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Greenville Business Magazine

50 Most Influential

Jan 01, 2017 06:07PM ● By Makayla Gay

By Emily Stevenson

January, 2017


Greenville Business Magazine marks two decades of honoring the region’s Most Influential People in this issue. The selection of our 50 people is a result of staff research and community nominations.

This is the third year that we have selected entrants for our Hall of Fame. We have selected a group of notables who have long records of accomplishment and have consistently met the criteria to be included in our list through the years.

The Honorable Chandra Dillard

State of South Carolina | State Representative

In addition to her work as a state representative, Chandra Dillard is a tireless advocate for her community. Over the course of her public service, she has secured more than $100 million dollars to address community development and infrastructure needs in her neighborhoods. She has also been recognized for her work on behalf of young children by the South Carolina Institute for Child Success. Currently, she is chairing a taskforce to bring early learning to more than 300 children under the age of five in her district. She also serves as the director of community relations for Furman University. Rep. Dillard has helped to revitalize the Southside neighborhood of Greenville.

George Fletcher

City of Greenville | At-Large Representative

In addition to the engineering firm he founded in 1993, George Fletcher has held a long career in public service. From 2006 through 2013, he served as the executive director of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. In addition, he has served as chair of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, co-chair with his wife of the Greenville County United Way campaign, coordinator of the Vision 2025 process and chair of the committee that brought the baseball stadium downtown. His community and business experience have been invaluable in making Greenville a better place to live and work.

Velda Hughes

Hughes Agency | Owner and CEO

As the founder and owner of the marketing and PR firm that bears her name, Velda Hughes has built a company that is one of the most recognized PR, marketing, advertising, and event firms in the state. In addition to her work with corporate clients, Hughes also assists nonprofits, such as Clement’s Kindness and SYNNEX Corp’s Share the Magic Event, in fundraising and marketing. Both personally and professionally, she has embodied the spirit of giving back.

Jil Littlejohn

City of Greenville | Mayor Pro Tem

A member of the Greenville City Council since 2009, Jil Littlejohn has broken records. She is the youngest person currently on council, as well as one of two minorities. She also serves as the first female president and CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate. In her various positions, she strives to bring the Greenville community together and make it a better place, along with encouraging minority roles in leadership and championing health.

Megan Riegel

The Peace Center for Performing Arts | CEO

As the head honcho for the cornerstone of downtown’s redevelopment in the 1990s, Megan Riegel is now leading the center into its 26th year. Many maintenance and upfit projects have been identified, such as replacing the concert hall’s 2,100 seats, upgrades to make the building more energy-efficient, acoustic curtains, dimmers and sound system infrastructure. In addition to structural upgrades, Riegel helps maintain an annual lineup of shows, concerts, and events that make the Peace Center one of the preeminent destinations for downtown tourists.

Dr. Bob Taylor

Greenville County Council | Chairman

As chairman of the Greenville County Council, Dr. Bob Taylor sets the agenda for economic development in the area. He retired from Bob Jones University in 2013 after a 50-year career with the institution, the last 29 of which he spent serving as academic dean. He has been a councilman since 2000. Taylor has helped lead the county council in development during his 16-year tenure.

Dan Adams

President and CEO

The Capital Corp.

Adams runs The Capital Corp., an investment banking firm focusing on mergers and acquisitions to the middle market. In addition to his business duties, Adams is active in the community and works with several nonprofits. In 2016, he was elected chairman of the board of Palmetto Promise Institute. He was also chosen to chair the “Open your Heart” committee of the Upstate Heart Ball.

Karl Allen


State of South Carolina

Sen. Allen, a Democrat in District 7 in Greenville, was recognized by Greenville Technical College for his tireless work to provide opportunities for often-overlooked populations. He hosts a Second Chance Forum every year, which provides information to former inmates about career and educational opportunities, allowing them a smoother transition into civilian life.  

Bo Aughtry


Windsor Aughtry Hotel Group

Already a well-known name in downtown development, Aughtry made an impact in 2016 with the opening of his newest project, the downtown Embassy Suites. The first all-suites hotel downtown, as well as the first with an indoor pool, the hotel is set to bring more tourists, both leisure and business, to the area.

Mike Baur



Baur’s company is well-known, a fixture in the area since the 1990s. This year, ScanSource acquired Calif.-based Intelisys to expand the company’s service offerings. ScanSource will now offer its clients telecom and cloud-based services while continuing to expand its nationwide reach.

