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Betting on Bulldogs: John Shurley’s legacy of entrepreneurship at UGA

Each year, the University of Georgia Alumni Association unveils the Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrated organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software.

Powered by the expertise of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, the program celebrates Dawgs on top and demonstrates the incredible value of a degree from UGA.

There is one unforgettable member of the Bulldog 100 community: John Shurley. Without his early commitment to the program and dedicated leadership ever since, Bulldog 100 would not be possible. John has supported the program with his facts, figures and insights for over a decade.

Joining the Bulldog 100 community

John is a proud Bulldog, earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting from UGA in 1977. As a student, he was an active member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.

John Shurley

John Shurley (third from right) with his fraternity brothers in 1977.

The UGA Office of Alumni Relations first approached John with the idea of starting a program to celebrate successful alumni entrepreneurs in 2007. John was an early backer of this startup idea. His love for UGA – and his support for hard-working business leaders – were invaluable in getting the Bulldog 100 off the ground.

John and his Atlanta office of Warren Averett have been Bulldog 100 partners since the program began in 2009. Warren Averett verifies financial information submitted by each company to determine the 100 fastest-growing, alumni-owned businesses. Bulldog 100 would not be possible without the generous sponsorship of John and his team.

Leaving his mark

From the beginning, John and the associates of Warren Averett provided pro bono accounting work, verified applications and finalized a ranked list with sound calculations. His leadership perfected the Bulldog 100 verification process and fostered development within the Office of Alumni Relations.

John values the Bulldog 100 mission to lead and serve. He appreciates the diverse backgrounds of alumni who make the list, from pharmacy to forestry resources, and always highlighted them at the annual Bulldog 100 ceremony.

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the trust he placed in our team and for helping us realize our vision. His dedication has touched the lives of so many and put wind in the sails of countless alumni,” said Meredith Johnson Gurley, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association.

John’s legacy

John announced his retirement from Warren Averett last year. Though this year was our last with John helping lead Bulldog 100, his voice and guidance will be evident in the legacy of the Bulldog 100 for years to come. As an alumnus, champion of students and mentor to staff, John remains an integral member of the UGA family.

David Crabtree (BBA ’04), member at Warren Averett and fellow UGA graduate, will be assuming John’s position as a leader of the Bulldog 100.

“We look forward to working with David Crabtree at Warren Averett, who has been mentored by John these last few years – and what better preparation could he have?” said Meredith.

Where is John now?

John retired with his wife in St. Simons Island, Georgia. But no matter where John calls home, he will never bark alone. From Sanford Stadium to St. Simons, we’re ringing the bell in celebration of John’s impact on UGA.

LeaseQuery again tops the Bulldog 100

On Feb. 11, the University of Georgia Alumni Association recognized the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni during the 12th annual Bulldog 100 Celebration, which was hosted online. LeaseQuery, an Atlanta-based accounting software firm, was named the fastest-growing alumni business for the second year in a row.

The company, led by two former college roommates, is the first business to repeat as No. 1 in consecutive years. CEO George Azih earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UGA in 2003 and Chief Revenue Officer Chris Ramsey earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2005.

“For us to be the first company to [be No. 1] two years in a row is deeply humbling and exciting,” Azih said. “I hope it inspires other students out there that they can do it as well.”

LeaseQuery helps accountants and finance professionals eliminate errors through its lease accounting software—the first of its kind built by accountants for accountants. The company also provides specialized consulting services and facilitates compliance with regulatory reporting for companies across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

“To do this two years in a row means so much,” Ramsey said. “We can’t wait to share this with the rest of our company because they helped us get here as well.”

The businesses rounding out the top 10 are:

  1. inBrain, Atlanta
  2. Golden Isles Pharmacy, Brunswick, Georgia
  3. Roadie, Atlanta
  4. Surcheros Fresh Mex, Douglas, Georgia
  5. PDI, Alpharetta, Georgia
  6. Marketwake, Atlanta
  7. Calendly, Atlanta
  8. Womack Custom Homes, Cartersville, Georgia
  9. PeopleSuite, Mooresville, North Carolina

“The Bulldog 100 is our chance to celebrate the innovation, entrepreneurship and excellence of our incredible alumni who are leading the way in business and nonprofits,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “I am proud of each business on this year’s list and extend a special congratulations to LeaseQuery for making Bulldog 100 history.”

Bulldog 100 companies were ranked, regardless of size, by evaluating their three-year compounded annual growth rates. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors—a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009—verifies the information submitted by each company and determines the ranked list. On average, companies in the 2021 Bulldog 100 grew by 49% each year from 2017-19.

