Originally created 08/21/05

Business briefs



BIZ BITES

Large appliance stores disappoint

With convenient locations galore, it's not hard to see why people rely on major retailers when buying large appliances. They also know they will get sturdy warranties and the assurance that the store will be there if they ever need to make an exchange, lodge a complaint or buy upgrades.

Yet a new survey of more than 6,000 readers by consumer reports showed that mom-and-pop stores do better when it comes to service, good prices and better selection than most nationwide chains.

The study also revealed that not one of the major retailers that were rated for large-appliance purchases - which included Best Buy, THE Home Depot, Lowe's and Sears - had better prices than independent stores.

Some more results of the survey:

Independent stores excelled in customer service, delivery and setup of appliances.

Seventy-five percent of small-appliance buyers thought independent store staffers were pleasant, informed, or helpful; 5 percent or fewer felt that way about Costco, Target or Wal-Mart workers. Independents also proved strong on service of large appliances, with more than 80 percent of buyers very satisfied.

Fewer than 60 percent of large-appliance buyers were as satisfied with service at nationwide chains; just over 50 percent felt that way about Best Buy.

BIZ BITS

- Cindy Stephens has been named director of University Health Care System's Health Central. Mrs. Stephens has a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing from the University of Georgia.

- Shawn Edwards has joined Advanced Mortgage & Investment Corp. as a loan originating specialist with more than three years' experience in residential home lending. He earned a bachelor's degree from Mercer University and was previously employed by Washington Mutual Bank.

- Dr. Joseph S. Ricci has been named administrative director of behavioral health services at MCG Health Inc. He is responsible for overall management of inpatient and outpatient services in the unit. He has more than 27 years of experience in behavioral health services and has worked for the state Division of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse and several managed health-care companies.

- Drs. Jodi L. Krueger and David M. Jester have joined The Center for Primary Care medical staff. Dr. Krueger is working at the practice's southside office on Windsor Spring Road, and Dr. Jester is working at the practice's North Augusta office on Hugh Street. Dr. Krueger was previously a staff physician and faculty member at Cabarrus Family Medicine Residency Program at NorthEast Medical Center in Concord, N.C. Dr. Jester has been an associate professor at the Medical College of Georgia since 1995.

- Tom Kirby, former vice president of Southeast operations for Austin Industrial in Augusta, has been awarded the inaugural ABC Kirby Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas for outstanding service and commitment. The Graniteville resident was an original board member of the organization before his retirement.

- Sherman & Hemstreet/GMAC Real Estate announced the following achievement awards for July: Gayle Sheffield, top South Carolina listing and sales agent awards; Joe Loomer, top Georgia sales and top co-sales agent awards; and Diane Howes, top Georgia listing agent award.

- Rhodes Financial Services Inc. software division announced that TaxSlayer Pro has been rated No. 1 in customer support for the second consecutive year by the National Association of Tax Professionals.

- Charles B. Lanier Jr., of Lanier Financial Services, attended a ProEquities Direct Investment workshop to learn about a variety of investments, with an emphasis on the selection of investments for investors with high tax rates.

- Augusta Presstech has received the Premier Partner designation from Xerox Corp. for achievements in digital production printing and programming.

- Jeff Baumgardner, of DuraMed Medical Services of Augusta, has received the professional assistive technology supplier certification from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America for achievements in the durable medical equipment fields of custom seating, positioning and mobility.

- John B. Frank will be named chairman of the board for Shepeard Community Blood Center during the September board meeting. The career banker has previously served as chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of the CSRA and the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation.

- Gerald Jones Volvo has received a 30-year award from Volvo of America. Andy Jones, the president of Gerald Jones Volvo, and David Jones, the vice president, accepted the award from John Kendig, the Volvo regional sales manager,

- Beverly Sutterfield, the medical staff coordinator at St. Joseph Hospital, has received her certified professional specialty certification.

- Frank Hicks announced the opening of his law practice, specializing in property, family and criminal law. He was previously a prosecutor for the Richmond County Solicitor General's Office and a former state defense attorney for the Richmond County Public Defender's Office.

- Wife Saver Restaurants announced that the seven-unit chain is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

- Justin Lien announced the opening of his business, JBL Landscaping LLC. Mr. Lien was previously employed as the head landscaping foreman by John Richmond Landscaping in Richmond, Va.

- Veronica Harris, of Century 21 Jeff Keller Realty, has passed the brokers exam and is working as an associate broker.

- Linda F. Bragg, a Modern Woodmen of America financial services representative in Millen, Ga., has completed the company's five-day educational program at its home office in Rock Island, Ill.

- Ronald J. Wiggins, the principal of Sego Middle School, was presented the Mike Campbell Exemplary Leadership Award by the Georgia Association of Middle School Principals during a recent Georgia Association of Educational Leaders conference. He defended his dissertation, "Selected Georgia high school principals' perceptions of student diversity," at Georgia Southern University.

- Christel Hammond was the top mortgage producer for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage during July.

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Contact Business Editor Damon Cline at: (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.