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Curated Collection Of The Best Interviews From Our Sandy Springs Studio

Atlanta Connector Nominee Ted Schwartz And Project Management Evangelist Frank Payne . . . It’s All About RELATIONSHIP.

Atlanta Connector Nominee Ted Schwartz And Project Management Evangelist Frank Payne Agree . . . It’s All About RELATIONSHIP.

Ted Schwartz / Ackerman & Company

Real estate is one of the largest corporate budget expenses, along with human resources and information technology. For that reason, choosing the location of its office, retail, or industrial facility is one of the most important decisions a company can make. Ackerman has the expertise and market knowledge to advise corporations on how to select the location that best meets their corporate financial, operational, and other business objectives.

Ackerman & Co. has been the exclusive agent for tenants locally and nationally ranging in size from 1,000 square feet to more than 200,000 square feet. Our tenant representation services focus on advising clients with such real estate decisions as site selection, property disposition, portfolio management, project management, and lease negotiation. Ackerman has been the exclusive agent for tenants locally and nationally ranging in size from 1,000 square feet to more than 175,000 square feet. Our tenant representation services focus on advising clients with such real estate decisions as site selection, property disposition, portfolio management, project management and lease negotiation.


Frank Payne / PQC International

The PQC International culture is a unique blend of merits acquired from the U. S. Army and outstanding business values of Proctor & Gamble, where Chairman and CEO, Frank Payne gained his foundation.

PQC International is a global consulting firm that builds Powerful, Quantitative, Creative offerings and delivers exceptional BPO, Consulting, Education, Engineering, Events and Technology services. PQC International is a steadily growing, privately-held company that currently employs over 200 people worldwide.

They serve Fortune 1000, Global 500 and rapidly evolving companies in North America and across the world. Their clientele includes: food and beverage manufacturers, information technology, construction management, healthcare and energy companies, and government agencies.

Talented people are at the heart of PQC International. Founded in 1991, PQC has thrived on a singular business concept: provide an enjoyable work environment and offer ample opportunity, integrity and commitment. At the heart of their company are people who are experts in their respective fields, passionate about what they do, and committed to driving results for clients. .

Atlanta Connectors: Penny Morriss, Dino Thompson-Sarmiento, And Darrah Brustein

Today we sat down with three more of Atlanta’s Best Connectors — each nominated by one or more of their peers within the arena they serve:


Penny Morriss

Originally from Texas, Penny moved to Atlanta in 1987 from Dallas without a job. Her first job was with Prentiss Properties as the first office building concierge in Atlanta at the IBM Tower in Midtown three months after it was completed. She was hired some 7 years later by Intercontinental Concierge Corp. based out of Washington D.C., to be their General Manager here and built up their business in the office market. After three years, in 1997 Ms. Morriss started Concierge Services Of Atlanta, Inc. February 14th is their 15 year anniversary and they provide concierge services in Office Buildings and Condominiums with 70 people on the payroll.

Dino Thompson-Sarmiento

Dino is founder of Blue Flame Resources a Public Relations company focused on the Latino market. He also writes a food blog called “Dino Dish” and is a contributing writer at Fenuxe Magazine. He is Senior Advisor for GLAAD in the Atlanta area and  is a staple in the Latin community supporting the LAA and other organizations benefitting the advancement of the community at large.

Darrah Brustein

Darrah is an Atlanta transplant, by way of Philadelphia and Baltimore. She holds a BA from EmoryUniversity in Religion and Italian, which she naturally parlayed into a career in wholesale apparel sales. Ready for a new challenge, she joined forces with her twin brother to go into business brokering credit card processing to find the best solution for businesses with a lower cost, no contract, and free equipment.  Learn More at

Michael Smith, Andrew Sullivan And Josh Schlieman: Serving Clients Through Trusted Referral Partners

Today, Michael Smith with Law Firm Andrew, Merrit, Reilly & Smith, L.L.P. and return guests Andrew Sullivan and Josh Schlieman with Sullivan & Schlieman Wealth Management LLC discussed Serving Clients Through Trusted Referral Partners.

Michael T. Smith is a partner with the law firm of Andrew, Merritt, Reilly & Smith in Lawrenceville. His practice concentrates on two primary areas of law: (1) probate/estate and conservatorship/guardianship work; and (2) business and corporate work.

Smith is serving his 18th year as the county administrator/county conservator for Gwinnett County. He recently led the firm’s efforts to launch, a comprehensive website that addresses matters relating to estates, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships, including estate planning, probating and administering wills, administrations of estates without wills, will challenges, guardianships of persons, conservatorships, fiduciary services and litigation, for individuals and their family members, as well as business/corporate work.


Sullivan & Schlieman Wealth Management LLC is the No. 1 LPL Financial firm in Georgia and among the top 1 percent in the nation.*

The firm’s co-founders, Andrew Sullivan and Josh Schlieman, and their team have a combined 50 years of experience in the financial industry. Services include wealth management, estate and tax planning and risk management.