Kevin Bean

President and CEO

O’Neal, Inc.

In addition to running the Greenville-based engineering and construction company, O’Neal also served as sponsor for the 2016 Automotive Summit. The summit is a driver for innovation, as well as a way of encouraging tourism downtown.

Craig Brown


Greenville Drive

Brown is helping give Fluor Field a makeover. After Labor Day, a $10 million renovation project began to update the 10-year-old ball park. The entrances will get a face lift along with a new Will Call area and 100 new seats in the “Green Monster” area.

Jon-Michial Carter

Co-founder and CEO


Patrick Carter

Co-founder and CMO


Jon-Michial and Patrick Carter relocated their company’s headquarters to downtown Greenville, adding 300 new jobs as part of a major expansion. The company came to the Upstate to participate in the Iron Yard’s medical accelerator but decided to stay.

John Castille

City Manager

City of Greenville

Castile led the city to end the fiscal year with a General Fund balance of $5.5 million over the 20 percent reserve requirement. The city’s major operating and special revenue funds exceeded expectations.

Dr. James Clements


Clemson University

Under President Clements’ leadership, Clemson has perennially been recognized as one of the top public universities in America. In 2016 the university celebrated the successful completion of its $1 billion Will To Lead fundraising campaign, the largest ever for a U.S. university with an alumni base of fewer than 150,000 people, and the launch of its ClemsonForward strategic plan designed to further elevate the university’s academic and scholarly work and strengthen its engagement with the state and nation.

Rick Danner


City of Greer

The city of Greer has grown and expanded under Danner’s leadership, including new amenities such as public art and bike racks. The city has also held several events drawing people to the area, including June’s Freedom Blast.

Dr Elizabeth Davis


Furman University

In 2016, Davis guided Furman through a strategic visioning process that culminated in the fall announcement of The Furman Advantage, an effort that will transform the student experience and create a model of community-centered learning. She is a member of the Council of Presidents, an advisory group of college and university chief executives who provide guidance to the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges on issues of governance in higher education. Davis also serves on the board of directors of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and is an honorary member of the Board of Governors of the Commerce Club. She is a member of the Greenville Rotary Club, American Council on Education’s Women’s Network Executive Committee, and the South Carolina Higher Education Tuition Grants Commission.

Rick Davis

Managing Shareholder

Elliott Davis Decosimo

Davis’s company was recognized as one of the top 30 largest accounting firms in the U.S. by INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA). In addition to being honored on the IPA 100, Elliott Davis Decosimo placed second on the IPA 100 Fastest-Growing Firms list with a 19.9 percent increase in net revenue over last year.

Ed Driggers

City Administrator

City of Greer

Driggers has led an award-winning City of Greer staff to numerous safety awards, record breaking gross retail sales figures, and successful community events. He has also led the implementation of the Greer Community Master plan. From public art to bike racks to new sidewalks, the city of Greer is making a concerted effort to improve. Driggers is a leader of this effort along with mayor and council.

Dave Edwards

President and CEO


International Airport

Edwards has led GSP through Project Wingspan, a four-year $125 million terminal improvement program funded 80 percent by airport funds and 20 percent from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The project, nearing completion in 2017, is intended to increase the airport’s capacity, improve efficiency, incorporate modern safety processes, integrate sustainable practices, and impact the Upstate’s economic landscape. In 2016, the airport celebrated a milestone of averaging more than one million departing passengers on a moving 12-month basis and also announced establishment of a standing cargo flight from GSP to Munich offered by Senator International.

Jason Elliott


South Carolina State House

of Representatives

Elliott caused waves in the South Carolina Republican Party by becoming the state’s first openly gay senator. Elliott, a former assistant solicitor for the 10th Circuit who now is in private practice, said his plan would focus on creating collaboration between the city, county and state that includes improving roads, infrastructure and livability.

Don Erickson


Lockheed Martin

In February of 2016, Erickson led Lockheed as the company bid on a $10 billion Air Force contract to build a new supersonic jet. If Lockheed is selected, the company would add 200 new jobs to the 500 currently at the site. The decision will be announced at the end of 2017.

Alan Ethridge

Executive Director

Metropolitan Arts Council

Ethridge’s organization raised more than $2 million last year. Most of the money generated helps to support dozens of Greenville arts groups and artists. Among MAC’s grants recipients, eight local arts groups received $25,000 each in operating support. Those organizations are Artisphere, Centre Stage, Greenville Chorale, Greenville Little Theatre, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, the Peace Center, the South Carolina Children’s Theatre and the Warehouse Theatre. MAC also committed $10,000 to the Greenville County Museum of Art to purchase works by Greenville-area artists for its permanent collection.

