The central portion of the manufacturing facility off Eaton Road was heavily damaged by a fire last December. Brakebush plans to restore the 72,000 square foot plant with state-of-the-art processing equipment. The updated facility will accommodate three production lines when fully utilized, which is projected for spring 2019.
According to Brakebush’s website, the company is retaining the employment of many of the management, administrative and hourly staff. When at full capacity, the plant will employ over 300 team members, and hiring will begin in early spring.
Bob Johnson, the CEO of House of Raeford, said, “ House of Raeford is pleased that Brakebush, one of the country’s premier further processing companies, will rebuild, upfit and continue to operate the Mocksville plant following the fire last December. The transaction will maintain quality employment and business opportunities in the community through the continued operation of this facility. We appreciate the patience of our employees through this transition.”
“In addition to the asset sale, the transaction provides for long-term reciprocal supply agreements between the parties. In addition to continued production and employment in the area, this transaction will result in an assured supply of raw material for Brakebush and its customers, and a continued supply of quality, fully cooked chicken products for House of Raeford customers.”
“We remain committed to our employees, and working together toward continued growth and success,” he added.
House of Raeford has paid the plant’s employees their normal wages since the fire on December 14, 2017, and despite the sale of the plant, will continue to do so through December 14, 2018, according to Bobbi Krieger, human resource manager.
Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, has been impressed with the steps House of Raeford has taken to care for its employees and appreciates its presence in Davie County.
“Thank you, House of Raeford for being such a wonderful community partner and for taking care of your employees in such a meaningful way. Davie County has been fortunate to have you as part of our community.”
He also welcomed Brakebush Brothers, saying, “It’s difficult to see a great company go, but we look forward to a new and mutually rewarding relationship with Brakebush in the months and years to come.”
About Brakebush Brothers, Inc.
Family-owned and operated since 1925, Brakebush Brothers, Inc. provides a complete line of further processed chicken with over 200 products for the foodservice industry. The company is headquartered in Westfield, WI with additional operations in Irving, TX and Wells, MN. Visit www.brakebush.com for more information.
The first to complete Ingersoll Rand’s apprenticeship program which began in 2015, Moore is now a full-time employee in the Mocksville plant’s maintenance department.
“Craig is our first success story and a poster child for the program,” Kern, human resources generalist, said with a smile. “He did an awesome job in the apprenticeship program, finished his schooling at DCCC, and the maintenance team has had really positive things to say about him. We are thrilled to now have him on board full time.”
Moore, who works third shift troubleshooting and repairing machinery, is equally excited and said, “I don’t just have a job, I’ve found a career.”
The Mocksville plant supports the Compression Technology Services Branch of Ingersoll Rand through the manufacturing of Rotary, Centrifugal, and Thermo King air compressors and fabricating parts for its Trane businesses.
Apprenticeship Program is a Pathway to Success
Like many companies across the nation, IR began its apprenticeship program to address the retirements of an aging workforce as well as a critical skills gap in the younger population.
“We have many employees, particularly in our maintenance department and machine shop, who will be retiring within the next ten years,” Kern said. “A lot of their knowledge is tribal knowledge based on what they have learned over time. Although we are documenting processes as fast as we can, there are so many different variances to processes and products that it is hard to get it all. We need them to be able to share their knowledge with new employees, but nationally, there aren’t many people going to school to be in maintenance, to be an electrician, a welder, a machinist, or to do a lot of these manufacturing trades.”
“Our goal is to find those students who don’t necessarily want to go to school to get a four-year degree. We want to find students interested in going to community college and who like to work with their hands, who like to take things apart and put them back together, who like to tinker with cars, who like to do these hands-on skilled trades and then give them a career path and find an opportunity for them.”
“We want to be ahead of that skills gap curve, and we want to help these students find a home but we also selfishly need employees who have this background, who have this skill set, and who have this knowledge. Maintenance employees are extremely important to the success of our company. According to the Machining Operations Manager, Stacy West, when a machine is down the company is losing $200 per hour.”
“Ingersoll Rand decided to make a big investment in students by paying them $14 an hour, which is significantly above minimum wage, to work 20 hours a week while attending classes at Davidson Community College to become a maintenance technician. We also pay for all of their tuition and all of their books. Our apprentices earn a degree, come out debt free, and have a full-time job opportunity waiting for them.”
“I took a couple of welding classes my sophomore year and met Janet Barnes (career and technical education (CTE) facilitator at Davie High) who told me about the Ingersoll Rand apprenticeship program and pushed me to apply,” Moore said. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, but graduation was coming quickly, and I had to do something. I knew I definitely wanted to do something with my hands; I’ve always worked on cars with my dad and grandparents. The apprenticeship program sounded like an excellent program, and I liked the idea of coming out of school not owing anything and having a great job. Ingersoll Rand has always been here, so I knew it would be a great place to work.”
His parents were enthusiastic about the opportunity and encouraged him to apply.
