CSU student, alum, BOV honored
by: University Relations
The Charleston Regional Business Journal has announced its Forty Under 40 Class of 2013, including one CSU student, one alumnus and one member of the university’s Board of Visitors.
James Ryan Neal
James Ryan Neal began his career in variety entertainment in middle school. Birthday party gigs were right down his alley. Juggling, clowning and making children laugh came easily to him, and the kids loved it. “It’s always heart-warming to work with kids,” Neal said.
He launched Party on Wheels Entertainment Live as a freshman in high school. The company has evolved from a family entertainment company to a DJ company and is now is a full-event production company.
Neal grew up with his mother and grandmother. He watched his mother become a very successful entrepreneur in the hospitality industry. She taught him early on about business skills and earning his own money to invest in the company. “It was never handed to me,” he said. “I had to work for it, and I’m really proud of that now.”
Four years ago he enrolled in Charleston Southern University, and on May 4 will graduate with honors. He will earn a bachelor of arts degree in business with a marketing emphasis and minored in communications.
Even though he had a full course schedule, Neal continued to work his company throughout college. He credits the support and positive experience during those years to Dr. McTier Anderson, CSU professor of business administration/marketing. Anderson was also the one who submitted his name to the Forty Under 40 sponsored by the Charleston Regional Business Journal.“He has been instrumental in helping me with a lot of things, especially balancing a downright insane schedule with being an undergrad. I am definitely the definition of a nontraditional student,” he laughs.
Despite his unbelievable schedule, he finds time to work with Courageous Kidz, whose mission is to provide year-round, unforgettable experiences for kids with cancer and their families. Party on Wheels Entertainment Live hosts events and yearly sponsors a haunted house. They also provide sound support for many of their events. Neal said when he has some free time, he enjoys just dropping by to have some fun with the children.
As a Christian, Neal believes he is to give back because he has been given talents that allow him to be able to do so. “I may not be able to build a house, but I can sure put a smile on a child’s face 15 different ways,” he said.
Neal has a staff of four to five technicians. The company provides lighting, sound reproduction and staging and works with a network of other vendors outside his company’s realm for other things like catering.
“This entire experience has been really humbling for me because this company has grown more than I even expected. I never dreamed we would ever be working with 150 schools in three states!” He hopes by what he is doing in his own business to be able to inspire other entrepreneurs.
Neal has always worked with children. When he first started, working as a kid himself, he entertained them with juggling and balloon art. His business has taken a more diverse turn, but he still believes he is working with kids – of all ages. He still loves to see the joy in their faces regardless of their age.
John Osborne left his deep roots in Montana and ventured to South Carolina via the Charleston Southern University Men’s Golf Team. He graduated from CSU in 2002 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and ended up making the Lowcountry his home.
After graduation Osborne entered the banking industry and the world of investments. But things changed about a year ago when he decided to start his own business.
It wasn’t such a stretch for him to leave the traditional work place and enter the entrepreneurial world. “I am blessed to have a number of significant people in my life who have helped shape my fire and spirit for service,” he commented. “I come from a family of service and giving back.” He shares about his years of growing up in Montana and how his father and grandfathers modeled service.
Both of his parents are small business owners. Osborne witnessed the impact small businesses made in their community and how the community impacted businesses. He recalls how his parents had flexibility enough to be able to attend his events and games.
He says it was all the engaging, interaction, conversations and opportunities that have shaped him into who he is now.
Osborne wanted to form a website that would reach out to people who want to invest in local businesses and to entrepreneurs who are trying to grow their young companies to find easy capital.
“I have a really strong passion for putting this together and providing these entrepreneurs with opportunities,” he said.
So he stepped up to create that niche in the market.
For the next eight months he built his website company, FundingCharleston.com.
When he dived into building the Funding Charleston website, he leaned on the relationships he had made over the years. “There’s no way I could have done it without that core base of people in my life,” he said.
The core base was there because Osborne was well-established and active in the community. He currently serves on the board of the Charleston International Film Festival and the board of the Education Foundation. He chairs the Roper Foundation Fellows Program and is a CSU Board of Visitors member.
He has also chaired Charleston’s Young Professionals group and was a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
On February 1, Osborne’s website was launched. Soon after the Charleston Regional Business Journal announced their Forty Under 40 list. “Forty Under 40 was awfully good timing,” he laughed.
Osborne is a self-proclaimed extrovert who cares about people and relationships. He values his Christian faith and the fact that it speaks to him about going through life together and being part of community.
“It’s an absolute truth that I get more out of [serving] than what I give.” John Osborne
It’s not unusual to see a Trident Construction sign and logo around campus; the company has a 20-year history with Charleston Southern University.
Todd Bulwinkle, a vice president at the company, has been directly involved in several construction projects at the University, including the Athletic Center, Women’s South Dorm Renovation and Softball Press Box.
He graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science degree in construction science and management and has been with the company for 12 years.
His community involvement is witness to his concern for the people in the Lowcountry and the economy. He currently serves as the vice president of the Charleston Contractures Association. He is a member of the South Carolina AIA/AGC Joint Cooperative Committee, Carolinas AGC and Charleston Metro of Commerce. He is also a member of the Class of 2010 Leadership Charleston and Board of Visitors at Charleston Southern.
Even with his busy life, he sometimes manages to get away to enjoy the outdoors – fishing, hunting and being with friends.
His business partner nominated Bulwinkle for the Charleston Regional Business Journal’s Forty Under 40. His partner kept a tight lip, and Bulwinkle was totally surprised and pleased when he was notified.