Surry County NewsRead about new business, events and news that effects life and commerce in the western Piedmont Triad.
MOUNT AIRY, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Insteel Industries Inc. (NYSE: IIIN) today announced financial results for its third quarter ended July 2, 2022.
Third Quarter 2022 Results
For the third quarter of fiscal 2022, Insteel reported net earnings of $38.6 million, or $1.96 per diluted share, up from $18.4 million, or $0.94 per diluted share, for the same period a year ago. The Company’s results were favorably impacted by strong demand for its reinforcing products and incremental price increases to recover the escalation in raw material and operating costs.
Net sales increased to $227.2 million from $160.7 million for the prior-year quarter driven by a 53.9% increase in average selling prices partially offset by an 8.2% decrease in shipments. The average selling price increase was the result of price increases implemented across all product lines to recover rapidly escalating costs. The unfavorable shipment volume comparison was driven by lower activity in the Company’s standard welded wire reinforcement product line together with curtailed operating hours at certain facilities related to staffing challenges. On a sequential basis, average selling prices increased 6.3% while shipments were unchanged compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2022.
Gross profit increased to $58.1 million from $31.5 million in the prior year quarter and gross margin widened 600 basis points to 25.6% from 19.6% in the prior year quarter due to higher spreads between selling prices and raw material costs. Insteel’s net earnings for the current year quarter reflect a $1.0 million decrease in the cash surrender value of life insurance policies, which increased selling, general, and administrative (“SG&A”) expenses and decreased net earnings per share by $0.04. In the prior year, the impact of this item increased net earnings by $0.01 per share.
Operating activities used $5.0 million of cash compared with providing $36.2 million for the prior-year quarter due to an increase in net working capital, which used $45.5 million of cash in the current year quarter to fund an increase in inventories. In the prior-year quarter, net working capital provided $13.2 million.
Nine Month 2022 Results
Net earnings for the first nine months of fiscal 2022 were $100.7 million, or $5.13 per diluted share, compared to $41.5 million, or $2.13 per diluted share, for the same period a year ago. Net sales increased to $618.8 million from $419.3 million for the prior year period driven by a 62.2% increase in average selling prices partially offset by a 9.1% decrease in shipments. Gross profit increased to $157.5 million from $81.6 million in the same period a year ago and gross margin widened 600 basis points to 25.5% from 19.5% due to higher spreads.
Insteel’s net earnings for the current year period reflect a $1.4 million decrease in the cash surrender value of life insurance policies, which increased SG&A expense and decreased net earnings per share by $0.06. In the prior year period, the impact of this item increased net earnings by $0.06 per share.
Operating activities provided $15.1 million of cash compared with $65.5 million in the prior year period due to an increase in net working capital, which used $99.5 million of cash in the current year period to fund an increase in inventories. In the prior year period, net working capital provided $11.9 million.
Capital Allocation and Liquidity
Capital expenditures for the first nine months of fiscal 2022 decreased to $12.3 million from $13.7 million for the prior year period and are now expected to total up to $20 million in 2022, due to extended delivery horizons for certain capital equipment the Company plans to deploy. Capital outlays for the year are focused on supporting the growth of the engineered structural mesh business, cost and productivity improvement initiatives, and recurring maintenance needs.
Insteel ended the quarter debt-free with $63.0 million of cash and no borrowings outstanding on its $100.0 million revolving credit facility.
“We expect our historically strong financial performance to continue for the fiscal fourth quarter,” commented H.O. Woltz III, Insteel’s President and CEO. “Our markets remain robust and economic indicators for non-residential construction activity along with internal customer and market insights point to continued momentum through the balance of the calendar year.”
Woltz continued, “While deliveries of offshore steel wire rod alleviated the raw material shortfalls that constrained production and shipping volumes during the first half of the year, we are increasingly contending with unusually tight labor markets that have prevented full capacity operating schedules at certain facilities. We have responded to this challenge with innovative work schedules and higher pay levels which we believe will support the ramp up in production we expect through the end of the calendar year. Longer term, our capital investment plan should reduce our labor intensity and operating costs, together with supporting other strategic and commercial objectives.”
