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Curated Collection Of The Best Interviews From Our Midtown Studio

Midtown Alliance and Blue Goblin

Midtown Alliance

Shannon Powell joins CW Hall to talk Midtown Alliance

Midtown Alliance and Blue Goblin

I hosted Shannon Powell and Ben Hirokawa of Midtown Alliance and Blue Goblin, respectively.  Shannon Powell is the COO for Midtown Alliance and Ben Hirokawa is founder and President of Blue Goblin, a plastic foam recycling company.

Created in 1978, Midtown Alliance has been a significant force in the revitalization of Midtown Atlanta, a district that runs from ~Pine St. on the south end to the Peachtree Bridge over I-75 entering Buckhead on the north end, and east-west from I-75 to ~Piedmont Ave.

Midtown Alliance is a not-for-profit membership organization and consists of a coalition of local business and community leaders.  Each member is committed to establishing Midtown as a leading destination for commerce, culture, education and living.

Midtown Alliance is led by a 71-member board of the district’s leading private sector executives and their mission is to improve and sustain the quality of life for those who live, work and play in this thriving business and residential district.  The Alliance fulfills is mission through a comprehensive approach to planning and development, including numerous initiatives to enhance public safety, improve the physical environment, and strengthen the urban amenities giving the area its distinctive character.

Guided by a visionary master plan – Blueprint Midtown – and in partnership with the Midtown Improvement District, Midtown has become a national model for urban excellence.

Blue Goblin

Ben Hirokawa of Blue Goblin

Ben Hirokawa has been a leader in three different start-ups, including a recent one in South Carolina focused on recycling a variety of household appliances.  That enterprise developed technology that would allow them to dispense with the noxious coolant materials and associated fumes/gases safely, allowing them to reclaim the metals and plastics.

Founded in 2014, Blue Goblin is an innovative, environmentally-sound solution for disposal of plastic foams.  These versatile foams – found in products ranging from commercial roofing and wall insulation, to refrigerated transport units, to mattresses and other furniture, to many types of packaging – pose significant challenges at end-of-life: they are bulky and difficult to transport and compact, and they can emit significant greenhouse gasses.

Both the U.S. EPA and the California Air Resources Board have recognized emissions from PUR, XPS, and ISO foams
as significant environmental challenges, but currently virtually all of these foams are landfilled.  Blue Goblin offers a solution:

• Mobile Service: Blue Goblin brings its processing unit directly to its customers, and begins the process of compacting and recycling these foams on-site, significantly reducing transportation and waste disposal costs

• Environmental Responsibility: Greenhouse gasses are captured and properly disposed

• Convenience and Customer Service: Blue Goblin works with each customer to define the scope of the job and maximize convenience and value

Special Guests:

Shannon Powell, COO, of Midtown Alliance  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  Blogger 2  linkedin_small1

Midtown Alliance

  • BA, Urban Studies/Affairs, College of Charlston
  • Master of City Planning, City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology

Ben Hirokawa, President/founder of Blue Goblin  linkedin_small1

Blue Goblin

  • ME, Engineering Management, Dartmouth College-Thayer School of Engineering
  • Former President/CEO, Reclaim
  • Co-founder/Previous VP of New Business Development, MicroPore Plastics


Coach Mark Speaks

professional coach

CW Hall and Coach Mark Speaks (Mark Todd)

Coach Mark Speaks

This week I sat down with entrepreneur, coach, and mentor, Mark Todd of Coach Mark Speaks.  He shared his story of how he longed to be an entrepreneur as a young kid, tried as a college student and failed, then found a talent he possessed and leveraged it into a successful business.

We talked about how he and a friend decided to start a night club while they were college students, with hopes of building on their love of DJ’ing.  Unfortunately, with no experience, no mentors, and limited capital, the partners could not support the business to keep it open during the early start-up phase.  While trying to keep the business open, Mark lost his car, used his student loan funds, and was doing anything he could to make his rent.

While trying to save money promoting his business, Mark began creating the graphic design pieces he would distribute about his club.  It was then he realized he had a knack for it and once the club shut down, he pivoted and started working to build his graphic design business.  15 years later he came by to talk about what it was that made him achieve success and have the life he always wanted.

He is now spending much of his time authoring (and reading) books on how to succeed and overcome challenges and giving away his time to coach and mentor entrepreneurs and individuals looking to improve their lives.

