Author: Live Love Delaware

Sam Calagione

Founder, Dogfish Head

Sam Calagione loves Delaware

Sam Calagione

After 25 years, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has built something of an empire out of their off-centered beers and spirits. From their humble beginnings continuously hopping beer on a makeshift device called ‘Sir-Hops-A-Lot,’ to their recent merger with Boston Brewing — the Dogfish story reads like a comic book adventure.

Founder Sam Calagione is the writer and illustrator of that story.

“25 years… whoa!” Calagione pauses, surrounded by their large Milton brewery replete with a massive playground of silos, Dogfish-green lettered walls and their iconic steampunk treehouse. “Time flies when you are having fun!”

Calagione grew up in Western Massachusetts, on the Vermont border. “In a nutshell, I’m in Delaware because of the love of a good woman.”

“My wife Mariah was born and bred in Milford, Delaware. We ended up in the same high school in Massachusetts, and started dating at 16.” They went to separate colleges but would spend their summers in Rehoboth Beach renting houses with friends and working summer jobs. Sam worked as a waiter at the Front Page, a renowned music venue, and Mariah was a waitress at Camel’s Hump right down the road.

“So we got to know the area. And I fell in love with the beauty of coastal Delaware from those summers.”

Those beaches would connect the dots from Calagione’s childhood passion for writing and comic books to his later passion for beer. “Right after college, I just started home brewing and thought — maybe I can focus on using my love of creative writing to write recipes for beers, and stories about beers and create our own ads, instead of writing comic books,” Calagione explains.

“So I applied my love of art and writing to our work of building the brand, and the story of our brand, at Dogfish.”

“We could get in a car and be in Philly in two hours, be in Baltimore or D.C. in two hours, and in less than three and a half hours, be in Manhattan.”

Calagione wanted to open a brewery in a state that didn’t have one yet. “All the New England states close to where I grew up already had craft breweries — and Delaware was the closest one that didn’t. And I loved the beaches. So I decided, let’s open Dogfish Head in Coastal Delaware.”

And thus began a 25-year journey that would have Sam and Mariah guide Dogfish into one of the largest and most-renowned craft breweries in the country. Calagione believes that Delaware’s location unexpectedly proved to be an asset. “It sounds crazy to say something on the coast is central. But when you think of where we are right now — we could get in a car and be in Philly in two hours, be in Baltimore or D.C. in two hours, and in less than three and a

half hours, be in Manhattan. So it’s actually a great hub to distribute a high-end product from because you have the proximity to all these awesome cities,” Calagione says.

“That and you get to live at the beach in a low-stress, beautiful, natural environment.”

One of the highlights for Calagione is that Dogfish was the first brewery to focus on using culinary ingredients in beer, instead of just focusing on traditional styles. “Now you see thousands of craft breweries making beers with fruits and herbs and spices commercially. We’re really proud to have pioneered that on a commercial level nationally. It’s proven to be a sustainable and growing niche within our industry.”

One early beer that used culinary ingredients was Festina Peche, a collaboration with Fifer Orchards in Camden, Delaware. “We used these overly ripe peaches that we got from Fifer’s and it was just something else. And that was over 20 years ago.” Dogfish recently collaborated again with Fifer Orchards and Dewey Beer Company on a beer called Have a Donut. “We tried to put Fifer’s famous apple cider donuts into liquid form. It was a beer/cider hybrid that added Tanzanian cinnamon and real vanilla.”

Staying off-centered, Dogfish has forced itself to continually innovate. “I believe we were among the first brews in the country to bottle and distribute sour beers, back when people thought we were crazy. And now sour beers are one of the fastest-growing beer styles in America.” Dogfish Head is currently the number one sour-producing brewery in America. They recently collaborated with Rodenbach, Europe’s biggest and most well-known sour brewery, on a beer called Vibrant P’Ocean that is currently distributed throughout the Delmarva area.

Calagione shares that scaling to a national brand has always been the biggest challenge, addressing their 2019 merger with Boston Beer Company (famous for their Samual Adams beers). As a brand, Dogfish used to have about one-tenth of one percent market share in America. With the merger, they are about two percent market share. “We’re still tiny and we’re still up against the same Goliath we always were,” Calagione says.

“There are four international conglomerates that control over 80 percent of America’s beer market. And over eight thousand of us indie craft breweries that collectively share under 15 percent market share. So we kind of all have each other’s back. And it’s a very collaborative community.”

