Bank of America to hold mortgage assistance events in Birmingham

fclose.jpgBank of America is holding free assistance seminars in Birmingham and Mobile to help homeowners who are in trouble on their mortgage. BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Bank of America Corp. said it’s holding events on Friday and Saturday to help customers who may need assistance with their mortgage. The events will be held at the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity in Birmingham.

The free event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day.

The bank says it’s contacted almost 6,000 customers in the state who might be in need of assistance. The event will allow homeowners to meet in-person with home retention specialists and review options for home loan modifications and other alternatives to foreclosures.

A similar event will be held in Mobile, during the same time and same days, at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel, located at 64 South Water St.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/bank_of_america_to_hold_mortga.html

Occupy Birmingham to protest Alabama immigration law at Gadsden detention center

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Occupy Birmingham is organizing a group to protest the detention of undocumented immigrants being detained at Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden.
Occupy 10/15/11Occupy Birmingham met at Railroad Park in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. They marched to Five Points South in support of the 99% whose voices they feel are not heard in Washington DC. The march starts off with Allyn Hudson, one of the organizers, at left. ( Beverly Taylor / The Birmingham News )
The event begins at noon in the parking lot of the Gadsden Department of Human Resources, where they’ll have speeches and an informational session about the immigration law before the march begins at 1:45 p.m., said Occupy Birmingham organizer Allyn
Hudson
. Then they will march and picket outside the detention center until 3 p.m. They’ll also write Christmas and other holiday cards to the immigration detainees, Hudson said. Occupy Birmingham will have two carpools from the Birmingham area to Gadsden before the protest. The first will be from Birmingham, the second from Homewood.

“In addition Alabama’s state law, H.B.56, encourages racial profiling, restricts employment, use of public utilities, and puts unnecessary strain on law enforcement resources,” according to Occupy Birmingham’s announcement of the event on its website.

“The economic cost to Alabama is only beginning to be estimated; in taxes alone undocumented immigrants bring the state 130 million dollars a year. Even more important is the effect on our communities of the underlying divisive and nativist rhetoric of HB56 and ICE.”

The Etowah County Commission approved on Nov. 1 for the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to lease the third floor of the Etowah County Courthouse, an addition to the space it already leases from the county in the detention center, according to The Gadsden Times. The newspaper reported ICE will pay about $111,000 a year to lease the jail and courthouse space.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/occupy_birmingham_to_protest_a.html

Alabama sheds 7 percent of its construction jobs in year, Associated General Contractors trade group says

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Alabama lost 7 percent of its construction jobs over the 12-month period ending in October, a rate higher than all but three states, an industry trade group says.

Alabama saw 6,100 of its 86,800 construction jobs disappear over the past year, according to an Associated General Contractors analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among the states, Georgia fared the worst during the 12 months, shedding 9.5 percent, or 13,800 construction jobs. New Mexico’s 9.2 percent drop (4,100 jobs lost) was next, followed by Wisconsin’s 8.6 percent decline (8,100 construction jobs).

North Dakota showed the strongest construction job gains, with a 19 percent surge, or 4,100 new jobs added over the past year, according to the AGC.

From September to October, Alabama lost 2,700 construction jobs, a 3.2 percent one-month loss that was the second highest nationally. Only Nevada’s 4.6 percent decline (2,600 construction jobs), surpassed Alabama’s.

According to the AGC, construction employment over the past 12 months rose in 24 states and District of Columbia, fell in 25 and stayed the same in Arkansas. Over the month, construction employment rose in 25 states and District of Columbia, fell in 23 states and stayed unchanged in two states.

   

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/alabama_construction_job_losse.html

Alabama Medicaid officials warn of telephone scam

Anyone receiving such a call from anyone should immediately report it to the FCC and the FBI.

If a government agency needs such information they will contact you by mail.

Better yet, check in with Medicaid every year or so yourself and update your information.

Anyone anytime calling me asking for my personal information or trying to sell me something gets exactly what they deserve–the bums’ rush and a report filed to the Federal Trade Commission that operates the Federal Do Not Call Registry.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/alabama_medicaid_officials_war.html

Demolition plan filed for site of Birmingham baseball stadium

1127 basebal.jpgView full size

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The first signs that a new $60 million downtown Birmingham baseball park and Negro League Museum are on the way could become visible soon as buildings that are now in the way get razed.

