There isn't a business in downtown Rock Hill with a sales pitch as interesting as that of Rock Hill natives Craig Ferguson and Tim Tuten, owners of the new AESOP Energy Options on Hampton Street.
After listening to the business partners gush about how great it is to use solar technology, "go green" and how to save the environment, I asked to see how it works. Leave it to the reporter to say "prove it." News people are always skeptical.
But without batting an eye, Ferguson, a 47-year-old stock broker turned solar salesman, grabbed a 16-inch fan with a funny black panel on top and told me to follow him outside.
He pointed the contraption, a solar-powered attic fan, toward the sky, and I'll be darned if the electric motor on that fan didn't start buzzing. No wires. No battery. Just sunlight creating enough energy to spin that fan fast enough to keep you cool on a hot day.
"We thought solar technology was something we could bring South," said Tuten, a former Bowater employee.
AESOP, or Alternative Energy Solutions of the Piedmont, opens Saturday at 113 Hampton St. The store carries top-shelf energy efficient appliances, solar-powered water heating systems, solar-generated electricity systems and plenty of earth friendly gadgets, including a self-containing toilet. No plumbing necessary.
"The bottom line for this business is educating the customer how to be efficient," Ferguson said. "You can help the environment without changing your lifestyle. But you can also make some changes and go completely off-grid if you want to."
The business is licensed to sell products distributed by USA Solar Store, a Vermont-based company with a cult following in New England. Tuten and Ferguson spent time in Vermont last fall learning the business and are prepared to help area homeowners develop energy-saving projects here.
While they admit South Carolina hasn't historically been a "green" state, the pair believe the nation's growing fascination with earth-friendly technology will continue to grow in the South, especially with increasing federal tax credits and among members of the younger generation.
"Our best advocates quite possibly could be kids talking to their parents," Ferguson said.
Tuten and Ferguson don't call themselves environmentalists. They're not global warming experts. They're businessmen. They hope what they're offering can be profitable while making a positive impact at the same time.
"I think going green isn't necessarily about curing global warming. It's about doing what you can to make positive changes. You can't tell me burning gallons of diesel fuel is helping the environment," Ferguson said. "Why use fossil fuels when you don't have to."
Treasurer owes us millions
The S.C. Treasurer owes York County residents more than $4.7 million. Well, not treasurer Converse Chellis III, personally. But his office is holding that much unclaimed money and property for about 28,000 York County residents, former residents and organizations.
Chellis, elected by the General Assembly to replace Thomas Ravenel after he resigned amid a drug scandal, told the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce about the unclaimed property at a luncheon last week. He said one of his initiatives is making a push to raise awareness about the money, most forgotten about by its owners. Among the names on the list: the chamber and the Rock Hill school district.
He passed around the 30-page list of York County's money at the luncheon. I didn't find my name. It's a good thing he didn't bring the list of people who owe the state money. To check for unclaimed property, visit the Web site Treasurer.SC.gov.
Tip of the cap
• Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Fort Mill was recently honored as Large Employer of the Year for its hiring practices for people with disabilities, awarded by the Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The company has worked closely with the South Carolina Commission for the Blind and has hired more than 20 people who are blind.
• Family Trust Federal Credit Union recently received the S.C. Credit Union League's Laura M. Fleming Diversity Award for its payday loan alternative program to assist those in lower socioeconomic situations.
• Melvin Poole, owner of P&B Tax and Bookkeeping, recently became affiliated with the National Association of Tax Professionals, made possible by his demonstration of dedication to quality and ethical values.
• Donna Olson, executive director of Park Pointe Village, a retirement community in Rock Hill, recently graduated with top honors from the National Certification Program for Aging Services Professionals.
• Rock Hill chiropractors Dr. Donald Kimble and Dr. Mark Kimble recently received their certification in advanced post doctorate Special Decompression Therapy.