As featured in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of The Executive, an online magazine featuring members of Gwinnett Chamber’s Chairman’s Club.
Kim Hartsock is becoming a recognizable face in Gwinnett County. She serves on the Gwinnett County Planning Commission and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Board, is active in Gwinnett Church, has three kids at Gwinnett County Public Schools and co-owns Socks Love Barbeque, a Gwinnett-based restaurant, with her husband. That doesn’t even take into consideration her “day job” at Warren Averett, a business advisory firm.
“I’m the type of person who likes to be doing something—be a part of something,” Hartsock said. Growing up in a small Texas town with a dad who served on the police force and mom who was a teacher, Hartsock said that being involved in the community was just the normal way of things. “It’s always seemed natural,” she said. “That’s what you do—become a part of a community.”
Gwinnett County has been Hartsock’s community for 15 years, but she hasn’t always been this active. As her career grew, she realized that while her business life was generally focused on Atlanta, her home life revolved around Gwinnett County. “We own a house here, we pay taxes to the county, my kids go to the public schools and play on sports teams here, and our church is here. I have a vested interest in this community,” Hartsock said.
Turning to Google to help her find opportunities to get involved, Hartsock discovered that her district’s County Commissioner, Jace Brooks, went to her church. She started a conversation with him that ultimately led to a friendship and the opportunity to become a part of the planning commission. Brooks thought Hartsock’s skills and interests were a good match for the role of District 1 Planning Commissioner. She doesn’t have a civil engineering or contracting background but is an accredited Mindshop facilitator (AMSF) with experience leading strategic and difficult conversations. “He thought that skill set would be helpful,” Hartsock said.
In addition to helping manage hotly contested cases, Hartsock and the other planning commissioners hear development and special use requests and then make recommendations to the County Commission. “It’s rewarding to play a part in what’s happening in my hometown,” she said. “In the end, when someone in the community comes up to you and says, ‘Thanks for working with us; we think this is going to be a great project,’ that makes you feel good.”
Hartsock’s work at the planning commission helps grow and nurture the community, and her work at the Gwinnett Chamber is doing the same for businesses. “It’s important to be involved with the Chamber,” Hartsock said. “It’s the voice for the business community.” Though she has long been a member of the Chamber and the Chairman’s Club, she was appointed to the Board for a one-year term in 2018 and was recently elected to a three year term. “It’s an honor, and I take pride in that,” Hartsock said, “It’s an exciting time for the Chamber.”
With Nick Masino now running the organization and big goals for both membership growth and attracting new businesses to the area, Hartsock said, “It’s our job on the board to make sure we’re adding jobs and have a thriving economy. That’s what attracts businesses and is key to the healthy growth of our county.”
Hartsock would know; her work at Warren Averett is focused on growing healthy businesses. Warren Averett offers more than 30 consulting services, including accounting services, security and technology services, human resources solutions and advisory services. And it’s that advisory aspect that Hartsock most identifies with. “I tell my team that a trusted historian is always looking backwards,” she said. “We want to be trusted advisors—looking forward, being involved in our client’s business and goals, and helping them make decisions to accomplish what is important to them.”
Because the topics on which she advises her clients are so broad, Hartsock said there really isn’t a typical day, and she likes it that way. “We work with very successful entrepreneurs who come from very different backgrounds,” she said. Luckily, Warren Averett employees are similarly diverse. “I love knowing I can pick up the phone and call an expert on any given topic. It makes you a lot more confident when you go meet a client to know that someone on your team has the expertise they need,” she said. “We’re each very focused in what we do. We’re not experts in seven different industries and four different service lines; many of us have one major line of focus and one minor area of expertise. The benefit to the client is that we have a person who really understands the market they’re in.”
On January 1, 2020, Hartsock will take over as the Office Managing Member (OMM) at Warren Averett’s Atlanta office, which was recently voted as one of the 2019 Best Places to Work in Atlanta by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “The OMM is responsible for leading the strategic growth and exposure in the Atlanta market and ensuring that we are maintaining A-plus clients, service and talent,” Hartsock said.
Adding the responsibilities of leading the Warren Averett office to her growing list of commitments doesn’t seem to faze Hartsock. “How lucky am I to be a part of all of this?” she said. “I got advice early on to say yes to opportunities even if you don’t feel 100% prepared for them.” She also credits her husband of almost 10 years, Steven, for supporting and encouraging her success. “I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without my husband,” she said. “It takes a partnership to raise three kids, have a career and be as involved in the community as we are.” And it’s likely Hartsock will continue to be involved in the Gwinnett community for the foreseeable future. “I think that’s just who I am,” she said.
Written by Heather Collins. Photo by Jennifer Stalcup Photography.