Patriarch Partners seems to have washed its hands of Moncks Corner-based American LaFrance LLC. In a digital sense, at least.

The New York-based investment firm has removed the Internet link from its website to that of the failed firetruck manufacturer, which abruptly went out of business last month. Patriarch bought the business in late 2005.

This week is setting up to be interesting on the American LaFrance front. Berkeley County has given the company until Thursday to pay more than $620,000 in delinquent tax-related fees it's owed. If not, American LaFrance's equipment and other property can be seized and sold at auction in early March, County Supervisor Dan Davis said last week.

A potential legal hurdle to any seizure is that Patriarch already has placed a blanket lien on all of those assets with the Register of Deeds.

American LaFrance's sudden meltdown was blamed on its "unexpected current financial condition" that requires the permanent closing of the Moncks Corner plant and its other operations in Pennsylvania and California, according to a written statement.

The failed company is facing at least three new lawsuits, including two debt collection actions from vendors. Two former employees filed the other complaint.

Now presenting

Benefitfocus Inc. will be in friendly territory when it hits the road to talk with Wall Street-types about its business this week.

The Daniel Island software firm is sending two of its top executives to the West Coast to present at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. The event is scheduled for Tuesday at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

The conference organizer is quite familiar with Benefitfocus. In 2007, Goldman provided the Charleston firm with about $106 million in capital. Though it's sold some of its stake during Benefitfocus' initial public offering last year, the big New York-based investment house owned slightly more than half of the company at last count.

Representing Benefitfocus at the conference will be CEO Shawn Jenkins and finance chief Milt Alpern. Their presentation will be available via a live webcast at under "Events & Presentations."

Benefitfocus develops workplace software that employees can use to compare, enroll in and manage their benefits, such as medical coverage. Primary customers include large businesses and health insurers.

Close to the vest

Two first-time restaurateurs are rather tight-lipped about their new dining venture and watering hole at King and Morris streets.

Ben Russell-Schlesinger, 28, a San Francisco native, and local Robert Young, 32, are in the midst of renovating the building at 515 King St., which had been unoccupied for at least two decades, to make way for the latest food and beverage joint on Upper King.

The spacious historic building features a large bar in the center, high decorative ceilings and heaps of historic reclaimed wood. While construction is ongoing and appears to have at least two months to go, the young business partners seem to have most of the other details hammered out.

But that doesn't mean they plan on dishing just yet. Late last week, they were reluctant to share the bar's name or opening date. And as for who will be the executive chef, "that's the card closest to the chest," Russell-Schlesinger said.

What they will say: The atmosphere will be "social and approachable," and the food will be "gourmet."


Charleston tour guides just got yet another dose of competition. No, not chatty pedicab drivers. It's a smart phone app.

Charleston Historic Walking Tour, developed by local Glenn Rourk and Hilton Head Island native Jeff Wilson, was launched last month for Apple and Android devices.

The app uses GPS signals to guide tourists through downtown Charleston's historic sites such as the Old City Jail and the Powder Magazine. During the user's walk through the site, they can read or listen to audio bites of historical facts, which are all backed by the Charleston Historical Society.

It's not the first high-tech guide of its kind. Charleston City Slicker launched a similar iPhone-based online downtown walking tour more than five years ago.


Ever dream of buying your own private Dreamliner, all of the startup glitches aside? Apparently, the more than $200 million price tag isn't too steep for some private and obviously wealthy business-class fliers.

Boeing recently delivered its second and third 787-8 jets, unpainted and without completed interiors, through its Business Jets division. The company didn't identify the customers, who can choose their own completion center to install the jet's VIP innards.

The first plane went out in December, and three more are expected to be delivered this year. Seven more will be produced through 2018.

Reports last fall had Dell Inc. billionaire founder Michael Dell purchasing a 787 from an aircraft leasing company.

The planes can fly 9,260 nautical miles, more than a third of the way around the globe. They also feature high-cruise speeds, more head room, big windows, quiet cabins, lots of cargo space and above-average fuel savings.

The 787 is assembled in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. It isn't the only line of Boeing planes in the private and commercial markets. More than 400 others are in service in the rarefied VIP airspace.

On call

A new voice will be on the call when Blackbaud Inc. executives discuss the software company's latest earnings report with stock analysts this week.

CEO Mike Gianoni, who's been in the top job about a month, is expected to be on the line at 8 a.m. sharp Thursday.

Blackbaud's board announced in November that it had picked Gianoni as its fourth full-time chief executive. He also is a director of the Daniel Island-based company, which develops software and services for nonprofit organizations. It has operations around the world.

Previously, Gianoni was a group president at Fiserv Inc., which sells technology products and services for the financial industry.

Gianoni succeeded interim CEO Anthony Boor, who replaced Marc Chardon in September. Boor has since returned to his full-time post of chief financial officer, and he's also expected to be on Thursday's call.

The company's fourth quarter and full-year 2013 financial results will be released Wednesday after 4 p.m.