“They also liked the idea of not having to pay for college,” Moore said with a grin. “My dad started in maintenance and is now a plant manager at Alston Enclosures in Yadkinville, so they understood what a wonderful opportunity this could be for me.”
“I was worried about the school part at first, but it worked out well. If I had questions about what I was doing in school, I could come here, and the guys here would explain stuff to me and help me with my assignments.”
Moore graduated from high school in June and began the apprenticeship the first week of August. The program is designed to take around four years to complete because participants generally take a partial course load while working an average of 20 hours per week. A typical schedule would involve classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Once he got started, Moore opted to accelerate the program by going to school full-time while also working full-time. He completed the program in a little over 2 ½ years.
“I wanted to be able to put myself as far forward in life as I could. I will be able to buy a house instead of paying off college debt,” he said.
Kern is impressed by his efforts. “Craig is a real go-getter and took it upon himself to speed up the program, but we certainly don’t expect that,” she said. “When we talk to students, we promote the four-year plan, but because our maintenance department and machine shop operate on three shifts, we have the flexibility to work with students to find a schedule that best fits their needs.”
“A lot of high schoolers don’t want to do anything with their hands, they want a desk job and don’t want to get dirty, but I would definitely recommend Ingersoll Rand’s apprenticeship program if it is offered to them. It’s been a good thing for me personally,” Moore said. “I’m thankful for Mrs. Barnes’ support. Who knows where I’d be if she hadn’t put those papers in my hands and I hadn’t filled them out?”
Pleased with the program’s success so far, IR is expanding the program this fall to include three maintenance and three machining apprenticeships.
Applicants must be enrolled/plan to enroll in classes at DCCC in the summer or fall of 2018. To apply, visit Ingersoll Rand’s career website: www.ingersollrand.com/careers.
Ingersoll Rand is expanding its operations with plans to create 25 jobs and invest nearly $30 million in the Mocksville plant by the end of 2019. The Mocksville plant sits on 130 acres in Davie County, employs around 400 full-time employees, and supports the Compression Technology Services Branch of Ingersoll Rand through the manufacturing of Rotary, Centrifugal, and Thermo King air compressors and fabricating parts for our Trane businesses.
The capital investment is the result of the plant’s endeavor to become Ingersoll Rand’s “showcase facility,” according to Ashley Kern, Senior Human Resources Generalist. “Becoming a showcase facility is a three-pronged approach: 1) Process Capability – which is why we are investing a significant amount of money into our equipment. 2) People Capability – we are also investing in our people so that the organization can grow and mature. 3) The appearance of the facility – this is as simple as new paint, better lighting, and the cleanliness of the plant.”
In Region, For Region
“Ingersoll Rand operates by an “in region, for region” strategy which means we build a product in the region in which we want to sell it,” Kern said. “As a result of the recent closing of an Ingersoll Rand plant in Oberhausen, Germany and the in-sourcing of the contact-cooled airend product to the Mocksville plant, the company has made twenty local hires and we aren’t finished yet!” Kern said.
“We offer highly competitive wages, and our health, dental, and vision insurance, life insurance, and 401K benefits begin on day one, which is rather rare,” Kern said. “Our 401K match is significantly better than the industry standard with a dollar for dollar match up to six percent, plus an additional two percent from the company.”
IR Investments Improving Lives at Work & in the Community
Aesthetically, Ingersoll Rand has committed capital to renovate bathrooms, the employee break room, paint the floors, and replace the ceiling lighting.
“We are buying oil scrubbers to clean the air of the machine shop so that it is a more comfortable work environment for our machinists,” she said. “There are a lot of good things happening to improve the environment and to make this plant a showcase facility for Ingersoll Rand.”
Ingersoll Rand is also expanding its focus on reinvesting in the community through donations, time, and supplies.
“Our leadership team is involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and we are trying to participate more with Relay for Life and the Dragonfly House and other community organizations. We’ve also started donating food and supplies leftover from large events to Just HOPE.”
“We are making a significant, intentional attempt to give back to the community, and the employees are asking for it. They are driving us to action.”
“I believe there are a lot of big things on the horizon for this plant,” Kern said with a smile.
Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, appreciates the significant role Ingersoll Rand has played in the community for more than 50 years.
“Mocksville and Davie County are proud to host Ingersoll Rand, one of the leaders in the world in advanced manufacturing,” said Bralley. “For decades Ingersoll Rand has been the crown jewel of our community, providing jobs, and developing skills in the workforce for generations. This continued investment into their machining operation is great news for the future of this facility and our community. Their efforts in the community speak volumes about the commitment from the managers and workforce.”
About Ingersoll Rand
Ingersoll Rand is a diversified industrial manufacturer with market-leading brands serving customers in global commercial, industrial and residential markets.