More big changes are on the way for Dogfish in 2020. They are currently installing a new canning line into their Rehoboth facilities to do limited release, specialty batches from their beach location. “These will be special beers that you have to go directly to Dogfish Rehoboth to buy — releases of throwback favorites like Shelter Pale Ale, crowd favorites that were developed at the brewpub, and we even have one coming out for the launching of the USS Delaware, the nuclear sub. To celebrate that cool moment in Delaware.”

Calagione is also doing a major expansion of the distillery in Milton. It’s a three million dollar project that will put Dogfish spirits in a more prominent light. “This will allow us to roll out more cocktails and packaged cocktails and regular spirits like our award-winning whiskey in further geographies. Right now, our beers are distributed in 47 states. Spirits are only in five states. So now we’ll be able to grow our distillery as well.”

Calagione has always made sure to balance family and fun while guiding a successful brand. “We have a place up off of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, where we spend most of our vacations. When you’re on a paddle board going by a seal on a rock, you know, you’re in a really special place.” His favorite activities always involve being outdoors — bicycling in the morning or paddleboarding towards Rehoboth on the canal, which he does year-round. “Being out in nature on a bike or paddle board in either coastal Delaware or coastal Maine are my favorite things in the world to do.”

When asked about the key to having a successful marriage and family while still managing a constantly-evolving company, he says “I would say Mariah and I recognize each other’s complementary strengths and give each other the latitude to lead where we’re strong, and support where the other of us is stronger.”

Continue reading

Peggy Del Fabbro

CEO, M. Davis & Sons, Inc.

Peggy Del Fabbro loves Delaware

Peggy Del Fabbro

“I had steel-toed boots when I was very young,” Peggy Del Fabbro said as we discussed her early exposure to M. Davis & Sons, Inc., one of the leading industrial and construction contractors in Delaware, where she has been CEO for over a decade.

Del Fabbro was born and raised in Wilmington; she went to Brandywine High School and graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in business. “M. Davis has been in my family for five generations. I grew up hearing all of the stories. My dad would take me out to job sites as a kid, it’s been part of my entire life.”

As a kid, spending time with her father at the paper mills where M. Davis worked projects gave Del Fabbro a unique perspective. “A lot of people really don’t see how things are actually made. It’s incredible to see water and either pulp from a tree or cotton rags becoming paper. And then seeing things like cups being made at Sweetheart Cup in Baltimore from the flat materials in the press.”

But Del Fabbro wanted to be a veterinarian, with her strong love of animals since she was a child. “High school chemistry defeated me, so I was lucky to have a strength in accounting which I enjoyed and was exposed to in our business.”

Del Fabbro took over the role of CEO in 2008, just as the economy went into a deep recession. She considers it the biggest highlight of her M. Davis career so far. “I look back at that time and realize that I had the guts to make it through that. How at that time our sales were 41 million [dollars] and now we’re over 80 million [dollars.] But that said, it’s not all about me and I did not accomplish that alone.”

Del Fabbro holds elements of M. Davis’ history as part of what guided her through that challenging period. “I was aware of our experience (with economic challenges) in the past and looked closely at what helped us. It’s not that sophisticated and is really about knowing where you stand.” Knowing where they stand was effectively a combination of controlling costs and having difficult conversations about what was and what was not working at the time. “The sooner we could identify where something wasn’t working, the sooner we could act and make better decisions, and that is still my overarching approach today,” Del Fabbro said.

While dealing with the challenges of 2008, Del Fabbro became certified by The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which opened up a lot of doors for M. Davis. “It helped the company, but it also helped me to grow as an owner of the business. Learning from other women who own businesses is just invaluable. A lot of those women had the guts to start those businesses from scratch, and what I’ve learned from them has been so beneficial. And how they have reached out and had us work together during this pandemic has been critical.”

Beyond the direct assistance Del Fabbro has gotten from WBENC, it has also affected her ability to connect with existing clients and attract new ones. “Every market I serve is there. It was almost overwhelming to prepare for meetings because it was so wide. So I have a color-coded spreadsheet for that, of course.” Relationships made at WBENC have helped introduce Del Fabbro to other female leaders in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“We brought in students to co-op in their senior year to get hands-on experience…they could find themselves with a full time job, with benefits and no student debt.”

Del Fabbro’s leadership strategy is concise, but not simple. “I appreciate the people that I work with, and I strive to put them in a position where they can be successful. If I can do that, the company will be successful. My style is common sense and down to earth, if the message gets convoluted it often gets misunderstood.”

