A Twenty Year Partnership

Ken Taunton, the founder of The Royster Group, originally began his career as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company covering his home state of Alabama and the Washington D.C. territories. After six years in the sales organization, he was promoted to be the Southeast Regional Recruiter headquartered in Atlanta, and Mr. Taunton described the excitement and passion that recruiting brought him. One day on an airplane, Mr. Taunton found himself in a conversation with a Managing Partner who worked for an international executive search firm. Following this conversation, Mr. Taunton was later interviewed at a competing firm and hired in their healthcare recruiting division.

Upon the burst of the tech bubble in the ’90s, the recruiting firm Mr. Taunton worked for downsized from 60 associates to 20 as a struggling economy results in few open job positions to fill. When one of the partners of his agency left the firm, Mr. Taunton quickly decided to make a shift to starting his company. Over his working experience, Mr. Taunton recognized the lack of diversity in executive candidate pools. He felt that his focus on presenting qualified and diverse candidates would serve as his niche for his firm. On September 1, 2001, Mr. Taunton founded The Royster Group.

Mr. Taunton described the difficulty of opening up his business just days before the tragic events of 9/11. With an economy on lockdown and an extreme sense of uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life, a new business venture proved to be very difficult. As Mr. Taunton navigated through the unfolding chaos, he put most of his focus on finding certifications and associates which would help ground his business and open the door for The Royster Group’s long-term success. Through this process, Mr. Taunton read about the services offered by the Atlanta MBDA Centers, which assisted clients in applying for business certifications and securing contracts. Mr. Taunton quickly reached out to the centers and has been a client ever since.

Working with the center for approximately 20 years, Mr. Taunton commented on how he has relied on the Atlanta MBDA Centers for various needs as his company has grown over time.

“When an entrepreneur starts a company, you don’t have the workforce or the capacity to help write proposals or help with the tools that are needed to evaluate pricing standpoints for different agencies. The centers were a huge piece of my process from the start. Also, from the operations side, I established systems that led to a more developed structure as we grew. As a result, I could focus on larger scale projects and contracts.” Ken Taunton

Mr. Taunton spoke about how recently the Centers, particularly, helped The Royster Group secure a spot as one of 36 companies to participate in a $7.5 billion government contract with the Defense Health Agency.  This fantastic opportunity for the company marks just one of the many successes The Royster Group has experienced as of late. This past year, The Royster Group achieved $22 million in revenue as they have been focusing primarily on recruiting healthcare providers for government agencies across the country. Holding firm to the ultimate vision of saving lives and eradicating unemployment, The Royster Group operates on its core values of customer service, integrity, teamwork, accountability, and respect.

To learn more about The Royster Group, please visit their website and LinkedIn page.

Resiliency in Business

Leonard Wright began his career working for a software company after graduating from college. In this position, Mr. Wright managed the productions and operations for the company. Through this work, he noticed the large amount of courier freight services that the company used, and Mr. Wright began to mark up their own courier pricing. Through this process, Mr. Wright became aware of the opportunity that existed in courier servicing, and in 1993, Mr. Wright established his own courier company. New to the business field at the time, Mr. Wright unfortunately had to close down this company in 1998. By October of 2000, however, Mr. Wright’s resilient and persistent attitude led him to open Inpax Shipping Solutions which today pulls in $30 million in revenue.

Mr. Wright noted that he first came into contact with the Atlanta MBDA Centers in 2003. Serving as a member of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council, Mr. Wright was introduced to Donna Ennis, current Project Director for the Atlanta MBDA Centers. Over years of working together, Mr. Wright described a number of projects he and the Centers collaborated on including developing management teams, hosting seminars at Georgia Tech, and discussions with various financial groups. Mr. Wright noted that his partnership with the Atlanta MBDA Centers has developed over the years as his business has continued to grow.