The Mocksville plant opened in 1965 and began machining rotary components for air compressors. Since then, the Mocksville team has manufactured assemblies and components for many products within Ingersoll Rand’s product portfolio. The plant has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years as select assembly operations for Trane and Thermo King equipment were moved to the Mocksville plant.
To apply for a job at Ingersoll Rand visit: www.IngersollRand.com/Careers
After five years of successfully attracting manufacturing companies that created thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in investments, Davie County had a problem — no more buildings and no more workers.
“All of our working inventory had been absorbed into the system, and our unemployment rate had dropped to 3.7 percent which is almost fully employed,” said Terry Bralley, the president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission.
But rather than resting on its laurels, Bralley says the Economic Development Commission treated 2017 as a “building year” and worked to replenish Davie County’s supply of buildings and sought ways to provide companies with qualified employees.
“We know that 85% of industries that are looking today want an existing structure.
We are helping the private sector to develop industrial parks so that we have new buildings and building sites available. We are also concerned about the workforce and are seeking ways to add value moving forward by developing apprenticeship programs and working with the high school, the community college, and industry to facilitate engagement. We do realize that we have full employment here and we are working on ways to connect the schools and industry in a way they have not been connected in the past and to show our young people opportunities they may not have known existed,“ he said.
Rural infrastructure grants allowed the Hollingsworth Companies to expand the SouthPoint Business Park which now has a 108,000 sq ft. speculative building ready and three graded, pad-ready sites which would allow a building to be built in 6 to 8 months. The commission is also in conversation with Windsor Commercial of Greensboro to provide additional speculative buildings.
Bralley said that economic development involves periods of growth and periods of preparation. Last year’s lull in development allowed the commission to analyze its process and focus on the future.
“We are always looking for ways to get better which is why we are currently working on a new five-year strategic plan to determine where we need to be, where the jobs are going to be, and what we need to do to take advantage of those opportunities,” Bralley said. “The plan paves the way for the future for the next five to ten years and gives our leadership a comprehensive roadmap to follow.”
Ted Abernathy, an economic development & strategic planning consultant with 35 years of experience in directing economic development and workforce development programs, was hired to prepare a five-year economic development strategic plan for Davie County. The report provides a comprehensive review of all existing economic development strategies, an evaluation of the current economic state of the county, an assessment of trends impacting Davie County’s economic competitiveness, and a cluster analysis for Davie County with recommendations for future targets.
Abernathy presented his report to around 150 local leaders and federal, state, and local elected officials at the State of Davie meeting on March 9th.
During his presentation, he shared statistics comparing Davie County to both rural and metro counties as well as to the state of North Carolina as a whole. Those areas included job growth, percentage of jobs by sector, and the number of housing units,
Davie County has outpaced its neighbors in job growth, and is up 29.7 percent since 2010 compared to a state average of 12.5 percent. Davie County’s percentage of manufacturing jobs is more than double the state average while the combined percentage of white collar jobs in the financial, business, and professional sector and health and education is significantly lower.
Conversely, the county has had a relatively flat housing market with only a one percent increase from 2010-2016. The number of housing units has increased in North Carolina by 4.8 percent in the same time. To attract young professionals to Davie County, there is a need for modern updated rental housing.
Abernathy indicated that by understanding Davie County’s competitive position, leadership can better allocate the community’s resources. He added that the economic development goal of successful places requires a mix of factors including the depth of workforce talent, the business climate including costs and regulatory issues, the connective infrastructure (roads, air service, water & sewer, broadband), currently available buildings and shovel-ready sites, and the quality of life factors that appeal to current and potential workers.
His recommendations for continued economic growth included:
- Maintaining an inventory of zoned shovel-ready sites with existing utilities, that are competitively prices and located at appropriate places
- Increasing the availability of skilled labor
- Analyzing the county’s incentive policies and prioritizing companies that offer wages that exceed the county average
- Offering positive quality of life factors like low crime rate, quality public schools, health care facilities, housing availability, housing costs, colleges & universities in the area, recreational opportunities, cultural opportunities
- Attracting new housing and new younger residents
Download Abernathy’s entire Davie County EDC 2018 Strategic Plan report.
In addition to Abernathy’s recommendations, Bralley considers leadership development critical to Davie County’s long-term growth, and alignment key to its continued success.
“We’ve had a great group of people here who have worked together on a lot of projects. The next generation needs to know how that was done and how to do it even better. We need to ensure that our future is in the hands of people who are informed and understand where we have been and are equipped to take us where we need to go in the future,” he said.
“We need to align all of our energy — the towns, the county, the schools, the community college — and make sure we are all aimed in the right direction and aligned with the region and the state in terms of the types of companies and clusters we are trying to attract,” Bralley said. “We are learning from what we’ve done and looking at new and better ways of creating opportunities for business and industry to come to Davie County.”
This story was originally published in the Progressive Davie insert in the Davie County Enterprise on March 22,2018 and is reprinted here with permission.