Mark Farris


Greenville Area

Development Corp.

Farris has been instrumental in continuing to bring business to the Upstate. In 2016, companies include Sun City Produce, Bosch Rexroth Corp., SterAssure, Total Quality Logistics, and Ushers Machine and Tool Co.

Lee Gill, J.D.

Chief Inclusion and Equity Officer and Special Assistant to the President for

Inclusive Excellence

Clemson University

In the short time Gill has been at Clemson, he has made a significant impact. Gill leads the charge to implement and provide strategic leadership for the university’s diversity plan, program and policies; advise the president, administration, faculty, staff, students and campus inclusive-focused groups and committees on diversity issues; collaborate and serve as a resource for colleges and administrative units as they establish, coordinate and assess contributions to diversity goal, and provide policy expertise and accountability on all aspects of inclusion and diversity for the university. One of the major initiatives Gill is bringing to Upstate in April 2017 is the Men of Color National Summit, a national event with the purpose of helping to close the achievement gap for African-American and Hispanic male high school students.

Trevor Gordon


Sandlapper Capital

In addition to his company, Sandlapper Capital, being named the top fastest-growing company in the state for 2016, Gordon is active in the Greenville nonprofit scene. In 2016, he played a large role in generating funding for and helping to arrange the 2016 Cornhole Derby and the 2016 Eggs Benefit for the Center for Developmental Services. He was also involved in helping to promote the Rock Out Hunger Concert, which raised money for Loaves and Fishes. Sandlapper Capital Investments, LLC also placed at number 62 on the annual Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Firms, and Sandlapper Securities, LLC ranked number 3,759 in the Inc. 5,000 list of Fastest-Growing Companies.

Brad Halter


Coldwell Banker Caine

Halter is chairman of the Caine Company, which operates both Coldwell Banker Caine and Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine. He is responsible for the strategic direction of the company and leads community outreach and business development initiatives for the firm. In addition, Halter is active in the Upstate community, serving on the board of directors for the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is the 2017 Chair of Cancer Society of Greenville County and is a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

Lynn Harton

President and COO

United Community Banks

With Harton at the helm, United Community Banks began in 2015 with one branch. The bank now has branches all across South Carolina, as well as into North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. This year, the bank merged with Tidelands Bank in Charleston and Palmetto Bancshares.

David Hastings


Mount Vernon Mills

President and CEO of Mauldin-headquartered Mount Vernon Mills, Hastings is in charge of one of the largest textile manufacturers in South Carolina. Mount Vernon is also one of the state’s largest privately held companies and has operations in several states. Hastings has held several key positions with the National Council of Textile Organizations and has been active in trade issues affecting the industry.

Jackson Hughes


Hughes Commercial Properties

In 2016, Hughes was responsible for completing a major development project, a new high-tech, six-level LEED-certified office building on East Court Street that will soon be home to a number of companies and a new rooftop event space. As part of the project, Hughes Commercial Properties is currently refurbishing the Church Street under-bridge area from Broad Street to McBee Avenue. Hughes is also is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a member of the Advancement Board for Masters in Real Estate Development Program at Clemson University, a graduate of Leadership Greenville, chairman of the Christ Church Episcopal Renovation Project, and was president of the Carolinas Golf Association.

John Humphries

President and

General Manager


WYFF 4 Hearst Television’s NBC affiliate in the Greenville, Spartanburg, Asheville, Anderson television market, won first place for Associated Press Best Overall News Operation in South Carolina for the third straight year. WYFF News 4 also won Best Newscast in South Carolina in the AP Awards.

Danny Joyner


Berkshire Hathaway

C. Dan Joyner

Joyner’s company is experiencing substantial growth, adding nearly 100 real estate professionals and coming close to $1 billion in total volume in the past year. C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS serves more buyers and sellers than any other real estate brokerage in the Upstate and has closed 4,345 units from Dec. 1, 2015, to Nov. 30, 2016.

Tony Kouskolekas


Pelham Medical Center

Pelham Medical Center, previously Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System’s Village Hospital, opened a new immediate care facility under Kouskolekas’s leadership. The center was also named to the “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” list in October.

