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TGM Group LLC and Anthony Walter Duncan LLP Announce Merger

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Accounting firms TGM Group LLC based in Salisbury, Md. and Anthony Walter Duncan LLP (AWD) based in Easton, Md. announce the merger of their two firms effective November 1, 2015. The merger will form one of the larger accounting firms on Delmarva. The result of the merger will provide more resources and expanded audit, tax and accounting capabilities to current and future clients throughout the Eastern Shore. The merged firm will operate as TGM Group LLC.

AWD originated in 1973 as a division of Anthony Company. With the addition of Craig Walter in 1993 and Corey Duncan in 1999 as equity partners, the current firm was formed. With their office located in Easton, Md., AWD offers tax, accounting and consulting services. AWD’s professionals will remain on staff and continue with their current positions at the Easton office.

AWD Managing Partner Corey Duncan, CPA, said this news is a step forward for both firms. “The staff at AWD is extremely excited to be joining forces with such a reputable firm as TGM Group LLC. We have had a great working relationship for years and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish together,” Duncan continued. “Merging with TGM Group LLC will bring greater knowledge, resources and additional industry insight and experience for our associates and clients. We look forward to what the future holds.”

TGM Group LLC is a full service CPA firm that provides corporate and personal tax, auditing, accounting and financial consulting services. The firm will maintain its existing staff and its office in Salisbury, Md.

“Bringing our two firms together will enhance our mission to bring personalized, value-added services to all our clients,” said Herb Geary, CPA and managing partner of TGM Group LLC. “We are constantly growing as a firm bringing a new level of knowledge and expertise to the work we do. We feel AWD shares our dedication to an exceptional standard of service which is the priority at TGM Group LLC and I’m confident this combination will bring positive changes for both firms and our combined family of clients.” Tom Trice, one of the founding partners of TGM Group LLC, expressed his support for the merger, saying “this was a merger of like-minded cultures and complementary areas of expertise.”

For more information about TGM Group LLC, visit or call the Salisbury office at 410.742.1328 or the Easton office at 410.822.4008.

Easton’s Coming BJ’s Starts Supporting Community Projects

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Even though the new BJ’s Wholesale Club in Easton is not opening until early February, the store has already started to give back to the community.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 8.37.55 AMGeneral Manager Kelly Goetzel of the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Pasadena presents Executive Director Marilyn Neal of Neighborhood Service Center with a $750.00 BJ’s gift card to help feed local families in need this Thanksgiving. The gift card will be used to purchase side dishes for Thanksgiving Baskets. The baskets will benefit 300 families throughout Talbot County that would otherwise not have a holiday meal.

Pictured from left to right: BJ’s General Manager Kelley Goetzel and Executive Director Marilyn Neal.

Employees of The Talbot Bank Welcome Students From St. Lukes Nursery School


Employees at the St. Michael’s branch of The Talbot Bank, a member of the Shore Bancshares community of companies, welcomed visitors from St. Luke’s Nursery School on Thursday, October 15, 2015. The children from Ms. Jan Berry’s 4-year old class were given a tour of the bank and then made their very own piggy banks to take home.

The bank visit is an annual event for the school and the Talbot Bank, who takes an active role in the financial literacy of future generations. The Talbot Bank encourages families to be involved with their children’s financial education and to reach out to bank employees for assistance in providing ideas and ways to begin saving.

Visit: for saving information.

Pictured: St. Luke’s Nursery School students with Talbot Bank employees pictured left to right: Ruth Barbour, Dawn Henckel, Parker Spurry, Renate Rice and Kate Loveless.

Pictured: St. Luke’s Nursery School students with Talbot Bank employees pictured left to right: Ruth Barbour, Dawn Henckel, Parker Spurry, Renate Rice and Kate Loveless.

