All the Right Moves

What does it take to truly make it in business? Where does an endeavor end and an empire begin?


Ernest Lee

What does it take to truly make it in business? Where does an endeavor end and an empire begin? We picked the brains of some of the area’s power professionals.

The Business that Rose Again

It’s a name that demands attention — controversial and proudly so. Even more so than its name, it’s the sleek designs of its bikes that makes Confederate Motorcycles impossible to ignore.

Founded in 1991 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by H. Matthew Chambers, Confederate was the result of his desire to introduce a new concept in American motorcycle manufacturing. After a series of career changes, Chambers earned a law degree and became a trial lawyer in Baton Rouge. He had a successful practice but dreamed of making something more significant: an American motorcycle with dominating performance. The name Confederate, controversial in the company’s early years, came from Chambers’ appreciation of Southern history.

Following a brief move to San Francisco, Confederate relocated to a prototype shop in New Orleans in 1993. The company’s first motorcycles rolled off the production line there in 1994, with prices starting in the high $20,000 range.

In 2017, the company announced plans to rename itself Curtiss Motorcycles Inc. and switch to all-electric motorcycles. In March 2018, Confederate Motorcycles LLC, with Ernest Lee at the helm, purchased the rights for the brand and Confederate designs.

“I came on board to help with the transition. We personally did not want to see the Confederate brand disappear into the ether,” says Lee. “We are now designing the next run of bikes — including a remodel of the Harley-Davidson FXDR. Our goal is to keep making these motorcycles better in both form and function, building innovative and original bikes that draw crowds everywhere they ride.”

A team of craftsmen assembles each Confederate by hand, and, for most of the company’s history, they have built one machine at a time, with the next order starting only when the current machine is finished and ready for delivery. As a buyer, you put down a deposit and wait for your machine to be built.

The machines have names inspired by American history; the Hellcat, standard bearer of the Confederate line, was named after one of the most successful World War II fighter planes. The current production line includes the P-51 Combat Fighter, FA-13 Combat Bomber and the F-114 Hellcat.

After severe factory damage in August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina interrupted production, Confederate moved its corporate headquarters and assembly operations to a building in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

Confederate sold 37 bikes in 2008 and anticipated the sale of 30 bikes in 2009, due to the recession. Even though Confederate’s buyers are too rich to be affected by the economic downturn, Company Founder Matt Chambers said during the recession, “It was very fashionable to not be buying a high-end luxury product like ours.”

Melody Rodriguez de Ortiz

Restaurants Done Right

The team at Tequila’s Town each brings their unique talents to running one of the most successful restaurants in Savannah. “Our family members have stuck to what they’re good at, and that gives us strength overall,” says Melody Rodriguez. She oversees business expansion — they’re opening new locations in Pooler and Jacksonville this year.

Her husband, Temo Ortiz, runs day-to-day operations. “That’s not my gift at all,” she laughs. Sergio Calderon, a close family friend, runs building and maintenance, and Rodriguez’ brother-in-law, Sergio Ortiz, is king of the kitchen. Rodriguez explains that’s another reason for their success; “He is the brainchild of our recipes. He makes sure the food is excellent and always fresh.”

They researched Mexican restaurants across the state to inform their concept. “A lot of people in the South are used to Tex-Mex cuisine,” Rodriguez says. The team wanted to introduce the traditional, authentic flavors of Morelia, Mexico, where Ortiz is from, without alienating customers. “To make that transition and get people to experience other things on the menu, we decided to offer Tex-Mex as well.”

Rodriguez is a pescatarian, so she also wanted to create consciousness around different dietary needs by introducing fish and vegetarian dishes as well as gluten-free and dairy-free options to the menu. “That has really made us a number one choice in town.”

Insider tip: If you’re not ready for tongue tacos, order the Chiles Rellenos made with real poblano peppers. According to Rodriguez, they’re one of the most authentic dishes they serve.

Jason McCarthy

SuccessBeyond the Front Lines

McCarthy started the company as an equipment and apparel company in 2008 following his time as a Green Beret. From humble beginnings, McCarthy has built GORUCK into much more than he had originally envisioned.

“Ultimately, it’s about communicating the special forces way of life,” McCarthy says. “It’s about bridging the gap between the military and the general public — through gear, apparel and events.”

It is those events that have transformed GORUCK into a powerful force for good. Led by decorated combat veterans like McCarthy, their events range from social to endurance-level events with rucking at the core of each.

In fact, when McCarthy spoke with South magazine, it was at the end of a 48-hour endurance event. However, he admitted that the group is also well-versed with more leisurely events that start with rucking and end with a few pints of craft beer.

