Scenic Mountain RV Park nominated for second-consecutive year (Credit: Union Recorder)

Credit: Union Recorder

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final entry in our series spotlighting the four finalists for the Milledgeville-Baldwin County 2018 Small Business of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the annual Chamber gala Saturday evening.

For almost five years now Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground has been under the ownership of Butch Shaffer. 

And for two years in a row, the 72-space park has been selected as a finalist for the Milledgeville-Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year Award. 

Scenic Mountain boasts tons of amenities for both its short- and long-term guests. There’s a pool to help kids and adults escape the Georgia heat, fire pits to keep them warm when it’s cold, and full hook-ups (water, electric, and sewage) that help make RVs and campers feel like home.

Alicia Dallago, marketing manager for Scenic Mountain, was asked by the owner, Shaffer, to come onto the staff about four years ago. She is originally from Argentina but lived in Pittsburgh, Pa. for 40 years where she and Shaffer met. Dallago’s accent is very different from the Southern twang commonly heard around Milledgeville, and she admitted to being a little nervous about going into business in an unfamiliar area. 

“‘Wow!’ That’s my reaction,” Dallago said when asked how it feels to be chosen as a finalist for the second time. “It’s really a very, very nice feeling. Being a foreigner that talks funny and that came from the north to a small town, I had my doubts how I was going to be received, and oh my gosh was I wrong. I feel like I’m at home because well, I am home. Being nominated for the second time is just great.”

When Shaffer took over Scenic Mountain a little more than four years ago the park was in rough shape, as described by Dallago. Money was poured in to make the park less of a stopover and more of a destination.

“When we bought the park it was the kind of RV park where people would come for one night, leave early in the morning, and not think twice about staying longer,” Dallago said. “Now they come for one night and end up staying a week. They come back and bring their friends, too. They spend $40 a night here, but they also buy groceries, gas or diesel fuel, and they go to restaurants. It helps the economy of Milledgeville.”

One would think that the summer would be the busiest time of year for a campground. Kids are out of school, so it’s easier for families’ schedules to come together and allow for some time to get away. But the marketing manager said that Scenic Mountain is always busy with both short- and long-term guests coming to enjoy time out of their homes and away from their busy day-to-day lives. The local campground has also served as a sanctuary for those escaping the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms that land on the Georgia coast. Dallago said they have put evacuees anywhere that water and electrical hook-ups could be found. In the same vein, Scenic Mountain is in the process of creating a storm shelter for its guests for when hazardous weather makes its way through the area.

The park often receives compliments on its friendly staff, cleanliness, and spacious sites, according to Dallago, all of which are a point of pride for the local small business. The campground staff also seeks to get to know those making the park their temporary homes with potluck dinners and ice cream socials that take place on some of the bigger holidays throughout the year. 

“A lot of times RV park owners just check people in and don’t interact with their guests,” Dallago said. “Well, we really interact with our guests. Butch and I, a lot of times, drive around in our golf cart to say hello to everybody.”

Scenic Mountain strives to do business the old-fashioned way. Many RV parks and campgrounds accept reservations online, but Scenic Mountain chooses not to for a couple of reasons. Dallago and Shaffer like doing things with a more personal touch, but also because guests who planned on staying only one day often decide they aren’t quite ready to leave making it impossible to give someone who might reserve a particular space online that spot. Many would deem that as a good problem to have.

Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground is located at 2686 Irwinton Road and can be reached by phone at 478-454-1013.

RV warranty lets manufacturer forgo covering repairs

Even though the buyer of the recreational vehicle described it as a “jalopy,” the 7th Circuit of Appeals found the warranty was built solidly enough to prevent the manufacturer from having to cover the repairs.

Nicholas Knopick bought a $414,583 Jayco RV at a dealership in Iowa in July 2012, but he signed the purchase documents and took title on behalf of Montana Freedom Rider LLC, a company he controlled. Almost immediately after the sale was complete, Knopick began having trouble with the unit. He said it leaked, smelled of sewage and the features were poorly installed.

Although Jayco repaired the RV twice at its manufacturing facility in Indiana, Knopick was not satisfied and sued the company. The U.S. District Court in for the Northern District of Indiana granted summary judgment to Jayco, and Knopick appealed to the 7th Circuit.