SpiderWeb Connections Grows Team

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SpiderWeb Connections in Easton, MD, has added staff to its Internet marketing team. Kristen Reed of Denton joined the team in June as a master coder on the web development team and Jessica “Jess” James of Easton joined the team in September as the firm’s project manager.

Pictured left to right are members of the SpiderWeb Connections team: Susan Schauer John, Head Honcho; Jessica James, Project Maestro; Cat Redman, Design Chick; Ashleigh Chadwick, #1 Techie Nerd; and Kristen Reed, 8-Bit Geek.

Pictured left to right are members of the SpiderWeb Connections team: Susan Schauer John, Head Honcho; Jessica James, Project Maestro; Cat Redman, Design Chick; Ashleigh Chadwick, #1 Techie Nerd; and Kristen Reed, 8-Bit Geek.

Reed, who is known as the “8 Bit Geek” on her business card, is a video gamer at heart, especially enjoying some of the retro video games. She has an associate’s degree from Chesapeake College in Computer Information Systems AAS with a focus in Multimedia and Web Design. Her community involvement has included being involved with the Caroline Association of Theater and Tred Avon Players.

James, who is known as the “Project Maestro” on her business card, has worked in customer relations and office management in the insurance industry for the last 12 years. Most recently, she was a licensed agent at Whitten Insurance. She is the mother of two boys and stays busy and involved with their activities.

Susan Schauer John, owner of SpiderWeb Connections, comments, “I look forward to the skills and expertise that both of these employees bring to our team. Kristen contributes to the work we are doing in animation and gamification, while Jess’s organizational skills will enable us to better meet the needs of our clients and staff as our firm expands.

SpiderWeb Connections is an Internet marketing firm that specializes in online search. Owner Susan Schauer John and her team help clients with all of their marketing issues from website coding to graphics and social media engagement. For more information call Susan Schauer John at 443-595-SPIN (7746) or go to

Easton Utilities Employees Mark Career Milestones

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Easton Utilities recently celebrated 10-, 20-, and 30- year service milestones achieved by 15 of its staff members.

Bill Heisterhagen, Supervisor of Cable Distribution, reached his 30-year anniversary during the past year. Bo Bryan, Assistant Superintendent of the WWTF, Carl Callahan, Power Plant Mechanic, Lee Dennis, Electrical Designer, Donnie Jones, Power Plant Mechanic, and Pete Welty, Jr., Superintendent of Plant & Interconnection Operations marked 20-year anniversaries with the company. Alan Chance, Operator, Fred Christie, Chief Information Officer, Kevin Colborn, Meter Tech, Marshawn Frazier (not pictured), General Maintenance, Solomon James, Installer Technician, Yvonne Nagel, Credit and Collections Assistant, Aaron Saulsbury, Apprentice Lineman, Jill Sherwood, Staff Accountant, and Rick Wilson (not pictured), Superintendent of Gas marked 10-year anniversaries with the company.

“We work hard not only to deliver high-quality service to the residents of Easton, but also to provide a work environment that motivates talented individuals to stay with us,” said Hugh E. Grunden, President and CEO of Easton Utilities. “The experience that these people bring is an invaluable asset for the town.”

(Front row left) Hugh Grunden, President & CEO, Alan Chance (10 yrs), Jill Sherwood (10 yrs), Lee Dennis (20 yrs), and Kevin Colborn (10 yrs).  (Middle section left) Aaron Saulsbury (10 yrs), Yvonne Nagel (10 yrs), Bo Bryan (20 yrs), Fred Christie (10 yrs), and Bill Heisterhagen (30 yrs).  (Back section left) Donnie Jones (20 yrs), Carl Callahan (20 yrs), Solomon James (10 yrs), and Pete Welty, Jr. (20 yrs). Marshawn Frazier (10 yrs) and Rick Wilson (10 yrs) not pictured.

