Local father-son entrepreneurs Jim Busby and Jimmy Busby, original founders of Mobile-based Centralite Systems, announced in a press release the formation of a new startup company to service, support and upgrade Centralite legacy products that include Ambiance, Elegance, JetStream, LiteJet and Entrexx components.
Their new venture is called Dragon Technologies Inc.
With a history of spawning startups spanning decades, Busby Sr. is perhaps best known for founding Quality Micro Systems (QMS) in 1977. It became the Port City’s first (and only) publicly traded firm, eventually carving out a niche on the NASDAQ.
Established in Mobile around 1997, the Centralite trademark, name and brand most recently changed hands this past July when acquired by Clifton, New Jersey-based Ezlo Innovation LLC. The company provides smart solutions to homes and businesses across such industries as wellness, insurance and property management. Busby has been out of Centralite for almost three years since it was bought out.
“The company was taken over by a large investor, a cable company in December 2016. We had grown sales to $35 million a year in 2015, 2016 and were slightly profitable when the company was taken over in December 2016,” Busby said.
“We were summarily removed from office the day after the takeover. Sales then dropped from $35 million to $7 million in 2017, and they lost $5 million. Sales dropped further in 2018 to $4 million and they lost $2 million more, whereupon they declared Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy in February 2019,” he said.
He went on to say that Dragon Technologies bought the portion of assets they wanted and negotiated the rights to move back into their former Centralite HQ property located at 1701 Industrial Park Drive in West Mobile. In the deal, existing finished goods inventory, raw materials in stock and production machines were picked up.
Moving forward, the new company will produce Centralite legacy products, supply parts, stock circuit board inventory and provide telephone/on-site support for installation and repair troubleshooting
Per Busby, the new venture has aggressive growth plans.
“We have made a lot of progress in the three weeks since the acquisition. Although Dragon Technologies Inc. is a brand-new company, there are many thousands of homes, businesses and hotels throughout the U.S. and internationally that have Centralite systems installed,” he said.
Within three months plans are in place to release new internet- and phone app-enabled products. In six months, expectations are to upgrade the existing legacy systems to include Alexa connectivity, more Wi-Fi capabilities and new phone apps.
Long-term goals include the manufacturing of upgraded plug-compatible boards and a new hardwired system focused on LED lighting. Commercial product development for restaurants, small office buildings and other commercial Internet of Things (IoT) applications will be addressed.
More information about the company can be found at dragontechinc.com.
Business moves, transactions
Carlsbad, California-based The Good Feet Store is anticipated to open a store to join the tenant lineup, in early 2020, inside the Panera Bread-anchored shopping center located at the southeast corner of Airport Boulevard and Montlimar Drive.
The 2,000-square-foot retail space will be the first site for The Good Feet Store in Mobile. The franchise has more than 100 units in the U.S. and abroad. David Dexter and Brandon Broadus with NAI Mobile brokered the lease transaction.
Lewis H. Golden of Hamilton & Company recently represented an out-of-state investor in purchasing approximately 16 acres of improved industrial property for $1.5 million and located at 4077 Hamilton Blvd. in Theodore. The property is currently occupied by WillScot, a modular office space company. John Peebles and Allan Cameron with NAI Mobile represented the seller.
Your CBD Store of West Mobile recently opened at 1218 Hillcrest Road, Suite F, near the intersection of Grelot Road. The new business is locally owned by Joe Brown. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shoe Station kicks off year-long donation campaign
Mobile-based Shoe Station recently announced the launching of its “Every Step, Every Community” initiative starting on Friday, Sept. 20, for all of its 21 stores in five Southeastern states.
The year-long program will include a $10,000 charitable donation, as well as collection bins in each location, where consumers can donate new and gently used shoes to United Way organizations in their communities. Consumers will also have an opportunity to register to win a $10,000 cash prize.
“As a regional chain, our brick-and-mortar locations in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia have benefited from strong communities and this is our chance to give back,” Shoe Station president and CEO Brent Barkin said.
The initiative is expected to collect thousands of pairs of shoes for children heading back to school, as well as for women and men.
“This endeavor enables United Way to benefit from the high traffic in our large, open-shelf stores,” Barkin said.
For the fall, Shoe Station has also expanded their “Free Shoes for Life” campaign. This year, not only will one family win $10,000, but numerous other families will receive shoe donations. Shoe Station is also donating $10,000 to various nonprofit organizations to support other disadvantaged groups.
United Way of Southwest Alabama is coordinating both the donation of cash and shoes collected in the region. The funds and footwear will be distributed to charitable organizations in the chain’s five states.
According to Barkin, Shoe Station is also taking additional steps to promote donations.
First, for each pair of new or lightly worn shoes a customer brings in, Shoe Station will give them a $1 voucher to be used toward in-store purchases.
“Shoe Station offers selection for all consumers, and the ‘Every Step, Every Community’ initiative reinforces our brand promise,” Barkin said.
In addition, if the $10,000 cash prize winner decides to donate their $10,000 prize to United Way, Shoe Station will match their contribution with an additional $10,000 donation of its own.
“Shoe Station is poised to donate $20,000 overall, with the further goal of coordinating the donation of 1,000 pairs of shoes for every year we have been in business — as many as 35,000 pairs of shoes,” he said.
“We want to help put shoes on the feet of everyone in our community, be they traditional customers or those who cannot afford them on their own. This is the biggest charitable initiative we have had in our company’s 35 years,” Barkin said.
For more information about United Way or the United Way of Southwest Alabama, visit unitedway.org.
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