“I think people should be more physically and socially active,” McCarthy says. “We should do more things together. Those are the things that keep us together.”

McCarthy doesn’t believe walking is enough exercise, and thinks running is boring. He calls rucking the foundation of special forces training and has seen, first-hand, the benefits of rucking, which he says includes increased cardio fitness, strength training, better posture and sleeping better at night.

Those benefits aren’t just for special forces-caliber athletes, either. McCarthy says that the vast majority of people who participate in GORUCK events are everyday folks looking to add something unique to their workout.

GORUCK has events across the country and the gear to ruck like the pros, but McCarthy said starting the practice can be even simpler than that. He suggests starting by adding 20 pounds into a backpack your already own and simply start walking. You control the weight, the distance and the time. You’re going to be sore afterward, and that’s the point.

“The human body is an interesting thing,” McCarthy said. “The more you use it, the better it gets. That’s not true about anything else. It’s rewarding to encourage more people to do that.”

To add to your new routine, GORUCK makes cast iron ruck plates, challenge pants, t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, hats and much more.

Once you have the practice and the gear in place, McCarthy said the next steps are very simple: keep it up and invite others to ruck with you.

“At the deepest level,” McCarthy says, “the way to be more active in your community is to be more active in your community. Stronger relationships lead to stronger communities. Stronger communities are what makes America, America.”

It’s that desire to improve that pushes the organization, rucksack and all.

“Yes, we build gear,” the company website says. “Yes, we lead events, build teams, and strengthen communities. But only because if we didn’t, we’d have to find some other way to change the world, one day at a time.”

Subscribe now to the print edition for the full article.

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Greatest Chefs 2019

Chefs are invisible artists. They keep us salivating, our minds fixated on the last time we ate at our favorite restaurant, and when the next time we plan on going. Nominate your favorite chef now!

Greatest Pets 2019

Man's Best Friend can be South's Greatest Pet with the right amount of love. Enter your pet and get those votes! Limited to southeast Georgia and the Lowcountry. Voting begins June 10 and ends July 1.
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Events Calendar

  • Camp Buddy Effingham

    Jun 24, 2019
    8:30 AM - 3:00 PM @ Blandford Elementary School

    Camp Buddy offers programs to prepare children for the upcoming school year with the goal of promoting information retention from the previous...

  • Summer Sea Camp

    May 27, 2019
    9:30 AM - 4:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    Kids 6 to 11 years old * Morning and/or Afternoon Modules * After Care * Curbside Drop-off/Pick-up   Summer FUN for the kids…designed to fit...

  • SS Savannah (1819-2019)

    May 23, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Ships of the Sea Museum

    2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's groundbreaking trans-Atlantic crossing.  In recognition of this monumental achievement,...

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • Summer Reading Program

    Jun 01, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:15 PM @ Live Oak Public Libraries

    Reach for the stars with Summer Reading Program at Live Oak Public Libraries! Explore "A Universe of Stories" from June 1 through July 31...

  • "The Prints of Dame Laura Knight" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Jan 19, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Museums' Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums exhibits nine prints by Dame Laura Knight (British, 1877-1970), together for the first time since they were acquired by the museum...

  • Ready. Set. Summer. at Bluemercury!

    May 13, 2019
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM @ Bluemercury

    Summer is quickly approaching – stop into your local neighborhood beauty store Bluemercury for all the essentials you need to refresh your...


    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Deep South Photopoint

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  • Yacht Hop 2019

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    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Savannah Yacht Club

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  • Pelindaba Lavender Grand Opening

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Pelindaba Lavender

    Join us to celebrate all things lavender in Savannah - ribbon cutting, product sampling, lavender refreshments and special prizes! During this...

  • Pet Adoption Happy Hours

    Jun 27, 2019
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Green Fire Pizza

    On Thursday, 6/27, between 5 & 7 PM, Green Fire Pizza will be hosting Coastal Pet Rescue's Pet Adoption Event.  A portion of all...

  • Let's Talk Community Discussion Series: Mental Illness and the LGBT+ Community

    Jun 27, 2019
    6:30 PM - 8:30 PM @ Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church

    The fifth event in The ELLA Foundation’s Let’s Talk Community Discussion Series will feature a panel of local experts and will be...

  • "Rocketman"

    Jun 27, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The epic musical story of Elton John, his breakthrough years and his transformation from shy piano prodigy to international superstar. Set to his...

  • Coastal Heritage Society Summer Camps

    Jun 03, 2019
    All Day @ Tricentennial Park

    Each week-long camp: “STEAM Studio Camp,” “Jr. Chef Camp” and “Jr. Engineer Train Camp” will take place in June...