“As far as the Centers go, I think they run a very good program. It’s definitely been a help to us over the years. From everything to keeping us in the know about what’s happening from a small business/minority business perspective to financial/economy trends. It’s been great to be in the program… The information that I get from the group is very informative and very helpful. Overall, I’m very pleased with being a part of the program.” Leonard Wright

Mr. Wright noted that recently Atlanta MBDA Center’s Business Advisor Anita Davis helped his organization secure $3 million of funding for the acquisition of Freedom Freight Services in 2020. As Inpax Shipping Solutions continues to grow, they are seeking to one day achieve over $100 million in sales through various mergers and acquisitions.

To learn more about Inpax Shipping Solutions make sure to visit their website.

A Dream Driven to Reality

In 2012, David Walker Esq. was working as a successful business attorney in the Atlanta area, but one day, he decided to pinpoint for himself his ultimate life goal. After a period of personal evaluation and analysis, Mr. Walker came to the conclusion that his ultimate dream is to one day own an NFL Superbowl championship trophy. However, as someone who can no longer play or coach in the NFL, Mr. Walker decided to set his sights on owning his own NFL team. With an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Mr. Walker began to explore opportunities in various industries which he felt could help him scale himself and his capital to the point of one day purchasing an NFL team.

After reaching out to one of his clients that sells equipment to beverage companies, Mr. Walker found himself intrigued with the mechanics and principles of the bottled water industry. Soon with an offer to develop a brand and distribute 100,000 cases of water, Mr. Walker collaborated with a salesman who specialized in beverage sales. In 2014, StarWalker Industries opened its door and began manufacturing and selling a brand of purified and spring water known as Integrity. Then in 2017, StarWalker Industries released its second brand of bottled water, Positivity Alkaline Water. With a 9.5 PH alkaline level, this premium brand of bottled water is geared towards those trying to achieve higher alkaline diets.

While StarWalker Industries continues to grow their two brands of bottled water, they have also pursued creative endeavors to build their own manufacturing plants and help streamline the manufacturing process. Mr. Walker noted that his model behind StarWalker Industries centers on reducing the amount of shipping involved in the bottled water process by establishing small, local, and efficient manufacturing sites in the cities where their products are sold. Compared to the industry standard of large manufacturing sites producing products and distributing around the country, Mr. Walker’s model mirrors that of the craft beer industry focusing on local economies and work forces while reducing shipping cost and transportation emissions.

A supplementary focus of StarWalker Industries is their availability and dedication towards recycling. Whereas plastic water bottles could be recycled into a subsequent generation of water bottles after use, traditional recycling plants will instead manufacture the plastic bottles into either furniture or clothing. By opening their own local recycling facilities, StarWalker water bottles are received and recycled into their water bottle manufacturing process known as closed loop recycling. It was through this process of trying to secure funding for his manufacturing and recycling plant that Mr. Walker first came into contact with Jennifer Pasley and the Atlanta MBDA Centers.

Mr. Walker noted that Jennifer immediately began setting up meetings for Mr. Walker with fundraising specialist, marketing agencies, and realtors. Mr. Walker spoke that it was through this partnership that he was really able to develop a game plan for how he would secure the resources necessary to make his plants a reality.

“I think the Atlanta MBDA Centers is a fantastic organization for any sort of company, especially if they are getting into manufacturing. The resources are all sort of lining up. For me, I have nothing but wonderful things to say, and I look forward to working with them further in the future.” David Walker

By the end of March 2021 StarWalker Industries will be launching on an equity-based, crowd funding platform to build StarWalker’s first recycling and manufacturing plant in Atlanta. They are also currently in discussion with the Cities of Atlanta and Flint Michigan to further develop their manufacturing potential. To learn more about StarWalker Industries, please visit their website.

Mr. Walker is also one of the Atlanta MBDA Centers’ clients who was recently accepted into the Ernst and Young Accelerator Program. This online program assists entrepreneurs in launching their own products and learning more from industry professionals.