New officers, directors installed at chamber annual meeting

By Jessica Johnson

February 1, 2014

Local business representatives, public officials, and organizations gathered at the 53rd annual meeting of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, held at Cross Creek Country Club, to reflect on achievements made in the past year and to install new officers and directors.

In addition, the award for 2014 Citizen of the Year went to Alan Connolly, executive vice president for SouthData, responsible for sales, customer service, and manufacturing operations for the billing division.

The 2014 Chairman of the Board was introduced as Curtis Taylor, CEO of Surry Telephone Membership Corp.

Highlights from the past year were shared by 2013 Board Chairman David O’Neal, including the achievement of topping the 500 member mark for chamber membership, with the number now at 504. In addition, the chamber enjoyed a 92.3 percent retention rate and experienced five percent growth. Other highlights from 2013 included investing in technology infrastructure, a new member benefit meeting, and an update of the chamber bylaws.

G.C. Huddle and Candace Payne of Shenandoah Furniture

Guest speakers were G.C. Huddle, founder and CEO of Shenandoah Furniture, and Shenandoah Furniture President Candace Payne. Shenandoah Furniture purchased the vacant Henredon plant last year, creating 60 new jobs, with a 2014 total yearly payroll that is expected to be in the $2.8-million range. Many of Henredon’s skilled upholstery craftsman who were unemployed after Henredon shut down were picked up by Shenandoah Furniture.

Shenandoah has invested at least $1.4 million into refurbishing the former Henredon facility.

Huddle told those gathered that he “really feels at home” in Mount Airy, and added that one of his daughter resides in town.

He shared details of his upbringing, and said the values he learned while growing up have translated into success today: “Sometimes you don’t get what you are looking for, but you roll up your sleeves and keep going, and one day you will get it.”

Shenandoah began in 1981, and Huddle shared that the ability to adapt and change through the years, while continually producing a high quality product, have resulted in the success of the company.

“The integrity of the product is of utmost importance to us.”

He added that, initially, when Shenandoah Furniture first purchased the former Henredon plant, they envisioned hiring around 25 to 30 employees, but now, with more production capacity, they have increased that number to 60 employees, which received a round of applause from the audience.

Huddle’s daughter, Candace Payne, joined the company in 1989 and serves as president today. She said the key to success was all about “building trust” with their clients, and said that their customer base appreciates their attention to detail and the time they take to understand each client’s needs.

Installation of officers and directors

Board members for 2014 were installed, including:

Andrea Kniskern — Haynes Strand and Company LLC

Jason Pike — BB&T Blue Ridge Burke Insurance

Greg Puckett — Surry Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation

Roger Cramer — Rogers Realty and Auction Company

Johnny Beamer — The North Carolina Granite Company

Julie Perkins — BB&T Blue Ridge Burke Insurance

George Schwab — Cross Creek Country Club

Rocky Killon — Shenandoah Furniture

Sheree Beasley — Scenic Motors

Denise Watson — Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care

Robbie Gardner — First Citizens Bank, Mount Airy

Dr. Leslie Stoklosa — Chiropractic Physician

Jimmy McCraw — Moody Funeral Service

Dr. David Shockley — Surry Community College

Dr. Greg Little — Mount Airy City Board of Education

Doug St Louis — Hanesbrands, Inc.

Ex Officio Members were recognized, including Mayor Deborah Cochran, President of Surry County Economic Development Partnership Todd Tucker, and Ben Webb of the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority Board.

Retiring board members included Benny Lisk of First Citizens Bank, Jeannie Jones of Northern Hospital of Surry County, Ben Cooke of Cooke Rentals, and Hugh Campbell of Campbell Law Group.

Sponsors for the event included signature sponsor, SouthData; event sponsor, Haynes Strand and Company; executive sponsor, Surry Telephone Membership Corporation; and associate sponsors BB&T, BB&T Blue Ridge Burke Insurance, CenturyLink, Duke Energy Carolinas, Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories, Mount Airy News, and WorkForce Carolina, Inc. The award sponsor was WorkForce Carolina, Inc. and the wine sponsor was Shelton Vineyards.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 or on Twitter @MountAiryJess.