  • French Moderns: Monet to Matisse, 1850-1950

    Jun 15, 2019
    All Day @ Consumer Museum of Art and Garden

    The biggest names in French art such as, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be showcased...

  • Courtland & Co. Sample Sale

    Jun 28, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Courtland & Co

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    5:45 PM - 7:00 PM @ Savannah Power Yoga

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  • Hitchcock or Hepburn Series: Psycho

    Jun 28, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts

    Relive the intrigue and glamour of old Hollywood in this Hitchcock or Hepburn series of alternating thrillers and romances.   In what is...

  • Friday Concert Series

    May 03, 2019
    7:00 PM - 12:00 AM @ Historic Courthouse, Downtown Blairsville on the S

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  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    Outdoors, kid and pet friendly Local food and plant vendors

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Scenes of the South

JCB MudRun 2019

Participants hit the ground running at this year's JCB Mud Fest, climbing through tough obstacles in either the 5k or the 5 mile run. At the end of the race was a long slide where, upon finishing, contestants found themselves in the Party Pit. Winners from various age groups were presented with trophies, and all the proceeds from the JCB Mud Fest benefited the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development.

Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum's 200th Anniversary!

This past Wednesday, May 22, we celebrated with Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum for for the 200th anniversary of the SS Savannah's historic trans-Atlantic crossing — the WORLD'S FIRST oceanic voyage under steam! On this year's Maritime Day, Ships of the Sea celebrated the Savannah's 200th anniversary with a commemorative ceremony provided by the PROPELLER CLUB, where Robert Morris unveiled two eight-foot paintings. The evening also included an amazing performance by the Parris Island MARINE BAND, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and celebratory beverages!

Brews For A Cause at Top Deck

This past Tuesday, May 21 we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Top Deck Bar! We joined up with Southern Eagle and a great group of like minded people to benefit Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire in their efforts to provide financial assistance to the surviving families of local law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty. It was another memorable night in the South filled with great people and even greater crafted beer! This month's Featured Craft Beer: Island Coastal Lager Sponsors: Island Coastal Lager, Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire, Southern Eagle, South Magazine

Brews for a Cause at Churchill's

This Thursday, Churchill's was pack as we celebrated another successful Brews for a Cause at Churchill's! We joined Southern Eagle and The Coastal Heritage Society. Southern Eagle provided great craft beer, Sista Rae Rae performed live, and the silent auction was a huge success. All the proceeds from the silent auction — including a diamond necklace from International Diamond — benefitted the Coastal Heritage Society.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway aka The Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust, John “Tig” Tiegen, hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie “13 Hours,” Chad Prather, comedian and social media celebrity, and Graham Allen, social media celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

6th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded

The Nine Line Foundation and Nine Line Apparel celebrate Armed Forces Day for their 6th Annual 5K/10K Run for the Wounded in Savannah, Georgia. Proceeds from the race go directly towards their newest initiative: building a transitional community, a Veterans Village, for homeless veterans right here in Savannah, Georgia. With both 5K and 10K options available, this twilight run turned out to be another great success.

Nine Line Foundation Dinner

On Friday, May 17, Nine Line hosted their Foundation Dinner that included special guests WWE Superstars Mark Calaway Aka: the Undertaker, Dustin Rhodes aka: Goldust, John Tiegen "Tig" hero of Benghazi portrayed in the movie "13 Hours", Chad Prather, Comedian and Social Media Celebrity, and Graham Allen, Social Media Celebrity. Guests mingled with the superstars and bid on auction items to raise money for the foundation. Matt Lyda put on a stellar performance as the MC of the event and kept the crowd entertained and bidding.

SCAD40 Block Party

SCAD celebrated their 40th anniversary with a grand block party. Fellow alumni reconnected with university faculty and staff. ShopSCAD had live artist demonstrations, live music at the Gryphon, keepsakes and SCAD40 merchandise to purchase at the Art’s Café, SCAD food trucks with tasty treats and much more.

Kessler Collection’s Armstrong-Kessler Mansion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Local hotelier Richard Kessler and his company The Kessler Collection officially cut the ribbon on his newly restored home in Savannah, the Armstrong-Kessler Mansion. This iconic home celebrates its 100th birthday this year, and his been meticulously restored to its former grandeur as one of the foremost examples of Italian Renaissance architecture and design in America. Congratulations to Richard Kessler and The Kessler Collection!

The Clyde

The Clyde Venue is Savannah’s newest, most modern, wedding venue located in the Historic Landmark District. The space has been completely renovated, and a work in progress for more than a year. The venue is 5,200 square feet and includes a grande room, large marble bar, catering prep area, and restrooms. It’s located at 223 Martin Luther King Boulevard.