Small businesses honored by neighborhood chambers
May 13 – HENDERSON – Every year, Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce President Michele Burgess questions whether the previous crop of Small Business of the Year nominees can be surpassed.
The 2021 peloton did not disappoint.
Its winners were crowned Wednesday at the Henderson Country Club at an annual luncheon hosted by four area chambers of commerce and the Vance-Granville Community College Small Business Center.
“We just think every year we can’t make somebody better,” Burgess said, “but then we get other names and we’re like, ‘Oh yeah. “
The Small Business of the Year winners, chosen by an anonymous committee, were announced Wednesday by the Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce as well as the Granville County Chamber of Commerce, the County Chamber of Commerce of Greater Franklin and the Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce.
Country Snacks Manufacturing got the green light from Henderson-Vance and Huff Consulting of Oxford won Granville County’s highest honor. Franklin County selected Cook Shack Catering as the winner and REMAX Premier Realty received recognition from the Roxboro Chamber.
The awards portion of the event followed an address by guest speakers Miles Kirksey and Torie Keeton of the NC Rural Center. The program also included remarks from Tanya Evans, representing Duke Energy, sponsor of the Small Business of the Year award, as well as Sheri Jones, director of VGCC’s Small Business Center.
Henderson-Vance County Chamber of Commerce President Ronald Bennett presented the Country Snacks Manufacturing award, surprising the audience by pulling out a yellow bag of fried pork fat from Carolina Country Snacks and raising his hand right to showcase one of their popular products.
“Has anyone else seen these bags?” Bennett said.
“This local Country Snacks Manufacturing business started in 2000,” Bennett added, “and has brought positive recognition to our community with each package of pigskins, proudly printed with ‘Henderson, North Carolina’ and a Bible verse at the back. .”
Country Snacks President Angela Jacobs has taken over the reins of the business from founder, her father Dwight Frazier.
The company has grown from six employees in its early days to over 35 and in recent years has expanded to a national market.
Burgess thanked the Frazier and Jacobs families for keeping the business in the family and praised public-minded Angela Jacobs, who sits on the Henderson-Vance chamber board and is involved in a number other community services.
“Pig skins — you see it everywhere,” Burgess said. “When their trucks crumble [Interstate 40] go to Wilmington, when you go to Richmond, when you go to a convenience store. They are everywhere. So this part just gives Vance County high visibility because Henderson, NC is on the back of the bag. »
Huff Consulting was founded in 2010 at the home of Randall Huff, but the company moved to Williamsboro Street in Oxford in August 2021.
Much of the consulting firm’s current offerings focus on helping companies recruit and retain employees.
Granville Chamber CEO Lauren Roberson also touted Huff Consulting’s presence in the community, including their involvement in a recent autism fundraiser.
“So they’re giving back to the community,” Roberson said, “but also what they do as a business is so critical right now with our labor shortage.”
Huff called the company’s move to Williamsboro Street, and all that comes with it, a “blessing” and he knows Huff Consulting has found the right place.
“We look forward to being a mainstay in the community for a long time,” Huff said.
Kirksey, advocacy engagement coordinator for the NC Rural Center, cited a report from the NC secretary of state that found 300,000 new businesses registered in the state since 2020. Last year, the 178,300 new business start-up deposits were more than double the amount recorded four years earlier.
Kirksey said rural areas have been hit by what he called the “small business boom”.
The Rural Center serves all 78 rural counties in the state with an emphasis on low-to-moderate income and resource-constrained communities.
“Rural isn’t just a place,” Kirksey said. “It’s a way of life. And a lot of us wouldn’t trade it for what we have in Wake County, County Durham, etc.”
The majority of Henderson-Vance Chamber members are small businesses, the “backbone” of the Chamber as Burgess called them.
Running a small business is an exercise in ingenuity.
“They don’t have the IT departments to call when their computer crashes,” Burgess said. “They don’t have the human resources department to call on when they need to hire someone. They don’t have the finance department to call on to do the audit or do the payroll. C ‘s like one, two and three man stores sometimes and they stay up late at night filling the payroll, figuring out, ‘How am I going to get these positions filled?’ “
It’s more like a family, Jacobs postulated.
“You are with them almost as much or more than you are with your own family,” Jacobs said. “That’s how we think about Country Snacks Manufacturing and I bet that’s how every small business feels. You can really invest in the people you work with.”