District Court Judge Jon DeGuilio ruled Knopick had no rights under the warranty because the RV was actually purchased by a business. The language in the two-year limited manufacturer’s warranty specifically states it does not cover any RV used for commercial purposes or purchased in a business’s name.

Before the appellate panel, Knopick argued Jayco waived the “business-purpose RV” exclusion by performing some repairs at no charge. The company was treating the vehicle as if it were covered by the warranty.

The 7th Circuit disagreed in Nicholas Knopick v. Jayco, Inc., 17-2285. The panel pointed out the warranty also included a provision that stated any fixes done on an RV bought by a business would be considered “good will” repairs and would not alter the terms of the warranty.

Under Knopick’s waiver argument, the appellate court said, merchants who go beyond their contractual duties would risk obliging themselves to perform new and broader duties. This could discourage amicable resolutions to minor commercial disputes.

“In business generally and in consumer markets, a contracting party’s willingness to go beyond her strictly enforceable legal obligations is a key commercial lubricant,” Judge David Hamilton wrote. “It facilitates trust, long-term relationships, repeat customers, and referrals.”

7 Startup Mistakes You Don’t Need to Make (#GAStartUpLawyer)

(#GAStartUpLawyer)

  1. Confusing management with leadership.

A successful leader is an idea machine. He or she inspires others, sees the vision, makes connections and secures funding for the company’s continued growth. These are not the same qualities found in a good manager. When your company is in its initial startup phase you may be able to handle all of the functional roles, but it’s a fatal mistake to believe you can continue to do so.

To remain on the path to your long-term vision stick with leading, not managing. Leave execution to someone who’s great at it.

  1. Waiting too long to seek next-round funding.

Once you’ve secured a pre-seed or seed round of funding you’ll have much to prove. Many founders sit back and breathe freely when the first round comes in; there can be a false security at this phase.

Venture Capital firms that invest in later stage funding are more risk averse than your early stage or pre-revenue investors. It usually takes much longer to attract them and to get through the process. This is a pivotal point for startups so have your action plan for next round funding in place and ready to execute earlier on than you may have intended. Give yourself a bare minimum of six months so you don’t run out of money.

  1. Seeking publicity before you’re ready.

Just last week I heard from an entrepreneur who has a very promising business concept related to the wedding planning industry. Sadly, that’s about all she had–a concept, yet she sought publicity well before she was ready to accommodate the opportunities it brought her way.

This individual compounded her problem by investing in expansion after, rather than prior to, gaining national publicity. With disappointed prospects around the country, her reputation took a hit and growth is at a standstill.

If you’re going national with your PR, be ready for it. Otherwise, remain local. But be certain you’re well prepared for even this lesser level of growth.

  1. Letting inventory get too low.

This is a common problem for entrepreneurs who import product from overseas. Just one container of product can cost a small fortune to bring over, so business owners often let inventory get low. Once they recoup their investment they turn it around for the next order.

Keep your customer list manageable until you have the financial resources, and the warehouse space, to keep a healthy inventory. This is a big topic, with inventory being only one of the issues, but it’s an important one.

  1. Waiting too long to hire.

This is an issue with practically every business owner who comes my way. The extremely limiting belief that you cannot afford to hire will delay or prevent your company’s growth 100 percent of the time.

Someday, that big opportunity will come your way and you will not be able to sustain the growth unless you have the resources and manpower to manage it. Failure to deliver is at the core of many business closures. Once you release some of your workload to a contractor or employee you will easily find new business to support the additional expense. Believe in yourself and just do it.

  1. Not letting go of the reins.

I am close to someone whose co-founder holds the position of CEO at their rapidly growing company.  This was fine when they were experiencing low seven-digit revenues, but the company has since outgrown the CEO’s experience and capabilities. Significant opportunities are falling by the wayside, or being mishandled because the CEO is unwilling to relinquish his seat to a more experienced individual with a proven track record.

While many early-stage founders can succeed in growing with their companies, it’s important to recognize if you are not one of them. Stepping down is never easy, but always opens doors to the next amazing opportunity.