“As mentioned earlier in the release, during Q3 we began to experience softening conditions in the market for standard welded wire reinforcement which is our most commodity-like product line and is the Company’s only product line that is sold through distribution channels rather than directly to end users. Demand for standard welded wire reinforcement is also driven by new home construction to a greater degree than the Company’s other products. During Q3 we believe slowing new home construction together with distribution channels that had recovered from supply shortfalls caused customers to more tightly manage inventories thereby unfavorably affecting our production and shipments. Significantly, we have not detected similar trends in our other markets where backlogs remain extended, and customer optimism is nearly unprecedented.”
Insteel will hold a conference call at 10:00 a.m. ET today to discuss its third quarter financial results. A live webcast of this call can be accessed on Insteel’s website at https://investor.insteel.com and will be archived for replay until the next quarterly conference call.
Insteel is the nation’s largest manufacturer of steel wire reinforcing products for concrete construction applications. Insteel manufactures and markets prestressed concrete strand and welded wire reinforcement, including engineered structural mesh, concrete pipe reinforcement, and standard welded wire reinforcement. Insteel’s products are sold primarily to manufacturers of concrete products and concrete contractors for use, primarily, in nonresidential construction applications. Headquartered in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Insteel operates ten manufacturing facilities located in the United States.
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release, the words “believes,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “estimates,” “appears,” “plans,” “intends,” “may,” “should,” “could” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Although we believe that our plans, intentions, and expectations reflected in or suggested by such forward-looking statements are reasonable, they are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, and we can provide no assurances that such plans, intentions, or expectations will be implemented or achieved. Many of these risks and uncertainties are discussed in detail and are updated from time to time in our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), in particular in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended October 2, 2021.
All forward-looking statements attributable to us or persons acting on our behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these cautionary statements. All forward-looking statements speak only to the respective dates on which such statements are made, and we do not undertake any obligation to publicly release the results of any revisions to these forward-looking statements that may be made to reflect any future events or circumstances after the date of such statements or to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events, except as may be required by law.
It is not possible to anticipate and list all risks and uncertainties that may affect our future operations or financial performance; however, they include, but are not limited to, the following: the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, demand for our products and our operations, including the measures taken by governmental authorities to address it, which may precipitate or exacerbate other risks and/or uncertainties; general economic and competitive conditions in the markets in which we operate; changes in the spending levels for nonresidential and residential construction and the impact on demand for our products; changes in the amount and duration of transportation funding provided by federal, state and local governments and the impact on spending for infrastructure construction and demand for our products; the cyclical nature of the steel and building material industries; credit market conditions and the relative availability of financing for us, our customers and the construction industry as a whole; fluctuations in the cost and availability of our primary raw material, hot-rolled steel wire rod, from domestic and foreign suppliers; competitive pricing pressures and our ability to raise selling prices in order to recover increases in raw material or operating costs; changes in United States or foreign trade policy affecting imports or exports of steel wire rod or our products; unanticipated changes in customer demand, order patterns and inventory levels; the impact of fluctuations in demand and capacity utilization levels on our unit manufacturing costs; our ability to further develop the market for Engineered Structural Mesh (“ESM”) and expand our shipments of ESM; legal, environmental, economic or regulatory developments that significantly impact our business or operating costs; unanticipated plant outages, equipment failures or labor difficulties; and the “Risk Factors” discussed in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended October 2, 2021 and in other filings made by us with the SEC.
CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy continues to expand solar power in North Carolina with its 22.6-megawatt (MW) Stony Knoll Solar power plant in Surry County now in operation.
The project is owned and operated by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions (DESS). The project was selected as part of the competitive bidding process established by 2017’s solar legislation in North Carolina.
The solar plant contains 76,600 panels with single-axis tracking. The plant is located on 195 acres in Dobson, near Rockford Road. The facility will power the equivalent of 5,000 homes.
“In addition to our many renewable energy projects across the nation, North Carolina continues to be fertile ground for solar power,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “With the help of our partners in Surry County, we have brought online the largest solar power plant in the county.”
The facility’s design and construction of the project were performed by SOLV Energy. The solar power generated by the project will be delivered through a 20-year power purchase agreement.
North Carolina is fourth in the nation for overall solar energy. The outlook is promising for more solar energy as Duke Energy develops a proposed Carolinas Carbon Plan, which is being considered by state regulators.
“Solar power continues to play a vital part of our clean energy transition,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “We expect renewables to grow significantly in the years ahead as we focus on meeting our customers’ needs for increasingly clean energy.”