“I am always looking for continuous improvement. The moment I think ‘we’re good’ is when I know we are in trouble.” Del Fabbro finds communication to be one of her biggest challenges since the company is so physically spread out. “With all of our recent growth I find myself constantly looking at areas we need to improve [on] or make more efficient or safer.”

M. Davis’ management of the COVID pandemic has been informed

both by her challenges in 2008 as well as helped by the strategies she’s put into place since then. “We were hit really hard back in March, and I look at the workload we have now and think this is really good, but it’s still a problem.” Every week in the M. Davis newsletter Del Fabbro reminds her team of what it will take to maintain the workload in the midst of a pandemic. “Safety is the biggest threat to our workload, period.”

M. Davis’ strong connection to students interested in trades has been uniquely successful in the last two decades.

“Years ago we realized there would be a shortage of people working in construction.” At that point, M. Davis had established relationships with the Vocational-Technical school districts in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey where they could find students interested in the trades.

“We brought in students to co-op in their senior year to get hands-on experience. Those kids could then come out of high school, and if they liked the experience they had at M. Davis, they could find themselves with a full-time job, with benefits and no student debt, and then also continue on in the Delaware Apprenticeship Program with whom we have a strong relationship,” Del Fabbro said.

“After 3-4 years with us they end up with their Journeyman’s Papers (a certification of completed training as an apprentice), which is just as valuable as a college degree. In some cases more valuable as they don’t have the debt. Earn while you learn.”

“College is not for everybody. Kids that like to work with their hands, or even on computers and automation can find perfect spots in companies like ours. We need to change the perception of these jobs, these careers.”

Terry Webb created a 19-year career at M. Davis by starting with an apprenticeship. After graduating from Delcastle High School in Wilmington, Webb took a position at M. Davis that immediately connected him to the Delaware Apprenticeship Program. “I knew it was a pathway for me because the education leads to Journeyman Papers that I will have with me for life.” Webb is now a foreman at the company.

Webb has graduated from State of Delaware apprenticeship programs in Sheet Metal, Electrical, HVAC, and Plumbing. “The apprenticeship programs that I graduated from really expanded my knowledge in that trade, along with the working hours I had to graduate. While the classes were technical, and not focused on leadership, I found that having more knowledge and education put me on the path to leadership at M. Davis & Sons.”

When asked, ‘Why Delaware?’ Del Fabbro immediately said, “Why not?”

“I always say, it’s two hours from everywhere.’ It’s easy to ship globally from here, which is critical for us. It’s a great location to springboard from. The weather can be challenging but, knock on wood, we don’t have too many extremes.”

M. Davis’ recent cooling tower project for DuPont is an example of why Delaware and Delaware relationships work well for M. Davis. “We told them up front that we believed we might have a better way, a safer way with better quality, a shorter timeline, and by-the-way would save you money. Because they know us and trust us, they were willing to take that risk. For me, that is the perfect situation.”

When asked about another Delaware business that inspired her, Del Fabbro is quick to mention Dogfish. “That’s an easy one. I love them. We’ve worked with them close to 15 years. They are a family business and a nationally-recognized brand, but they have not really changed who they are.”

M. Davis is a classic Delaware company that leads from the idea that “knowing where you come from” and honoring the relationships and skills developed from this leads to success. From a childhood of watching her family navigate M. Davis through many of the larger corporations in the area, to the challenge of leading a company in a male-dominated industry, Del Fabbro has taken the business where she came from and amplified its success.

Continue reading

Kevin Short

General Manager,
Mid South Audio

Kevin Short loves Delaware

Kevin Short

If you’re enjoying live music at the Freeman Stage in Selbyville, you’re likely observing the handiwork of homegrown event production company: Mid South Audio (MSA).

In the intricate dance of lighting, sound equipment and video gear, it’s easy to forget the kind of coordination it takes to properly execute a live performance. MSA has made this its specialty since 1989.

Founded by Sussex County native Kevin Short, the now full-service event production company and recording studio was born out of an audio installation company that began in 1983. Technology and consumer preference are constantly shaking the industry up, but MSA has changed with the times, dancing to the music all the while.

“We used to be an audio installation company, but now we do what’s called ‘integration.’ That’s not even a word we used 30 years ago,” said Short, MSA’s general manager. “Today, everything – sound, video and lighting – needs to work together and be integrated. It’s all part of one package.”