There is an old phrase that says, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” House of Raeford Farms in Mocksville is doing just that after the central portion of the chicken processing plant off Eaton Road was heavily damaged by a fire on December 14th.
While investigators and insurance adjusters have investigated the cause of the fire and determined the extent of the damage, House of Raeford has maintained its commitment to its 150 employees by continuing to pay their normal wage until further notice.
More Than 100 Local Families are Grateful for Company Support
House of Raeford, a family-owned company, made that same generous commitment to its employees last February when the Wallace, NC plant burned to the ground. Over about a two-and-a-half month period, employees were paid their regular wages until they could be relocated to the company’s Rose Hill, NC plant or decided to leave for other opportunities. The Wallace location is scheduled to reopen this summer.
“Bob Johnson, the CEO of House of Raeford, often says ‘“the company and the buildings are just brick and mortar but what really makes this company are the people.”’ Nothing could be truer today, and we appreciate the patience of our employees as we work to provide some settlement to their unexpected situation,” said Dave Witter, manager of corporate sustainability and communications.
Such a commitment to employees is a rarity in the business world today, and the employees at the Mocksville location do not take it for granted.
“I genuinely appreciate the effort House of Raeford is making to show its employees that they are valued members of a team by continuing to pay all of our salaries even while the plant is not operational,” said Angela Delk, quality supervisor. “I know for a fact that some of the bigger companies would have sent people home with nothing but a shallow promise to rehire once the plant is reopened. I think this is one of the benefits of working for a family-owned business and I am very grateful.”
“House of Raeford has been amazing in paying us while the plant is down,” said Roxana Norris, team lead.
Latia Melton, a machine operator, agreed, saying “House of Raeford has been amazing to us and has shown how much they care for us. We are a family here at the chicken plant.”
Micah Harris, a machine operator, added, “House of Raeford is what a work family is about.”
“You hate for something tragic to happen in order for everyone to realize what a great company you work for, but it’s times like these that show you how a company really feels about you and that you are important,” said Bobbi Krieger, human resources manager. “I think all of our employees understand that they are very valued.”
House of Raeford Uses Down Time to Provide Workforce Training
The company’s mission, “To do the right thing in all things that we do” is also evident in its effort to offer employees multiple opportunities to expand their skills and improve their lives while the plant is rebuilt. According to Bobbi Krieger, human resources manager, employees have many options available.
Travis Hoeben, the plant’s chaplain, will be teaching Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to interested employees. Employed by House of Raeford through a partnership with the Corporate Chaplains of America program, he also assists employees with personal, work-related, family, or financial issues and can be called anytime, day or night, in a crisis.
Lisa raft, a representative of The College of Davidson and Davie Counties, attended an employee meeting to share information about GED and ESL classes, Career Readiness Certification, and continuing education and college classes.
Jill Hidalji, Wellbeing Muse Advisory Career & Wellbeing Coach, will be conducting training for team leaders.
The company will also be conducting in-house training and team building exercises.
Additionally, Krieger reached out to the Winston Salem chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) for added support. They put her in touch with Holly McDaniel of The Resource, which is assisting employees who are interested in temporary jobs while the plant is closed, and Goodwill Industries which will be offering outplacement services.
“In addition to wages, we have provided the resources and training opportunities, and it will be up to our employees to take advantage of them,” said Krieger, adding that sign-ups have been good.
“House of Raeford a Shining Example of Humanity”
Terry Bralley, president of Davie County Economic Development, has been impressed with the steps House of Raeford has taken to care for its employees and appreciates its presence in Davie County.
“I think House of Raeford stands as a shining example of humanity, with a reputable character for a company and employer – the kind of right stuff this community is made of and delivers on,” he said.
“Our employees are our family, and we don’t want to let our family down,” said Marty Gautreau, general manager. “We want to take care of our folks as if they were part of our family. We have to continue to rebuild the operation. We don’t have an exact timeline, but we are going to be back in business and processing chicken hopefully in the very near future.”
The plant has begun demolition of the damaged portion and will reopen as quickly as possible.
“I have worked for House of Raeford for many years and in many different plants. This company means a lot to me and I believe in us,” said Stephen Mixon, operations manager. “I truly have been blessed to be a part of their management team all these years. We are going to rebuild and build stronger.”
Krieger added, “Once you weather something like this together, you become a very tight group. It’s going to be good when we reopen.”
About House of Raeford Farms
House of Raeford Farms, Inc. is one of the nation’s top ten largest chicken processors, providing ready-to-cook and further processed chicken products to the foodservice, retail, and export markets. The company is family-owned and operated and based out of Rose Hill, North Carolina with additional facilities in Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina. House of Raeford Farms FLOCK is the company’s non-profit arm that aims to help people in the communities in which House of Raeford operates through youth development, hunger relief, and other programs. Last year FLOCK donated over $1.1 million and approximately 212,000 pounds of chicken to people in need across the Southeastern United States. Visit HouseofRaeford.com for more information.