A demolition plan has been filed with the city and is up for consideration at the Wednesday meeting of the Birmingham Design Review Committee.

Developer Corporate Realty declined to share the plan until after the committee takes action on the proposal, but those who have seen the plan say what is most interesting about it is not the buildings that will be torn down, but one that will not be.

The BA Warehouse is on the site plan but is listed as not part of the project.

Nearly all of the remaining buildings between First Avenue South and Third Avenue South and between 14th Street and 16th Street are set to meet the wrecking ball.

That suggests that original plans to demolish the building are no longer being considered. It also apparently ends speculation that the popular entertainment and event venue might somehow be incorporated into the ballpark’s design.

However, the proposal before the committee on Wednesday will not discuss design elements of the baseball park or museum; it seeks only approval to demolish buildings.

Although the demolition plan encompasses the full site of the project, officials said they expect the demolition to take place in phases rather than any sort of mass razing.

That will be followed by completion of the project’s site plan and design, which must also win approval from the committee. Only then can construction begin.

City officials have estimated the construction of the project will create 500 jobs with a payroll of more than $18 million and involving more than 50 companies, suppliers and contractors in all phases of the project.

Brasfield Gorrie and GA Studio lead the construction and design team with Corporate Realty overseeing the development.

The city has acquired properties and traded some properties with UAB to assemble the land it needs for the stadium. BA Warehouse was one of the final property owners who refused to sell; the city attempted to negotiate a deal and even suggested imminent domain could be used.

Don Logan, owner of the Birmingham Barons, said earlier this month he expects the ballpark will be in place in time for the minor league baseball team to move from Hoover for the 2013 season.

DEVELOPER EDGES CLOSER TO CONSTRUCTION

Despite some construction services listing bid documents being readied for the planned $6 million Walgreens on Clairmont Avenue, the developer said the pharmacy giant is making revisions to the interior design of the store and the actual bid date is still a few weeks away.

Kathy Okrongley, president of developer Connolly Net Lease, said the plan is to put the project out for bid in a few weeks with plans to start construction in February.

For that to happen, renovations and additions to Old Fire Station No. 22 have to be complete in order for Bogue’s Restaurant and the Triple Platinum Salon to relocate there and surrender their buildings to the wrecking ball.

After demolition and site work, the 13,000-square-foot pharmacy and parking lot can be built making the Walgreens and the old fire station into a new development. Plans are to have the pharmacy completed in fall 2012.

Join the conversation by clicking to comment or email Tomberlin at mtomberlin@bhamnews.com.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/demolition_plan_filed_for_site.html

Huntsville customers support Small Business Saturday

Mail Box jones valleyAt The Mail Box off Carl T. Jones, store owner Wes Plemons helps Bunny and Peter Griffin ship their packages. (The Huntsville Times/Dave Dieter)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – On Friday, millions of people stormed the big box stores like Best Buy, Target, Walmart and more for Black Friday deals.

But what about the little guys in Huntsville’s business world? The locally owned stores, services and restaurants?

As it turns out, the small businesses here and nationwide also had their day during the Thanksgiving weekend – Small Business Saturday.

The theme for small businesses was “Let’s shop small,” and Small Business Saturday had its own Facebook page encouraging citizens to support local businesses. You could even get a $25 statement credit if you registered an eligible American Express Card and used that card for a purchase of $25 or more at a small business on Saturday.

terrameAt Terrame’ Mary Beth Elliott, foreground and Paige Campbell look over products for sale. (The Huntsville Times/Dave Dieter)

“I had a few customers who said they wanted to come in to see us because they heard about Small Business Saturday on the news,” Sean Allan, manager of Fleet Feet Sports on Carl T. Jones Drive, said. “We were steady this morning and were busy all day yesterday (Black Friday).”

Fleet Feet was just one of the Huntsville small businesses listed on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. Others included The Mailbox in Jones Valley, The Pink Pelican, Terramé Day Spa Salon, Loletta’s, Silhouettes and even some locally owned restaurants such as Rolo’s and Surin of Thailand.

Tara Dombrowsky said she supported the small businesses in two cities Saturday – Huntsville and nearby Hamilton, where she was visiting relatives.