Peter Larocque



Bob Stegner

Senior VP


In addition to their corporate work, Larocque and Stegner are both extremely active in the community and, along with their employees, have made an extreme impact on Upstate nonprofits. Larocque was awarded with the 2016 Philanthropic Spirit Award, given by The Community Foundation and Community Journals, for the impact he has made on charitable giving in the Upstate. He was also honored with the 2016 Eva P. Hunt Visionary Award by A Child’s Haven. Stegner leads the North American marketing efforts for the company, hosting the annual SYNNEX Inspire Conference, which drew more than 2,000 attendees from across the country. He also invests in local events, such as the BMW Charity Pro-Am, and this year SYNNEX contributed more than $675,000 that the tournament raised. Stegner has been instrumental in SYNNEX’s sponsorship of the Bill Haas Charity Classic, which has raised more than $650,000 dollars in support of the Barbara Stone Foundation and SYNNEX Share the Magic since its inception three years ago.

Ray Lattimore

President and CEO

Marketplace Staffing

Lattimore is the 2016 chairman of the United Way of Greenville County’s Board of Directors. His role includes spearheading $17 million in fundraising efforts, managing the allocation of $60 million foundation funds, and overseeing 62 employees. To date, more than 132,000 people have advanced along the Cycle of Success in one or more of the four key areas: Life Essentials, School Readiness, High School Graduation, or Financial Stability. In addition, he serves on Greenville Technical College’s Area Board of Commissioners by appointment of the South Carolina Legislative delegation and has served as the legislative chairman of Greenville Human Resource Management for several years.

David Lominack

S.C. Market President

TD Bank

Lominack is the driving force behind TD Bank’s major sponsorship efforts in the Upstate, including TD Saturday Market, TD Stage at The Peace Center, TD Convention Center, TD Bank Reedy River Run, and Artisphere. In 2016, TD pledged $200,000 to the Metropolitan Arts Council (MAC) of Greenville to establish the TD Center for Arts Integration in support of MAC’s SmartARTS arts-integration program in the Greenville County Schools. In addition, Lominack serves as chair of the Greenville Chamber and has helped spearhead the Chamber’s re-launch of Accelerate, Greenville’s private sector-fueled economic development initiative.

John Lummus

President and CEO

Upstate Alliance

Under Lummus’ leadership, the Upstate Alliance continued to market the region for global business investment, supporting $1.6 billion announced in 2016. The organization also convened leaders from four regions to the Global South Metro Exchange to explore topics of global competitiveness.

Craig McCoy


Bon Secours Health System

In his first year as CEO at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, McCoy has made a significant impact building a foundation to position Bon Secours for growth. He was chosen as a community leader in the 2016 American Cancer Society’s “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event. Under his leadership, Bon Secours St. Francis received eight Healthgrades distinctions for excellent care, including America’s 100 Best Orthopaedics 2016, America’s 100 Best Cardiac Care 2016, America’s 100 Best General Surgery, and a Neurosurgery Excellence Award 2016.

E. Smythe McKissick, III

President and CEO

Alice Manufacturing

In addition to his corporate work, McKissick is the chairman of Clemson University’s The Will to Lead capital campaign. The program supported students, faculty and staff by providing scholarships, fellowships and professorships and by enhancing learning and research opportunities with top-of-the-line facilities and technology. Due to McKissick’s leadership, The Will to Lead surpassed its $1 billion goal with a total of $1,062,528,346 as of June 30, 2016. The Will to Lead is the most successful capital campaign in the university’s history, the state of South Carolina, and the largest goal ever achieved by a public university with an alumni base of fewer than 150,000.

Dr. Keith Miller


Greenville Technical College

Miller is the visionary behind Greenville Technical College’s Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation, which opened in October 2016 on the campus of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. The new CMI aims to bridge the gap between the current workforce’s skills and those skills that incoming companies require.

Ken Miller

Chief of Police

City of Greenville

In light of escalating national tension between civilians and the police force, Miller has been crucial in maintaining an atmosphere of calm and integrity, particularly in the wake of the death of Officer Allen Jacobs.

John Moore


NEXT Program

Moore has helped steer plans for a new development, the NEXT Manufacturing Center. Slated for a now-empty industrial space within walking distance of the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail, the project plans to serve as a co-locating space for a handful of high-technology, high-growth manufacturing startups that are caught between needing more than a garage but less than their own building. The manufacturing center will also share the co-locating and business support services philosophy of the NEXT Innovation Center.

