates, stairs, etc. They also do medium structural projects such as structural steel for school buildings. They also partner with companies that need a steel component like a support for their primary product such as a pump. Here the company can focus on their primary product and let Porter Steel hand the steel support structure. You can see Porter Steel at the JCB bridge and at the 17th Street bridge at Atlantic Station.
This company sources its steel from the US or from NATO countries. Most US mills tend to specialize in a particular product such as beams of certain size or parts. The price of steel on the world market can fluctuate with the impact of Tariffs. Covid also caused mills to shut down leading to reduced supplies and causing prices to increase by as much as 100%. That can make quotes for projects tricky.
The work force at the company is quite diverse with 23 countries represented and they even have women welders. The jobs at the company include fabricators, welders, logistics, estimators, project managers, machine operators, helpers, CDL drivers, crane operators, CAD, etc. They tap into school programs from Georgia Trade School, Gwinnett Tech and even the Architecture and Construction Academy at Berkmar HS. Much of the work is hard labor but the company provides 100% health benefits, 401K and paid time off.
Film location scouts from No Bull Productions approached the company to use their shop for a fight scene for a Netflix pilot for the show "Verified". While there, they noticed a large 54 ft boat. Construction of this boat had been a project started my owner Lowe Porter in 2003. They were getting ready to finally move the boat to a Knoxville Marina for finishing work. Documentaries are good work for production companies during a pandemic and No Bull saw an opportunity. Thus began "The Ark of Lilburn" documentary chronicling the delicate move of this huge object. There is even some possibility the film will include the boats final journey down rivers to the gulf.
For 38 years, the company obtained customers by word of mouth. In 2019, they hired a marketing firm that has been mostly tasked with telling their story. Thank you Porter for sharing the story of the company as well as your story as you have take on leadership within the company. Cole is also involved with the Gwinnett Chamber and Partnership Gwinnett.
Want to know more. Porter's interview is available to stream online:
LBA Virtual Lunch - Porter Steel
Feb 16, 2021
Access Passcode: MEE.RR?0
LBA Virtual Lunch - Porter Steel
Feb 16, 2021
Access Passcode: MEE.RR?0
January 1st, LBA member Nicky Nocera became the owner of the salon on Main Street in Old Town Lilburn. She has wasted no time is giving the old place a hip new look. Check more images on our Instagram page.
How did you become a cosmetologist?
I have always been into creative things. I always wanted to do something artistic and since high school wanted to do hair. My hairstylist growing up was always coming up with new ideas and taught me how to style hair. I started college as a marketing major. In the early 2000s that’s what all the parents were pushing for, like, what’s this trade school you speak of? Get a real job! I tried that for a couple of years then decided to go with my passion. About a year after I started doing hair I fell in love with the product line Surface and with the process of education. I became an educator with the brand and started doing classes – cutting and styling classes. I have also spent a lot of time coaching others on how to have a successful salon. When it came to light that I had an opportunity here to build a salon I already had the knowledge how to do that. I love that we can make our clients look good and feel good – we call ourselves “day makers” for a reason.
How did you wind up in Old Town Lilburn?
I had been working in midtown for 7 or 8 years and driving in. I lived in Lilburn and started getting more and more settled into the community. As I met people and they found out what I did they were interested – until they found out I worked in midtown. I was also spending a lot of time calling on salons with the Surface product. One day I called on this salon and when I came in they told me about all of the exciting things that were happening in Old Towne Lilburn. Lilburn is a hidden gem and it just made sense to work here. I started part-time and my business built faster than it ever has anywhere else. About 6 months after I started working here I found out the building was for sale. My husband and I talked about it and we were afraid that whoever bought it might not want to keep a salon here. I never really saw myself owning a salon but the universe aligned and here I am.
What has the Lilburn Business Association done for you and what do you see it doing for you?
The main thing is the connections I’ve made. I’ve gotten clients through LBA and just as importantly, Tim with Print Magic has done my signs and printing and Sandra Waldrop spent two hours with me teaching me how to build my web site. It has really been a resource for me and I’m looking forward to getting more involved as COVID restrictions ease and we can go back to meeting in person and getting to know each other.