Nominations were accepted from February to July 2020. UGA received 429 nominations for the 2021 Bulldog 100. Each organization must have been in business since 2016, experienced revenues over $100,000 for the calendar year 2017, and be owned or operated by a former UGA student who owns at least half of the company or is the CEO, president or managing partner.

During the Feb. 11 event (held virtually for safety reasons during the pandemic), the UGA Alumni Association presented the fourth annual Michael J. Bryan Award to 1999 UGA graduate Airee Edwards, CEO of Agora Vintage. Bryan, the co-founder and managing partner of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School in Dunwoody, Georgia, passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer. The award recognizes a returning Bulldog 100 honoree whose business has not only sustained growth but demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to UGA that was Bryan’s hallmark.

View the complete rankings of 2021 Bulldog 100 businesses.

Nominations for the 2022 Bulldog 100 are open until July 31.

UGA Alumni Association reveals 2021 Bulldog 100 businesses

LeaseQuery CEO George Azih speaks after his company was named the No. 1 fastest-growing business at the 2020 Bulldog 100 Celebration.

LeaseQuery CEO George Azih speaks after his company was named the No. 1 fastest-growing business at the 2020 Bulldog 100 Celebration on Feb. 8, 2020. LeaseQuery is one of several 2020 Bulldog 100 businesses to make the 2021 Bulldog 100 list.

The University of Georgia Alumni Association has unveiled the 2021 Bulldog 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. UGA received 429 nominations for the 2021 list.

The 2021 Bulldog 100 celebrates organizations from over two dozen industries, including agriculture, construction, health care, nonprofits and software. Of the 100 businesses, 81 are located within the state of Georgia. In total, two countries and nine U.S. states are represented in this year’s Bulldog 100.

This year’s list of fastest-growing businesses, in alphabetical order, is as follows:

5Market Realty, Athens

Ad Victoriam Solutions, Alpharetta

ADD’s Personal Care Pharmacy, Bogart

Agora Vintage, Athens

American Tank Maintenance LLC, Warthen

Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, Atlanta

Applied Resource Group, Alpharetta

ASW Distillery, Atlanta

Backyard Escape Inc., Atlanta

Biren Patel Engineering, Macon

BlueBear Solutions Inc., Atlanta

Books for Keeps, Athens

Breda Pest Management, Loganville

BrightStar Care, Cumming

Buckhead Beans, Marietta

Builders Specialty Contractors, Boynton Beach, Florida

Cabo Luxury LLC, Las Vegas, Nevada

Calendly, Atlanta

Caplan Cobb LLP, Atlanta

Charlotte Lucas Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Chicken Salad Chick, Auburn, Alabama

Choice Media & Communications LLC, Franklin, Tennessee

Christopher’s Bridge Home Care, Watkinsville

Classic Overland, Macon

Consume Media, Norcross

Crawford and Boyle LLC, Monroe

Currie Design + Build, Roswell

DearthGalat LLC, Atlanta

Dental ClaimSupport, Savannah

DigitalCrafts, Atlanta

Eagle Christian Tours, Rome

Edwards & Hawkins LLC, Atlanta

Elinor H. Portivent, PC, Calhoun

Expert Technical Solutions, Atlanta

Fairway Insurance Group Inc., Acworth

FTM Travel, Brentwood, Tennessee

Globe Trotter Properties, Arlington, Virginia

Golden Isles Pharmacy, Brunswick

Greater Athens Properties, Athens

Grist Pallets, Tifton

Hager Design International Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia

Hardeman Hobson Waste Services LLC, Athens

Hardy’s Peanuts Inc., Hawkinsville

HatchWorks Technologies, Atlanta

Heather McElroy Real Estate, Athens

inBrain, Atlanta

Innovative Tax and Accounting Solutions LLC, Savannah

Irvin Retail Group of Marcus & Millichap, Atlanta

J&M Pool Company, Senoia

Jackrabbit Technologies, Huntersville, North Carolina

Kabbage, Atlanta

King’s Pharmacy Hayesville, Hayesville, North Carolina

Lamar Smith Homes, Richmond Hill

Langford Allergy, Macon

LeaseQuery, Atlanta

Liteworks Window & Door, Marietta

Litner + Deganian Personal Injury Firm, Atlanta

M. Jeffrey Martin, CPA, LLC, Saint Simons Island

MAB Corporate Advisors, Marietta

Maggie Griffin Design, Gainesville

Mark Spain Real Estate, Alpharetta

Marketwake, Atlanta

McNeal, Sports & Wilson Risk Advisers, Waycross

Meeting Street South, Sandy Springs

Merit Partners, Atlanta

Milestone Construction LLC, Athens

Millstone Homes Inc., Watkinsville

Moore Civil, Hawkinsville

Murray Osorio PLLC, Fairfax, Virginia

Nationwide Permitting Services, Mableton

Northern Lights Exteriors, Fort Lupton, Colorado

oneRepSALES, Athens

Park Place Outreach Youth Emergency Services, Savannah

PDI, Alpharetta

PeopleSuite, Mooresville, North Carolina

Puppy Haven, Sandy Springs

Rev Coffee Roasters, Smyrna

RGX LLC, Cornelius, North Carolina

Rheos Nautical Eyewear, Charleston, South Carolina

Roadie, Atlanta

SculptHouse, Atlanta

SFB IDEAS, Atlanta

Smith Planning Group, Watkinsville

Sole Boutique and Dish Boutique, Statesboro

Southern Baked Pie Company, Gainesville

Southern Belle Farm, McDonough

Southern Straws Cheese Straws, Columbus

Surcheros Fresh Mex, Douglas

Svaha USA, Chantilly, Virginia

The Barnes Law Office LLC, Atlanta

The Brogdon Firm LLC, Atlanta

The Brokery, Forsyth

The Hipster Hound, Savannah

The Keller Group, PA, Seneca, South Carolina

The Sign Brothers, Bogart

TRUE Automotive, Lawrenceville

Two Maids & A Mop, Birmingham, Alabama

W&A Engineering, Athens

Womack Custom Homes, Cartersville

This year’s list does not reflect the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses. Each year, Bulldog 100 applicants are measured by their business’s compounded annual growth rate during a three-year period. The 2021 Bulldog 100 list is based on submitted financial information for 2017-19. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors, a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009, verified the information submitted by each company.

The UGA Alumni Association will host the annual Bulldog 100 Celebration virtually Feb. 11, 2021, to celebrate these alumni business leaders and count down the ranked list to ultimately reveal the No. 1 fastest-growing business.

“These alumni demonstrate the incredible value of a degree from UGA and we are committed to continuing the tradition of recognizing their achievements and connecting them with current students, who will become the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Meredith Gurley Johnson, executive director of the UGA Alumni Association. “These leaders inspire us by bringing better solutions and building stronger communities, so we will ensure they are celebrated even as necessity requires this to be done virtually.”

2020 Alumni Awards recipients unveiled

Update as of April 1: Due to the ongoing public health concerns surrounding public gatherings, the 2020 Alumni Awards Luncheon is canceled. We look forward to sharing content in the coming weeks to virtually celebrate this year’s honorees.

The Alumni Association will celebrate individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a deep commitment to bettering the university during its 83rd annual Alumni Awards Luncheon on April 24.

This year’s honorees include:

Lynda Bradbury Courts

The Honorable Johnny Isakson

Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes Family

Peter Shedd

Sanford and Barbara Orkin

Christina Swoope Carrere

2020 Alumni Merit Awards

The Alumni Merit Award, which is given to those who bring recognition and honor back to the University of Georgia through outstanding leadership and service, will be presented to Lynda Bradbury Courts and the Honorable Johnny Isakson.

As a lifelong philanthropist, Lynda Bradbury Courts (AB ’63) has supported and served the university for decades in a multitude of ways. Perhaps most notably, she served as the chair for the University of Georgia Foundation board of trustees from 2004 to 2005.

After graduating from UGA, Sen. Johnny Isakson (BBA ’66) had a multi-decade career of public service to the state and the university. He holds the distinction of being the only Georgian ever to have been elected to the state House, state Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

2020 Family of the Year Award

The Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes family will receive the Family of the Year Award, which is presented to a family that demonstrates loyalty to UGA.

Dr. Hamilton Holmes Sr. (BS ’63) helped pave the way for future generations of students as the first African American male to attend UGA. The Holmes family has continued his legacy of opening doors and making campus more inclusive through their great support of UGA over the years.

2020 Faculty Service Award

Peter Shedd is receiving the Faculty Service Award. First presented in 1969, the award recognizes current or former UGA faculty and staff who have distinguished themselves in service to the university.