(Front row left) Hugh Grunden, President & CEO, Alan Chance (10 yrs), Jill Sherwood (10 yrs), Lee Dennis (20 yrs), and Kevin Colborn (10 yrs). (Middle section left) Aaron Saulsbury (10 yrs), Yvonne Nagel (10 yrs), Bo Bryan (20 yrs), Fred Christie (10 yrs), and Bill Heisterhagen (30 yrs). (Back section left) Donnie Jones (20 yrs), Carl Callahan (20 yrs), Solomon James (10 yrs), and Pete Welty, Jr. (20 yrs). Marshawn Frazier (10 yrs) and Rick Wilson (10 yrs) not pictured.

The Shops at Sea Captain’s Cottage Opens in St. Michaels

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The Shops at Sea Captain’s Cottage is the latest addition to the burgeoning collection of antiques, artisan craft shops and galleries in St. Michaels. Located on the corner of Talbot and Mulberry Streets, Sea Captain’s Cottage offers an eclectic mix of antiques and collectibles, country furniture, fine art and crafts, sculpture, photography, nautical accents and gifts, jewelry and home decor by various consignors. Owner Ilene Morgan and partner Margaret Henning opened the end of August.

Ilene Morgan and Margaret Henning with consignors, shown in front of the new Shops at Sea Captains at 305 St. Talbot Street in St. Michaels, Maryland. Sea Captain's Cottage features antiques and collectibles, fine art and crafts, nautical accents and gifts.

Ilene Morgan and Margaret Henning with consignors, shown in front of the new Shops at Sea Captains at 305 St. Talbot Street in St. Michaels, Maryland. Sea Captain’s Cottage features antiques and collectibles, fine art and crafts, nautical accents and gifts.

“We’re excited to be a part of the growing arts-based retail community in St. Michaels,” said Morgan, “and this beautiful building is the perfect back drop for the creative, tranquil atmosphere we strive to provide to our customers.”

Formerly a Bank of America branch, the building dates back to 1806 and is one of the few remaining federal era structures in St. Michaels.

Morgan has been a Talbot County resident for over 30 years, and most recently owned and operated a shop in St. Michaels for 13 years. Henning has owned and operated antique and artisan consignment venues in St. Michaels and Pennsylvania.

Current consignors in addition to Morgan and Henning include: Jane Bollman, Paula Bounds,
Norma Jean Bradley, Deb Calloway, Chris Conner, Barbara Cook, Carolyn Councell, Leigh Creighton, Ruth Culver, Laurie Crouch, Perry Foster, George Hamilton, Janet Hibbs, Janet Kerrr, Kathy Kopec, Rikk Jacobs, John Iverson, Dottie Kumstadt, Karen Lordi, Barbara Martin, Rebecca Miller, Niambi S., Natasha Nash, Joan Nubie-Miscall, Nancy O’Brien, Patti Parks, Cindy Pease, Jack Sealman, and Joe Soares.

The Shops at Sea Captain’s Cottage, located at 305 S. Talbot St. in St. Michaels, is currently open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and open by chance on Sunday. For more information, call 410-253-4578.

Avery Hall Insurance Group Celebrates 90 Years

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Avery Hall Insurance Group – headquartered in Salisbury, with offices in Easton, Seaford, and Bridgeville – is celebrating its 90th year of serving individuals, families, and businesses of all sizes throughout Delmarva and the mid-Atlantic.

The late Mr. Avery W. Hall founded the insurance brokerage firm in 1925. Over the years, the agency has grown to almost 70 staff, four locations, offers multiple product lines that cover personal and commercial insurance as well as benefit solutions, and has won many industry and community awards. They are known as the “go to” agency for individuals and businesses seeking traditional and mainstream insurance in addition to the harder to source policies like coastal properties.

Avery Hall’s President Joe Gast remarks, “This is an exciting year for Avery Hall. It’s an honor to lead an organization that has had its roots set-in on Delmarva for 90 years. Our traditions remain strong but over the years our success has been partly attributed to being able to change with the times and meet the needs of the various generations over the years.”

