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Kim-ViljacSUSAN BRANT NEVER IMAGINED BEING A FARMER. “It was something my husband always wanted to do,” said Brant, a retired nurse. “I didn’t like to get my hands dirty. I do now,” she said, laughing from her perch atop a cooler at the Port Royal Farmers Market while overseeing her grandchildren tending to customers.

When her husband, Don, proposed they start Brant Family Farm in Varnville three years ago after he retired as a chemical engineer at Exxon, Susan said, “‘I want it to be all natural.’ He said, ‘Are you sure? It‘s a lot of work.’ I think I’m doing it to atone for those years working for Exxon.”

For many Lowcountry companies, business is family

(From left) Palmer, Charlie and Margaret GolsonFor example, daughters of two local business owners chose to study international affairs in college, likely putting them on trajectories that would lead far from Hilton Head Island or Bluffton. One son started his own business apart from his mother’s jewelry store. The other tried working in child care.

But after a few years, that next generation realized there are immeasurable benefits to the family livelihood: understanding bosses, dedicated and loyal co-workers and the chance to preserve and build on their parents’ lifelong endeavors. Thanks to that next generation, our community can count on another generation of successful local businesses.

ReedSons learn from their fathers. Whether it’s how to throw a ball, ride a bike, shave or tie a tie, the lessons fathers teach can last a lifetime. But how do those lessons change when a son joins his father in business?

Hilton Head Monthly met with three local father-son teams about how their relationships moved from the family circle to the daily grind. Our subjects were Mike and Robert Rivers of Low Country Shelving and Glass, Charlie and Andy Reed of Charter One Realty and Mike and Nick Kristoff of The Mortgage Network.

Mothers may fight with daughters. Daughters may spend their formative years embarrassed by their moms. But the bond they share through it all, from the playroom to the boardroom, is a unique kind of love. It’s the mentoring guidance of a trusted advisor. It’s the support structure of a close sisterhood. It’s the invaluable bond of a best friend. 

And if you take that sort of relationship into a business, as you’re about to see, it makes for one happy family.

Injector SystemSometimes inspiration is just the start of something big, and all it needs is the right encouragement and support.  Just ask Dan and Louise Hodges. The Hodges family moved to Beaufort from Charlotte in 2007, with their two daughters, Hunter and Ellen. They formerly owned a landscape design/construction business and relocated to the coast to cater to the second homeowner market. But their timing couldn’t have been worse. It was the beginning of the economic crisis, and their business began to suffer.

They started brainstorming new business ideas while learning to adapt to the coastal environment. Given their background in landscaping, they couldn’t help but notice the relative absence of outdoor living spaces as compared to their home in Charlotte. 

“People don’t utilize their backyards as much here, and I don’t think it’s because of the heat,” says Louise. “It’s because of the bugs.”

0313_begreen-001Be Green Packaging still growing plans in Ridgeland

Walk through Be Green Packaging, a nondescript plant in Ridgeland, and you may see a few familiar sights, depending on your choice of razor.


Nearly 1 million people filed for bankruptcy in the United States last year. In the Lowcountry, personal bankruptcy cases are heard in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston.

Monthly waited in line with people trying to get out from under their debts, and found that sometimes the real  story starts with Chapter 7.



shutterstock_69000391On a dreary, drizzling January morning, they file into the nondescript office building in the middle of Charleston’s historic district. They come from cities and towns like Conway, Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Edisto Island and Ridgeland.

There are young and old people, couples leaning on each other, single women and single men, black, white, Hispanic.

There are few smiles, and a feel of jangled nerves and tension permeates the atmosphere. That’s because these people are all heading into the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of South Carolina. They are not alone. Almost a million people in the United States filed for personal bankruptcy in the first three quarters of 2012, according to federal records.

On this day as petitioners file into the courtroom, a clearly angry man storms out cursing and yells to the others that he “hopes you have a better day in there than me!”

Most of the cases take about 5-10 minutes. There are no red flags and the lawyers and their clients file out. But there are several cases where Trustee Kevin Campbell picks apart the filing and questions the petitioner in-depth, particularly about what may be hidden assets.

mayan_vinnie_hchocolateA man usually knows he is on the verge of a big idea if the woman in his life rolls her eyes.

Bluffton resident Vinnie Ferullo learned this firsthand a little over a year ago. While reclining on the beach in Aruba, an idea came to him to save humanity from the end of the world. With chocolate.

“Why can’t you just sit here and watch the women in the bathing suits?” Sandy Ferullo said at the time.

The retired owner of a New Canaan, Connecticut-based home-heating oil company, Ferullo ignored his wife, sipped his pina colada and turned to his lifelong buddy, Nick Monte. Monte owned a candy story in Vermont, and Ferullo enlisted his help in creating the confection that could save the world.

money-scarfaceAs Al Pacino said in the movie Scarface, “In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power.”

Al Pacino’s drug lord may not be the best moral compass for you to follow in the New Year, but we must allow that from a purely fiscal perspective, he makes a valid point.

In short, if you want to get anything done, you’d better have your financial house in order first. That applies to small business owners, the man in the street and, yes, even fictional gangsters.

And with the dawning of 2013, we’re all feeling like expanding our own financial empires, and Monthly feels like getting you there. So read on for some smart financial tips for 2013.