Peter Shedd (BBA ’74, JD ’77) has shown boundless commitment to the university and its students and faculty. He is an emeritus professor of legal studies at Terry College of Business. He was named the 1993 CASE Georgia Professor of the Year. He previously served as the associate dean of business, executive assistant to the president, interim VP for instruction and director of Terry College’s full-time MBA program. He has written numerous articles and two leading textbooks in the areas of the legal and regulatory environments of business and business law.

2020 Friend of UGA Award

Sanford and Barbara Orkin will be honored with the 2020 Friend of UGA Award, which is given to any non-alumnus or organization that has demonstrated outstanding loyalty and support to the University of Georgia and the UGA community.

Sanford (H ’19) and his late wife Barbara, who passed away in Nov. 2019, have demonstrated unyielding commitment to supporting the endeavors of UGA’s students, faculty and staff. They have provided tremendous financial support across the university including the Terry College of Business, the Mary Frances Early College of Education, College of Public Health, UGA Athletics, Carl Vinson Institute and the Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

2020 Young Alumni Award

The Young Alumni Award will be presented to Christina Swoope Carrere. This award is given to those who attended UGA in the past 10 years, have embodied the Pillars of the Arch—wisdom, justice and moderation–and provided notable service to the university.

Christina Swoope Carrere (BS ’11) was the first African American female drum major of the Redcoat Marching Band and is the immediate past president of the board of directors for the Redcoat Band Alumni Association. She was also in UGA’s 40 Under 40 class of 2016. She currently serves as the senior Medicare program examiner for the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about the Alumni Awards program, or view a list of previous award recipients.

 

UGA’s must-see campus upgrades: 2020 edition

When Bulldog alumni arrive in Athens for Alumni Weekend (March 26-28), campus will look a lot different than it did during their glory days.  

It’s been a while since our last campus update, so we thought alumni would enjoy a peek at some must-see campus upgrades, just in time for a return visit to the Classic City  

Studio 225

UGA’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship is changing the face of campus. In 2019, Studio 225 opened to house the Student Center for Entrepreneurship. The building, located off West Broad Street where campus meets downtown, was completed as part of phase one of the Innovation District, an initiative to promote entrepreneurship, research commercialization and industry partnerships at UGA.  

The Delta Air Lines Foundation recently pledged a $5 million gift to UGA, half of which will support the renovation of UGA’s Spring Street Building. The renovated space, part of the District’s phase 2, will provide flexible workspace, conference rooms and presentation areas to support faculty startups and enable greater collaboration among students and industry partners. It will be completed by January 2021.  

Where to find it: Studio 225 | 225 West Broad Street 

Lake Herrick

Lake Herrick, nestled between Oconee Forest Park and the Intramural Fields, closed in 2002 due to water quality concerns. Thanks to a partnership between UGA, the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation, Lake Herrick is once again open to the public.    

The Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Project created a healthier ecosystem, an improved shoreline and a new dock and pavilion. If the weather’s nice, Lake Herrick is definitely worth a visit 

Where to find it: Lake Herrick | 111 Lake Herrick Drive 

Business Learning Community

The Terry College of Business completed its Business Learning Community last year with the dedication of the final two buildings: Sanford and Barbara Orkin Hall and M. Douglas Ivester Hall. The Business Learning Community was one of the largest capital projects in UGA’s history and included three phases over six years. Private support funded half of the $140 million project total.  

Where to find it: At the corner of Baxter Street and South Lumpkin Street 

Russell Hall

In 2018, UGA completed a 15-month renovation of Russell Hall, which originally opened in 1967. The project modernized the dorm’s climate control, plumbing and electrical systems, updated furnishings, improved bathroom privacy and renovated lounges to foster group interaction and collaboration.  

The project received an award for Excellence in Sustainable Preservation from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and an Outstanding Rehabilitation award from the Athens-Clarke County Heritage Foundation, now Historic Athens. 

Next up for renovation is Brumby Hall, which will reopen in fall 2020 

Where to find it: Russell Hall | 515 Baxter Street  

I-STEM Research Facility

At the corner where Cedar Street meets East Campus Road, a major construction project is ongoing to build the new Interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (I-STEM) Research Building. The project broke ground in late 2018 and will open in summer 2021.  

The I-STEM Research Building will provide space for faculty and graduate students in chemistry and engineering and represents UGA’s commitment to the 1-in-5 students who graduate each year with a STEM degree.  