Prior to forming Sullivan & Schlieman Wealth Management, LLC in 2008, Andrew was a financial advisor and senior vice president at SunTrust Investment Services for nearly 20 years. While at SunTrust, he was consistently recognized as a top bank representative in the United States by Bank Investment Marketing Magazine.

He has been in the financial services industry since 1989.Josh has been involved in financial planning and investment services his entire career. Before forming Sullivan & Schlieman, he was assistant vice president at SunTrust Investment Services, where he worked in partnership with Andrew, from 2003-2008.

Both co-founders pride themselves on constructing well-designed and efficient portfolios to address clients’ needs and reallocating those portfolios, as appropriate, due to significant changes in the market and/or changes to a client’s personal situation.

* based on year-to-date revenue as of 12/30/11


The opinions voiced in this show are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to investing. Securities at Sullivan & Schlieman Wealth Management, LLC are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.


Fisher & Phillips’ Terri Stewart Talks Labor Law Plus Atlanta’s Best Connector Series Featuring Michael Blake With HA&W And Faye Vantreese With The Peachtree Financial Group

When Terri Stewart talks Labor Law, we listen — and so should you . . .

We opened today’s show with Stewart, and discovered that numerous local, state and federal laws create a complicated legal landscape for employers in the state of Georgia and elsewhere.

Terri Stewart is an attorney in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP.  She represents management in all areas of labor and employment law in state and federal courts as well as before state and federal agencies.

Her practice focuses on the defense of employment related lawsuits in trial and appellate courts, encompassing a variety of issues, including claims arising under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and related state claims such as trade secret infringement, restrictive covenants, breach of contract and tort actions.

Terri also frequently advises employers on reductions in force, drafts employment agreements, personnel policies, separation agreements and releases, and conducts onsite training on topics such as employment law compliance and avoidance of harassment claims.  Terri was listed in the 2011 edition of Georgia Super Lawyers – Rising Stars. For the honor, lawyers throughout the state are asked to nominate the best attorneys under 40. After nomination, researchers evaluate candidates based on peer-recognition, client-relationships and professional-achievement – only selecting the top 2.5%.

Terri was also chosen to be a member of the L.E.A.D. Atlanta Class of 2012.  L.E.A.D is an initiative of Leadership Atlanta designed to equip young professionals with key leadership skills and knowledge early in their professional and community service careers.

In 2011, Terri received the “40 under 40” Award by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The award honors the top 40 business people in Atlanta under the age of 40. Terri was recently featured on Fox 5 Atlanta News regarding the legal impact of social media on employment law and on CBS Morning News for What Not to Wear in the Workplace.


In the next two segments of today’s program we featured two Atlanta’s Best Connectors nominees, Michael Blake and Faye Vantreese:

Michael Blake is Director of Valuation Services at Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP. Michael’s background includes transactional roles in investment banking and venture capital. He has fifteen years of valuation experience including transaction support, intellectual property appraisals, fair value accounting, litigation, and valuations for securities-related engagements. He also has five years of experience in managing and performing assignments on stock option and warrant valuation, hedging instrument valuation, purchase price allocation and goodwill and long-lived asset impairment testing.

Michael’s valuation experience includes information technology, medical devices, healthcare drug development, restaurants, computer hardware, electronic entertainment, telecommunications, broadcasting, alternative energy, publishing, business services, e-commerce and Internet-driven services, aerospace, paper & timber, beverage, media, manufacturing, and private equity.

Michael received his Bachelor’s Degree, Cum Laude, in Economics and French from Franklin & Marshall College and his Masters of Business Administration Degree from Georgetown University. Michael is the co-founder and president of, an online podcast and forum resource for entrepreneurs and private company investors. He was a Nominee Finalist for the 2009 Turknett Foundation Leadership Character Award and a Nominee Finalist for the 2009 TechAmerica Spirit of Endeavor Award. Michael was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2009 Up and Comers List for the top 40 executives under the age of 40. Michael’s professional and academic affiliations include:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst Institute
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Atlanta CFA Society
  • Georgia Tech/Emory TI:GER Advisory Board
  • American Finance Association
  • Institute of Business Appraisers
  • American Society of Appraisers
  • Ukrainian-American Chamber of Commerce

Click here to read Michael’s personal blog, UNBLAKEABLE.


Seven years ago Faye Vantreese moved to Atlanta and knew about 5 people.

“I moved into the Financial services industry which is all about connecting with people, getting your message out there and helping families and businesses reach their financial goals. I figured out pretty quickly I needed to start connecting with a lot of people pretty quickly if I was going to survive in a very competitive market. I started by asking who were the most connected people locally in my area, reached out to them and asked what their were doing. It was the smartest thing I could have done. ”

Check Out Faye’s Public LinkedIn Profile Here

Learn more about her firm, The Peachtree Financial Group Here