--------- Donna Hill
Many entrepreneurial journeys begin as an idea to solve a problem, a solution looking for a problem to solve or a way to do something more efficiently. Our December speaker, John Adcox, spent many years writing and managing writers for a variety of media. He gained insight into the many inefficiencies of how stories were brought to multiple media formats. He had an idea and vision to disrupt the industry.
The “Story Incubator” Gramarye Media was born. To accomplish his vision, he needed resources of not only money but expertise. John and his vision were accepted into the very competitive Georgia Tech business accelerator program for startups called Flashpoint. Yes Tech has developed a way to engineer business startups. Only 10% of all startups succeed, while 80% of startups using a business accelerator do.
Flashpoint was a 6 month program that involved, as John put it, “weekly public floggings” and the privilege of Ga Tech owning 7% of the company. Along the way, he found out it was easier to fundraise for a $240 million startup than a $3 million one.
The goal of each Gramarye Media project is to find the unpublished manuscript with the potential of Harry Potter. They want to find the equivalent of JK Rowling writing on a napkin in a coffee shop. Pay her $50k plus 15% of the multimedia explosion they generate from the manuscript. They would produce and control the publication (paper and digital), movie rights, gaming rights, etc. The key is data obtained and analysed through the Flashpoint process for picking the winners.
Four projects will be delivered to the public in 2021 and 12 per year thereafter. They anticipate having their first revenue in the 2nd quarter of 2021.
Gramarye Media is in the process of occupying offices within the Atlanta Opportunity Zone. They are working towards building a studio on land that is EB-5 (foreign investor) and USDA loan eligible.This studio would include Smartstages which use surround LED and cameras. The Mandalorian series uses this technology which is superior to bluescreen methods and allows volumetric video capture.
John is having quite a ride on his journey and it looks like he is nearing the top of the highest (maybe second highest) hill of the roller coaster. I can’t wait to see how this ride finishes.
The Holidays is often a time for families to gather and discuss the growing needs of loved ones. Francine Oglesby of Right At Home East is our newest LBA member. Right At Home is much more than a home health provider. They provide in-home care and assistance for seniors and those with special needs. The east Atlanta office opened in 2012 and now has an office in Snellville. They are proud to say a human will answer their phones 24/7 and there are no long term contracts. They have 3 nurses on staff and currently service around 80 families with 120+ caregivers. They even have a therapy dog, Mylo.
Services are typically paid by long term care insurance, VA benefits, self-pay and even Medicaid. They are hiring caregivers and CNAs.
Whether a family member needs a little extra help around the house, assistance recovering from a hospital stay or someone to check in on them throughout the week, Right at Home East Atlanta's in-home care is the answer.
Have you ever wondered about the work programs that connect participants with companies and come with salary support, liability insurance and a career supervisor? Today at the LBA Zoom Meeting we heard from Hearts to Nourish Hope which collaborates with the Atlanta Regional Workforce Board Youth Council's Business Development Group. They work with "youth" workers, 16-24, where they provide career counseling, basic career training skills and work-readiness training. The workers are employees of their program and are placed in work situations for up to 100 hrs (typically 5 wks at 20 hrs/wk). After the trial, the business may want to keep the worker as a direct employee.
Since the Gwinnett County Public Library closed due to recent health concerns, we have been hard at work to pivot our offerings to continue to be of service to all facets of our community. In doing so, we have added three new resources to our rosters that are free to use with your Gwinnett County Library card.
The first resource that we added to our offerings was Tutor.com. This resource was acquired in partnership with Gwinnett County Public Schools, in which children are offered free tutoring assistance in a variety of topics. However, Tutor.com is not just for children! It boasts a career center for adults, in which one could get assistance in job searing, as well as preparation for the Naturalization Test. There is also the option to submit a paper for review by a tutor for technical writing, and letters. Tutor.com also provides tutors that speak Spanish, so they are accessible to quite a few members of the community!
The library has also worked in collaboration with Grow with Google. They provide free resources in which individuals can gain skills and knowledge in various areas. Notably, they offer Career Certificates, in which people can embark on new career pathways to gain the valuable experience needed for employment. Grow with Google offers free training on various topics of importance to small business owners, including how to manage one's business in the virtual format. Grow with Google also provides resource guides for small businesses.