Golden LEAF announces $9.9 million in funding, including $5 million in the second round of SITE Program funding, and $1.7 million in Flood Mitigation Program funding
ROCKY MOUNT, N.C., (June 2, 2022) – Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $5,046,526 in funding to support projects through the second round of the SITE Program and $1,398,657.34 in funding through the Open Grants Program. The Golden LEAF Board awarded $1,706,550 in funding for projects through the Flood Mitigation Program. The Golden LEAF Board also approved $1,750,000 in funding for the North Carolina Community College System to support scholarships as part of the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program.
The SITE Program supports communities in identifying potential sites for economic development and provides funds to enable the completion of due diligence on sites already identified or to extend public utilities to or conduct rough grading and clearing of sites for which due diligence has been completed. The three phases of the SITE Program are Identification, Due Diligence, and Development.
“The need for industrial sites, especially in rural areas, was a gap identified in our strategic planning process,” said Don Flow, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “As we have seen, ready sites are no longer a luxury but a necessity to move at the speed of business. The second round of SITE Program projects will help prepare North Carolina for these economic growth opportunities.”
The Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $5,046,526 in funding for 13 projects through the Golden LEAF SITE Program in Moore, Wilkes, Stokes, Martin, Surry, Robeson, Cumberland, Duplin, Onslow, Nash, Person, Rutherford, and Columbus counties.
SITE Program – Identification allocates funds to a firm contracted by Golden LEAF to help identify potential industrial sites in a community. Moore, Wilkes, and Stokes counties were selected to receive assistance in this phase.
The Golden LEAF Board awarded $104,650 in funding to support three SITE Program – Due Diligence projects. These projects will receive funding to complete eligible due diligence activities such as environmental assessments, archaeological analyses, and mapping. Organizations receiving SITE Program – Due Diligence support include:
- $29,500 to Martin County Economic Development Corporation for the NC Rail and Commerce Park.
- $39,650 to Surry County for the Westwood Industrial Park.
- $35,500 to Robeson County for the Comtech Park.
For the SITE Program – Development, the Golden LEAF Board awarded $4,896,876 in funding for seven projects that will provide public infrastructure and, for publicly owned sites, clearing and rough grading, to benefit sites that have completed the due diligence necessary to demonstrate that the site is suitable for development. Organizations receiving SITE Program – Due Development support include:
- $937,600 to Cumberland County to clear and grade approximately 30 acres of the 159 Sand Hill Road site.
- $423,500 to the Foundation for Duplin County Industrial and Business Development for clearing and grubbing of a tract within the Duplin County AirPark, adjacent to Duplin County Regional Airport.
- $1,000,000 to Jacksonville-Onslow Economic Development Partnership for clearing, grading, and drainage systems that will yield nearly 40 acres of stormwater-ready sites at Jacksonville Business Park.
- $188,513 to the Town of Nashville for grubbing and clearing of two lots in the Nashville Business Center, design and engineering, and completion of due diligence to develop affordable construction-ready industrial sites.
- $973,750 to Person County to complete due diligence, and clear and grade a 26-acre parcel in the county-owned North Park Site.
- $998,512.50 to Rutherford County Economic Development Corporation for rough grading of two adjacent parcels at RiverStone Business Park.
- $375,000 to the Town of Tabor City for updated due diligence and grading costs for a lot in the Tabor City Industrial Park.
Additionally, the Golden LEAF Board awarded four projects totaling $1,398,657.34 in Open Grants Program funding. These projects will support workforce preparedness and job creation and economic investment in Brunswick, Bladen, Haywood, and Nash counties.
- $200,000 to Brunswick Community College to support the expansion of advanced manufacturing training to meet the needs of existing and new employers in the county and region.
- $364,896 to the Town of Elizabethtown to help construct infrastructure in the Elizabethtown Industrial Park, and to perform some site development activities that will facilitate the construction of seven commercial buildings and support the location of five businesses, including a new medical clinic, that have committed to Elizabethtown to invest and operate in this section of the industrial park.
- $333,761.34 to Haywood Community College for simulation equipment to help equip the newly constructed Health Education Building, particularly the simulated hospital unit.
- $500,000 to the Town of Middlesex to expand the sewer system for the Middlesex Corporate Centre located in Nash County to support economic growth. The expanded service will serve four sites in the industrial park.
The Golden LEAF Foundation was appropriated $25 million from the State of North Carolina for a Flood Mitigation Program. The Flood Mitigation Program will award funding up to $250,000 per project. Funds may only be awarded to units of local government.
