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2 years ago

Meet the company behind many of Alabama’s fastest growing companies

Cord Sachs, CEO of FireSeeds
Cord Sachs, CEO of FireSeeds

In 2015, 51 Alabama companies were featured on the Inc. 5000, an annual list of the fastest growing private companies in America.

The companies on the list came from the high growth, high margin sectors of Alabama’s economy that you would expect — real estate, technology, financial services and pharmaceuticals, to name a few. But while the companies’ backgrounds were diverse, as Yellowhammer analyzed the group — and many of Alabama’s other fastest growing business — we found a surprising link.

FireSeeds.

Founded in 2011 by Birmingham-based serial entrepreneur Cord Sachs, FireSeeds is a recruiting and leadership development firm that has quietly become a high-powered piston in the growth engine of Alabama’s hottest companies.

TAKING THE FITNESS WORLD BY STORM

When Birmingham native Forrest Walden started Iron Tribe in his garage in 2009, it was probably difficult to imagine that just a few short years later he would be the CEO of one of the fastest growing fitness franchises in America. Iron Tribe has been on the Inc. 5000 several years in a row now, most recently in 2015 when the company achieved 325% growth and $3.6 million in revenue.

But that kind of growth does not happen without overcoming significant challenges, particularly when it comes to hiring and developing leaders.

“For us to grow and scale our business, it became clear that our number one issue was recruiting and developing really good people,” Walden told Yellowhammer.

That’s where FireSeeds came in.

“Their process was impactful because it began with us first,” said Walden. “We learned about our own wiring, specifically about what we do really well and even our own shortcomings. This translated to how we led, how we hired, and how we related to our staff. This allowed us to focus on our new hires’ strengths and were able maximize their wiring.”

FireSeeds has now helped Iron Tribe hire over 85 coaches and managers located in corporate-owned and franchise locations around the United States.

A TICKETING REVOLUTION

“We provide the smartest and most user-friendly cloud-based ticketing experience on the planet and will focus relentlessly on delighting clients through innovation and superior service.”

TicketBiscuit’s mission statement is an attractive proposition to anyone who has experienced the hassle of online ticketing.

Their ability to deliver on the promise of the best ticketing service on Earth propelled them onto the Inc. 5000 in 2015, with 93% growth and $4.3 million in revenue.

“The roles that FireSeeds recruited for us were created because of our growth,” explained TicketBiscuit CMO Eric Housh. “These roles were crucial to our overall growth strategy. FireSeeds recruited a VP of Sales for us in the summer of 2015 and because of the growth we’re experiencing we needed a Director of HR in January of 2016.”

THIS. IS. SPARTA.

The Spartan army of the ancient Greek world is still remembered centuries later for their relentless discipline on the battlefield. That same quality has defined Alabama-based Spartan Invest’s approach to real estate.

“Our mission is simple: to deliver the maximum return on investment to each of our investors,” the company says on its website. “We will work through the night and sometimes go to incredible lengths to verify new ventures and eliminate risk.”

Spartan has achieved stunning 884% growth in the past three years and boasted $7 million in revenue in 2015. FireSeeds has been behind the scenes throughout the entire process.

“I believe that the key to Spartan’s success is rooted in how we’ve built and maintained a great culture,” said Spartan CEO Clayton Mobley. “Our culture was completely built on the FireSeeds platform and is a key reason for our success.”

WildSparq

The WildSparq platform displayed on a tablet. (Photo: Screenshot)
The WildSparq platform displayed on a tablet. (Photo: Screenshot)

FireSeeds reputation as the company behind Alabama’s fastest growing companies began with its ability to identify and recruit leaders, but that reputation has been taken to a new level with the addition of a platform built to grow leaders.

Mike Kemp is the CEO of Kemp Management Solutions, a company that provides services like site due diligences, cost estimating, scheduling, project management, construction management and move management to clients in the healthcare, higher education, financial and industrial industries.

Kemp is one of Alabama’s fastest-rising CEOs, and as his company grew, he realized they needed a program to develop the leadership skills of their team members.

Enter WildSparq, a web-based leadership development platform created by FireSeeds that has quickly become the go-to way for companies — from small businesses like Kemp’s to large corporations like Chick-fil-a — to invest in developing their people.

“Prior to WildSparq, we did not have a formal leader development program,” said Kemp. “As a small business, these things sometimes tend to get lost in the day to day running of the business. WildSparq provided a very organized and intentional way to focus on developing our leaders while not occupying large chunks of time sitting in meetings or seminars.”

Kemp and his team begin a new WildSparq lesson at the same time each month. At the end of the month, they get together for a one-hour team meeting to discuss together what they learned individually.

“I’ve found those monthly meetings to be life changing for some of our team members,” said Kemp. “The commitment per month has not been a challenge at all because the modules are well done and really get to the meat of the topic in a very efficient manner.

“I’ve had team members share how WildSparq has caused them to be better wives or husbands,” he continued. “This is big for me because at KMS we want our people to be well-rounded. WildSparq provides a platform for the individual to really grow as a person. Almost all our team members have expressed how WildSparq has challenged them to be a better person.”

