Catching up with our Customers
In this month’s installment of our Catching up with our Customers series, we interview Jerry G. Coram, who is the President and Owner of JG Coram Construction Inc. Jerry has been a valued customer of New South Construction Supply since 2007 when we began providing his business with necessary materials for their projects. JG Coram Co., Inc. is a full-service construction company, headquartered in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and was established in 1978 by Jerry’s father. In 1983, Jerry joined full-time after spending his summers working there. He tells us that honesty in conducting business has always been very important to him and his associates. It is also evident that giving back to the community is something that is significant to him and his team, as JG Coram Co., Inc. is currently working on building a home called The Shepherd’s House, which is committed to providing a safe place to stay and various types of support for mistreated women and their children. We encourage you to read Jerry’s full interview to learn more about this charity and ways you can donate, to learn about the preservation work JG Coram Co., Inc. has been awarded for, and other ways the company gives back to those around them. Visit our website to read the fascinating Q&A.
Makers of Chemicals and Aggregates for the Concrete Industry
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Featured Project: The Low Battery Seawall
This month we are highlighting a project profile. If you have a project you would like us to profile in a future newsletter, email me at Jim.Sobeck@newsouthsupply.com.
This profile was submitted by Owens Corning and features their fiberglass rebar that was used in the rebuilding of the Low Battery Wall in historic Charleston, SC. Four of our customers worked on this job so it is near and dear to us.
WORKING WITH OWENS CORNING FIBERGLAS™ REBAR SUPPLIED BY NEW SOUTH CONSTRUCTION SUPPLY
The Low Battery seawall is one of Charleston’s most iconic and historic landmarks. The wall was constructed in the early twentieth century along Charleston’s southernmost peninsula between Tradd Street and the “Turn” at White Point Garden. The wall facilitated a large land reclamation project creating what is now known as Murray Boulevard. A waterfront promenade along its length gives pedestrians unobstructed views of the Ashley River.
The concrete seawall, cast on top of timber piling was exhibiting deterioration of the concrete face and timber piling connections. Settlement behind the wall caused a severe slope in the promenade making it difficult for the public to enjoy its full use and made accessibility a challenge for the City’s disabled residents and visitors. With an increase in sea levels, higher tides, and more intense storms, the existing wall frequent overtops contributing to the problematic flooding of the peninsula.
The Low Battery seawall repairs, designed by Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson (JMT), included raising the height of the wall, underpinning the wall with micropiles, constructing a new concrete pile cap tied to the existing wall, replacing lost fill material, reconstructing the face, and supporting the new ADA-compliant promenade on the pile caps to prevent future settlement. JMT selected GFRP reinforcing bars to reinforce the new concrete promenade, concrete rail posts, and the shotcrete repairs to the walls facing the Ashley River since these elements would be exposed to the most corrosive environments. Gulfstream Construction and their subcontractors Palmetto Gunite, Beech Contracting and KBS Construction completed Phase 1 from Tradd Street to Rutledge Avenue in 2020. Gulfstream selected Owens Corning® Fiberglas™ Rebar manufactured at its plant in Blythewood, South Carolina and supplied by New South Construction Supply. (Photos courtesy of Laura Boisclair, Project Manager at Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson.) Guest article written by Gregg Blaszak, P.E., Coastline Composite. Thank you to Owens Corning for collaborating with New South Construction Supply on this project feature.)
Manager in Training, Charlotte
This month’s Associate Profile is of Brandon Taylor, a Manager in Training at our Charlotte branch. Brandon was born in Spartanburg, SC and graduated from Boiling Springs High School. He received a B.S. degree in Management from Clemson University and prior to joining us he worked as a summer intern for Roebuck Buildings (one of our customers) in the summer of 2018 and Southern Marsh Nursery in the summer of 2019. His hobbies include duck hunting and fishing. Brandon joined us in June of this past year and quickly made a name for himself with his willingness to do whatever has been asked of him. We predict a great future for Brandon.
Our management article this month features my latest column in the Upstate (SC) Business Journal about non-competition agreements (aka non-competes). Over my 40+ years in business I’ve seen too many friends and customers hire, train, mentor, and invest in people — only to have them repay them by going into business against them and biting the hand that fed them. I know that, depending on which side of the agreement you are, you either love or hate non-competes. I have had potential hires balk at signing a non-compete but when I say they don’t have to sign it if they pay all of their own expenses, I’ve yet to have a taker. If you are a business owner or manager, I hope you find this article helpful.
Lessons from the Trenches: Tips for a bulletproof noncompete agreement
By Jim Sobeck
Non-competition agreements — or “noncompetes,” as they are more commonly known — are illegal in some states and are almost always controversial, because no employee ever likes to sign one. However, as an employer, I require noncompetes from management because they have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of our business. They know who we buy from, who we sell to, what prices we charge, who our top customers are and many other trade secrets and confidential supplier deals. A competitor armed with this information would materially damage our business.
For most of the same reasons, we require noncompete agreements from our salespeople. Another major reason is that we provide liberal expense accounts for our salespeople to entertain customers. It’s unfair for our salespeople to build relationships with their customers using company expense accounts and then leave the company and compete with us.
If someone won’t sign the agreement, we won’t hire them. Many things are negotiable during the hiring process, but not this. This is probably the only thing that is sacrosanct to us.
A lot of times you will hear that the noncompetes don’t hold up in court. That is true — if they aren’t written properly based on the laws of the state where you do business. For a noncompete to be enforceable in most states:
- It cannot be overly broad
- It must be short in duration
- Consideration must be given
Let’s examine each of the above points. By “overly broad,” I mean a noncompete can’t state that the employee can’t work for any competitor, direct or indirect, anywhere in the United States. Our agreement states that our employees can’t work for a direct competitor within a 60-mile radius of where they worked for us. Several courts have upheld our noncompetes because the judges found that the restriction was not overly broad.
“Short in duration” means no longer than one year. Our agreement calls for our employees to not work for a direct competitor, within a 60-mile radius, within the first year of leaving our employment. Our noncompete also states that our salespeople cannot solicit business from customers to which they were assigned for two years. This has also been upheld in several courts.
“Consideration” can mean a bonus for signing the agreement — but in our case, we condition our job offer upon getting a signed noncompete. Courts consider the job offer to be consideration provided that the applicant signs the noncompete prior to the first day of employment. If a company asks an employee to sign a noncompete agreement after already being employed, then consideration, in the form of a cash bonus, must be paid for the agreement to be valid. Courts feel that if an employee accepted a bonus to sign the agreement, then the agreement should be upheld because consideration was given.
Believe it or not, people have told me they signed a noncompete agreement after being employed as long as 15 years and not only didn’t receive consideration, but were threatened with termination if they didn’t sign. Unsurprisingly, courts view that such agreements were signed under duress and declare them invalid.
This information comes from 40+ years of experience, but I am not an attorney, so do not rely on my advice for your company. If you are considering using a noncompetition agreement, I urge you to find a good labor lawyer in your area to draft it.
In closing, I want to again wish all our readers a Happy Thanksgiving. We are always grateful for your support, and we are even more thankful in a year like this.
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