“The Golden LEAF Foundation thanks the N.C. General Assembly for entrusting us to administer this program for local governments seeking to mitigate flooding in their community,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to being a partner in this critical work to keep our communities resilient.
The Golden LEAF Board awarded $1,706,550 in funding to eight projects through the Flood Mitigation Program in Chowan, Pasquotank, Bladen, Harnett, Robeson, Craven, Pender, and Duplin counties.
- $249,300 to the Town of Edenton to replace an existing pipe under Old Hertford Road and downstream piping to relieve hydraulic pressure and reduce the potential for flooding of roads and residential and commercial structures during heavy rain events.
- $100,000 to the City of Elizabeth City to perform necessary assessment and analysis of the drainage basin and stormwater infrastructure and to develop and prioritize the most cost-effective stormwater control measures that will mitigate repetitive flooding of the Dawson-Hunter neighborhood.
- $132,000 to the Town of Elizabethtown to develop a Stormwater Master Plan that includes updating the town’s asset inventory, field data collection, modeling of existing watersheds, development of concept plans, and a summary report that will include recommendations to address frequent flooding in the central subbasin, the eastern subbasin, and along Glenwood Drive in the western part of Elizabethtown.
- $225,250 to the Town of Lillington for engineering expenses to map Lillington’s entire stormwater system and perform detailed analysis on ten areas that are most prone to intense flooding to identify recommendations that address those flooding issues.
- $250,000 to the City of Lumberton to upsize the capacity of stormwater infrastructure at the juncture of Linkhaw Road and the railroad to mitigate flooding that occurs in this area during any 2-inch or greater rain event.
- $250,000 to the Town of River Bend to implement Phase II recommendations from an engineering study and analysis of frequent flooding in River Bend, specifically in the Channel Run Subdivision. Phase II includes regrading and re-sloping of natural drainage infrastructure throughout the community to ensure that water flows efficiently and effectively out of the area.
- $250,000 to the Town of Surf City to install a catch basin with drainpipe to convey stormwater to a new infiltration chamber system that collects and releases stormwater back into native soils. The project addresses insufficient stormwater infrastructure that causes flooding in the 2200 block of South Shore Drive that obstructs passage of vehicles, including public safety vehicles.
- $250,000 to the Town of Wallace to install sheet piling and rip rap along the bank of an existing canal to stop erosion, improve the transport of stormwater, and significantly reduce flooding along the canal.
The North Carolina Community College System was awarded $1.75 million by the Golden LEAF Board to support scholarships for students from rural, economically distressed counties to attend participating North Carolina community colleges. Curriculum students can receive up to $2,250 per year, and continuing education students can receive up to $1,850 per year. The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded funds for scholarships to students attending North Carolina community colleges since 2000.
Since 1999, Golden LEAF has funded 2,011 projects totaling $1.18 billion supporting the mission of advancing economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural, tobacco-dependent, and economically distressed communities.
About Golden LEAF
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For more than 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.
The Foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and rural areas of the state by helping create 66,000 jobs, more than $700 million in new payrolls, and more than 90,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.
For more information about Golden LEAF and our programs, please visit our website at www.goldenleaf.org.
Cycles and patterns in life happen, we frequently choose to look at them and dismiss them as a random coincidences. However, other times these cycles occur because it can be human nature to follow the path of least resistance and stay in unhealthy patterns. Such may be the case for those in the criminal justice system for whom it can be even more difficult to break the cycle of incarceration that, left unchecked, may find itself as the worst hand-me-down item between generations. Wayne Farms is entering a partnership with Surry County Sheriff Steve C. Hiatt in a new job reentry program that seeks to break the cycle of recidivism while filling staffing needs at one of the county’s largest employers.
