SC firm’s new product is a real wipeout for the likes of Banksy | Business

If a North Charleston company’s newest product had been available years ago, Banksy might never have become an art world legend.

Marabu North America announced last week it has developed an anti-graffiti liquid laminate that can be rolled or sprayed onto billboards and other signs, allowing graffiti to be easily wiped or washed off without damaging the underlying signage. 

Called ClearShield Professional Anti-Graffiti, it can be used on a number of surfaces, thwarting street artists and spray can-toting vandals. An example of how the product works has been posted on the company’s YouTube page at

A painting by former graffiti artist Banksy titled “Devolved Parliament” sold for a record $12.2 million last year. Provided

Marabu manufactures and sells a variety of inks for the printing industry as well as a full line of liquid laminates. It’s a subsidiary of Germany’s Marabu GmbH & Co., a global manufacturer that’s been in business for nearly 160 years.

Banksy, of course, is the nom de plume of an anonymous street artist who started as a graffitist in England in the early 1990s. In 2019, a Banksy painting depicting members of U.K.’s Parliament as chimpanzees sold for $12.2 million — a record for one of the stealthy artist’s pieces.

Juicing up the menu

Eggs Up Grill West Ashley Circle (copy)

The Eggs Up Grill location in the Harris Teeter-anchored West Ashley Circle Shopping Center (above) plans to add mimosas to the menu. File/Warren L. Wise/Staff

Eggs Up Grill is looking to add a bottoms-up offering at two of its Charleston locations.

The franchisee of the breakfast-and-lunch chain’s restaurants in West Ashley and Ladson recently applied for a state permit to serve adult beverages, namely an orange juice and sparkling wine concoction popular with the weekend brunch crowd.

“Eggs Up Grill is currently offering mimosas at select locations,” marketing manager Laura Boles said last week. “We have been testing this menu offering since May and have had very positive results. It’s part of our work to ensure we are meeting the needs and desires of our guests.”

She said the idea “came from our franchise partners and their direct connection to their guests,” and that the company hopes to expand the offering to more locations.

Eggs Up Grill was mostly bred in South Carolina, though the original location was established in Rhode Island in 1986. Founder Chris Skodras moved the business south to Pawleys Island in 1997 after visiting the laid-back seaside resort and started recruiting franchisees in 2006.

The company was sold in early 2018 to WJ Partners, an investment firm based in Spartanburg, where the dining chain is now headquartered.

Eggs Up Grill has grown to 43 restaurants in three states, with seven more “almost hatched,” according to its website. Its goal is to get to 100 locations by 2022.

Bank note

The investment arm of a North Charleston manufacturing conglomerate has bumped up its holdings in a New England lender.

A trust affiliated with The InterTech Group Inc. and overseen by CEO Anita Zucker updated its stock holdings in Derby, Vt.-based Community Bancorp.  earlier this month. The regulatory filing shows its ownership position has climbed to 300,000 shares, or 5.7 percent of the outstanding shares. The stake was valued at about $3.84 million as of Friday.

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The first and last time that privately held InterTech reported it was a shareholder in the financial institution was in October 2014, when it crossed the 5 percent ownership threshold and was required to notify the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. At that point, the trust owned 252,555 shares, or 5.2 percent, then valued at about $3.54 million.

Community Bancorp. said its corporate family tree goes back to 1851. Its Community National Bank subsidiary operates 12 branches and two loan offices in northern and central Vermont. It had $823 million in loans and other assets as of June 30. For the first six months of 2020, its net profit was up 12 percent to $4.7 million.

While its stock price has fluctuated since 2014 — it peaked at $18.75 three years ago and was $12.80 late last week — Community Bancorp.’s quarterly cash dividend of 19 cents per share likely keeps yield-seeking investors happy. That’s enough to generate $228,000 a year for InterTech, which previously reported one other sizable investment in a business from the Green Mountain State. It owned more than 6 percent of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. until 2012, when the electric utility was sold.

Bed Bath & Beyond buying smaller rival with 2 Charleston-area stores for $495M (copy)

The retailer known for its 20-percent-off coupons plans to close 21 percent of its stores over the next two years. AP/File

An open and closed case

A household-goods retail chain known for mailing its 20-percent-off coupons to households everywhere has given South Carolina a pass as it starts disclosing which stores it will close.

Bed Bath & Beyond announced in July it’ll be shuttering 200 locations, or 21 percent of the total, over the next two years in an effort to right-size the company and pump more resources into online business. The “store optimization plan” will save it an estimated $250 million to $350 million a year.

The Union, N.J.-based retailer recently identified the first 63 locations that will go dark by the time the 2020 holiday shopping season wraps up, according to a list provided only to USA Today.

None is in the Palmetto State, which also escaped a previous round of 40 closings announced in January.

BB&B’s website shows a dozen stores in South Carolina, including three each in the Charleston and Columbia markets. The others are in the Upstate, Aiken, Bluffton, Florence and Myrtle Beach.

Last call

A call center operator is hanging it up in the Pee Dee region.

Sykes Enterprises notified state labor officials this month that it will close its Kingstree location on Oct. 31. The Williamsburg shutdown will affect 99 jobs, according to a filing with the S.C. Department Employment and Workforce.

The Tampa, Fla.-based company, which handles customer-service inquiries for Fortune 500 companies and other commercial clients, called the move a “business decision” that was based on the “changing needs” of the current economic environment.

The call center is off U.S. Highway 52. It opened in 2008. A local newspaper reported the following year that the Kingstree location had a payroll of more than 500 workers at that time.

The employees who are losing their jobs can apply for openings at another call center that Sykes operates in Sumter as well as positions in its work-from-home business, the company said.


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