In the beginning, MSA offered sound services to small local events and bands. At the time, it was a modest 16-track analog studio. Over the years, the company’s client base grew. They started supplying services for local venues like the Avalon Theater in Easton, Maryland and the Delaware State Fair. Their offerings grew too. After buying several lighting companies about 15 years ago, service integration began.

Currently, MSA provides production services for large scale national acts from New Hampshire to Florida and as far west as Texas. The studio has morphed into a state-of-the-art digital facility which has recorded Grammy Award-winning artists while still catering to local musicians and venues.

Plans for Growth

Part of what’s kept MSA alive, is their focus on the future. Now is no different. The company, currently in Georgetown, recently decided to relocate to Milton and build a new 20,000 sq. ft. headquarters.

“We’re really excited about it because we’ve always worked out of offices and warehouses,” said Short. “We’re going to have a brand new 3,500 sq. ft. recording space and a retail showroom for the first time. It’s a big expansion for us to be able to bring in customers and have them demo products – they can try before they buy.”

“Delaware is a small state, and I believe the state and the business community here goes out of its way to be friendly to local companies.”

The stage in their showroom will enable them to put on demonstrations, trainings and lectures. The new recording studio will also make their in-house productions more efficient.

“We do a once-a-month show called Tech Talk Live that we currently have to rent studio space for,” Short said. “In our new space, we’ll be able to produce it in our own facility.”

The Delaware Difference

When MSA resolved to make the big leap into a new headquarters, it forced them to reexamine what being in Delaware meant to them. Doing their due diligence, they considered several other locations on the east coast. Ultimately, the state retained them for several different reasons, said Short.

“A big thing for us has been that our location helps us attract top talent,” he said. “When we’re trying to entice someone to relocate here, being near the beach communities has been helpful.”

A vibrant client base resides here as well.

“We’re an entertainment company and this is a resort area – they go hand in hand,” he said. “A lot of our customers are restaurants, bars or music venues. Anyone who’s putting on a live event or show in this area may be interested in working with us. Not every community is made up like that.”

A grant MSA recently obtained from the Delaware Division of Small Business also helped persuade them.

“We applied for a received a grant for just over $100,000 – mostly in strategic money, but some to help develop jobs,” said Short. “That made a big difference for us. We already feel like we’re swimming upstream in some ways because so much equipment is being sold online these days and everyone is moving away from brick and mortar.”

Given that the odds are being stacked against old-fashioned retail, Delaware’s lack of a sales tax makes it even more attractive.

“All the tax laws are changing for internet purchases, but Delaware is a great state for us to open a retail space in because of the tax-free shopping,” said Short. “If we can save a customer 5-7%, especially on a large purchase, it’s a great competitive advantage.” 

However, one of the best benefits to staying in Delaware is a seemingly intangible one, notes Short: the business community’s dedication to supporting itself.

“Delaware is a small state, and I believe the state and the business community here goes out of its way to be friendly to local companies,” he said. “We support each other, and this state remains a pretty easy place to get things done.”

With their new headquarters on the horizon, MSA looks forward to another three decades of growth and evolution in the First State.

For more information about Mid South Audio, call (302) 856-6993 or visit 

Continue reading

bloom daily planners

A Blooming Business

bloom daily planners love Delaware

UD grads help girls, women, teachers, moms and more stay organized

Kaylyn Minix and Michelle Askin couldn’t have planned it any better. They met in 2010 while interning at Student Media Group, a collegiate marketing company that produces academic planners for students. Each free planner features a local business guide.

At the time, the University of Delaware students were both devotees of paper planners. Together, they saw the potential for a female-centric product that would go beyond conventional products.

“We wanted to create something inspirational, attractive, fun – we wanted to expand the brand,” Minix recalls.

Newark, Delaware-based Student Media Group gave the women their blessing, and bloom daily planners became its sister company. The goal: “Helping women bloom into the best version of themselves.”

Today, bloom boasts more than 200 product types in a variety of categories. The original softcover planners come in more than 20 designs. There also are hardcover planners, vision board planners and wall calendars.

The company also offers colorful stickers to brighten the pages, festive folders, planning pads for a day’s worth of tasks and desk easels with inspirational quotes. In short, “anything and everything that keeps you organized and makes your life a little bit easier,” Minix says.

The success of bloom daily planners proves that in a digital world, paper products still reign supreme. Moreover, COVID-19 has not squelched anyone’s need to jot down goals, dreams and to-dos – as any working parent who has had a child learning at home can attest.