  1. Lacking in agility.

You may have a very specific action plan to achieve a very specific vision, but it can’t be written in stone. Sometimes things don’t pan out as you’d envisioned, and you’ll have to change course quickly. If you become stubborn or paralyzed, when something fails you will stall out. Fix the problems (fast) and pivot. The process is daunting, but don’t be afraid of making these mistakes, because you will. Success never comes failure free.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps your company is unique, but the startup experience is not. Mistakes are made, failures are had. Reach out for help before, rather than after you experience the rockiest of roads. #GAStartUpLawyer

 

Top 10 Spots For Atlanta Dogs to Take Their Humans (Credit: Georgia Voice)

Atlanta has no lack of pet-friendly facilities. Below is a list of such institutions, carefully groomed to our exacting standards. At long last, the rewards for the contest of “Who’s a good boy?” may be listed.



ParkGrounds Coffee on Flat Shoals Avenue came from a simple notion: What if we built a cafe, and dogs came? ParkGrounds had a dream, and that dream involved building a fenced-in dog park. You drink coffee, the canines socialize.

Lucky’s Burger and Brew was named for the owners’ Golden Retriever. The interiors are stocked with images of its namesake. There are three locations, and the setup was designed to accommodate dogs. Featuring menu entries like the Dogfish Sandwich, it’s hard to argue against the thematic unity of Lucky.

The Piedmont Dog Park. There are three acres, and enclosures where the quadrupeds can go nuts in a the most sociable way. Stay for a while, and enjoy Atlanta’s blessing and curse, the omnipresent sun.

Joe’s on Juniper. The Midtown watering hole has tavern charm and dog relevance. Like many groovy Atlanta standbys, Joe’s comes complete with a lengthy catalog of cocktails and an impressive checklist of beers to consume. And, like many of these other institutions, they have an outdoor area for dogs.

Ladybird. The spot in front of Ladybird is called the Grove. You’ll be using it from here on out. Don’t worry. There are lots of other pet-dads and moms out there too. Look for it near the Krog and Ponce markets.

Perk-n-Pooch. Behind the Gwinnett College Building, between LA Fitness and Canton Cooks II, lives one of the crown jewels of the Atlanta dog scene. Perk-n-Pooch is a dog-wash and coffee cafe, but it’s so much more: a testament to the crossover appeal of human/dog interests, and the ingenuity of business innovation. You can wash your dog and score a shake. How can you beat that?

Park Tavern. The Tavern is a polestar of the Atlanta nightlife scene, and its famous hospitality extends to man’s best friend. Like the other entries in this list, there’s an outside area (see Park, Piedmont) and a decent view (see Atlanta, skyline of). Parking is your own concern. Regardless, your dog will still love you.

Publico Atlanta gets a nod on this list because it has a rare feature in Atlanta pubs: The patio has grass. Yeah, you heard me. That nature stuff? It’s back in style. Of course, there’s more, including a VIP menu, which ends up standing for “Very Important Puppy.” What’s on the list? Treats. Better still, the menu sales go to the Atlanta Humane Society.

Memorial Drive’s Grindhouse Killer Burgers doesn’t have actual grass in its patio area, but it has something close — Astro-Turf is soft stuff, after all. Throw in tins of complimentary water for the four-legged guests, and this is another picnic-table patio that’s worth your time.

Midway Pub on Flat Shoals Avenue is as pet-friendly as the rest of these entries, but I include it on the list because there’s a tiki bar on the weekends. I’d like to address that: a tiki bar and a dog-friendly patio. How often do those two elements cross over?

Georgia officials warn consumers of timeshare resale scams

ATLANTA – Officials are warning timeshare owners of scam calls, usually from someone believed to be working for a travel company.

According to Attorney General Chris Car, the Secretary of State’s Office and the Better Business Bureau, timeshare owners in Mexico are often targets of this scam.

The company usually tells the owners there is a buyer interested in purchasing their timeshare property.

But while the timeshare sale is supposedly pending, these scammers often tell the seller there are fees and/or taxes connected with the sale that need to be paid upfront. They are then instructed to wire the money to an agent who is often located in another country.  The company continues to collect additional fees until they inform the seller that the sale has fallen through or the victim says they want to get out of the deal.