Guinea pigs at a poultry plant
Certified Peer Support Specialist Sonya Cheek said, “This cannot work without assistance from the sheriff and Mr. Wooten at Wayne Farms.”“This is my community,” Matthew Wooten, Dobson Complex manager for Wayne Farms, said while posing for photos with Sheriff Hiatt, Cheek, and a phalanx from the sheriff’s office. When hearing of the program, it sounded like a no brainer to him, “I said ‘I like it, let’s do it!’” Wayne Farms has a history of being an active member of the community. He said he was not scared to be the “guinea pig” for this program, and they know there may be growing pains with Wooten joking, “Experiment on me.” “This is not a guarantee of a job, this is an opportunity,” he said, saying that these candidates will be treated like any others. Cheek has been granted unfettered access to Wayne Farms and will be the point of contact between Wayne Farms and the county’s work reentry program. She will have to ability to make ad hoc visits to their property to conduct onsite check-ins. “We have a responsibility to help Wayne Farms keep the employee,” she said, “not plug them in and forget about them.” That means complying with mandated follow-up and case management on a regular basis. Sheriff Hiatt pointed out that Insteel had approached him in 2019 about participating in a job reentry program, but the county was not ready at that time. Also, Leonard previously expressed some interest in participating as well. “The largest employer in the county took a chance – we want other businesses to participate,” Willis said of Wayne Farms. Interestingly, Forsyth County had reached out to Wayne Farms to do something similar and that sparked the idea for Wooten to reach out to Surry County and inquire about a similar program with Sheriff Hiatt.
Willis, the low-key directory of the county’s substance abuse response, admits he is “more of a systems guy” than anything else. The county needs his expertise on the admin side, he needs help from the likes of Cheek, Charlotte Reeves, and a bevy of volunteers. “I do not have the inside the bubble experience. It would be like me trying to empathize with childbirth.” When a 3 a.m. collect call comes in, it is answered by Cheek, one of the lynchpins in the county’s new job reentry partnership between the sheriff’s office and Wayne Farms. That process will be greatly simplified because Pay Tel, a private company that has released a tablet for use inside corrections facilities, will soon load assessments for work reentry onto the devices. They will contain a questionnaire for those inmates nearing the full completion of their sentence and who have a desire for employment. Inmates will be identified, and then pre-screened using the tablet. It is not hard to see the time savings if Cheek were to get an assessment back saying one inmate has heavy equipment experience, while another has the mechanical aptitude. She also said the tablets are slated to have some educational material added onto them as well, including substance abuse education.
Aces in their places
There is a reason subject matter experts get placed in roles like Cheek. She recalls being so scared the first time she was asked to speak to a group but, “Right off the bat I felt like this is what I needed to do.” Having been down and out she knows the view from down there and would really like to keep others from knowing that pain. These people who are entering the work program have completed their sentence and have done what was required of them in form of legal penance. Now, what follows them most frequently from the detention center is a stigma. Cheek said for her, what made a difference was someone taking a chance on her. Now, she is a county employee working day and night to help inmates re-entering society find their footing and attempt to break that cycle for good. “Hope doesn’t exist in a jail. So, when we can say – hang on, there may be a business who is hiring – that can be a game-changer.”
Mount Airy, NC – Leonard Group, Inc. (“Leonard”), the leading full-service retailer of truck accessories, trailers, and sheds in the Southeast, announced today the acquisition of Cook Portable Warehouses (“Cook” or the “Company”). Headquartered in Cobden, IL, Cook is a leading manufacturer and retailer of premium storage sheds across a 14-state footprint. Cook is Leonard’s fourth add-on acquisition since partnering with Kinderhook Industries, LLC (“Kinderhook”) last year. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 1984, Cook delivers a broad assortment of quality portable storage solutions through its 65 company-operated retail locations and a broad network of independent dealers, supported by 5 strategically located manufacturing facilities. Cook has established itself as the leader in its markets by providing unmatched value, exceptional product quality, and superior customer service. The acquisition of Cook will accelerate Leonard’s expansion plans by providing sizable retail and manufacturing presence in new geographies stretching across the Midwest, Texas, and Gulf Coast.
“We are more than excited to welcome the entire Cook team to Leonard. The Cook manufacturing expertise and long-tenured team, coupled with the additional Cook retail locations, will be a catalyst for our unit growth and expansion strategy,” said Mike Pack, CEO of Leonard.
“The combination of Cook and Leonard is an exceptional match given both companies’ commitment to quality and exceptional customer service. We look forward to working together to better serve our customers,” said Greg Cook, Founder, and President of Cook.
“We are thrilled with the addition of Cook, and we look forward to leveraging the capabilities of the combined businesses to accelerate growth. With this transaction, Leonard has nearly doubled its number of corporate retail locations and attained critical manufacturing capabilities,” said Tom Tuttle, Managing Director of Kinderhook.