Two Davie County Companies Listed on JUST 100 Ranking
Forbes magazine, in partnership with Just Capital, recently released its JUST list of the top-100 U.S. corporations, and two Davie County companies, VF Corp (85) and Ingersoll Rand (97) made the list.
The nation’s 1000 largest publicly traded companies were evaluated on “how they perform on the issues Americans care about most.”
Those issues include worker pay and treatment, customer respect, product quality and environmental impact. Just Capital surveyed 10,000 respondents in 2017 and more than 72,000 over the past three years.
The top 10 are Intel, Texas Instruments, Nvidia, Microsoft, IBM, Accenture, Cisco Systems, Alphabet, Salesforce.com and Symantec.
“Business can and should be a unifying force for good in America today, but what it needs is a new North Star,” said Martin Whittaker, CEO of JUST Capital. “That is what these rankings represent. By trusting in the American people to define what really matters when it comes to measuring business performance, we think we can help breathe life into the vision of a more just economy that better serves the broader best interests of society.”
“The second annual JUST 100 list serves as a report card for corporate America, providing unbiased data about how corporations are performing on the issues Americans care most about,” said Forbes editor Randall Lane. “At a time when corporate America, as a whole, faces low public approval, the companies in the JUST 100 provide an example for their peers on how to win back the trust of the American people.”
About VF Corporation
VF Corporation is an American worldwide apparel and footwear company founded in 1899 and headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina. The company’s more than 30 brands are organized into five product categories: Outdoor & Action Sports, Jeanswear, Imagewear, Sportswear and Contemporary Brands.
The company has operated a distribution center in Mocksville since 1988. Formerly Lee Jeans, the VF Jeanswear distribution center employs more than 400 people in Davie County.
About Ingersoll Rand
Ingersoll Rand is a global leader in compressed air and gas systems and services, power tools and fluid and material handling equipment.
The Mocksville plant opened in 1965 and began machining rotary components for air compressors. Since then, the Mocksville team has manufactured assemblies and components for a number of products within Ingersoll Rand’s product portfolio. The plant has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years as select assembly operations for Trane and Thermo King equipment were moved to the Mocksville plant.
Mocksville employs a workforce of 400 full-time associates.
Congratulations VF Corp. and Ingersoll Rand for making the list. We are proud that you are part of our community!
North Carolina is now the nation’s top state to do business, according to Forbes Magazine’s Best States for Business ranking.
Although North Carolina is the only state to appear among the top five states all 12 years since the magazine launched the list, this year is the first time it has occupied the top spot. Last year, Forbes ranked North Carolina # 2.
Over the past twenty years, North Carolina has built one of the nation’s healthiest business climates through low business costs, incentives, and a young and educated workforce. The state’s strong universities and resources such as Research Triangle Park have helped train that labor pool, the magazine said.
Migration rates into the state are also among the highest in the U.S. annually, according to Forbes.
Frank Emory Jr., chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) Board of Directors, said recognition in third-party rankings the caliber of Forbes helps the state market itself to companies considering the best place to locate or expand.
“This year has been a good one for the state, in terms of such rankings,” Emory said. “Not only is North Carolina Forbes’ top state for business, but we’re also Site Selection magazine’s most competitive state for attracting new plants and its No. 2 state for the best business climate. In addition, Chief Executive lists North Carolina as the third-best state for business, and CNBC ranks it fifth-best.”
NC Only State in Top 20 in all Six Categories
Forbes’ list evaluates states based on their business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. This year, North Carolina is the only state to place among the top 20 states in all six categories, according to the magazine.
North Carolina jumped to the top spot in this year’s ranking because of its improved employment outlook and second-lowest business costs (covering labor, energy, and taxes), Forbes said.
Following North Carolina among the top 5 on Forbes’ Best States for Business 2017 are Texas, Utah, Nebraska, and Virginia.
I sat down with Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission, to talk about this exciting news and to discuss the ways Davie County is capitalizing on North Carolina’s positive business climate.
Q: Were you surprised that North Carolina received the #1 spot on Forbes’ Best States for Business ranking?
I wasn’t surprised at all; North Carolina has a terrific geographic location supported by great infrastructure with close proximity to the ports. We have great rail systems, great road systems, and an excellent business climate. We are working on regulatory reform and rolling taxes back to be more business-friendly. We have a great university system here in North Carolina, which has created a great workforce. North Carolina has a lot to offer and has worked hard to earn this spot.
Q: The Forbes list evaluates states on their business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. How does Davie County stack up in these critical areas?
Those are all critical areas that North Carolina has looked at long and hard. The North Carolina General Assembly is rolling back corporate taxes and instituting regulatory reform. We witnessed that this year with Senate Bill 131, which included modifications to the insulation R-values required for certain types of buildings, as well as the resolution of some wetland and environmental issues. I think the general assembly and the people we have elected to public office get it and understand what it takes to strike the delicate balance of less regulation and fewer taxes to make ourselves more attractive to major industry.