BUILDING TALENT FACTORIES

It is often said that human capital is the most valuable resource any company has, but few companies — particularly small businesses — have a process in place to identify and develop leaders.

“In most organizations, the development of leaders tends to fall in the ‘important’, but not ‘urgent’ category,” said FireSeeds CEO Cord Sachs. “It isn’t that organizations don’t desire to build leaders, it’s just that they don’t invest time into building a strategic plan and process. They invest in marketing strategies, sales strategies, operational strategies, even compliance strategies but most never invest in what they will find to be their greatest future asset for growth…Leaders Ready.

“Speaking with hundreds of CEOs, across a wide-range of disciplines, they all say they value leader development,” he continued. “The struggle tends to occur when they attempt to build a scalable process that can be measured and evaluated. Due to this constraint, one of two things happens. Either organizations try to outsource leadership development or they fall into the trap of throwing money at the problem through conferences and books.”

FireSeeds developed WildSparq to solve this problem.

“The overall strategy is to create a multiplying movement of multiplying leaders in an organization,” said Sachs. “Leaders from the top of the organization down must buy-in to owning the new expectation that we will build our own leaders, who in turn will be expected to build more leaders. When this occurs, our organizations become their own talent factory. It is not enough for mid managers to simply manage processes and systems, they must grow to also develop leaders who multiply their strengths and leadership into others.

“Our organization helps equip any type of organization with a content distribution model that sets the stage for leadership development in an ongoing format,” concluded Sachs. “We have found that consistent, ongoing conversation, empowerment and engagement is the biggest step into shifting an organization’s culture and creating an organization that multiplies leaders who are multiplying leaders.”

5 hours ago

Backed by Alfa, Rick Pate rolls to victory in Alabama ag commissioner race

Lowndesboro Mayor Rick Pate on Tuesday survived late-campaign attack ads dredging up a three-decade-old divorce to claim the Republican nomination for Alabama commissioner of agriculture and industries.

Pate defeated state Sen. Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) with about 57 percent of the vote. With no Democrat on the ballot in November, Pate is all but assured of succeeding Republican incumbent John McMillan, who is term-limited.

“We thought we would win,” Pate told AL.com. “We had the right message. I am a farmer and a businessman. I thought that is what people would want.”

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Dial made it to the runoff after running light-hearted ads featuring a catchy jingle proclaiming, “It’s Dial time.” Trailing by a significant margin, however, Dial went negative this month.

Ads by Dial’s campaign referenced a 1986 divorce petition filed by Pate’s ex-wife, Carolyn, that accused Pate of domestic violence.

Pate hotly disputed the allegation.

“I denied that then and I deny that now,” he told the Decatur Daily earlier this month.

Pate told the paper that he and his ex-wife now exchange Christmas cards and that she wrote a note in May explaining that she and her ex-husband hurled hurtful words at one another at the end of what had been a good marriage.

Pate had the backing of powerful agriculture and business interests, including the Alabama Farmers Federation, or Alfa. The group’s political action committee donated nearly $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations. That was nearly a fifth of Pate’s total.

Pate also racked up endorsements from the Business Council of Alabama, the Alabama Forestry Association, the Associated General Contractors of Alabama and the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, among others.

The Lowndesboro mayor, who owns a cattle ranch and runs a landscaping company, pledged to use the department to help farmers improve productivity.

Pate also promised to attack “over-regulation,” taxes and barriers to investment. He pointed out on his campaign website that some have estimated that food production will have to double by 2050 to meet worldwide demand.

It will take “visionary leaders who understand that we have to work smarter, not just harder, to achieve these goals,” according to the website.

Pate’s victory was broad. He won 59 counties — including Choctaw by a single vote — compared to just seven that went to Dial, who even lost his home base in Clay County.

The loss means Dial, come next year, will be out of elective office for the first time in 44 years.

@BrendanKKirby is a senior political reporter at LifeZette and author of “Wicked Mobile.”

 

5 hours ago

Ainsworth defeats Cavanaugh in Lt. Gov runoff election

After a long and hotly contested race, the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in Alabama has been decided. Will Ainsworth defeated Public Service Commissioner Twinkle Cavanaugh in Tuesday night’s runoff election.

With 99 percent reporting, Ainsworth defeated Cavanaugh with a little more than ten thousand votes. Ainsworth received 51 percent of the vote, leaving Cavanaugh with 49 percent.

Ainsworth issued a tweet thanking those who supported and voted for him saying, “This is your victory as much as ours.”

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Ainsworth also used the hashtag #ANewDayForAlabama in his first tweet since becoming the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Alabama.

Ainsworth mentioned his opponent as he spoke after the election results were revealed and said that he looked forward to working with her in the future.

Cavanaugh conceded around 9:30 p.m., saying,”He ran a strong race — Will Ainsworth — and he now, I hope, will go on to be our next lieutenant governor here in the state of Alabama.”