To ensure the agency is able to meet the needs of the ever-changing demographics they serve, they are honoring their 90th anniversary with a new brand. The rebranding allows for an updated look with a new logo and other new marketing visuals and at the same time update its messaging and ensure cohesiveness within the company’s multiple offices.

“We are thrilled to bring all of our offices together under one logo and tagline so that it still makes sense to all of our clients, regardless of what kind of insurance they use us for,” says Cindy Whaley, president of Avery Hall Benefit Solutions, Inc. “Our new logo and tagline, ‘Insurance Solutions for Today’s World’ tells people we serve all needs, no matter if you’re a multi-million dollar business or a young professional or a retiree on a fixed income,” remarks CFO Jill Long.

In addition to serving those individuals, families, and businesses with insurance needs, Avery Hall has a strong reputation of supporting and contributing to many and diverse non-profits based in communities they serve, such as the United Way of Lower Eastern Shore, March of Dimes – Eastern Shore, Habitat for Humanity Choptank, Building Dreams for Youth Foundation, American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, Jaycees, Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore, YMCA of the Chesapeake, Festival of Trees, and Christmas Shopping Tour.


Wye Financial Welcomes Tom Saxon

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Wye Financial & Trust, a division of CNB and a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, is pleased to announce that Tom Saxon has joined the company as a Financial Advisor. Mr. Saxon will be responsible for delivering personal investment solutions to help clients work towards their long-term financial goals at Wye Financial & Trust.

Mr. Saxon holds a Series 7 and 66 Securities Licenses. Mr. Saxon is a 1995 Graduate of Salisbury University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.

Over the last 13 years, Tom built his career working for various financial services companies focusing in Mortgage Lending and Investments in Fixed Income Securities.

“Tom is a wonderful addition to our financial services team. He brings a wealth of financial experience that will benefit our clients,” said Wye Financial & Trust Manager, Talli Oxnam.

“I look forward to helping our clients achieve their financial goals. I am excited to be part of a company that not only cares about its clients but also the community in which it serves,” said Mr. Saxon.

Mr. Saxon resides in Easton with his wife, Brenda and his King Charles Spaniel, Brady. He is an active participant in the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. Mr. Saxon is also a member of Talbot Country Club.

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Can Under Armour Win The World?

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Few people in China are familiar with Under Armour or its signature product — high performance compression shirts worn by American football players. But in NBA-crazy countries like China, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is highly recognizable.

In early September, Kevin Plank, CEO of Baltimore-based Under Armour, partnered with the newly-crowned NBA champion on an Asian tour to launch Under Armour’s new Curry Two shoes.

Curry introduced the new gear to local basketball fans and shot hoops with high school students during the five-day roadshow. The tour concluded with the opening of a 15,000-square-foot flagship store in downtown Shanghai, the largest Under Armour store outside the U.S., which Plank said was likely the company’s 75th store in China.

The opening of the Shanghai store is part of Under Armour’s aggressive push to become a global brand. Though the company has dreams of becoming an international force like industry leaders Nike and Adidas, its international success is not a foregone conclusion. Analysts said its narrow product lines and premium pricing would hinder its effort to gain more ground in China, Europe and South America.

A well-known success story in the United States, Under Armour’s market value has multiplied almost ten times since going public in 2005. But with more than 90 percent of business coming from the domestic market in 2014, it is still a very “American” company. By its own admission, the young company has a long way to go to compete with truly global sports machines like Nike and Adidas.

China, where the first Under Armour store opened in 2011, has just started to see profitability. Management is investing heavily in the Asian powerhouse. But the country’s individual taste might force the company to rethink its product assortment.

“Shoes are more important than apparels here. It’s different from America,” said Shaun Rein, a retail expert leading the Shanghai-based China Market Research Group.

