The Biz: Shift (and slip) happens

Slip happens

In an economy where businesses are struggling to maintain a positive bottom line, the last thing they need is unnecessary expense — especially in the form of lawsuits. The latest data shows that there were 167,452 emergency room visits and 624 deaths associated with slip and fall accidents — 73 percent of which occurred in retail establishments alone. And slip-and-fall litigation itself is big business: A quick Google search of "slip and fall attorney Asheville" produces over 30,000 results — and the settlement amounts can be staggering, sometimes in the millions of dollars.

Winning design: Local firm Carlton Architecture has won "Home of the Year" from the National Association of Home Builders and Professional Builder Magazine. Photo courtesy Carlton Archictecture

Often, says local entrepreneur Dave Conlin, businesses aren't aware of the liability they face in such situations — so he started a service to help local businesses avoid it altogether. For a nominal fee, Conlin will perform an audit of floors, stairways, ramps and outdoor walkways using a device called a "tribometer," which measures friction and the relative slipperiness of a surface. He can also assist in developing an effective slip-and-fall prevention policy for homes and businesses that can eliminate potential hazards and avoid resulting liability, including the application of a slip-resistant treatment for floor surfaces.

"I heard this one case of a drunk who slipped on a sidewalk in front of a shop, and he was awarded $185,000," he told Xpress. "If the business had a slip-and-fall policy in place, that wouldn't have happened."
For more information, contact Dave Conlin at 367-1201. His Web site is

Shift happens

In a discussion designed to help businesses adapt to rapidly developing technological change, the Family Business Forum at UNCA will feature Steven Abrams on Thursday, April 22. He's vice president for innovation at SirsiDynix, a global strategic consulting firm, and he has advised numerous governments and corporations on strategies to better embrace the future in commerce and education.

"It might seem like the emergence of the Web was a big deal," says Cindy Clarke, executive director of the FBF.  "But the changes over the past 20 years are nothing compared to the amount of change we'll see in the next ten."

The talk will be held in the Manheimer Room at UNCA's Reuter Center from 5 to 7 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres, wine and other beverages will be served and registration is required. The talk is free for Family Business Forum members, $25 for Chamber Members and $50 per business for non-members (multiple people from a business can attend for that fee, however).
For more information, contact Cindy Clarke by e-mail at or on her cell phone at 273-6223.

Carolina Green goes Asheville

Carolina Green, a Wilmington-based company that promotes eco-friendly technologies for agricultural, janitorial, manufacturing, and residential use, has opened a satellite office in Westgate Plaza in Asheville. Contact Dawn Hubbell for more information at 242-8918.

Local architectural firm wins five awards

The National Association of Home Builders and Professional Builder Magazine has bestowed its prestigious "Home of the Year" Award to Asheville's own Carlton Architecture for the Nethermead Residence, one of five it earned in a Best in American Living Awards contest. Judges said that it exemplified a number of hip trends, including a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces" and a "harmonious marriage of sustainability and high-quality architectural design." For more information on the awards, visit

Michael Muller is a contributing reporter at Xpress. He can be reached at or


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