Where to find it: The corner of East Campus Road and Cedar Street (but we don’t recommend entering a construction site) 

Sanford Stadium 

The new and improved West End Zone of Sanford Stadium was unveiled in August 2018. The $63 million project, largely funded by private donors, included a host of improvements that created or updated 120,000 square feet, including: 

  • New locker room nearly twice the size of the previous one, complete with shower facilities  
  • Hospitality lounge to host prospective student-athletes and their guests on gamedays  
  • Video board 33% larger than the previous one 
  • Enhanced upper and lower plazas for fans 

A little over a year later, on Sept. 7, 2019, another major change occurred: players stormed out of the West End Zone tunnel and set foot onto the newly named Dooley Field for the first time. The field dedication took place in a pre-game ceremony and honored former Bulldog head coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. 

 

Want to take a stroll down Gillis Bridge and see it for yourself? Well then we’ll see you at Alumni Weekend!

2020 Bulldog 100 spotlight: Marc Gorlin’s three most transformative moments

Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) is a Bulldog 100 regular.

This marks the sixth consecutive year he will be honored. But 2020 represents a new level of achievement for the serial entrepreneur: two of his companies have landed among the top 100 fastest-growing Bulldog businesses.

Kabbage, which simplifies the loan process for small businesses, made its Bulldog 100 debut in 2015 at No. 1. Kabbage remained in the top five the next three years, clocking in at No. 3 in 2016, No. 2 in 2017 and No. 5 in 2018. Kabbage ranked No. 38 in 2019.

Marc’s newest company, Roadie, connects drivers with businesses to provide faster and cheaper delivery solutions. Roadie cracked the list for the first time in 2020.

On Feb. 8, the Bulldog 100 Celebration will be held for the first time in Athens—in the Sanford Stadium West Endzone, just steps from where Marc took classes at Grady College. And Marc will leave the event with twice the hardware—one award for each of his children, Lily and Mills, to carry to the car.

We asked Marc to reflect on his success and the moments that were most critical for his transformation from journalism student to Bulldog 100 CEO. Here were his top three …

1. Dad’s Advice

Find a deal, not a job.

Leaving UGA with a degree in newspaper journalism in 1995, Marc received a piece of advice from his father that would alter his life journey: find a deal, not a job.

Marc’s dad encouraged him that post-graduation, with no spouse, mortgage or car payment, was the best time to take risks and push his limits. Instead of settling for a safe job, Marc set out into the world, confident in his ability to find the next great idea and use his Grady-given storytelling abilities to attract investors and customers.

“A lot of being an entrepreneur is telling stories and convincing people,” Marc says. “To make companies go, you’ve got to persuade your first customer, your first investors, your first employees to join something new.”

2. Time with Mimi

Take action before the moment’s gone.

Amid the day-to-day grind, one can easily overlook important relationships. Marc’s experience did just the opposite: he took six years off to care for his grandmother, Mimi, until she passed at age 100.

“Sometimes, the universe makes space for you to do what you need to do when you only have a certain window to do it in,” Marc says. “Those are the life opportunities you really need to take advantage of because you can’t get them back.”

After Mimi passed, Marc returned to the entrepreneurial world and co-founded Kabbage in 2008. But he did not forget the lesson he learned, and still strives to make space for his family. He understands time is finite and windows of opportunity do not last forever.

3. Roadside Realization

Be a figure-it-outer.

One Thursday in 2014, Marc was on the road to his Gulf Coast condo, where a water leak sparked a bathroom renovation. This was tile day.

He received word that the replacement tiles arrived broken and new ones would not arrive from Birmingham until Monday. Marc’s plans were shot. Sitting off an exit near Montgomery, Alabama, Marc watched as cars zipped by.

“There’s bound to be somebody leaving Birmingham right now heading toward Montgomery who would be more than happy to throw a box of tiles in their trunk,” Marc says, recounting that day. “That’s when it hit me that there’s an unbelievable, untapped transportation map that already exists made up of all of our personal vehicles.”

And just like that, an idea—and a company—began.

“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” Marc says. “Then, be a figure-it-outer and find solutions.”

By the time the tiles arrived, Marc had an entire business plan written. Oh, and his shower looks great now too.

3 Buzzworthy Bulldog 100 Businesses: Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee

Written by: Leigh Raynor Arndt

In Atlanta, Buckhead Beans is revitalizing office coffee. In Smyrna, Rev Coffee Roasters is bringing perfectly-roasted beans to the ’burbs. And in Statesboro, Three Tree Coffee Roasters is making a difference, one mug at a time. But what do these three game-changing coffee companies have in common?

They are all owned by Bulldogs. And they’re growing fast.

