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TGM Group LLC and Anthony Walter Duncan LLP Announce Merger


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.

Chesapeake Bank and Trust Gift Cards Boost Local Economy


In 2010, Chesapeake Bank and Trust Company introduced the “Spend Local, Stay Local” gift card program. The program was designed as a marketing and educational initiative to encourage consumers to shop at local businesses. Since the launch of the program, 2,089 gift cards in various denominations have been placed into circulation, and over $45,000 has been redeemed with our local participating merchants.

The program highlights the wide variety of businesses that are located right in our backyard. Current participating retailers include hardware stores, coffee shops, bookstores, salons, florists, gift shops and more. An up-to-date list of participating retailers is maintained on the program’s website.

“We are proud to offer this card, not to profit the Bank, but to support our community’s businesses,” says Glenn L. Wilson, President and CEO of Chesapeake Bank and Trust Company.

As the Holiday Season approaches, consider supporting our local economy by giving the “Spend Local, Stay Local” gift card to friends, family and loved ones. Businesses may want to give them to their employees and customers. Gift cards may be purchased at Chesapeake Bank and Trust Company’s High Street location.

If you would like to accept the gift card, buy a gift card or learn more about the program, visit the website, send an email to or call 410-778-1600.

Kristen Owen Named Next Leader in Banking

 Kristen Owen

Kristen Owen

Chesapeake Bank and Trust Company is pleased to announce that Kristen Owen, Assistant Vice President and Investment Adviser Representative, has been named a Next Leader in Banking by Maryland Bankers Association. She recently was honored at the MBA’s Bank Next Conference attended by Glenn Wilson (President & CEO), Patricia Stanley (Senior VP & CFO) and her husband, Chris.

Next Leaders is an annual award that distinguishes up-and-coming leaders in the Maryland banking industry. The criteria to be eligible for this nomination consisted of being a Maryland banker, age 50 and under, an outstanding employee, manager or business leader and someone who has made notable impact within their bank and community. Dozens of applications were reviewed by an independent panel who selected ten awardees.

“Kristen’s excellent work at Chesapeake Bank and for our community made her an ideal candidate for this award.” remarked Glenn Wilson, Chesapeake’s President and CEO. “We are very proud of her selection”.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to work for a community bank where I’ve had the opportunity to make personal connections with a number of inspiring business leaders,” remarked Owen. “Working with Downtown Chestertown Association and other local non-profits has been immensely rewarding, and I’m proud of Chesapeake’s commitment to community involvement.”

Owen began working at Chesapeake Bank and Trust Company in 2005, shortly after graduating from McDaniel College with a B.A. in History. She grew up in Kingstown and now lives in Fairlee. Owen is President of Downtown Chestertown Association and also serves on committees for Greater Chestertown Initiative and Garfield Center for the Arts.

The office of Chesapeake Investment Services is in Chesapeake’s main branch located at 245 High Street, Chestertown, Maryland. Owen can be reached at 410-778-1600 or


Can Under Armour Win The World?


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


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

New Real Estate Meetup Group Kicks Off September 26


A new “meetup” group, Eastern Shore Real Estate Meetup, will begin meetings on Saturday, September 26 at 10am at JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Café in Chestertown.

Open to everyone, the group will offer a community-oriented atmosphere where anyone interested can attend and learn about topics related to Eastern Shore real estate and potential investment opportunities.

“This meetup group is about connecting with members of the community and learning more about local real estate matters and opportunities,” says Andy Andrews, the group’s organizer, “we will be inviting both local leaders as well as experts from other areas to present on real estate topics and investment opportunities.”

A partial list of topics covered in the group’s meetings includes real estate investing, property management, green building, community issues, and trends of the local real estate market. Much of the group’s focus will be on creating opportunities to connect with others with similar interests and goals.

The group will meet the fourth Saturday of every month at JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Café at 10 am. Additional workshops and field excursions will occur at other locations as well.

Anyone interested in more information about the Eastern Shore Real Estate Meetup can learn more here.