“I went to Hamilton and bought myself some new clothes, all for the sake of helping small business,” Dombrowsky said. “I was at Ann’s Boutique, and she had everything in the store buy one, get the second half price. They waited on me hand and foot and treated me like I was special. It was a great shopping experience.”

Karen Petersen got a nice surprise when she took her kids to get a haircut Saturday.

“I took the girls to Spoiled Rockin’ Kids for long-overdue haircuts,” she said. “Serina and Sophia had a ball, and I was thrilled with a surprise Small Business Saturday discount.”

Scott Harriman, who this week opened Anaheim Chili on Carl T. Jones Drive with his wife, Michelle, said locally owned businesses have to work harder to compete with the franchises.

“In general, people get better food at local restaurants because we have to do it to compete,” said Harriman, who previously managed The Chophouse, Humphrey’s and Jason’s Pub. “The chains have a national advertising campaign. I don’t have the budget for it.”

Tony Osani has owned Dominoes franchises in this area for the past 16 years. He says many people don’t know his business is locally owned since it’s a chain.

“You have to keep in mind many chain restaurants are also locally owned small businesses that bring a lot of value and support to the local community,” said Osani, who donates pizzas to numerous fundraisers.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/11/huntsville_customers_support_s.html

Building permits listed for Huntsville, Madison, Madison County

construction.jpg(The Huntsville Times/Michael Mercier)

Items in this feature come from company news releases, court documents and regular news-gathering processes. Southern Exposure Information (256-658-9297) compiles building permits and court documents for The Times. If you have company news to be published, mail the release to The Huntsville Times, c/o Business News, P.O. Box 1487, West Station, Huntsville, AL 35807; fax 256-532-4420; or email pacesetters@htimes.com. The deadline is noon Wednesday.

Huntsville

The largest building permit issued the week of Nov. 11-18 in the city of Huntsville went to

Jerry L. Johnson and Associates, $1,900,500, alterations to a building for ATT, 5701 Holmes Ave.

Other permits valued at $20,000 and more were:

James Hill Acoustical, $900,000, alterations to a building for Huntsville Hospital, 201 Governors Drive.

Fite Building Co., $572,000, alterations to a building for Dr. Patricia McCoy, 100 Providence Main St., Unit A.

David Wort, $58,800, a single-family residence, 3613 Fearn St.

Stoneridge Homes, $53,062, a single-family residence, 49 Walnut Cove Blvd.

Stoneridge Homes, $53,032, a single-family residence, 86 Nutcracker Lane.

Pearce Construction, $46,503, alterations to a building for Opheleia Investments, 5125 Research Drive.

Breland Homes, $39,592, a single-family residence, 133 Ada Drive.

National Custom Corporate Services, $35,400, alterations to a building for T-Mobile, 11310 Memorial Parkway.

Breland Homes, $35,062, a single-family residence, 331 Saddlegate Drive.

Breland Homes, $33,997, a single-family residence, 5018 Montauk Trail.

Hunter Homes, $33,195, a single-family residence, 2515 First Hill Circle.

Breland Homes, $32,145, a single-family residence, 506 Tidal Court.

Breland Homes, $32,145, a single-family residence, 370 Harbor Glen Drive.

Breland Homes, $32,145, a single-family residence, 103 Otter Lagoon Drive.

Breland Homes, $30,015, a single-family residence, 736 Willow Shoals Drive.

Breland Homes, $30,015, a single-family residence, 200 Otter Lagoon Drive.

Breland Homes, $30,015, a single-family residence, 7609 Ashor Drive.

Breland Homes, $30,015, a single-family residence, 338 Harbor Glen Drive.

Breland Homes, $29,662, a single-family residence, 325 Saddlegate Drive.

MDS Builders, $27,811, alterations to a building for T-Mobile, 6125 University Drive.

Breland Homes, $25,597, a single-family residence, 8212 Stone Mill Drive.

Breland Homes, $25,560, a single-family residence, 323 Dovington Drive.

Viking Engineered Metals, $22,000, repairs to a building for J.F. Drake Technical College, 3421 Meridian St.

North Alabama Roofing, $21,090, repairs to a single-family residence for Brian Scholl, 1317 Chandler Road.

Slaton Custom Homes, $20,000, alterations to a single-family residence for Ken Darzi, 1401 Governors Place.

Madison

The largest building permit issued the week of Nov. 11-18 in the city of Madison went to Pearce Construction, $950,000, alterations to a building, 1040 Research Blvd., Suite 100, 110, 120, 125 and 130.