On Feb. 8, we’re celebrating Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee as 2020 Bulldog 100 businesses. Each year, Bulldog 100 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by University of Georgia alumni. Read on to learn more about the Bulldogs behind these exceptional companies.

(Spoiler: caffeine isn’t the only secret to their success.)

Buckhead Beans: Matt Ades (AB ’94, MED ’96) + Jeff Ramsey (BBA ’95)

What inspired UGA grads Matt Ades and Jeff Ramsey to start Buckhead Beans? Water cooler talk. In 2014, the college friends invested in an Atlanta-based vending company providing coffee to offices around the city. As they strategized how to revitalize the business, they asked around to see how people felt about the coffee at work. Across the board, the response was the same: yuck.

“Matt and I recognized a movement in Atlanta like craft beer, but with coffee,” said Jeff. “New cool shops were opening across the city. We knew there was good coffee here. But we also knew that a lot of businesses were stuck in the ’80s with subpar office coffee.”

So, Jeff and Matt decided to connect the dots. They started with one van and one local roaster. Today, Buckhead Beans has grown to 10 vans and partnerships with 10 roasters, including Counter Culture, Batdorf and Bronson, and Beanealogy. And one of their top roasters is fellow Bulldog-owned business Rev Coffee Roasters (more on them next!). Inspired by these coffee connoisseurs, Buckhead Beans is now perfecting its own roasting techniques.

Buckhead Beans has rid stale coffee from the breakrooms of more than 300 Atlanta businesses. And relationships that Jeff and Matt formed at UGA have proved vital to this expansion. Jeff shows his continued appreciation for his alma mater through a perfect attendance record. In 26 years, he’s yet to miss a Bulldog home game!

Rev Coffee Roasters: Jenn Holt Bimmerle (AB ’02)

As co-founders of Rev Coffee Roasters, alumna Jenn Holt Bimmerle and her husband, Nick, make the perfect team. Jenn likes a white mocha, while Nick drinks his coffee black. Together, they make sure that Rev is a place for every coffee drinker, where everyone gets what they want. And whether you are a purist or you like a dollop of whipped cream, your order will be bolstered by the best beans around.

Jenn and Nick opened Rev in 2008. From the start, their goal went beyond bringing a better cup of coffee to Smyrna. They wanted to embrace the suburbs by creating a cool, community space where neighbors could connect. It’s safe to say they’ve stolen some attention away from Atlanta. This is Rev’s fourth year as a Bulldog 100 business.

“Rev is like Cheers. A non-alcoholic Cheers,” said Jenn. “It’s just a happy place. Everyone is well-caffeinated. Everyone’s in a good mood. When you walk in, you feel comfortable. It feels like home.”

Looking for new ways to celebrate the people that make Smyrna unique, Jenn and her husband started Rev Fest in 2010. The festival brought together local artists, craftspeople, musicians, and coffee lovers for an all-day party. The first Rev Fest was so successful that it is now a bi-annual event.

“A big part of our success is that customers became friends, who then became family,” said Jenn. “When I think of that, I always feel like we’ve done something right.”

Three Tree Coffee Roasters: Philip Klayman (BSA ’11)

As an agricultural economics major at UGA, Philip Klayman not only gained the knowledge he needed to start his own company, but he also found his partner. Philip met his wife, Anna (AB ’11), in Athens. Today, they own Three Tree Coffee Roasters in Anna’s hometown of Statesboro.

The Klaymans’ entrepreneurial drive started with their love of coffee. Devoted drinkers, they began by roasting beans in their backyard. Their hobby grew, and they were soon selling at farmer’s markets. But the Klaymans enjoyed coffee for more than its taste and aroma. They appreciate the community it inspires. Eager to share their passion with others, they opened Three Tree Coffee in 2014.

“Walls come down in coffee shops,” said Philip. “There are not many cultures like coffee culture. It brings diverse people together. Barriers come down, and we recognize our similarities.”

Three Tree’s mission goes beyond serving delicious coffee (like a pour-over made with beans from Limmu, Ethiopia, Philip’s current go-to). The Klaymans are dedicated to using their coffee as a “catalyst for change.” To empower farmers, they only use certified Fair-Trade USA beans and teas. And the shop raises funds for organizations fighting to end human trafficking.

Furthermore, Philip is determined to extend the close-knit community that Three Tree has formed in Statesboro around the globe. By establishing direct partnerships in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia, he guarantees that Three Tree only serves coffee and tea from farms that are paid fair wages and use sustainable methods.

“I like to meet with our farmers face to face,” said Philip. “It allows me to develop a better understanding of their challenges so that I can be a solution.”