In the U.S., footwear sales usually account for 22 percent of total sales at Under Armour stores. The number in Asia is 30 to 35 percent, Under Armour management said at an investor meeting in Baltimore in September. Plank said at the meeting that footwear sales accounted for more than 75 percent of the total on the opening day of the new Shanghai store.

Rein said the price tag, however, is driving customers away. “An average pair of Nike sneakers would cost $70 to $80 dollars in China, which is already very expensive. But Nike has built an image here as a high-end sportswear brand. Under Armour is even more expensive than that. Yet it doesn’t have the brand recognition to back that price point.”

A typical pair of Under Armour running shoes sells for $130 in its China stores. The new “UA Curry Two” basketball trainers sell for as high as $209.

Basketball is very popular with Chinese consumers; The NBA might be the most successful American sports league in the country. More than 60 million Chinese people follow the NBA’s official social media accounts.

Curry’s final appearance in Shanghai attracted over 1 million live stream viewers and 3 billion impressions on both traditional and social media, according to Under Armour. Plank is betting the NBA’s international recognition will bring new customers to the company’s stores.

Under Armour faces competition not only from Nike and Adidas, but also from rising local companies like Anta and LiNing. The local companies have nearly as much market share as the global giants — and sell shoes at a fraction of the cost.

Another potential problem for Under Armour: lately, Rein said Chinese consumers are spending less money on clothing and more on dining and entertainment.

In Europe, it faces similar problems. In Western Europe, footwear accounts for about one-third of the total sportswear industry, according to research firm Euromonitor International. “More than half of Nike and Adidas’ revenue comes from footwear. For Under Armour, it’s the opposite. Most of its business is clothing, which is a disadvantage to the brand,” said Jorge Martin, a project manager at Euromonitor’s London office.

In Europe, many consumers buy casual clothing that is inspired by sportswear, so-called “athleisure” apparel, Martin said.

“This is a key point of competition and it is driving the whole sportswear market. The reason why Nike and Adidas have been doing so well is that they’ve been developing a lot of sports-inspired lines, targeting mainly at female consumers.”

Under Armour not only faces pressure from its traditional competitors in that area, but also from trend-sensitive fast fashion brands like H&M and Uniqlo, which offer sports-inspired lines at a much lower price.

“The brand still has a strong alignment with American football and a somewhat macho and aggressive design aesthetics. Not a big seller outside North America,” Martin said.

In Latin America, Under Armour’s marked its first foray onto the continent by becoming the official uniform supplier of Chilean soccer giant Colo-Colo in early 2014.

The company had been selling products through third-party distributors and just recently opened its own subsidiaries. In three target countries – Mexico, Brazil and Chile – retail stores and administrative operations were built in the past 12 to 18 months. Management said it is still in the investment phase and that it would take another three or four years to get to profitability.

The company, which started out as a niche maker of high-performance athletic wear, has never been known for aggressive product line expansion. It offered only one product — compression shirts — from 1996 to 2000. “It wasn’t until 2006 when we finally [made] shoes. And frankly it’s not really until now, eight years after selling them, do we begin to see scale and get better in footwear,” Kevin Plank said at the Goldman Sachs Builders and Innovators Summit in 2014.

In its most recent quarter, Under Armour already saw a drop in gross margin to 46.2 percent from 48.8 percent a year ago, meaning less profit after cost is factored in. At the investor meeting in Baltimore in September, COO and CFO Brad Dickerson said international business brings a lower gross margin than domestic business, primarily because of recent unfavorable currency exchange rates and a higher share of footwear in international sales.

“The footwear business in general is inherently lower margin than our apparel business,” Dickerson said.

“Clearly, a consumer base the size of China will give the company opportunities somewhere, but market development with the brand in its current position may be a struggle,” Martin said.

By Sissi Cao
Capital News Service

Berlin Reaps Benefits after Becoming America’s Coolest Small Town

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It has no stoplight, large grocery store or food chain, but the downtown of this red-brick, Victorian-era community is plastered with boutique shops, quaint inns and the “America’s Coolest Small Town 2014” logo.