Ainsworth will now square off with Democrat Will Boyd in November.

6 hours ago

Steve Marshall beats Troy King in heated attorney general runoff

Alabama Republicans have chosen their candidate for attorney general: incumbent Steve Marshall.

Marshall beat his Republican competitor former attorney general Troy King in Tuesday’s primary election runoff, winning 62 percent of the vote as of 9:30 p.m., with 92 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

A last-minute endorsement by close Trump ally Roger Stone proved unable to deliver King a victory in what became at times both a heartbreaking and heated campaign.

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Marshall and King both temporarily suspended their campaigns in late June, following the tragic death of Marshall’s wife, Bridgette.

In the race’s final weeks, King argued that Marshall’s acceptance of campaign contributions from the Republican Attorneys General Association was an infraction of Alabama’s campaign finance laws. He filed a lawsuit in Montgomery Circuit Court against Marshall last week, but a judge dismissed the case.

Marshall faces Democrat Joseph Siegelman in November’s general election.

11 hours ago

Live blog: Alabama votes — Runoff Returns

The state of Alabama (well, likely an “extraordinarily low” percentage) is voting Tuesday, July 14.

The lieutenant governor race pits Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh against Will Ainsworth in the runoff, while incumbent AG Steve Marshall squares off with former AG Troy King for attorney general. Also on today’s ballot, Martha Roby faces Bobby Bright for House District 2 and the race for commissioner of Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries between Gerald Dial and Rick Pate.

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Update 9:40:
It’s no longer Dial time

Update 9:22:

Update 9:08:
Still a tight one for Cavanaugh and Ainsworth

Update 9:05:
A touching tribute

Update 9:01:

Down goes the King

Update 8:36:

AP calls House District 2 for Roby. She will face Tabitha Isner in November

Update 8:22:

NY Times has Roby 19,651 (67.2%) and Bright 9,599 (32.8%)

Update 8:15:

Update 7:48:

Marshall party enjoying the MLB All-Star Game

Update 7:40:

Update 7:25:

Per Montgomery Advertiser:
Lt. Gov race is a tight one.
Ainsworth: 105
Cavanaugh: 104

AG race also close early on.
Marshall: 125
King: 93

AG Commissioner close early.
Pate: 108
Dial: 96

NY Times shows big lead early for Roby in House District 2:
Roby: 261
Bright: 101

Update 7:00:

Polls are closed. Now we wait as results come in.

Update 6:50 p.m.:

Listen Live: Yellowhammer’s Jeff Poor and Dale Jackson on with Mobile FM Talk 106.5’s Sean Sullivan 8-10 p.m. at fmtalk1065.com.

Preview stories:

Five things to watch for on Runoff Election Night
The anatomy of races for attorney general and House District 2: What a win might mean
Here are the Alabama candidates who won the money race ahead of runoff

13 hours ago

Republicans don’t have to oppose Trump because he refuses to admit Russia meddled and wanted him to win

Russia meddled in the 2016 election and President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence acknowledges it. Russia wanted Trump to win, Russian President Vladimir Putin even admitted it. This does not mean there was collusion, it does not mean the election was stolen, and it doesn’t mean you have to support Hillary Clinton in 2020 or Democrats in 2018. It also doesn’t mean I, nor anyone else, has to second guess our reasoning for voting for Trump in 2016.

My reasoning was the open Supreme Court seat that would become Neal Gorsuch’s and the one that will become Brett Kavanaugh’s. A good friend of mine messaged me last night taunting me about Trump’s performance at the Trump/Putin press conference:

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You know what, it was.

But the game here is quite simple: Putin wanted Trump over Hillary, therefore you shouldn’t have.

The problem with that is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are actually to blame for all the problems that are being brought to bear today, and Trump fails to acknowledge that.

Take this by former Congressman Mike Rogers (not Alabama’s) Tweet as a guide:

Let’s check the timeline…

— Waged continuous & increasingly aggressive cyber attacks against us – 2015(?)-present
— Interfered in our 2016 elections – 2015-2016
— Annexed Crimea – 2014
— Shot down a civilian airliner – 2014
— Supports Assad in Syria – 2013
— Invaded our ally Georgia – 2008
— Murdered opponents in London – 2018

A grand total of one of those events started during Trump’s term.

More interestingly, the media, Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continued to act as if Russia was an ally — or at best a nuisance.

Clinton offered a reset button:

Obama asked for space so he could win an election:

How is it that Trump’s failure to call out Russia’s acts before he was president is ushering in a more powerful Russian Federation, but years of straight-up weakness should have been rewarded with a third-term for team Obama? It makes no sense.

Now, I have been clear, President Trump should acknowledge Russian-meddling, but that meddling does not de-legitimize his win. He needs to acknowledge this, but so do his opponents.

There is more to the world than our relationship with Russia. The economy matters, the Supreme Court matters, controlling our borders matters, and no one can tell you that your choice in 2016 was wrong because Obama failed to do his job.