Check out the full 2020 Bulldog 100 list to learn about more alumni-owned businesses and ways to support fellow Bulldogs.

2020 Bulldog 100 Spotlight: A Network of Loyal Bulldogs

Written by: Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Designs

I grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Hawkinsville, Georgia. The kind of welcoming small-town where you know everyone, and where you’re related to half the county. And the neighboring county too! When I began my freshman year at the University of Georgia in 2002, I was so comforted to see some of those familiar faces from our small town, right there on the big campus of the University of Georgia.

This past fall, when the Bulldog 100 list was announced, I was proud to again see several of those names sharing the honor with me. Hardy’s Peanuts is interwoven into my life, as we grew up on neighboring farms where Ken Hardy (BSA ’93) and Brad Hardy (BSA ’96), along with their family, now run their family farm. I sure wish our grandparents were here to celebrate this achievement with us; they would be so proud! Robert Moore (BSAE ’04), of Moore Civil, is a childhood friend from home, and his wife, Courtney, and I have been great friends since we were kids. He and his brother, Michael Azzolin (PHARMD ’02) (also from Hawkinsville), of PharmD on Demand, get to share this honor together this year, too. It’s been a joy to be included on this list alongside hometown friends and to share that same entrepreneurial spirit with them that we’ve inherited from generations before us.

My husband, David, and I now call Gainesville, Georgia, “home.” We’ve loved getting to know the amazing people who also call this charming “big” small-town “home,” and we are proud to be raising our two boys here as well. The close proximity to Athens is one of our favorite things about the city. Gainesville has been great in supporting my small business and David’s too.

The city has a fantastic community of women business owners, and I am thrilled to see two of my friends on this year’s Bulldog 100 list. Amanda Wilbanks (BBA ’09), of Southern Baked Pie Company, fed me pie in her home kitchen while I was pregnant with my oldest child (who is now almost 7!), before opening her first shop. I am proud of her incredible vision and I sure do love her pies too! Katie Dubnik (BBA ’03), another fellow female business owner and entrepreneur in Gainesville, shares the list with Amanda and me. Her extraordinary business brings invaluable marketing strategies to companies across the Southeast, and she manages a smart, energetic group of creatives at her company, Forum Communications.

I will be forever indebted to the University of Georgia for my education and for the opportunities that this wonderful university has afforded to me and to my family. The network of loyal Bulldogs never ceases to amaze me, and I am so proud to be among this incredible group this year.

Spotlight on 2020 Bulldog 100 business: Agora Vintage

Airee Edwards (AB ’99) wasn’t sure what she wanted to do when she graduated from UGA with a bachelor’s in fabric design, but she knew she wanted to stay in Athens.

So she looked for a business opening, asking herself what was missing, what did Athens not have?

The answer: an open market where anyone could sell their vintage furniture, handcrafted items, art, or whatever, really.

Open Marketplace

“I went to what seemed like every bank in Athens, and I heard a lot of no’s,” Edwards says. But with savings from waiting tables and taking money off the house she’d bought, “a risky move” as she describes it, Edwards convinced a local bank to lend her what she needed to open Agora in 2002. (Agora means “open marketplace” in Greek.)

The only problem? Edwards didn’t have a business degree. But growing up, she’d followed her mother from one craft fair to the next, selling tissue box holders they fashioned from vintage fabrics. That early exposure to entrepreneurship stuck with her.

So she learned as she went, eventually outgrowing the little shop at the corner of Clayton and Pulaski. Sellers had also begun bringing in higher-end items, including women’s clothing and accessories, and Edwards’ husband, attorney and Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Russell Edwards (JD ’10), suggested she move the fashion items to a new store a few blocks away on Broad Street, right across from North Campus.

For a while, the Edwards family headed both stores, an exhausting but incredibly rewarding job. But she eventually decided to focus on one of her first loves—fashion—and grow the now iconic vintage fashion store on Broad, selling the furniture store that would become Atomic Vintage.

When you walk into the recently renovated Agora Vintage, you see an Art Deco-inspired cabinet lined with bags from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès, just to name a few. But there are also less expensive, gently used Coach, Tory Burch, and Marc by Marc Jacobs bags toward the back of the store. The counter display is full of beautiful, estate jewelry.

To the left, rows of vintage and modern clothes, all marked significantly below retail. Designer shoes are toward the back.