Coach Mark isn’t an athletic coach although he can help you win the biggest race of your life. He isn’t a life coach, but he can help you live the best life you could ever possibly imagine. Coach Mark is a believability coach. He helps others to increase what they believe is possible for them. That self-belief will help determine how far anyone can go in life.

As a successful entrepreneur over the last 15 years, Coach Mark has built 2 exceedingly successful million-dollar businesses. Driven by his desire to acquire and share knowledge, Coach Mark retired from the day to day operations of his businesses before the age of 40 and decided to spend the rest of his life serving others by sharing his philosophy of continual self improvement. It’s Coach Mark’s belief that life gets better when you get better, and his goal is for each and everyone he encounters to continually get better. You can stay in touch with Coach Mark by visiting or on FB – Mark Starr, or on IG & Twitter @coachmarkspeaks

Special Guest:

Coach Mark Todd of Coach Mark Speaks, Inc  twitter_logo_small

Buying or Selling a Business

 IRC Wealth

Dave Ragland and Joe Schum talk Buying/Selling Businesses

Buying or Selling a Business

We continued our monthly series with IRC Wealth, talking about buying or selling a business. Dave Ragland and Joe Schum came by with Chet Burgess of Burgess & Associates to share some expertise regarding how to approach choices that arise when coming into a large sum of money through the sale of a business. An example of this was an IRC Wealth client company that was an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) that sold.

In this case, the employees were seeing pretty sizable amounts of money coming their way from 5 figures to as much as $500,000-1,000,000 or more. Dave and Joe talked about the importance of sitting down with a financial expert to identify the best plan for what to do with those funds to get the greatest value for the employee’s needs.

The group also talked about the importance of establishing a sound operating agreement for partners in a young business that will accommodate the various possibilities for separation for the partners, whether it’s a sale, or a partner opting to leave, or other potential situations.

Chet, a CPA and tax expert, shared how important it is to select a corporate structure that provides the greatest long-term flexibility for a business that will facilitate selling later or transitioning a business to heirs or other partners.

We also discussed options for the business owner who would like to offer rewarding compensation plans that inspire a sense of ownership and increased productivity, without having to give away shares of stock in the privately-held company.

Special Guests:

David Ragland, CEO/Founder of IRC Wealth  twitter_logo_small  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1  feed logo

IRC Wealth

  • Masters of Accounting, University of Georgia, Terry College of Business
  • Former Manager–Tax, Ernst & Young
  • Previous CFO, Allied Foods, Inc
  • Previous CFO, Afterburner

Joe Schum, VP of Business Development of IRC Wealth  linkedin_small1  

IRC Wealth

  • Bachelor’s of Science, Economics/Commerce, Niagara University
  • Previous VP of Sales, Midwest Medical Enterprises, DVT/Lite
  • Board of Advisors, Safe Haven Museum & Education Center
  • Board Member, Visions Anew Institute

Chet Burge, Founder of Burge & Associates  linkedin_small1

Burgess & Associates

  • BS Accounting, Bob Jones University
  • Previous Senior Accountant, Price Waterhouse
  • Former P/T CFO/Partner, Three Taverns Brewery

The Ice Box and Encore Recycling

Business Radio

Gary Blase and Jordy Gamson talk shredding autos and effective brand marketing

The Ice Box and Encore Recycling

Guest co-host, Bo Wilkins from SoundRiver Advisors sat in with me as we interviewed one of the founders of The Ice Box, Jordy Gamson, and his good friend, Gary Blase, of Encore Recycling.  Learn how valuable the right promotional product can be for keeping your company top-of-mind for your customers.  And, learn about technology that can grind a car—yes, a CAR, into bits in 8 seconds.

Check back soon for more info!

Special Guests:

Bo Wilkins, Partner, SoundRiver Advisors  Linkedin    

SoundRiver Advisors

  • Former Executive Managing Director, Wealth Management, Reliance Trust Company
  • Former Partner, Nease, Lagana, Eden, & Culley
  • BA, History & German, Hampden-Sydney College
  • CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter; ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant; CAP – Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy

Jordy Gamson, CEO/Co-founder, The Ice Box  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook  Pinterest  instagram-logo-transparent-png-i11 (16x16)  

The Ice Box

Gary Blase, Managing Member of Encore Recycling  facebook_logo_small3  linkedin_small1 

Encore Recycling