New Firm Offering Solutions
Peter Ross Stilwell always wanted to start a company with his wife, Norma, but until recently he invariably got the same response.
“I just rolled my eyes,” Norma says.
Today, the Stilwells are starting to roll after launching Tarheel Communications Solutions earlier this year. The Pinehurst-based company, which already has six clients, focuses on business development, special events, marketing and public relations.
“I’m very optimistic that there is new business out there, both locally and nationally,” Peter says. “The biggest challenge right now is how quickly we want to grow.”
Tarheel Communications got off to a good start as the agency of record for Pinehurst Resort as it relates to business development and special events, and for the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation for its business development and public relations.
“Norma and I are pleased to reach out to our considerable industry contacts to make this business successful,” says Peter, who previously worked for the resort, the PGA of America and the PGA World Golf Hall of Fame.
Since the company was launched in January, Tarheel has added the PGA of America, Communities in Schools, AC Sandhills and the Kuester Companies.
“We’re off to a very satisfying start,” says Norma, who has also worked at the resort in the past as public relations director, among other communications jobs elsewhere. “We’re going to do it. There’s no doubt in my mind.
“Neither Peter nor I are immune to hard work. We don’t stop until the job is done. We just need a few more hours in the day.”
She credits the initial success to Peter’s creativity and their unique work arrangement.
“He has incredibly good ideas. His brain never stops,” she says. “You just throw the ideas up against the wall and see if they stick. When they don’t stick, you just keep going.
“The only stipulation was we had to have separate offices.”
So, Norma works from their home while Peter has an office in the Harvard Building in downtown Pinehurst.
Tarheel was hired by the Kuester Cos. to help market Central Park South, the 31,000-square-foot office and retail development in Olmsted Village formerly called Camellia Parke Shoppes.
“The first step was rebranding the property,” says Shaw Kuester, vice president of Charlotte-based Kuester and head of its commercial division. “The second step has been working on capital improvements.”
Only 10 percent of the available space is leased, which is why Kuester was hired in February to manage the property for the Delta Interests, a family investment in Greenville, S.C., that also acquired the Wells Fargo bank property in Olmsted.
“We’re talking to two entities interested in the former coffee shop space, and a higher end steakhouse is looking at the Steam Plant space,” Kuester says. “We’re also working closely with a potential salon client. Nothing has been signed yet, but we’ve got some great traction right now. We’re feeling good about things.”
Tarheel is trying to recruit new and existing businesses in Moore County to Central Park South while planning a fall event for real estate brokers.
“We need people to know there is life out here,” Peter says. “Too many people are focused on the past and not what it can be in the future. We’re trying to do anything we can to get the buzz going. Now is the time to get in there and breathe some new life into the project.”
The Kuester Cos., which also manages Fairway Village on U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines, would like a tenant mix at Central Park South of equal parts retail, food and professionals.
“Folks right now are asking us to give it away, which we won’t do,” Shaw Kuester says. “But we can get them a great deal. It’s got to be a win-win.
“We’re going to be aggressive. We can’t fail. We have to succeed. And we will.”
The Stilwells feel the same about their new venture.
“I told Peter, ‘If it’s what you want to do, I’m going to support you. Let’s do it,’” Norma says. “Neither one of us is getting any younger.”
They are also buoyed by the fact that their oldest son, Andrew, is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in sports administration and wanting to work in the family business after graduation.
“Andrew will come on full time in May 2012,” Peter says, “but we’re going to have to expand before he graduates. It’s a nice problem to have.”
Somewhere, Norma is rolling her eyes.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at email@example.com.
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