Other permits valued at $20,000 and more were:

Breland Homes, $471,360, a single-family residence, 107 Brighton Park Way.

Stoneridge Homes, $464,310, a single-family residence, 303 Bellavilla Way.

Stoneridge Homes, $462,780, a single-family residence, 301 Bellavilla Way.

Ken McDaniel Homes, $453,870, a single-family residence, 161 Castlewood Drive.

Stoneridge Homes, $435,120, a single-family residence, 307 Bellavilla Way.

Breland Homes, $428,460, a single-family residence, 103 Golden Ash Court.

Stoneridge Homes, $374,580, a single-family residence, 306 Bellavilla Way.

Breland Homes, $357,330, a single-family residence, 159 Hardiman Place Lane.

Woodland Homes, $309,840, a single-family residence, 114 Ashville Wood Court.

Southern Garages, $32,000, an addition to a single-family residence, 114 Lake Crest Drive.

Mario Monge, $20,000, an addition to a single-family residence, 106 Cabot Circle.

Madison County

The largest building permit issued the week of Nov. 11-18 in Madison County outside the city limits of Huntsville and Madison went to Jeff Benton Homes, $289,455, a single-family residence, 478 Jasmine Drive.

Other permits valued at $20,000 and more were:

Jeff Benton Homes, $288,935, a single-family residence, 470 Jasmine Drive.

Covington and Co., $120,000, a single-family residence, 122 Birch Falls Drive.

Randy Ruple, $111,000, repairs to a single-family residence, 284 Placid Drive.

M and M Construction, $100,000, a single-family residence, 114 Ivy Darlene Drive.

Hunter Homes, $66,391, a single-family residence, 221 Bermuda Lakes Drive.

Best Built Construction, $57,500, repairs to a single-family residence for Cornelius Thomas, 130 Tempo Circle.

Hunter Homes, $57,362, a single-family residence, 218 Bermuda Lakes Drive.

Hunter Homes, $56,200, a single-family residence, 223 Bermuda Lakes Drive.

Linda Neal, $20,000, repairs to a single-family residence, 560 Miller Road.

Civil judgments

Plaintiff, Service Steel; defendant, Dennis Gray Custom Homes, Case No. SM111766; amount, $2,642.44, Aug. 24.

Plaintiff, First Commercial Bank; defendant, Reserve Development Group, Case No. CV2010-900957; amount, $803,678.34, May 20.

Plaintiff, Dixie Region dba ReMmax; defendant, Prudent Investors II, Case No. CV-10-901343; amount, $241,810.84, July 25.

Plaintiff, First Commercial Bank; defendant, Peggy’s Childcare, Case No. CV-2011-900458.00; amount, $64,892.48, Sept. 6.

Plaintiff, RBC Bank; defendant, Premier Family Medicine, Case No. CV-2011-900274.00; amount, $67,781.98, Sept. 1.

Plaintiff, Yellow Book Sales and Distribution; defendant, Air Comfort Control, Case No. DV2010-25; amount, $9,999.99, Feb. 28.

Plaintiff, Renasant Bank; defendant, Perry and Sam LLC, Case No. CV-2010-900244; amount, $68,254.01, June 14.

Plaintiff, Ric Rom Inc.; defendant, Baisakar LLC, Case No. CV-2011-900507; amount, $45,205.02, Aug. 23.

Plaintiff, Chadwick Home Flooring; defendant, John Daniel Homes, Case No. CV09-0663; amount, $7,800.24, Sept. 4.

Plaintiff, Sheffield Metals International; defendant, Charlies Sheet Metal, Case No. CV11-900670; amount, $14,013.40, July 18.

Plaintiff, AmeriPride Services; defendant, Dairy Queen, Case No. SM09-4298; amount, $2,403.43, Dec. 30.

Plaintiff, AmeriPride Services; defendant, Frizzles, Case No. SM09-4299; amount, $2,262.98, May 7.

Plaintiff, Worthington Financial; defendant, Spec5 Cullman LLC, Case No. CV11-900426; amount, $1,436,908.51, Aug. 16.

Plaintiff, North Alabama Roofing Supply.; defendant, Danner Construction Systems, Case No. CV2011-900209; amount, $66,159.43, Aug. 23.