This town, nestled 10 miles to the west of Ocean City, is no stranger to fame. Berlin has hosted movies such as “Runaway Bride” and “Tuck Everlasting”, along with numerous annual events. However, nothing has put it on the map like its newest title.

Budget Travel hosts the annual “America’s Coolest Small Town” competition, and citizens around the world can go online and vote for their favorite U.S. town with a population of less than 10,000 residents, according to its website.

Winning the contest last year brought cultural revival and economic growth to Berlin, according to Ivy Wells, the town’s director of economic and community development.

“So what this did was put us on the global and national map as a destination,” Wells said. “People ask, ‘What is the definition of a cool small town?’ So they come and find out.”

Now that Berlin is officially “cool”, business is booming.

Only one main commercial street runs through the town. A handful of restaurants and a slew of owner-operated businesses line the road until it meets the Atlantic Hotel, in the center of town. From there, locals and tourists can take detours to back streets where one can find additional shops.

Shelly Bruder, owner of a boutique clothing and accessory shop named Bruder Hill, can attest to the success of her business in the past year.

After Berlin became “America’s Coolest Small Town”, Bruder Hill’s profits increased 30 percent from the year before, according to the owner.

“Years ago, we had a really thriving boutique.” Bruder said. “When we hit the recession, it really changed things around for me … But when we got ‘Coolest Small Town,’ I really capitalized on that because I knew we were going to have a lot more (visitors).”

Tea towels and cards are now among the items in Bruder’s shop that have the “America’s Coolest Small Town 2014” emblem stamped on them. However, Bruder Hill is not the only business to do this.

Multiple shops and restaurants in town use, or have used, a version of the title on its products. Jennifer Dawicki, owner and general manager of The Globe Restaurant and Bar, used the title on t-shirts that she sold in the front lobby.

Dawicki also capitalized on the town’s success by hiring a photographer to take pictures of the “America’s Coolest Small Town” naming ceremony for her website and restaurant.

Although the competition brought attention to Berlin, local businesses already had the entrepreneurial mindset and energy, according to Dawicki.

Now restaurants are enjoying profit boosts as much as the shops are.

As of this year, there are eight restaurants in Berlin, not including bakeries or coffee shops.

Three of these eateries were added in the last two years alone, according to Dawicki. But competition makes her business thrive, she said.

“While our sales might be down slightly, our profit is up,” Dawicki said. “We are sharing our business a little bit, but we are getting better at what we are doing. The strong will survive, and that is just capitalism.”

As Berlin’s economy gets stronger, business owners are learning to cooperate with one another in a series of monthly meetings.

Wells runs these merchant meetings for business owners to come together and bring their concerns, according to Larnet St. Amant, executive director for the Berlin Chamber of Commerce and an employee at Bruder Hill.

“If someone is doing something or running a special that week, we promote it,” St. Amant said.

Businesses are constantly helping each other out, Bruder said. Visitors can go into one shop and see the owner promote a piece of clothing from another.

The Globe prides itself on promoting other businesses, too, Dawicki said.

“Almost all of our beer is made locally,” Dawicki said. “Those relationships are part of why Berlin is what it is. If we all support each other, we will only get better. Although ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’ was an amazing honor, the energy was here and will always be here.”

Whether you are shopping or eating, Berlin’s atmosphere is what make visitors feel at home, according to Bruder and St. Amant.

What makes Berlin “cool” cannot be calculated. It must be experienced.

It was a dreary Thursday afternoon at The Globe. Joe, a weekly patron, walked into the restaurant and started talking to the hostess as though she was a family member.

“Hi,” the hostess said. “How are you?”

“Phew, I am a little wet around the edges,” Joe replied. “What are you up to?”

“Nothing,” the hostess replied. “I’m just waiting for you to show up.”

By Bethany Hooper