“Consistent with our original investment thesis, the acquisition of Cook brings Leonard closer to becoming a national retailer. Following this acquisition, Leonard has a retail presence in 18 states, and with more than 135 corporate-managed retail locations we will be the leading specialty retailer of storage sheds, trailers, and truck accessories in North America,” said Paul Cifelli, Managing Director of Kinderhook.
Monroe Moxness Berg PA served as legal counsel to Leonard. Financing for the transaction was provided by Twin Brook Capital Partners, LLC.
For additional information about this transaction, please contact:
Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Leonard is a leading full-service specialty retailer of truck accessories, trailers, and sheds in the Southeast. Leonard’s complementary product categories help to serve the needs of customers both for work and recreation. Leonard remains dedicated to service and is proud to offer truck accessories, trailers, and sheds that ensure fit, function, and style so that Leonard customers are ready for work and ready to stand out in a crowd.
For more information, please visit: www.leonardusa.com
About Cook Portable Warehouses
Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Cobden, Illinois, Cook is a manufacturer of prefabricated wood buildings including sheds, barns, and garages of various styles and sizing options with a retail presence spanning 14 states. The Cook mission is to build the highest quality portable buildings available and to create value and make a difference in the communities we work and live in.
For more information, please visit: www.cookstuff.com
About Kinderhook Industries
Kinderhook Industries, LLC is a private investment firm that manages over $5.2 billion of committed capital. We have made in excess of 300 investments and follow-on acquisitions since inception. Kinderhook’s investment philosophy is predicated on matching unique, growth-oriented investment opportunities with exceptional financial expertise and our proprietary network of operating partners. Our focus is on middle-market businesses with defensible niche market positioning in the healthcare services, environmental / business services, and automotive / light manufacturing sectors. We have a track record of successfully and consistently building industry leaders.
For more information, please visit: www.kinderhook.com
The Board of Directors of Surrey Bancorp (OTC Pink Sheets: SRYB), the parent company of Surrey Bank & Trust, has promoted Pedro (Peter) A. Pequeno II to president of both the parent company and the bank. The board also promoted William (Bill) A. Johnson to senior vice president and chief lending officer of the bank as part of its management succession plan.
Edward (Ted) C. Ashby III, the long-time president of both entities, will remain CEO of both the bank and of the parent company and will continue to serve as a director of both entities.
Pequeno has been with the bank since it opened in 1996. As senior vice president and chief lending officer, Pequeno managed the bank’s loan and credit divisions. Pequeno’s new responsibilities include oversight of loan operations, deposit operations, branch operations, digital banking, compliance, and lending.
Johnson served as a member of the board of directors from 1996 to 2012, when he resigned from the board to lead the bank’s expansion into Elkin and Wilkes County. Most recently, Johnson served as the bank’s western regional executive. Johnson will oversee all lending activity.
Pequeno and Johnson have held leadership roles in the organization for more than 25 years. “These promotions will allow them to use their experience and talents to profitability grow our company,” Ashby said.
Surrey Bank & Trust is a full-service retail and commercial bank serving Northwest North Carolina and Southwest Virginia. The bank, headquartered in Mount Airy, has seven offices in Surry and Wilkes counties and in Patrick County, Virginia.
All the bad economic news caused in these parts over the years by NAFTA, COVID and possibly other woes with acronyms can obscure the fact there are success stories to be told.
Such an account unfolded Friday during the 26th-annual meeting of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership revolving around one local company, Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories.
“You drive by Leonard’s almost every day,” Partnership President Todd Tucker told about 120 business, local government and other representatives gathered at the Surry County Service Center, in reference to the Mount Airy-based enterprise.
“Do you really know what they do?” Tucker added.
That question was answered fully by Leonard’s chief executive officer, Mike Pack, Friday’s keynote speaker. The annual meetings typically include such individuals talking about how their companies are thriving among the chaos while positioning themselves for growth — along with insights on how all this is being accomplished.
“We like to say that great things are happening at Leonard, and we like to share our story,” Pack said of its success.
Since being founded in 1963, Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories has become a major manufacturer of storage sheds, trailers and, of course, truck accessories as its name states — including being the largest dealer of truck covers in the U.S.
“Pretty cool, huh?” Pack remarked. “I’m biased, but I think we have a pretty cool story.”
Even those knowing nothing about the company might be familiar with the Leonard label seen often on trailers or truck covers heading down highways near and far, all made in Mount Airy, with 41 percent of its business composed of truck accessories.
Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories employs 560 people in five southeastern states, including at 70 store locations.
“We’ll cross the 600 threshold this year,” Pack advised Friday’s audience in Dobson.
Sold on Surry
The late Tyson Leonard launched the operation in the 1960s and he and wife Sandra sold it in 2015, when the company had 400 employees — including 150 locally — and 56 retail locations.
It is now owned by a private equity firm.
Pack joined Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories in 2017, coming from Denver, Colorado, after logging 22 years with the Advance Auto Parts retail chain, serving as a division president before assuming his new role locally.
At first, he had an idea that the company should be relocated to Charlotte or another large city, but then two things happened.
“I fell in love with living in Surry County,” the transplanted Colorado resident said of one.
The other was a realization of what Pack called an “amazing” amount of talent the Surry company has been able to attract, including many folks with MBAs (master’s degrees in business administration).
Operating in a county with relatively low taxes compared to big-population, high-taxed metropolitan areas also gives Leonard a competitive edge, its CEO believes.
Leonard’s closest competitor in the U.S. has only 17 locations. “So we think we’re kind of on an island,” Pack said.
Such factors have convinced the Leonard leadership that it can and should expand further south and to the west.
“We believe we can build a national organization from right here in Surry County,” Pack said of the operation that already enjoys a lead position in the Southeast.
This includes building more store locations and acquiring existing enterprises toward a goal of 150 locations under its long-term plan while becoming an industry unto itself, Pack indicated.
Leonard opened 10 new retail outlets last year and five acquisitions are now “in the pipeline,” he disclosed.
One factor that has bolstered its storage shed segment has been a result of the unfortunate pandemic with more people stuck at home and wanting to engage in do-it-yourself projects.
“It really plays right into the storage business,” Pack said of the need for more space this has created.
All about the basics
No wizardry is responsible for the growth of Leonard Buildings and Truck Accessories, Pack detailed.
It starts mainly with good people and a business philosophy reflecting a down-home flavor built around customer service and quality products.
“Character counts at Leonard,” Pack said. “We expect results.”
At the same time, company employees have the leeway to shape its operation by being encouraged to offer what the CEO called “creative solutions.”
Other keys include the modernization of production equipment and a nimble supply chain.
“We have a great model,” summed up Pack.
He thinks the future is bright, not only for Leonard but other companies that are properly aligned.
“We think there’s going to be a post-COVID economic resurgence,” Pack explained, offering challenges with technology, personnel and other ingredients but also opportunities for great success. “We think the companies with the best culture are going to win that battle.”
DOBSON — Surry-Yadkin Works was recently highlighted in the North Carolina Business Committee for Education’s (NCBCE) annual meeting. Surry-Yadkin Works was noted as an example of “high-quality work-based learning.”
The Surry-Yadkin Works program is the collaborative effort of four public school systems in Surry and Yadkin counties including Elkin City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Yadkin County Schools, as well as Surry Community College, to create a unique approach to a regional internship program.
Surry-Yadkin Works Program Director Crystal Folger-Hawks emphasized the importance of creating successful matches between local employers and their needs along with the student interns and what they wish to gain experience in. She also noted the importance of monthly training in fields like public speaking, human resources development skills, and OSHA 10.
NCBCE included interviews and success stories from Altec interns Jesus Nava, Daisy Garcia, Tyler Ramey, and Rylan Loggins; Tampco intern Amani Tilley; Scenic Automotive Group intern Evelin Lara; and former intern and current Altec employee Adriana Landaverde.
During the fall 2021 semester, 31 Surry-Yadkin Works interns were working in 21 businesses and organizations throughout Surry and Yadkin counties. All interns received a stipend to cover transportation costs, and many employers also paid them for their work.
The funding for Surry-Yadkin Works is a joint effort with commitments from the Surry County Commissioners and the Yadkin County Commissioners. An anonymous contributor donated $100,000 prompted by a presentation about the program at an educational summit. Surry-Yadkin Works officially began on Jan. 1, 2021.
For more information about the program, contact Folger-Hawks at 336-401-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.surryyadkinworks.org. Follow Surry-Yadkin Works on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram @surryyadkinworks and on Twitter @SurYadWorks.
Two Triad restaurants were the only North Carolina eateries to make Yelp’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants list for 2022.
Machete in Greensboro ranked 18th on the list, and Harvest Grill in Dobson came in at No. 79.