Plaintiff, Griffin Mobility; defendant, Smart Homes, Case No. CV11-900661; amount, $10,928.96, Sept. 14.

Plaintiff, Redstone Federal Credit Union; defendant, Harbin Sales and Marketing, Case No. SM 2011-1705 ASA; amount, $1,973.49, Sept. 8.

Federal contracts

Row Manufacturing of Athens won a $167,298 federal contract from the Army’s Defense Logistics Agency Detachment in Warren, Mich., for 30mm to 75mm guns and a $104,886 contract for 75mm to 125mm guns.

Training Consulting Inc., dba TCI, in Madison won a $125,000 contract from the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service in Fort Worth, Texas, for clothing, individual equipment and insignia.

Dynetics won a $58,981 contract from the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal for electrical and electronic properties measuring and testing instruments.

Axion won a $41,500 contract from the Army Contracting Command in Warren, Mich., for 150mm to 200mm guns.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville won a $119,968.82 contract, a $116,521.20 contract and a $41,814.40 contract from the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal for applied research and exploratory development.

Mayfair Professional Center won a $5,850,911.61 contract from the General Services Administration’s Public Buildings Service in Atlanta for the lease or rental of facilities. Place of performance will be in Huntsville.

Ican won a $52,055 federal contract from the U.S. Coast Guard Commanding Officer in Portsmouth, Va., for technical support and warranty services.

SPR of Guntersville won a $4,780 federal contract from the Army Contracting Command in Anniston for copier, scanner and printer.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/11/building_permits_listed_for_hu.html

Old Monrovia Road roundabout to stay the same despite yielding complaints

roundaboutView full sizeThe roundabout at Providence Main Street/Indian Creek Road and Old Monrovia Road was under construction in late 2004. (The Huntsville Times/File photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The city has no plans to make any changes to the roundabout at Old Monrovia Road and Indian Creek Road after we inquired on behalf of Gary Walker.

Walker said in an email that something needs to be done about drivers who ignore the yield signs and barrel through the roundabout.

In the mornings, three to four cars at a time going south on Indian Creek Road zip through the roundabout, ignoring traffic entering from the other directions, he said. Walker said the same thing happens in the afternoons when motorists driving west on Old Monrovia Road head into the roundabout without stopping and oblivious to the other vehicles in the roundabout.

Walker said the city at one time installed rumble strips going south on Indian Creek Road to alert drivers about the upcoming roundabout, but removed them after about a week.

“The problem appears to be the design of the road from Indian Creek,” he said. “You are literally in the roundabout before you know it if you are traveling south on Indian Creek Road. Maybe painted yield signs on the road would help because the drivers are ignoring the yield sign standing at that intersection.”

Walker also mentioned a roundabout in Norfolk, Va., that guides traffic through with traffic lights. He said another solution is to remove the roundabout and install traffic signals and turn lanes similar to other intersections.

“There have been several accidents at this intersection, and I fear that a traffic fatality is going to happen because of aggressive drivers who don’t understand that a yield sign is the same as a stop sign,” Walker said.

Dennis Thompson, traffic improvements project manager with the city Traffic Engineering Department, reviewed Walker’s comments and said there are no changes proposed for the roundabout now.

Women’s car-buying troubles

The hassles of a woman buying a car haven’t changed much in two years.

More than a quarter of women didn’t think they got an effortless and quick transaction when they bought their last car, according to a poll conducted for used car chain CarMax.

Many women also cited a fair trade-in value and a trustworthy salesman were other missing factors when buying a vehicle.

CarMax, the largest used car retailer in the country, said the 2011 poll results changed little from a survey conducted in 2009.

The survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for CarMax asked more than 500 women age 18 and older the following question: “Thinking about the last time that you bought a car, which of the following was most missing?”

* A quick and effortless transaction: 26 percent in 2011 and 25 percent in 2009

* A fair trade-in value: 15 percent in 2011 and 19 percent in 2009

* A trustworthy salesperson: 15 percent in both 2011 and 2009

* Low, fair pricing: 15 percent in both 2011 and 2009

* A reasonable finance rate: 13 percent in both 2011 and 2009

* Respect: 3 percent in 2011 and 2 percent in 2009

To leave a comment or question about traffic or roads, contact Keith Clines at 256-532-4236, email keith.clines@htimes.com, tweet @KeithClines or fax 256-532-4420. Include your name, address and a way you can be contacted.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2011/11/post_745.html

New grocer coming to Daphne; investors buy RV park

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DAPHNE, Alabama — Watch for The Fresh Market to announce a new store in Daphne at a center near Interstate 10. The specialty food retailer has been scouting sites for more than a year, according to Realtors. The company has a store at 3940 Airport Blvd in Mobile.