The Power of Productivity

Since the “Dress for Success” 1980s, there has been a dizzying array of planners and processes to help people become more productive. Consider the Day-Timer system and the more recent bullet journal.

Thanks to their jobs with Student Media Group, bloom’s founders attended trade shows for college bookstore buyers. They knew what was available and what was missing. “We used our contacts with those college stores to get feedback,” says Askin, whose degree is in English, communications and interactive media.

Initially, bloom sold a few designs on eBay. The results were positive. From there, the company jumped on the Amazon juggernaut and launched a website, They’ve regularly added new online sales platforms, including Walmart and Etsy.

No matter the outlet, customer feedback is documented in a system that links the comments with individual products.

“We’re constantly tweaking things based on what our customers are requesting – that’s always been our formula for creating new products,”

Askin says. “It really creates a community aspect within our brand. Our customers feel like they are part of the process because they completely are.”

That community revolves around social media – bloom has almost 17,000 followers on Twitter and 85,000 on Instagram, which is its most effective outlet. The company also is on Pinterest.

“We try to cater to our different audiences on each platform,” says Minix, who earned her degree in marketing and operations management.

Blooming with the Brand

The primary target market for bloom is women aged 25 to 35. But the company also offers planners for students in elementary, middle and high schools. And Askin’s 2020 pregnancy led to the addition of planners for expectant and new moms. “We’re creating products for every age and stage of a woman’s life,” she says.

The advent of COVID-19 boosted sales of planners designed for teachers. “Moms were feeling overwhelmed and craving that structure,” Minix notes.

During a stressful time, many customers find it therapeutic to surround to-dos with doodles or the stickers that bloom daily planners sells. So the company has increased the number of its products that focus on self-care. Take, for instance, a sticker of a female yogi with the words “Heavily Meditated.”

“There’s nothing that quite compares to paper and writing your to-dos down and crossing them off,” Minix says. “You get such a feeling of accomplishment.”

Still, the founders understand that “digital is everywhere” and admit to using their phones and computers as well. Consequently, bloom also offers digital products that customers can download, and customers who register online for an account have access to printable sheets.

UD Delivers

As bloom blossoms, the Delaware natives have not forgotten their academic roots. They typically have about six UD interns per semester handling graphic design, operations, social media and marketing. Most of bloom’s staff employees were initially interns.

“We’re growing really quickly, and we’re always looking for new talent,” Askin says. “We let them create their own position within the company – what can they see themselves doing? Just like we became ‘intrapreneurs’ within the Student Media Group.”

Some employees commute from nearby Philadelphia, which is an advantage of being based in Delaware: bloom can tap into a large creative talent pool yet reside in a community where “everybody kind of knows everybody,” Askin says.

“It’s a very supportive, family-like atmosphere,” she says of the First State, “and we’re very, very proud to be Delaware girls.”

Continue reading

Gyanendra Gupta

Chef and Co-owner, Raas Restaurant

Gyanendra Gupta loves Delaware

Gyanendra Gupta – Celebrating the Flavors of India

Raas enhances ethnic cuisine at the Delaware Beaches.

In the past, Delaware beach restaurants primarily served family-friendly fare. Think burgers and captain’s platters (a fried or broiled seafood medley with a side of slaw). Those days are long gone. Today, the resorts boast so many offerings that the area is collectively known as the Culinary Coast.

Credit chefs like Gyanendra “GG” Gupta, who with his partners brought Indian-inspired cuisine to downtown Lewes.

Since opening in 2019, the restaurant has developed a loyal fan base. In part, that is because Indian cuisine had been missing from the healthy roster of area ethnic options, which include Thai, Mexican, Japanese and Chinese restaurants.

And then there is GG, the friendly face of the restaurant, who regularly makes the rounds in the dining room to greet guests and suggest dishes. He is soft-spoken and gracious. He also has an impressive resume: GG has worked in five-star hotels in his native India and in the Caribbean.

The Journey to Lewes

One of five children, GG grew up watching his mother prepare the family meal. “I was a mama’s boy, you know, I love that,” he says fondly. He was 8 when he began questioning her actions while she cooked. Why was she adding this? Why was she stirring that?

He began accompanying her to the market. “Not only did she pass me the cooking skills, but also the purchasing skills,” he says. “Everything had to be fresh. When we were young, I don’t think we had a refrigerator in the house.”