Honored Bulldog Business

But what makes Agora Vintage stand out is Edwards herself. She’s almost always in the store, greeting customers, suggesting items she knows they have to have, and tracking down pieces they’ve inquired about. It’s that attention to detail that has landed Agora several times on the Bulldog 100, which lists the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni. Agora Vintage has made the list an outstanding six times in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

But she never forgets the place that made it all possible, regularly speaking in classes at UGA and supporting the Georgia Museum of Art.

“I tell them the whole story about how I couldn’t get a loan and was eating potato chips for a year, thought I was going to get scurvy,” Edwards says. “I now own a business that allows me to live securely and enjoy some success. UGA helped me build that.”

 

This story was originally published in Georgia Magazine. 

Quitman’s Kasey Knight is UGA College of Pharmacy’s 2017 40 Under 40

This year’s UGA College of Pharmacy “40 Under 40” alumni recipient defied the popular opinion of his fellow classmates in 2005.  At the college’s senior banquet that year, Kasey Knight was awarded the dubious senior superlative honor of “Classmate Least Likely to Ever Practice Pharmacy.” However, Knight’s vision, tenacity and passion for his chosen profession certainly has shown the naysayers that they were wrong.

Now the owner of Lee & Pickels Drugs, the leading independent drug store in Quitman, Knight’s aspiration for the pharmacy field surfaced at a young age. His mother says that her son created a career project in the third grade that displayed his desire to be a pharmacist.  Briefly, he considered life as a physician and a football coach.  But in the end, he returned to his original plan.

Kasey Knight consults Anne Smith, who has been a pharmacist at Lee & Pickels for two years and is a UGA College of Pharmacy alumna.

After receiving pre-pharmacy requisites from Mercer University in Macon, Knight came to the place he calls “heaven” – Athens.  “I’ve been a bulldog fan all my life,” said Knight. “When I was young, my grandparents had season football tickets, and I attended every game I could.  So, the opportunity to come to school at the University of Georgia was thrilling.”  While Knight admits he wasn’t very involved in college activities during his time in school, he had no doubt he would pursue his career.  Following graduation, Knight began working at the Kroger pharmacy in Waycross.  “But I always wanted to work in an independent pharmacy,” he said.  “And long-term, I knew I wanted to own my own store.”

To gain experience, Knight joined Bennett’s Hometown Pharmacy in Nahunta, owned by fellow alumni Stetson (PHARM ’96) Bennett and Denise Bennett (PHARMD ’96).  “Stetson taught me the ropes of being a business owner,” said Knight.  “He was very influential in my career, and I am deeply indebted to him.”  Later, he helped Bennett open a second location in Waynesville. He also met his bride, Danielle, who was a pharmacy tech, at Bennett’s. After three years, the opportunity to buy Lee & Pickels Drugs surfaced in 2011, and Knight and Danielle purchased the 76-year-old pharmacy, which literally is the corner drug store on the main street of Quitman.  Currently, he fills an average of 400 prescriptions a day with the help of 15 employees.  He recently expanded his company to include durable medical supplies.

“I love being an independent pharmacist,” said Knight.  “This is the best profession in the world.  I don’t just dispense drugs; I connect with my customers, and I have a relationship with them. I become a part of their lives. I have had many customers say that they are more comfortable talking with me about their medical concerns than their own doctors.  And, as an independent pharmacist, I have the freedom to create the kind of business that I think is best for this community and best for my family.”

Knight is quick to give credit where credit is due.  “The College of Pharmacy allowed me to be the success I am today. I owe everything I have as a pharmacist to the outstanding education I received while I was in Athens.  Without the college, I wouldn’t have realized my passion and my success.  I am eternally grateful for the experience I had at UGA.”

Kasey Knight and his family stand outside their drug store in Quitman. (front, l-r) Hannah and John Thomas. (back, l-r) Danielle, Kaleb and Kasey.

Knight also understands that his role as entrepreneur means he has to be engaged with the town that is now home to him, Danielle and their three children: John Thomas, 5; Hannah, 4; and Kaleb, 6 months. He was elected to the local Brooks County Board of Education in 2014. In addition, he is on the board of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, the Kiwanis Club and the Brooks-Quitman Chamber of Commerce, and he serves as a deacon at the First Baptist Church.

A quick stroll through town with Knight allows anyone to see how beloved and popular this hometown pharmacist is. Every passerby extended a warm hello or short anecdote to the UGA alumnus as he walked passed them.  “I love what I do and the customers I serve,” said Knight.  “It means the world to me to be a pharmacist.”

This story was written by Mickey Montevideo, UGA College of Pharmacy.