Meet The Thorns: Business-Savvy Couple Finds Sound Investment On Daniel Island

May 13, 2014

Daniel Island residents Walt and Brenda Thorn know a good investment when they see one. Natives of Tennessee, the successful couple has started more than a dozen companies over the last 40 years, managing everything from medical sales to shoreside services for cruise ships to full service transportation for special events.

Their business philosophy has certainly served them well — recognize an opportunity, evaluate its potential, make a plan, and execute. It was that same approach that led them to investigate a promising new town emerging on Daniel Island in 2000. Living in Atlanta at the time, Brenda spotted an ad about Daniel Island in Southern Living magazine that piqued her interest.

“I said, ‘Wow, we should check on this next time we’re in Charleston.’ We came over and the only thing here then was the Codner’s Ferry Park neighborhood. There wasn’t anything else, no downtown, nothing on Seven Farms Drive, and nothing over in Daniel Island Park, just dirt paths.”

Although there wasn’t a tremendous amount to see, the couple had no trouble visualizing the new community’s potential.

“The plan looked great to us!” said Walt.

The same weekend they visited, they purchased a charming brick townhome in the newly developing Center Park neighborhood (they later moved to a larger property in Daniel Island Park).

The couple, high school sweethearts, were certainly in familiar territory. They had lived in the Lowcountry earlier in their lives, establishing homes in both Isle of Palms and Mount Pleasant. Coming back to the Charleston area was appealing for a number of reasons, but family ties, coastal breezes, sunshine-filled days, and a memorable view topped the list. And in Daniel Island, they saw an unprecedented opportunity.

“We got to Daniel Island because we wanted to be part of the new development,” says Walt. “We wanted something that we could watch develop, and grow with it and be a part of it.”

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A view of the Thorns’ current townhome in Daniel Island Park.

Daniel Island also offered something else, aside from beautiful scenery and a promising future. Its convenient and easy access to the region’s highway system, and Charleston’s International Airport, made it the perfect strategic location for Walt and Brenda, who were in search of a new, local company to launch.

“This was the best place to live that we could have ever picked,” Walt said. “Not only from a business environment, but just the logistics of it.”

When not managing operations for their two local companies, Absolutely Charleston and Lightning Bugz Electric Vehicles, they enjoy plugging in to island life. They can often be spotted going for walks, cruising the island in their electric vehicle, exploring area waterways by boat and dining out at Daniel Island restaurants. In addition, Brenda is President of the Daniel Island Historical Society, a position that has enabled her to combine her unique skill set with a passion for history.

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Brenda & Walt Thorn and Brenda’s mother, Rosella, on the front porch of their Daniel Island Park home.

For Brenda and Walt, Daniel Island also provides an excellent backdrop for spending time with family. Brenda’s mother, Rosella, lives with them in their Daniel Island Park home. In addition, their three grandchildren live nearby.

“We spend a lot of time with our grandchildren,” said Brenda. “All three play multiple sports and also spend weekends with us frequently. We love all the parks and scouting for gators!”

“There are so many things to do,” Walt added. “And you don’t feel like you’re part of a (retirement) community. There is a good mix of younger and older adults who seem to really mesh well.”

As for a return on their investment, the Thorns are confident life on the island will continue to yield big dividends for years to come.