GG’s father wanted him to be a doctor, but the passion for cooking was too strong. After earning a bachelor’s degree, he enrolled in a three-year hotel management program.

The luxurious Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, a 650-room hotel, hired him as a management trainee, and for five years, he worked as a chef in the hotel. “I’m a real five-star hotel guy,” says GG, who’s opened numerous restaurants for high-end hotel groups. He worked at properties in Trinidad, Tobago, Grenada and St. Lucia.

Today, the resorts boast so many offerings that the area is collectively known as the Culinary Coast.

While in Grenada, he met Lewes native Vinay Hosmane, who was in medical school. (Hosmane’s father, Ramachandra, began working at Beebe Hospital in 1978.) They became friends.

Back in India, GG rejoined Taj to open The Vivanta brand in Goa, a world-famous coastal resort. The area made an impression on GG and his family, who returned to Goa after working in Jaipur.

GG and Hosmane, who became a cardiologist, kept in touch and visited each other. In 2015, GG was a guest chef at the MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival, which held events throughout Delaware.

While touring the state, Hosmane suggested opening a restaurant at the beach, and GG agreed.

Switching Gears

Hosmane and some associates had been looking for an investment property in the resort community. Meanwhile, Hosmane’s father knew investors interested in the hospitality industry. With GG’s help, the two groups pooled their resources to create Raas, which means “celebration.”

The location, a circa-1899 Queen Anne Victorian on Savannah Road, might seem an odd choice for an ethnic eatery. But Hosmane knew it well. As a child, he rode his bicycle past the house and admired the sweeping front porch and turret. Hosmane felt that it defined the coastal lifestyle. What’s more, the classic architecture speaks to the British Raj that has influenced Indian cuisine.

Built by Capt. W. “Diver” Johnston and William H. Virden, the home is best known as a former residence of Mayor Otis Smith, who oversaw the menhaden fisheries in Lewes. (At one time, the small town was the leading producer of menhaden in the country.)

As a spa, the structure’s exterior was a garish can’t-miss purple paint. The new owners returned it to a soothing blue. Inside, there’s a pop of saffron along with turquoise. White linens cover tables. The atmosphere is decidedly more upscale than an Indian restaurant in strip malls.

Between the massive renovations on Raas, the summer 2019 opening and the pandemic, GG has had little time to rest. When restaurant dining rooms were closed in spring, he forwarded takeout orders to his cell phone, so he did not miss a call. Once dining rooms reopened, he carved out more alfresco seating for the increasing number of people who want to eat outside.

Lewes-area residents and visitors have embraced the flavors of India. “They call me back to say they never had a dish before, and it was phenomenal,” says GG, who appreciates the sense of civility and culture in the area. “People want us to be successful as much as we do.”

The network of support characterizes Delaware, he notes. If he’s standing on the covered porch, it’s not unusual for a driver to honk and call out: “Hey, Chef GG!”

Many visitors are so pleased with the cuisine that they want him to replicate the concept. But while Indian food is “in my blood,” he says, a second restaurant may showcase a different ethnic cuisine. After all, he’s opened numerous Italian, Thai and other restaurants in hotels.

For now, he’s satisfied with making his mark in downtown Lewes. Says GG, “If my guests are happy, then I can sleep at night.”

Continue reading

Doug Adams

Running Technology Entrepreneur

Doug Adams loves Delaware

Doug Adams

Doug Adams believes that little things can make a huge difference in helping people live healthier lives.

“What I and many others love about running is that it is simple — you just put your shoes on and go run. But it’s actually a lot more complex,” Adams shares. “There are important intricacies involved with running healthy or running fast.”

Adams designed a device called Trace 3D that aims to help runners train properly with these intricacies in mind. The program measures a runner’s “gait” — the flow of motion within each stride, and then Adams takes that data and maps it against his knowledge as a physical therapist to quickly put together a deeply customized training plan to improve form.

Adams grew up in Newark near White Clay Creek State Park where he spent his time running the trails, playing frisbee golf, and swimming. “Between my junior and senior year of high school, I started doing triathlons,” Adams says. “Then I had an English project where I decided to write about running, and I was surprised to find there is a lot of science behind running — which is effectively the oldest sport in the world. Learning all of that hooked me.”

At the University of Delaware Physical Therapy Program, Adams was able to work under two of the most renowned researchers on running in the world — Dr. Irene Davis and Dr. Rich Willy. “We have a great PT school at Delaware. It’s a great place to be injured, if you have to be,” Adams jokes. “It was there that I found a passion for running gait analysis, and through their leadership started a vision for what I am doing now.”