The sellers then find they are unable to get their money back.

Officials say these scammers are sometimes committing corporate identity theft to add credibility to the scam. They hijack the corporate registration information of a business at the Secretary of State’s Office by altering the names of corporate officers.

As a result, if someone researches the business it appears as though the fake timeshare title company or travel agency is legitimate.

In some cases, the scammers register with their local Better Business Bureau using the same fictitious corporate officer names that were used in the fake corporate registration documents filed with the government.

Officials as you to keep the following advice in mind if you are trying to sell your timeshare:

-Wire money requests in connection with a timeshare resale or rental is a big sign of fraud
-If the reseller you are dealing with is located in the United States, there is no legitimate reason for the money to be sent to another country
-Be suspicious of any uninvited solicitations or offers to buy or resell your timeshare, particularly those that seem “too good to be true.”
-If you are considering a resale, contact your timeshare resort or timeshare developer, who may be aware of a new or ongoing scam
-Avoid paying money to a reseller up-front. If possible, find a reseller that takes its fee after the timeshare is sold.
-If you must pay a fee in advance, ask about refunds. Get refund policies and promises in writing.
-Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics; they often indicate a scam.
-Ask your resort’s developer, resort manager or owner’s association if they have a newsletter, website or bulletin board where owners can advertise their timeshare for resale.

Consumers who believe they have been victims of a timeshare resale scam should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit by calling (404) 651-8600 or going to consumer.ga.gov.

If you suspect a fraudulent filing, you can call the Secretary of State’s Office at (404) 656-2817 or email soscontact@sos.ga.gov.

Thrift & McLemore Salutes Our Troops And Celebrates Our Veterans!

As we celebrate America’s Independence Day, we also salute our troops and thank veterans for their service.

We also recognize that disabled veterans need to know what resources are available to them so they can get the support they need and deserve.  In fact, there are many resources available for veterans with serious injuries.

The Reeve Foundation has a great Military and Veterans Program (MVP).  They help our service men and women, whether they are paralyzed through combat related, service related, or non-service related events.

Paralyzed Veterans of America provides updates on research and education for spinal cord injury, a great list of mobility resources, employment resources and more at www.pva.org.

PVA also partners with the Care Cure Community. You can find an online forum on their site where member of the SCI community can post questions and support others: http://sci.rutgers.edu/

The U.S. Department of Defense has a Warrior Care division with many available resources as well, including caregiver resources and adaptive sports programs for Vets.  Warrior Care has an annual event, Warrior Games, featuring multiple sporting events with athletes representing teams from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command and British Armed Forces. For more information please click here to visit the site.

Operation Rise and Conquer is another great military program through the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, Colorado.  The center provides high-quality adventure activities for military service personnel, helping to empower and inspire wounded soldiers and veterans to regain confidence and trust in themselves and others.

We wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July, and we thank our veterans for their service.

Craig and Ryan

 

Dealing With The Commercial Foreclosure Process (Borrowers and Tenants)

If a commercial borrower (or commercial tenant) falls behind on commercial building payments (or lease payments), the lender or lessor can declare a default and foreclose on the property.  The execution of a mortgage or deed of trust (or lease agreement) creates a security interest in the property that gives the lender the right to start foreclosure proceedings to force a sale of the property (or eviction) upon the borrower’s failure to pay the loan/lease according to terms.  The good news is that lenders don’t like foreclosures because they’re costly and difficult. The bad news is that lenders won’t hesitate to foreclose on past due loans (or leases) if they aren’t given better options.

If you are a commercial property owner facing foreclosure, or a commercial tenant with a landlord in foreclosure, it is important to keep in mind that there are many legal intricacies involved with foreclosures.  It may be beneficial to employ the services of Thrift & McLemore to help you navigate the process and ensure that you fully understand your rights under the law.

Commercial foreclosures are, in most cases, very similar to residential foreclosures.  The foreclosure may be nonjudicial or judicial depending on the state where the property is located and what the loan documents dictate.  With both nonjudicial and judicial commercial foreclosures, the process starts when the borrower defaults on the mortgage.  A default occurs when the borrower falls behind in payments or fails to do something that the loan documents require.  After the default, the lender may accelerate, or call due, the outstanding balance on the loan.  Typically, the lender must first send a breach letter to the borrower that outlines the reason for default and gives a time frame during which the borrower may cure the default and avoid acceleration.  Usually, the amount of time given to cure a default is thirty days, but this can vary depending on the terms of the mortgage.  Once the time period expires, if the borrower has not cured the default, then the lender may commence foreclosure proceedings.