Those same attributes are well-reflected here in Davie County. Locally we try to be competitive with our existing companies by helping them to expand and take advantage of whatever state and federal grants and programs are available to help them become low-cost producers for what the do.
I also think Davie County is actively engaged in what is going on in our state when it comes to economic development. We understand what it takes to move an economy both locally and state-wide. We are constantly talking to our lawmakers in Raleigh, and we make the North Carolina Department of Commerce aware of the efforts we are making here. We are continuously looking for ways to better ourselves, and we don’t leave it up to the state and the federal governments to fix our problems or change our small county for us. We aren’t looking for handouts; we are looking for partnerships.
Q: What is Davie County doing to take advantage of the positive developments at the state level in North Carolina?
We are helping the private sector to develop industrial parks so that we have new buildings and building sites available. We are also concerned about the workforce and are seeking ways to add value moving forward by developing apprenticeship programs and working with the high school, the community college and industry to facilitate engagement. We do realize that we have full employment here and we are working on ways to connect the schools and industry in a way they have not been connected in the past and to show our young people opportunities they may not have known existed.
Davie County has developed within the state a reputation for winning deals and doing what it takes to bring new companies to our community and to help our existing companies win opportunities. Our reputation is a positive thing for the brokers and developers that I work and deal with. We are always looking for ways to get better which is why we are currently working on a new five-year strategic plan to determine where we need to be, where the jobs are going to be and what we need to do to take advantage of those opportunities.
Q: Over the last five years, Davie County has been very successful attracting manufacturing companies that have created thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new investment. To what do you attribute our success?
We were able to take advantage of a growing economy. We had buildings and available product, and we connected with our brokers and the North Carolina Department of Commerce to bring companies here. At the beginning we had a double-digit unemployment rate, so we had a workforce that was available, which is one of the top five things companies consider when looking for a location. We had the road network, and we had all of the necessary relationships in place. The leadership here among the towns and the county is pro-industry and understands that you need jobs for your citizens and opportunities to grow your economy. I think we had the right chemistry to make things happen.
Q: What do you see as our biggest challenges in keeping the momentum in our favor?
Over the years we have learned to make things happen by identifying potential problems or issues and then taking steps to remove the obstacles. I believe we need to focus on developing our next generation of leaders by teaching them the tools we used to gain our advantages while also looking ahead at new tools that may become available. Also, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must remain proactive by looking to the future regarding where jobs are going to be and what new horizons for new companies might be out there. Working with the education system to train the next workforce and making them aware of the opportunities that might exist will continue to be important.
One of the biggest weaknesses in rural counties is infrastructure: water, sewer, natural gas, fiber optics, and rail. We just don’t have the urban concentration to be able to afford to put those in place, but they are critical to our ability to continue to develop industrial sites. Continued site development is certainly a priority. We have to make sure our state and local leaders are aware of those weaknesses and work to make them stronger.
Q: What are Davie County’s most significant challenges over the next five to ten years and what can we do now to begin addressing them?
What we have is good, but we must continue to ask ourselves ‘how do we get better and how do we sustain that?’
We will have to face the challenges of having an older workforce as well as leaders that are a little older. We must continue to develop new talent in leadership roles across the county as well as the state.
We have a low unemployment rate, so workforce development will continue to be a major issue. We are going to have to find ways to attract people to Davie County to help us grow because we suffer from a shortage of labor as does the nation as a whole. We have to do a better job of making people aware of the amenities we have to offer and why they should want to live here. Our quality of life and family values should be a huge draw as well as our proximity to major medical centers and shopping areas.
We must also constantly look forward to new and better ways to attract higher paying jobs and additional jobs for our younger generations that have gone off to universities and would like the opportunity to come back home.
Creating the strategic plan and making sure that we are on the same page and focusing hard on the future will ensure that we ready and able to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
Note: aerial and still photos courtesy Ed Simmons Photography
Davie County participated in National Manufacturing Day for the first time this year through the collaborative efforts of the Davie County Chamber of Commerce, Davie County Schools, Davie County Economic Development, DCCC and the Davie business community.
On October 6th, students from Ellis and North Davie Middle Schools each toured two different locations including DEX Heavy Duty Parts, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres, Ingersoll Rand, Pro Refrigeration, DCCC – Davie Campus, WFBH-Davie Medical Center – Bermuda Run and the Davie Construction – Dragonfly House construction site.
South Davie students toured Ashley Furniture and met the company’s Founder and Chairman of the Board, Ron Wanek, on October 12th. Many of these students had attended Mocksville Elementary and written to Wanek asking him to locate his new manufacturing and distribution facility in Davie County. They got to experience the fruits of their labor first-hand.