Adams acted quickly and strategically on his vision, creating three different companies to support healthy running form. In 2015 he started The Association for Clinical Excellence which is the educational element of his work. This was quickly followed by both Ace Running, which manufactures the Trace 3D product, and the Omega Project, which is the physical therapy clinic that specializes in endurance athletes.

“While working with student patients at UD, I found the 3D analysis incredibly helpful, but wished there was a way to have that information all of the time. So we decided to create a portable version of the technology.”

Adams partnered with STT Systems on Trace 3D, a motion analysis company out of Spain that has deep experience doing 3D-coding of motion for bicyclists. They worked together on the development of a user-friendly interface that could be easily taught. “Not only is it simple to use, it is fast — data that used to take hours to compile now takes around five minutes.”

“Delaware has been a great location for us with its proximity to so many different areas — being close to Washington D.C. when working with military contacts is critical.”

With a portable product that was intuitive, fast and a fraction of the cost of traditional 3D analysis systems, Adams quickly knew he had something useful and potentially scalable.

Trace 3D works in conjunction with the Runner Readiness Assessment to “have a look at the entire body to show at general strengths, weaknesses, and core stability,” Adams says. “We then take the information gathered by Trace 3D and can easily classify if they are an over-strider, a bouncer, a weaver, a glute amnesiac, or a collapser. From there the plan is straightforward.”

Adams says the numerous partnerships that he and his business partner Ari Kaplan have found in Delaware have been critical in connecting the dots. It was through the Horn Entrepreneurship

Program at the University of Delaware that they discovered Afworks, which is the Air Force’s program for encouraging innovation within their processes. “We realized immediately how much the military needed quick and convenient access to the data we were capturing,” Adam says.

“The number two reason for failure of the military fitness test is not being able to pass the run portion. Not to mention the rates of running-related injuries. It costs the Air Force 43 million dollars a year for people who fail out of basic training with lower leg injuries. What we have is not only a great opportunity but great cost savings.”

The Delaware Technology Innovation Program (DTIP) was critical in kick-starting Adams’ connection to Afworks. After receiving their Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant, Ace Running has worked closely with DTIP to secure Phase 2.

Adams explains that the first phase is about finding the customer, and the second about testing it in a real-world situation. “So we are going to five Air Force bases throughout the country. We will look at people who either failed the fitness test or are coming back from an injury to see if we can help them perform better. If that happens, the military is interested in getting this out on a large scale.”

Adams and his team are working on the mobile app that will be needed to scale these efforts. “We believe that the military hasn’t been able to show improvement using their current tools because it has not been able to take advantage of individuality. There is no perfect running form, but there are things that one might do that is high risk for them, that might not be high risk for me or you.”

Having spent most of his life in Delaware, Adams has a unique perspective and appreciation for the state’s benefits. “Delaware has been a great location for us with its proximity to so many different areas — being close to Washington D.C. when working with military contacts is critical,” Adams reflects. “Delaware also has a very advantageous corporate structure and programs like Delaware Technology Innovation Program. And people are really friendly here. Networking in Delaware is surprisingly well-connected and willing to connect you to others. There is only one degree of separation here. We have connectivity and warmth that you don’t get in other places.”

Adams says the Delaware Greenway Trail and Delaware State Park systems are key benefits for runners in the state. “I moved to a place specifically to be connected to somewhere on a trailhead. Now there is a track going into Baynard stadium, and The Jack Markell Trail is an amazing experience.” Adams shares his passion for running and hiking with his wife and young children, who also love to be in nature.

One of Adams’ goals is taking his creations and using them to work with youth to instill proper form and injury avoidance as early as possible.

“Running is one of the few sports that you do without practice. Other sports have drills, pitching techniques, such as working on your swing in golf — but runners just run,” Adams says.

“I would love to take Trace 3D into school physical education classes to show people how to run.” With that in mind, the Omega Project team has been offering open screen nights for students and has recently donated watches to Delcastle Technical High School to help track activity.

Scalability is critical because Adams can only see so many patients in a week. He currently sees 400 people a year in a physical therapy setting. “But if I can teach 20 people who each see 400 people or an app that could educate millions…”

Adams is aware that people tend to do what they have always done, and running occurs as obvious to most.