Tenants’ Rights Following a Commercial Foreclosure

The rights of any tenants in a foreclosed commercial property will depend on the terms of the lease and the date on which the lease was signed.  The tenant’s interest could potentially be terminated by a foreclosure due to the legal concept referred to as “first in time, first in right,” which allows the purchaser of a foreclosed property to void a lease if the mortgage was executed before the execution of the lease.

Many commercial leases contain a subordination, non-disturbance, and attornment agreement, or SNDA.  Under the terms of an SNDA, the tenant agrees to subordinate its interest in the lease to any lender making a loan secured by the commercial property; the tenant agrees to attorn to, or recognize, any new owner of the commercial property as its landlord; and any new owner of the commercial property agrees not to disturb the tenant’s possession of the property as long as the tenant pays rent and complies with the terms of the lease.  For tenants, an SNDA provides some assurance that their rights to their premises will be preserved even if the property is foreclosed.

-Options in Dealing with Foreclosures

The chances are that a commercial building loan is only a part of bigger financial problems.  Rather than delaying, a borrower should develop a game plan to deal with the situation immediately.  Options include:
  • Reorganizing, consolidating or even eliminating debts through proceedings that may include bankruptcy
  • Trying to work out a compromise with the lender
  • Selling the building

-Negotiating with the Lender

A lender may be willing to compromise.  Possible options include the following:
  • Different payment terms (lower payments over a longer period of time)
  • Forgiving some late payments now in exchange for a longer period of payment
  • Lower payments in exchange for a higher interest rate over a longer payment period
  • Refinancing at a lower interest rate (to make payments lower)

-Deeds In Lieu of Foreclosure

If a lender is unwilling to compromise, consider offering to convey the property back to the lender voluntarily by a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” (sometimes called “deed in lieu of forfeiture”).  A lender may be hesitant to accept a “deed in lieu” if state law provides a borrower with a right to redeem property for a certain period of time (e.g., up to a year later).

Thrift & McLemore Launches Commercial Collections Practice Area

Atlanta, GA – We are pleased to announce the launch of our Commercial Collections practice area.  Our new practice area specializes in handling commercial collections claims in commercial debt recovery and litigation.  Thrift & McLemore’s Commercial Collections practice includes open accounts, unsecured and secured loans, credit cards, automobile loans, student loans, foreign judgments, real property foreclosures and commercial claims.   We represent commercial creditors, financial institutions, government entities, insurance companies, service organizations and certain individuals in recovering commercial loans.

Thrift & McLemore is proud of our record of service to business clients.  The breadth and scope of our practice encompasses:

  • Sale of goods disputes
  • Dealer disputes
  • Distributor disputes
  • Collection on letters of credit
  • Issuing demand letters
  • Bankruptcy workouts
  • Litigation
  • Collection on business agreement defaults
  • Attachments
  • Garnishments

Working together, the location of tangible assets, existing contracts and employment, bank accounts, equity in inventory and other assets, may be located and serve as a basis for recovery.  We are dedicated to the proposition of being a vital part of a client’s credit and recovery.

Thrift & McLemore Launches New Website

Atlanta, GA – We are pleased to announce the launch of our new website!  The new website has been designed to offer the ultimate user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality.  Thanks for visiting!

Attorneys

Please join Thrift & McLemore at the National Automotive Finance Association’s 22nd Annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference

The National Automotive Finance Association’s 22nd Annual Non-Prime Auto Financing Conference will be held May 30 – June 1, 2018, at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel. This popular location offers countless options for dining and entertainment in nearby Sundance Square. The conference opens with a reception in the Exhibit Hall at 5:30 pm on Wednesday evening and concludes by noon on Friday, June 1.

Continue reading

Ratings and Reviews

10.0Craig Thrift
Craig ThriftReviewsout of reviews