Approximately 500 students and staff were exposed to the many outstanding career opportunities that exist here in the county. Business leaders provided informative tours including examples of how their employees use math, science, technology, and communication skills. Students were intrigued with the emphasis on safety, size of the facilities, variety of jobs including the educational requirements for the job, and the machinery used in the day-to-day operation of the businesses. DCCC showcased its many educational programs through informational stations as well as tours of its mobile labs, a fire truck, and a tractor trailer used for the truck driving program.
Hosted annually, Manufacturing Day is a national event executed at the local level and typically focuses on manufacturing careers. “We expanded the types of businesses students visited to better align the many opportunities available here in Davie. With a newly opened state-of-the-art medical facility in Bermuda Run, expansive career path offerings at DCCC and the opportunity for a comprehensive tour of an active construction site, our event was truly a “career exploration day” for our students,” said Carolyn McManamy, President of the Davie County Chamber of Commerce.
“Middle school students are the next generation workforce and these tours are designed to expose them to career opportunities, show how their current and future curriculum ties to real- world careers and ignite interest in their future,” McManamy said. “During the tours, businesses showcased the scope of jobs available at their facilities and discussed the requisite higher education or skills training needed. For example, students who toured Davie Construction’s building site for the Dragonfly House learned about the many different functions needed to complete a project – from architecture and engineering to site supervision and actual building of the structure.”
“We have received such great feedback from our businesses as well as the students and teachers,” she said. “This is the first in a series of programs that will directly connect our students to our businesses. The next steps will involve developing a formal program where students of various ages are exposed to a broad variety of career paths and educational opportunities,” McManamy said. “Aligning business needs with curriculum will ensure Davie County has a ready and able workforce to meet the challenges of businesses today and in the future.”
As facilitators of Davie High’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, it is their job to open the eyes of students to all of their career options.
Enrolling in CTE classes and courses of study is an excellent way to explore these other pathways.
“We are programmed to think that the more post-secondary education a student gets is better and that a four-year degree will ensure future employment, but that isn’t always the case,” said Barnes.
“There are technical programs that need students with strong math skills, like in the engineering fields. Students who get a two-year degree in computer-integrated manufacturing or electronics engineering have the opportunity for advancement and management positions.”
“And employers are fighting for them,” Goldfuss chimed in, “and are sometimes willing to pay for their education.”
“There are so many high flyers from community colleges who have incredibly successful careers, but there are a lot of students who think they have to get their 4-year degree in mechanical engineering to get those jobs,” Goldfuss explained. “There are so many other options. I wish we could broaden all students’ horizons.”
Explore Career Options Tuition Free
“Sometimes kids don’t know what they want to do,” Goldfuss added. “Our classes, and the DCCC Career and College Promise program, where you aren’t paying tuition, are a great place for students to find out if a field is really for them.”
Goldfuss gave an example, ”We had a young lady who went all the way through the certified nursing program, but when I saw her at Harris Teeter after graduation, she was going to Liberty for communications. She found out tuition-free that nursing was not what she wanted to do.”
“This is a perfect time in life for students to find out what they like, before their parents spend all of that money on tuition or the student shoulders the financial responsibility and comes out with a mound of debt and no direction,” Goldfuss said.
CTE classes provide students with the academic and technical skills, knowledge, and training necessary to succeed in future careers, and Davie High has many options for students to explore. The expanded CTE facilities at the new high school allow more students to participate in the most popular programs and will provide enhanced learning opportunities as well as the ability to increase the number of CTE concentrations offered.
Davie CTE Ranked Among Best in the State of North Carolina
The school currently offers CTE courses in agriculture, business, health science, family and consumer science, marketing, technology, and trade and industry. Davie’s program is consistently ranked in the top 10 across the state.
Several of these areas of study also offer certifications. The certifications, such as the NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) certification available to students who complete concentrations in carpentry, masonry, and core & sustainable construction, demonstrate a student’s skill level and makes them highly desirable to prospective employers.
In addition, seniors, who qualify as a concentrator, which means they have taken four classes in a pathway, have the opportunity to get an ACT WorkKeys National Career Readiness Credential. The credential certifies the essential skills for workplace success. Employers look for it from job candidates, whether they come directly from high school or through postsecondary paths because it is a valid predictor of job performance.
Goldfuss expects to test around 150 students this year and said that Davie students do well on the test. Two years ago, Davie was number three in the state for their WorkKeys results, and although fewer than 1% of people who take the nationwide test, usually adults, get a platinum level credential, a student from Davie has gotten one each of the past three years.
CTE Internships- Real World Experience & Work-Based Learning
Internships are available for juniors and seniors in all CTE areas. Internships help students connect what they are learning to the real world, and they provide key skills needed for getting a job after graduation. They are also a great way to explore career options and meet the people who work in them.
Davie High currently has interns at Fuller Welding, Gesipa, Harris Teeter, MAC Builders, Shore Fencing, and Southern Ties Boutique.
“Internships are where the rubber really meets the road,” Goldfuss said. “This is where the kids get out there and find out if what they thought would be so cool really is.”