S S Machine Shop paid $335,000 for a 45,658-square-foot building at 13400 Celeste Road in Chunchula, according to Holly Shirley of Prudential Cooper Co.

An out-of-state investor paid $210,000 for South Baldwin RV Park/Baldwin Mini-Warehouse Center at 16620 Baldwin County 12 in Foley, according to Philip Hodgson and Jeff Barnes of Coldwell Banker Commercial Reehl Properties. The bank-owned property has 66 storage units and 20 RV slips.

Local investors paid $250,000 for 10 bank-owned lots in Steelwood’s Lakeview section near the Loxley exit off Interstate 10 in Loxley, according to Nathan Cox of Bellator Real Estate Development, who represented the buyer. Noreen Hume and Charlyne Thompson of Roberts Brothers worked for the seller.

Olivella, a specialty foods store, has opened in 1,760 square feet in The Holiday building on Old Shell Road in Spring Hill, according to owners Amber and Barkley Gannon. The shop carries 50 different flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegars.

Magnolia Urgent Care has leased 1,250 square feet at 5920 Grelot Road, according to Angela McArthur of Prudential Cooper Co., commercial division, who worked for the owner. Jerry Wiewandt of REMAX Realty Centre represented the tenant.

Verizon Wireless has opened in the 2,600-square-foot, former Hollywood Video in front of Walmart Supercenter on Rangeline Service Road S. in Tillman’s Corner, according to Josh Burmeister and Buff Teague of SRS Real Estate Partners, who represented the tenant.

A local couple paid $858,500 for a six-bedroom house on more than 3 acres on Audubon Drive along Rabbit Creek, according to Bruce Pfeiffer of Pickett Real Estate. The 6,000-square-foot house has 85 front feet on the water, plus a one-bedroom apartment, pool and boat dock.

Breland Homes paid a total of $256,500 for six lots in The Legacy at Saybrook off Sollie Road in west Mobile, according to court records.

Edward Jones, financial advisors, will open next month in 1,200 square feet at 9948 Airport Blvd. in the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center, according to McArthur of Prudential Cooper Co. commercial division.

Charter Landing is expected to close the purchase of the bank-owned retail and dining portion of The Wharf in Orange Beach this week. Local investors have a contract to buy the 375,103 square feet of commercial space that includes 6.5 acres in front of The Wharf off Canal Road.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2011/11/new_grocer_coming_to_daphne_in.html

Power Force in Birmingham is moving into athletic shoe and apparel line

The company that carved out a niche in the magnetic negative ion power bracelet market by brandishing the rubber arm bands with college team logos and other emblems now has a line of cross-trainer and running shoes. The company’s website, powerforceapparel.com, went live this weekend, just in time for Cyber Monday.

Founder and Chief Executive Guy Savage is the driving force behind Power Force. He said getting into sneakers and apparel was always a goal for his company, but it took the money and branding of the bands to propel Power Force to this point.

“I wanted the Power Force name out there to help people start to recognize it, but I wanted that to lead to the apparel business to see what we could create,” Savage said.

The shoes and apparel include the same negative ion technology as the arm bands — which many pro athletes believe in but scientists remain dubious of. Savage makes no claims as to the science or health benefits of his products. For those who believe negative ion energy helps them, Power Force products will have it. For those who don’t, the shoes and the clothes should be bought and used for what they are, Savage said.

“Our message is going to be: ‘It’s all about you. It’s about your drive, your determination and how that translates into your life,” Savage said.

That’s why the shoes will not only come with the ion magnetic chips, but will also include a motivational quote that the wearer can carry with him.

“It’s all about, when you put it on, it triggers something within yourself,” he said.

Even the Power Force logo denotes the “inner force” that Savage speaks of. The logo combines the “P” and the “F” of “Power Force” while also displaying radiating energy waves.