To create the ninth annual list, Yelp reached out to its users for their favorite dining spots. Then, it ranked each restaurant by total number of submissions, ratings, reviews, and geographic representation, among other factors.
Tai Blevens opened Machete on Battleground Avenue in the LoFi area in February, 2020, just before the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the ensuing lockdown and difficulties brought on by the pandemic, it has been drawing rave reviews ever since.
Yelp wrote that “Though Machete has only been around for a couple of years, its impact on Greensboro’s fine-dining scene has been substantial. Each visit is a special occasion because the creative and eclectic menu changes often based on seasonal ingredients and the chef’s keen eye. Past favorites have been pork cheeks with charred romaine, Wagyu fat, and “lettuce soup”; and rabbit with polenta, mushrooms, and seasonal greens.”
Machete has an American (New) cuisine and is known for “creative dishes that feature rare or unusual ingredients, and artful cocktails that are exciting and seasonal,” according to Yelp.
“The depth of flavor from the slow-cooked lamb and their Bolognese sauce—yum! The pasta was also on point. I know their dishes are seasonal but would want to eat this all year long,” wrote one Yelp reviewer.
Harvest Grill in Dobson is the restaurant at Shelton Vineyards in Surry County.
Harvest Grill is known for crab cakes served with gribiche (a cold egg sauce) and shoestring fries, according to Yelp.
“Spending time at Shelton Vineyards is so relaxing—great wines and a gorgeous property—the icing on the cake is Harvest Grill. They offer an extensive farm-to-table menu and great wine list (most of the wines by the glass, so you can try different wines with each course). Everything we tried on the menu was delicious,” wrote a Yelp reviewer.
Two restaurants from Charleston, South Carolina, also made the list — No. 6 Jackrabbit Filly and No. 22 LoLa.
Yelp’s top-rated restaurant was Cocina Madrigal in Phoenix.
Appalachian State to open lab school at Elkin Elementary, will be only UNC System institution to operate two lab school programs
ELKIN — Appalachian State University is partnering with Elkin City Schools to open the university’s second laboratory school aimed at enhancing student education, improving outcomes and providing high-quality teacher and principal training.
Under the plan — which was developed in collaboration with Elkin City Schools leaders and approved by the Elkin City Schools Board of Education on Dec. 13 — a lab school will open at Elkin Elementary School in August 2022. The “school-within-a-school” model will serve approximately 100 students in second through fourth grades.
The lab school will be one of nine in the state as part of the University of North Carolina System Lab School initiative, which was established by the N.C. General Assembly in 2016 to improve student performance and provide real-world experience for the preparation of future teachers and school administrators.
“App State has a strong legacy of preparing educators to lead and serve in our state and beyond,” said App State Chancellor Sheri Everts. “It is a testament to the quality of our College of Education leadership and faculty, and of our teachers and administrators at the Academy at Middle Fork, that we have been asked by the Board of Governors to open a second lab school. App State remains steadfast in our commitment to recognize the promise each student possesses, and we look forward to applying this same dedication to our partnership with Elkin City Schools.”
“I want to thank the Elkin City Schools school board and Superintendent Myra S. Cox for their leadership and for their dedication to all students and educators,” Everts continued.
The Elkin City Schools system serves grades pre-K through 12 and is located in the town of Elkin, which lies on the border of Wilkes and Surry counties. The district serves approximately 1,200 students in an elementary school, a middle school, a high school and the Global E-Learning Academy. The lab school will build on the existing relationship between the university and Elkin City Schools through the Appalachian State University Public School Partnership, a collaborative program between App State and area public schools to improve education.
Lab school employees, including a principal, teachers and support staff, will be hired by App State and will be university employees. Transportation and child nutrition services will be provided by Elkin City Schools. App State will establish the school’s academic and conduct standards, and the chancellor will establish a school advisory board. The lab school is a five-year initiative with the option to renew for an additional five years.
Lab schools, according to the UNC System, are committed to addressing the academic, social and emotional needs of all students and harnessing the benefits of partnerships to strengthen learning, teaching and school leadership.
App State’s Reich College of Education has developed a lab school model based on innovative, evidence-based teaching and leadership methods, and Elkin City Schools’ partnership with the university provides access to additional resources and special programming for students, teachers and school leaders, including professional development, curriculum sharing opportunities and a pipeline for teacher and principal recruitment.
Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Inc.
1218 State St.,
Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128