Beth Paul

General Manager

Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Paul has been instrumental in securing more events at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, nicknamed “The Well.”  The SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held at the Well in 2017. In addition, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament will return to Greenville in March of 2017. These tournaments are in addition to the regular lineup of concerts, hockey games, and events.

Carlos Phillips


Greenville County Chamber

of Commerce

Phillips became head of the Chamber last March after serving as senior vice president of operations at Greater Louisville, Inc. A successful economic development executive, he is known for his energy, and has made work force development a priority.

DJ Rama


JHM Hotels

Taking advantage of downtown’s booming tourism industry, Rama and his team are building both a SpringHill Suites and Residence Inn under one roof in downtown Greenville. The project will add 240 more rooms to downtown’s market. It will also include 1,500 square feet of retail and 70 new parking spaces.

Michael Riordan

President and CEO

Greenville Health System

As Greenville Health System has changed its method of governance, Riordan changed positions in June 2016 from president and CEO of GHS to president and CEO of the new Strategic Coordinating Organization. GHS will remain a public entity that leases its facilities to the Upstate Affiliate Organization, a private, not-for-profit that will serve as the provider of care for the region like GHS does today. The Strategic Coordinating Organization sets the strategic direction and provides corporate support for the Upstate Affiliate Organization and any other affiliates that join the new system.

Brian Rogers

Senior VP

Wells Fargo

Rogers serves as the Upstate Business Banking manager and Greenville market president, leading the bank in sales, service and growth strategies. He is also responsible for community involvement activities, helping to coordinate significant grants to help improve the Greenville community.

Burke Royster


Greenville County Schools

Royster received the highest rating of “highly effective” for all six performance categories on his evaluation, the district said. Criteria include instructional leadership; ensuring quality personnel; developing a culture of achievement; organizational, operational and resource management; communications and community relationships; and modeling professional behavior. Royster, who has been superintendent since 2012, will receive a 2 percent raise in his latest contract extension, which now runs through June 30, 2018.

Luanne Runge

President and CEO

Liberty Fellowship

Runge was named the Liberty Fellowship’s executive director in October 2015. Runge was a Liberty Fellow in the 2009 class and joined the program in 2014 as associate executive director and came to the fellowship from the Gallivan, White & Boyd law firm, where she was a shareholder and practiced in the area of business litigation, health care and malpractice.

Art Seaver

President and CEO

Southern First Bancshares

Greenville-based Southern First is opening its first North Carolina location in Raleigh. Southern First opened a temporary loan production office in August, with plans for its permanent location to be announced soon. Established in 1999, Southern First has nine branches in South Carolina and $1.3 billion in assets.

Peter Selleck


Michelin Corp.

Heading up the longtime automotive giant in Greenville County, Selleck and his team will head north as Michelin gears up to build a distribution center in Spartanburg County. The new development is projected to bring more than $270 million in new capital investment and lead to the creation of 350 new jobs.

Andrew Smart


Duke Food Productions

Smart has led Duke Food Productions as they have grown and expanded their offerings. Duke Food is in the process of relocating its corporate headquarters to downtown Greenville, providing a boost of vitality for the area.

Mark Sweeney

Senior Principal

McCallum Sweeney

Sweeney’s company is an advisor in site selection and negotiations to major companies worldwide, including Michelin NA, which is building a new distribution center in Spartanburg. The consultancy is recognized as one of the top firms in its category in the U.S.

Steve Townes

Founder and CEO

Ranger Aerospace

In 2016, Townes, along with four private equity companies, led the acquisition of ACL Airshop, an Easley-based global company that manufactures, sells, leases, repairs, and provides logistics management to the air cargo industry. The company’s plan is to double business and grow a worldwide network. Currently, Ranger Aerospace operates on six continents, at more than half of the world’s top 50 air cargo hub airports.

Richard Webel


Pacolet Milliken Enterprises

Under Webel’s leadership, Pacolet Milliken continues to be a leading driver of economic development in the Upstate and across South Carolina. The company has been instrumental in working with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and different Upstate economic development organizations to bring top development projects to the area in the last few years, including Toray Industries, Kobelco Construction Machinery and Bass Pro Shops. With Pacolet Milliken’s partnership, the addition of these companies alone has brought approximately $1.5 billion capital investment to the Upstate. The company’s real estate portfolio includes 10 major tracts consisting of more than 4,000 acres across the Upstate with the potential for industrial development. Additionally, Pacolet Milliken is also spearheading the “Eyes on I-85” interchange project by contributing landscape design for several interchange ramps.