“People take lessons before playing golf. Why wouldn’t people do that same with running? A little bit of guidance will create much better returns in the sport.”

“If we can work to change the mindset from ‘I’m tired of getting injured’ to ‘I am going to work on this so I don’t get injured’ that’s our ideal client. My overall goal is to make as many people as possible live healthier lives,” Adams says.

Continue reading

Jonathan Whitney

Drummer and Artivist

Jonathan Whitney loves Delaware

Jonathan Whitney

When asked what he does, Jonathan Whitney describes himself as “a creative, a connector, and a composer who loves learning and problem solving.” But when asked what makes his heart sing, he responds “when I’m playing with a group of musicians and the audience gets where we’re going and we’re all going there together.”

A drummer and “artivist” (a combination of artist and activist), Whitney received his degree in music education from the University of Delaware and immediately got a job as band director at the Tatnall School for 11 years. He lived in Philadelphia for six years and earned a master’s in jazz studies but was pulled back to his native Delaware.

“I love this city; the artistic community in this city is tight,” Whitney says. “I lived in Philly until I got engaged and my wife said she wanted a driveway. In Delaware, we all talk across genres. In a given day, I can run into a painter, a spoken-word poet, a jazz musician, and a classical musician and we’re all bouncing ideas off each other. People here aren’t creating art for art’s sake; they’re creating it to improve Wilmington and tell the story of the people who live here.”

You can find Whitney’s fingerprints all over the city’s efforts to respond to the nation’s racial climate.

“I’m digesting that in many different ways,” he says. “Five pieces on my album being released in November took [inspiration from] local artist Eunice LaFate’s paintings and created music that searches for understanding and solutions. My next album is a series of arrangements of spirituals and gospel music through a jazz lens.

And then there are the murals.

On May 31, Whitney and fellow artivist Eliza Jarvis had just watched local protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and they (along with photographer Joe del Tufo) decided to commission artists to paint over the plywood boards installed to cover damaged windows on downtown buildings. They connected funders to the artists, who have created three works – at Spaceboy Clothing on North Market Street, two at Blitzen on West Ninth and a fourth scheduled for late October at The Nomad Bar on North Orange Street.

The mural success led Whitney — who received a $6,000 Established Art Fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts in June 2020 — and Jarvis to form Flux Creative Consulting on Sept. 1, where they’re creating events for corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies to engage communities through the arts, with a focus on amplification of the great things that are already going on in Delaware.

“We don’t have the silos here that you often see; there are just so many ways for people to engage with the arts in Delaware.”

“We want to continue to empower our broader community to have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve seen more conversations in the past six months than we did in the previous six, even in a pandemic.

“What I love about Delaware is that leaders in the nonprofit and for-profit worlds are willing to mentor people that they see are engaged,” he says. “Delaware is all about partnering and leveraging resources because we’re small. We don’t have the silos here that you often see; there are just so many ways for people to engage with the arts in Delaware.”

Whitney says he finds creative inspiration throughout the state, starting with Rehoboth Beach (“It’s great to walk along the beach and know that Wilmington is only 90 minutes away”) but also lists the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, the Gibraltar Gardens on Greenhill Avenue, the sculpture garden at the Delaware Art Museum (where he previously worked as manager of performance programs and community engagement). He also mentioned the monthly First Friday Art Loop “where you can walk between the Delaware Contemporary art space and the Chris White Gallery at the Shipley Lofts and stop for inspiration from the student work at the Delaware College of Art and Design.”

In terms of performing, Whitney lists the new Mid-South Audio recording studio in Milton and says that he can’t wait for Nomad to reopen for live performances.

Whitney closed the interview by answering a few quick questions:

What’s the question you wish more people would ask themselves?

How can I love more?

What’s the pebble in your shoe (that thing that tends to derail you)?

I’m always trying to figure out how to reach more people, always worrying about wasting the gifts I was given. I’m a workaholic and sometimes I can’t make myself satisfied with the work I’m doing and that takes me out of my rhythm.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“It’s not about forcing people to do what you want. It’s about finding a way for them to move in the direction you want on their own” from Chet Tietsworth, another legendary drummer from New Jersey.

What do you love about teaching?

Watching those light bulb moments all day long, when students say “Oh, I get it” or “Oh, I can do that.”

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Two little girls and the arts. When I open my eyes in the morning, I’m already thinking about what today brings and what I’m going to do to make the world a better place for them.

Continue reading

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator

Cost of Living Index Calculator