The Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce, along with the Franklin, Granville and Warren County Chambers and the Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center, hosted the seventeenth annual Small Business Luncheon at the Henderson Country Club on Thursday, May 9, 2019.
The 2018 Small Business of the Year award recipients included Holland Industrial, Vance County; US 98.3/Lakes Media LLC, Granville County; Focus Design Builders, Franklin County; and Hardware Café, Warren County.
Duke Energy was once again the presenting sponsor for this event. Tanya Evans, district manager for Duke Energy, thanked the small business owners and staff members for their contributions to the community and for their level of commitment.
“As a small business owner, you don’t get to turn it off at 5 p.m. and go home. This is a way of life for you and takes dedication and commitment,” Evans said.
Keynote speaker John Alston, owner of A&S Pest Control and winner of the Warren County Chamber’s 2008 Small Business of the Year award, spoke on his 42 years of success as a local small business owner.
“Success is not about how much money you make, it’s about the relationships you form and your enjoyment of the job you are doing,” Alston explained.
Alston said he felt blessed to have started a company that allows him to do what he enjoys while also providing financially for other families.
After hearing from Alston, Vanessa Jones, interim president of the Henderson-Vance Chamber, presented the 2018 Vance County award to electric motor and mechanical repair facility Holland Industrial.
Located on West Montgomery Street in Henderson, the “employee-owned” company was started by Charles S. Holland, Sr. in 1952 and has expanded to include 35 employees and a 150-mile sales territory today.
Now in its third generation of management, Holland President Charles “Charlie” Brown thanked the Chamber for their support and said he hopes Holland will be around to celebrate their 100th anniversary in a few decades.
John Barnes, executive director for the Greater Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, presented the Franklin County award to Focus Design Builders, a construction-based company offering a single point of contact for design and construction services.
Founded in 2010 during an ebb in the construction industry, CEO Paul Eitel said it was faith that prompted him and his two business partners to start a construction business.
Three months into the business with $8 million in sales, Eitel said that faith paid off. The company now estimates 300-400 families benefit from the revenue generated by their small business alone.
Jonathan Williams, project developer for Focus Design Builders, also mentioned the education he received at Vance-Granville Community College before transferring to a four-year university.
“I’m proof that you can receive a quality education here locally,” Williams said in support of VGCC.
Granville County’s award recipient, US 98.3/Lakes Media LLC was presented their award by Sandra Dean Pruitt, president of Granville Insurance Agency.
Tom Birch, president, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Launched in Oxford in 2005 and expanding to South Boston in 2006, Birch said the station has approximately 45,000 listeners today.
Birch also proclaimed that “radio is alive and well” and is still the most effective medium of all reach platforms, including television, in the constantly-evolving communications game.
Warren County Chamber Chair Kathleen Derring presented the Warren County award to Hardware Café manager Haley Paynter.
Located in downtown Warrenton, the previous hardware store, now affectionately known by locals as the “red and black” café, has quite the history, including a recent change in management with Paynter at the helm.
Derring said this award was “a long time coming” for the Hardware Café and explained that as a small business owner herself, she knew that loving what you do is essential for success.
Held in conjunction with National Small Business Week, the annual luncheon highlighted and supported what Henderson-Vance Chamber Chair Nancy Wykle referred to as “the backbone of our community and our economy both nationally and locally, small business.”