What do you do: 

BMS is an alternative dispute resolution private practice providing third party assistance to life's most challenging problems. Our conflict resolution strategies include both Arbitration and Mediation with an emphasis on Mediation options that provide an effective alternative to traditional litigation. As Owner/President of the company, my goal is that whenever a party find themselves having people challenges, considering litigation, and engaging the legal system Mediation would be a forethought and at the very least in the conversation. BMS is in the business of turning problems into sources of learning and transformation whether for an individual, a family, business, or organization. Our services afford litigants lower cost options for resolving conflict as well as through work that I believe positively impacts the community by helping the courts save already scarce resources by allowing them to re-direct focus on higher profile cases that require judge, jury, and judicial insight. In additional to civil Mediation, BMS led by an experienced HR professional, has successfully worked alongside other businesses to provide strategies to address organizational issues that arise out of conflict; serving as an independent eye and providing recommendations for workplace investigations and assisting with post-investigation Mediation to repair and manage work-related issues.

What inspired you to start your business?: 

When I relocated to the Augusta area I was not satisfied with my job prospects and decided to go into private practice for myself. About 6 months into developing the business name, logo, and completing all of the legal paperwork I was called by a recruiter from a local employer self-proclaimed as the employer of choice in the area. I had not applied and at the time seemingly made an offer to good to refuse. Because my business model was by appointment only I foolhardily presumed I would be able to both work for the HR company and continue to build my private practice on the weekends. I quickly learned doing both was beyond my physical capacity. I dissolved the business and determined to place it on hold for the next 5 years.

Within that 5 years, 3.5 to be exact the business I was working for corporate HR needs changed; the HR department was restructured and I was offered to apply for other jobs or accept a severance package. It was at that time it was my epiphany I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. I had been selected to go on assignment with the Air Force to become an Adjunct Instructor and Mediation Train-the-Trainer at one of the DoD's premier training institutes unknowingly 2 months before my position with my employer would end. I had not quite figured out how I would tell my employer I was leaving for 4 months to accept this military assignment. I had always wanted to do more with my military career but my civilian employment never afforded me the opportunity to do so!  It was prefect timing!

To this day, I am amazed how well it was all orchestrated. I always knew my practice would be HR related and some form of consulting. However, it was there observing and evaluating Mediation trainers I grew an affinity for doing the work in a more formalized pattern than I had in my previous HR career. I served as Adjunct for 3 courses and I ended my assignment to return to Augusta and dust off my business plan to finish what I started 5 years prior. There Brownstone Mediation Services was born!

What's special about your business?: 

With a passion for education, community, and young people, my first year in business I made a bold decision to lead with my heart and not my business sense to  create our first Dr. Martin Luther King Oratory and Essay Scholarship Competition where we awarded the first $1,000 the company made to 2 deserving students to apply towards college. In our first 2 years of business, BMS was awarded the CSRA Business League's "Star Supporter" Award at its 49th Anniversary Celebration March 2019 at the Marriott Convention. I was asked to join the Chambers Membership Representation Advisory Committee and Task Force to assist with the Chamber's goal to operate at its most optimal degree as it relates to diversity and inclusion.

What is your relationship with SCORE?: 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE?: 

I came into the SCORE program with a lot of foundational work already done; ie business concept, vision, legal paperwork complete, website, cards, brochures; however; 5 months after my first SCORE meeting I was blessed to move out of my home office to my current brick and mortar office and successfully open my doors with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony in partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce. It was my first introduction to the community and my both my SCORE Mentors were right there by my side. Unbeknownst to them, it meant the world to me to have them there. Through workshops like "Small Business Tax Reporting" I have gained so much knowledge in the areas of managing a business such as important information on reporting taxes and taking advantage of tax credits that were simply not on my radar. SCORE gave me the wherewithal and helped me understand this part of my business and that I needed an accountant sooner than I realized. I was able to take tax credits I had not taken advantage of before and it has been an investment I have not yet regretted. I am so appreciative of SCORE. I go to the workshops even if I have attended before just to get a tid-bit that may not have been discussed in a previous class and I always seem to take away something new.

How SCORE Helped: 

Being a Professional Mediator is a very isolated field of work and I can always count on my SCORE Mentors to be my listening ears and straight-forward feedback. My mentors Bill and Paul are part of my informal board despite being a for-profit entity. I consider both trusted advisors and when I have a decision to make and I need an objective viewpoint I always value their perspective. Our first couple of meetings both advised I had accomplished more than most new SCORE mentees and as a result encouraged to focus on building my network and developing my marketing plan. That piece of advice was invaluable. I have since embarked on a visibility campaign for the business and signed up for the Chambers Marketing Academy, which has been extremely helpful. It is empowering just to know I have them in my corner and they both are and have had successful business careers so it is coming from a meaningful place.