“We are always looking for anyone who would give our students work-based learning experiences,” Barnes added. She is also grateful to the Mocksville Rotary Club for providing job shadowing opportunities for juniors in the program.
The school also sponsors a number of career and technical student organizations such as the National Technical Honor Society, DECA, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), SkillsUSA, Technology Student Association (TSA), FCCLA, Future Educators Association (FEA), FFA, and HOSA. These organizations provide students with additional opportunities to explore their chosen field through leadership development, networking, and competitions.
CTE Students Engaged, Graduating, and Experiencing Success
Barnes noted that CTE involvement not only enhances students’ career options, it increases their educational engagement.
“More than 90% of students who enroll in career and technical education graduate because they have found something they are interested in and invested in,” she said. “The regular graduation rate across the nation is around 80%, so that is a huge difference.”
Research studies agree. A study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute used data from Arkansas to explore whether students benefit from Career Technical Education (CTE) coursework – and, more specifically, from focused sequences of CTE courses aligned to certain industries. The study finds positive outcomes in graduation, postsecondary degree attainment, and salary for CTE concentrators. Key findings include:
- Students with greater CTE exposure are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
- CTE students are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers. There was little evidence of “tracking.”
- The more CTE courses students take, the better their education and labor market outcomes. Among other positive outcomes, CTE concentrators are more likely to graduate high school by 21 percentage points when compared to otherwise similar students.
Barnes and Goldfuss agree that the benefits of a career and technical education can be endless and they both love their jobs. “It’s great to open students’ eyes a little bit and to help them to find the pathway that will lead them to their best and most successful future.”
For more information about Davie County High School’s Career and Technical Education program, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call the high school at 336.751.5905.
As owner and CEO of the Hollingsworth Companies, the largest non-urban industrial real estate developer and construction firm in the southeastern United States, which owns the SouthPoint Industrial Park on US Hwy 601 in Mocksville, he carefully researches economic trends.
“It is my belief that the next 12 years will be the best economic period of our lives,” Hollingsworth said.
“We are coming out of the “Perfect Storm” that had formed against industrial development in the last 10 years. Over-regulation in banking, building codes, and environmental regulations had a virtual stranglehold on industrial developers.”
“While I hear the naysayers and economists pontificate on why this expansion has matured and is getting close to the end, I maintain that never in America’s existence has there been more oppression, rules, regulations, and productivity killers put in the place than the last 12 years. But that is changing. According to recent figures in the Wall Street Journal, over 600 rules and regulations spread out over all departments of federal government have been revised, lifted, or altered to reflect an easier way to do business, all in the last 7 months,” he said.
“The revised rules coupled with the present administration’s intentions over the next 3 years will transform America into achieving productivity and wage increases at a pace that it has historically enjoyed. These changes will allow business to return to the citizens of our country the opportunity and individual growth they deserve.”
“We are investing in it. Many of our 124 tenants are investing in it, and the outcome will benefit us all. Internally, we have seen three times as many prospects per month and two times as many real deals as compared to any time during the last 10 years.”
Hollingsworth believes North Carolina and Davie County are primed and ready to take advantage of this improving economic climate.
“At the state level, the North Carolina Legislature understood the challenges, and didn’t just talk about them, they actually made the changes necessary to create the right business environment in North Carolina, and they are not done yet!”
“Through the hard work of the North Carolina Legislature, and the strong leadership of your local representative, Julia Howard, one of the most crippling regulations, the International Energy Conservation Code, was repealed for industrial properties. This represents at least a 16% cost savings for one of our industrial buildings.”
“The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina also has been a great partner helping us across the state with all of our North Carolina properties; and, with the recent grant announcement to extend the road and utilities, this expansion was possible.”
Hollingsworth is willing to “put his money where his mouth is.” On Monday, his company broke ground on Phase III of the SouthPoint Industrial Park. Construction will begin immediately on a 108,960 square foot spec building and three pre-graded building pads. This combined 641,000 square feet of additional industrial space has the potential of providing hundreds of new jobs over the next five years.
“We could NOT have proceeded with this park expansion without this regulatory reform. Having a more business friendly regulatory environment is a positive step in making North Carolina more competitive. But what industry really wants are modern, flexible industrial spec buildings, and they want them NOW at a reasonable cost!”
“If there is no available stock of industrial buildings, the opportunity is missed and the growth just simply does not happen.”
But thanks to the Hollingsworth Companies, Davie County will be prepared. The four new sites should be completed by the end of the first quarter in 2018.
“We deal in seventeen states and 41 municipalities and Davie County has the best consistent leadership we deal with that realizes what it takes to grow a community,” Hollingsworth added. “We will spend more speculative dollars betting on future prospects in Davie County than anywhere else we do business this year.”
“The expansion of SouthPoint Business Park here in Mocksville will ensure that this community will keep winning for the next 20 years.”