Eastern Shore Real Estate Meetup – Upcoming Events

September 26, 10 AM – Kick Off Meeting! – Introduction to the Group, Networking, Setting the Agenda. Location: JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Cafe

October 24, 1030 AM – First Time Homebuyers Workshop – For anyone considering buying a home. Location: Kent County Visitors Center

October 31 – 10 AM – Wind Turbines: Impact on Our Community. Location: JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Cafe

November 21 – 10 AM – (TBA), Location: JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Cafe

December 20 – 10 AM – (TBA), Location: JR’s Pub/Lemon Leaf Cafe

Benchworks Promotes Sally Reed to Vice President


Benchworks is pleased to announce that Sally Reed has been promoted to the position of Vice President, Digital Services. In this position, Sally will be responsible for supervising all activities of the Digital Services team and working to expand digital offerings for Benchworks clients. This includes website development, videos, email marketing, and interactive banners.

Sally joined Benchworks in 2011 as Digital Director, managing a variety of projects including website development, digital advertising, and email marketing. Previously, she was employed with Cadient Interactive in Philadelphia where she managed a team of pharmaceutical marketing project managers.

Commenting on the promotion, Benchworks President Melissa Johnston said, “Sally’s experience, dedication, and positive attitude have helped expand our digital service offerings. She is a valued member of our leadership team and consistently provides strategic direction for Benchworks and its clients.”

Benchworks, a comprehensive marketing services firm headquartered in Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1991. The company specializes in the design, production, and launch of complete marketing and branding services. Clients include a wide variety of companies in the pharmaceutical, beverage, manufacturing, and education industries in North America and Europe. Additional Benchworks operating units include Safe Chain Solutions, a product launch center, Benchworks Consulting, and a licensed products division. For additional information, please visit or call 800-536-4670.

Chesapeake Bank and Trust and ICBA Encourage Consumers to Protect their Data


Americans live in a mobile society, relying on smartphones, tablets and computers to gather news, make purchases, interact with friends and family, and connect with financial institutions. Increasingly, cybercriminals compromise the networks that support these devices. This often results in identity theft, which can also yield financial losses and safety for consumers. In fact, a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that computer hackers have stolen the personal information of approximately 40 million U.S. residents. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) and Chesapeake Bank and Trust are offering tips to help consumers avoid having their online financial information disrupted or stolen. ICBA and Chesapeake Bank and Trust offer the following tips to help consumers safeguard their online accounts:

• When sending sensitive information via the Internet, make sure “https:” appears in the address bar. This means the information you are transmitting is encrypted.

•  Ensure the wireless network you use is password-protected, and choose a strong password and update it frequently for your work and home wireless networks. Likewise, always use a passcode on your mobile phone or tablet to stop an unauthorized user from accessing your device.

• Don’t enter sensitive information into your phone when others can see what you’re entering.

• Set the privacy settings on frequented social network sites. Cybercriminals often learn about people and their families and friends via social media in an attempt to spoof or phish you and your network.

• Remain cautious of someone who isn’t who they say they are or if the name and area don’t match what appears on caller ID. This is often how spoofing occurs.

• Never respond to text messages, emails or phone calls from companies alleging to be your bank, government officials or business representatives that request your banking ID, account numbers, user name or password.

• Similarly, don’t click on links sent to you from unknown sources via text message because they are likely malware.

• Beware of “get rich quick” schemes; never voluntarily give out your bank account information or security credentials.

“Now more than ever consumers must remain alert to the possibility of their personal credit and financial security being compromised,” said Glenn L. Wilson, President & CEO of Chesapeake Bank and Trust. Chesapeake Bank and Trust and ICBA Encourage Consumers to Protect their Data during Cyber Security Awareness Month Media Contacts: Aleis Stokes 202-821-4457 @AleisStokes Chesapeake Bank and Trust 410-778-1600 “Community banks like Chesapeake Bank and Trust often serve as the first line of defense in ensuring their customers’ financial information is not being used improperly. These banks have established protocols to protect customers’ financial information from data breaches.” You can learn more about Cyber Security Awareness Month by visiting the Stay Safe Online website (

2012 Stats Show Maryland Taxpayer Loss and Kent County Gain


Meg Tully at MarylandPerorter writes, “Recently released data from the IRS shows that about 5,500 more taxpayers left Maryland in 2012 than moved to the state.

“Long-cited by tax critics as annual data that show the migration of taxpayers to lower-taxed states, some experts caution that not too much should be read into year-to-year changes.”

Continue reading here.