Lastly, the Library has added Social Explorer to our list of Digital Holdings. Social Explorer is a tool that uses various data sets to provide demographic information in an intuitive and easily searchable map format. Currently, they offer Data from the U.S 2020 Census, U.S Election Data, U.S Business Patterns, and U.S Covid-19 Data, and many more. All information is displayed on comprehensive maps that are color-coded and searchable down to zip codes!
Please join us for a tour of the new resources that the Gwinnett County Public Library has to offer you and your business on Tuesday, September 15th at 11:00 am. We will be going through all of the resources mentioned above, and we will take your questions on how to use them.
Vicky Perez, Head Librarian, Lilburn Branch, GCPL
The virtual LBA Meeting today was a Q/A with the City of Lilburn Police Community Liason, Officer Mike Johnson. Officer Johnson did an outstanding job answering questions about Business Safety, Community Outreach, FLOCK Camera Systems and Safety Programs.
For those that missed our meeting today here is the video of Officer Johnson's portion of the meeting.
Link to video
Our special guest for the May 1st Zoom meeting was Lilburn Assistant City Manager, Jenny Simpkins. Jenny provided a presentation that took us through the ongoing changes and development of downtown Lilburn. Link to video with Password: 8q.?%^@X
For many of us, the road to business ownership hasn’t necessarily been a clear path. I started my business, Fresh Air Party Rental, over 10 years ago, but never had a specific career path planned nor had considered the possibility of entrepenuership growing up. In 8th grade I remember being excited to take a test in school that would supposedly guide us to our ideal job possibilities, through questions about our habits and personalities. I recall answering that I would enjoy doing something different and unpredictable each day, where I could work both indoors and outdoors. Apparently my answers narrowed down the options quite a bit, because when I got my results, I was disappointed to see just 2 suggestions: forest ranger, or funeral director! But it turned out having an event rental company has been a perfect fit, obviously allowing me to work both indoors and out, and as any business owner can tell you, every day brings new challenges and unpredictable schedules.
My husband and I started Fresh Air Party Rental in 2007 with 2 used bounce houses, that we would deliver to house parties on the weekends for extra income. We now operate as a full-time business with 40 different inflatables, along with tents, tables, chairs, audio equipment, etc. and provide equipment for festivals, corporate gatherings, concerts, and weddings, in addition to backyard parties. We are grateful to participate in many local events in Lilburn. Even though we travel to all areas of town, it is a special privilege to service events right here where we live and work.
As I am writing this, we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has of course affected all our lives in unprecedented ways. Most entrepenuers are faced with new challenges of how to continue business during this public health crisis. Personally I am concerned about the future of parties and events, but am confident they will return, though probably not in the same way as before...just as travel changed after 9/11, or the housing market changed after the Great Recession. As business owners we will adapt and learn from this situation, and I believe will eventually come out stronger than ever. Hopefully one day we will be able to look back at this time as a challenging but inspirational chapter in our lives and our journey of entrepenuership.
4493 Lilburn Industrial Way SW Suite B1
Lilburn, GA 30047
Like us on Facebook
Smokin' Gold opened in Dahlonega Georgia in April of 2008. My wife and I have been competition BBQ cooks for many years. When the opportunity availed itself to open a fully furnished restaurant for very little money, we decided to give it a try. After 3 years in that location we were able to relocate to downtown Dahlonega and reap the benefit of serving more tourist. Our home is and has been located in Lawrenceville for that entire time. When I met John and this building was available, it was time to sell the Dahlonega location and move back home.
People often ask what style of BBQ we offer, Kansas city tomato, Carolina mustard or vinegar. My response is competition style. Our goal is to give you a superior barbeque product off the grill and let you choose your own style of sauce. In barbeque competitions, it's a meat contest not a sauce contest, so we continued to cook the way we know. Our signature dish is the brisket, the pulled pork, ribs and chicken are also excellent. Every Friday, we offer burnt ends off the brisket. Very few BBQ restaurants in this area offer burnt ends.
That is a little history and insight to the kind of restaurant you can expect here.
Mailing Address: Lilburn Business Association, P.O. Box 1537, Lilburn, GA 30048