WSAV's General Manager Deb Thompson is passionate about the station's role in the community. "It's our role as a champion and advocate for the community to support the businesses that give so much back." With on-scene reports and interviews from the Chamber Business EXPO, they do just that. "Everyone gets excited about Gulfstream and other big companies, yet it's the businesses that have 50 employees or less, that keep things moving in the Lowcountry. At EXPO, small businesses have incredible representation."
Thompson's background is rich in media history, with experience in several markets, including Florida, Wisconsin and Texas. Now, she's happy to call the Lowcountry home, along with her husband, and visits from the five children between them and three grandchildren.
"I owned a small business myself, a photography studio, and come from a family of entrepreneurs, which is why I'm so passionate about it and believe in providing as much exposure as we can, through business-building events such as Business EXPO," explains Thompson. She got her first job in TV as an account executive, back in the days when you sold the ad, wrote it and were in it! In Dallas, she joined WSAA , the only "W" west of Mississippi, and as legend has it, the first station in the nation to do full wall-to-wall coverage, when a Delta airplane crashed, and they went live for it, stayed live and didn't go back to regular programming. In today's world of 24-hour news cycles, it's hard to believe, she admits with a laugh.
Her driving philosophy has always been, "If you invest in people and you invest in the community and do whatever's in your power to help them achieve their goals, it just comes back, you don't have to strive after it - it's very rewarding to get to be part of making the community better."
At Business EXPO, you'll definitely see Cynthia Beiler's booth-Adams Outdoor Advertising. Chances are, you've already seen quite a bit of their work, with eye-catching billboards that extend throughout Beaufort and neighboring counties.
"Advertising is in my blood!" explains Beiler. "My family owned a newspaper for 150 years, so I grew up in advertising. From the age of 10, I was stuffing papers and worked up to selling advertising. That's where it all began, at The Whitewater Register."
"This is our second year at EXPO," said Beiler, "We're an older company that was revamped." Beiler was brought in as general manager two years ago from Madison, WI for that purpose. "Having a presence at EXPO is part of our brand expansion." The company has grown from a sales satellite office out of Charleston with three employees to a full operating market with a team of seventeen. Today, she lives in the Lowcountry with her husband and their 12-year-old son.
Beiler's office is adorned with family mementos; letter blocks from her grandfather's press hang on the wall, repurposed as art. "I like to surround myself with a sense of family and we're like family here." When asked her business philosophy, she's quick to say leading with love and inspiration will deliver profitable numbers. "That's how I do it -as head of finance, I believe in my people, and let them do what they do best."
Thompson and Beiler are just two of the successful women participating in Business EXPO. With more than 2,000 attendees, Business EXPO is the largest business-building event in the Lowcountry, rivaling expos in Savannah and Columbia in size.
Expo offers two great mega-networking events each night with EXPO After Hours sponsored by Hargray and Palmetto Electric. Attend seminars on how to maximize your marketing, or try speed-networking where you'll make great contacts in record time. If you want to meet successful women in business in the Lowcountry, this is the place. Pack some business cards and come meet them.
Business Expo, presented by Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, will be held February 26 through 27 at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Check out all the details at hiltonheadchamber.org.