“I was exercising and talking to a partner of mine,” Savage said. “We were talking about inner drive and commitment and discipline — even as it relates to the small things in life. That’s how we came up with the name. Our tag line is ‘power your inner force.’ God gave us all these inner forces to work with and we’ve got to use them, not just waste them.”

Savage knows a few things about tapping into that inner force.

“I’ve been up and down so many times, you can’t count,” he said. “I’ve been homeless before, living out of my car. I slept at rest stops, bathed at rest stops. I worked at any job I could to get gas money and any small amount of food to eat.”

Savage finally put down roots in Birmingham and made a small fortune doing real estate deals. He then used that money to help finance Power Force, which began operating 18 months ago.

“I’m a firm believer that we’re always going to have struggles in our lives every day, probably three big ones every year,” he said. “It’s how you handle it, how you get up and dust yourself off and get back at it. Rejection is normal in our lives. It’s how you deal with that rejection and how you turn it into something that’s a motivator for you.”

For Savage, the motivation was realizing a vision for Power Force. Negative ion bracelets were already reaching the point of saturation when Power Force saw a niche by making the bracelets a way for sports fans to show allegiance to their teams.

“In the very beginning, what we saw was a need out there to show support as a fan,” Savage said. “You can’t really wear your jersey to church. You can’t really wear your school’s ball cap to work. We thought, ‘Let’s put this on a bracelet and you can wear it all the time and show your support for your team.”

The braclets went on sale in October 2010 and in the last three months of that year generated nearly $800,000 in sales, Savage said. He said 2011 was just as impressive, though he didn’t release yearly sales totals.

A big boost came when Hibbett Sports agreed to sell the bands at its stores, Savage said.

Now, the Power Bands bracelets carry the marks of 82 collegiate teams.

Who sells more on a consistent basis?

DONE_POWER_FORCE_BUSINESS_PHOTOS_13669279.JPGPower Force made its mark with ion power bracelets sporting college logos, including Auburn and Alabama.

Savage said believe it or not, it’s Kansas University if you’re talking consistent sales over time. However, the overall biggest seller is the University of Alabama when you consider the biggest peaks in sales. Auburn University and other Southeastern Conference teams also are among the biggest sellers, Savage said.

The bands are also sold on the company’s other website, mypowerforce.com, and sales online are now outpacing store sales by more than two-to-one, Savage said.

“You’re competing with so many other companies in the retail stores,” he said. “There is so much coming at you and your product is mixed among others and if it’s not displayed correctly, it’s hard to stand out.”

The lessons learned with the arm bands is helping Power Force as it rolls out its athletic shoes.

The shoes are available online only for now, selling for $60 to $80.

When it comes to marketing, don’t look for a celebrity athlete to sell you on Power Force.

“Our target is literally everyday people who can feel the achievement inside themselves and that they’re accomplishing things,” Savage said. “We want that to translate to when they see the Power Force brand, it’s something positive.”

Every pair of shoes will come with a set of white shoelaces and a set of colored ones that match the color of the shoe.

In addition to its website, Power Force has more concrete plans for retailing with brick-and-mortar stores starting in Birmingham. The location of that store will be announced soon, Savage said, and he hopes to have it open as soon as January. The goal is to have five stores open in the first year.

In addition, Savage said he is in talks with three national sports retailers with the goal of naming one of them as the exclusive carrier of the Power Force product line in its stores. That alliance will help spread the brand nationally while maintaining some degree of exclusivity as Power Force opens its own stores and expands its website, Savage said.

“It’s not the typical approach to all volume and saturating the market,” he said. “I want people to seek us out.”

The shoes are produced in China and Power Force’s warehouse and distribution operations are off U.S. 280 near Greystone. Overseeing the quality of his product line from far away is the biggest challenge, Savage said.

“The hardest part, honestly, is that,” he said. “Creating the shoes, getting them here on time and making sure the quality is perfect is hard when you’re dealing with someone overseas.”

Savage said he is projecting between $1 million and $2 million in sales in the first year.

Establishing such a foothold in the sneaker business and competing long-term may seem daunting, but it’s the kind of challenge Savage relishes.

“Being told you can’t do it, to me, is the biggest thing in the world,” he said. “I love that feeling of people saying, ‘It’s not going to work.’ ‘Can you believe him?’ ‘I can’t believe who he thinks he is.’ To me, that is absolutely the biggest motivator.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/11/power_force_in_birmingham_is_m.html