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Surry County News

Read about new business, events and news that effects life and commerce in the western Piedmont Triad.

First Community Bank earnings up sharply

BLUEFIELD, VA – First Community Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FCBC) reported net income for the quarter ending June 30 grew by nearly two-thirds over the same quarter a year ago, and the year-to-date earnings grew even more.

The company reported net income of $13.40 million, or 76 cents per common share, for the quarter, which was an increase of 30 cents per share, or 65.22%, over the same quarter of 2020. Net income for the six months ending June 30 was $28.01 million, or $1.59 per share, which represents a 76.67% increase in diluted earnings per share compared to the same period of 2020, when that figure stood at 90 cents per share.

The company also declared a quarterly cash dividend to common shareholders of 27 cents per common share, an increase of 8% over last quarter and last year. The quarterly dividend is payable to common shareholders of record on August 9 and is expected to be paid on or about August 23. This marks the 36th consecutive year of regular dividends to common shareholders.

Highlights

– Net income for the quarter increased $5.17 million to $13.40 million compared to the same quarter of 2020. The increase includes the reversal of $2.23 million in allowance for credit losses for the second quarter of 2021. Net income for the six-month period increased $11.90 million compared to the same period of 2020. Similarly, for the six month period, a reversal of $6.23 million in the allowance for credit losses accounts for a large part of the increase in income over the same period in 2020. The decreases in credit loss provisioning are primarily due to significantly improved economic forecasts and GDP growth in the current year, and prior year provisioning driven by the pandemic.

– During the second quarter, the company repurchased 261,600 common shares for $7.98 million. Year-to-date the company has repurchased 449,300 common shares for $12.96 million.

– Annualized return on average equity increased to 12.55% compared to 7.97% from the same quarter of 2020, and return on average equity for the first six months increased to 13.24% compared to 7.73% from the same period last year.

– Annualized return on average assets increased to 1.70% compared to 1.15% from the same quarter of 2020, while year-to-date return on average assets increased to 1.82% compared to 1.15% for the same period of 2020.

– Non-interest income for the second quarter of 2021 increased $1.88 million, or 27.25%, compared to the prior year. Year-to-date non-interest income increased 13.17% to $16.37 million compared to last year. Both increases are largely attributable to the more vibrant state of local economies with increased customer activity compared with last spring.

– As of June 30 total COVID-19 loan deferrals stood at $4.02 million, down significantly from the peak of $436.11 million on June 30, 2020.

– The SBA had forgiven $48.27 million, or 79.15%, of the company’s first round Paycheck Protection Program loan balances through June 30. Current PPP loan balances at June 30 which include second-round originations, were $41.63 million.

C-Suite Awards 2021: Jeffrey Eidson of G&B Energy

Jeffrey Eidson, president, G&B Energy

Why selected: When Eidson took over as president of G&B Energy in 1991, the business had one Triad location and 20 employees. G&B now has three Triad offices with 65 employees and serves more than 13,500 Triad customers. Eidson also serves as town commissioner in Elkin, and on the board of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership.

If you could have an alternate title, what would it be? Facilitator and empowerer. My primary goal is to empower employees and give them the tools and confidence to demonstrate their talents and grow in their jobs.

How long have you worked at your company? 40 years, including part-time work in summers as a teenager helping in the service and installation department.

Where were you born? Jacksonville, Florida

What is the biggest challenge you face right now as a leader in your company? Maintaining company culture and employee engagement as small family owned business as we have grown to nine locations and over 125 employees. Continuing to foster personal relationships with employees and their families to promote long-term employee commitment, allowing us to deliver thee high level of customer service our customers have come to expect.

What did you learn about your colleagues through Covid? About your community? That they are committed to delivering a high level of customer service even in the face of serious challenges. They showed up for work every day and continued to meet and exceed customer expectations while demonstrating a high degree of care for the health and safety of our customers and their fellow employees. Our community rallied around those most impacted by the pandemic starting an effort, Yadkin Valley Strong, as a partnership between the Yadkin Valley Chamber, The Yadkin Valley United Fund and Explore Elkin, to raise funds to provide food assistance to needy families. Yadkin Valley Strong raised and distributed over $100,000 during the early months of the pandemic.

How do you measure success? By the success and job satisfaction of our employees.

Share one thing about yourself that would surprise people? That I continue to maintain my CPA certification.

What are your hobbies? Golf, travel, snow skiing, fly fishing, hiking.

 

Duke Energy begins construction on largest solar plant in Surry County, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.June 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Duke Energy continues to expand solar power in North Carolina with construction starting on its 22.6-megawatt (MW) Stony Knoll Solar power plant. Once completed, it will be the largest solar plant in Surry County. The project will be owned and operated by Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.* The project was selected as part of the competitive bidding process established by 2017’s solar legislation in North Carolina. The solar plant will contain 76,600 Trina Solar bifacial modules with single-axis tracking. The plant will be located on 195 acres in Dobson, N.C. – near Rockford Road. The facility will power the equivalent of 5,000 homes. It is targeting commercial operation by the end of 2021. “Duke Energy is bringing more carbon-free, renewable energy to customers in North Carolina. We’re pleased to add Surry County to our ever-growing list of solar locations as we significantly reduce carbon emissions on our path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. Under North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement for Renewable Energy, proposed projects must be built where there is a need for energy capacity on the Duke Energy system in North Carolina or South Carolina. The bids can come from any company, including Duke Energy, and can be in the form of power purchase agreements (PPA), utility self-developed facilities, or utility asset acquisitions. “We’re pleased to continue to build upon the renewable energy resources in the state. The Stony Knoll solar project marks the third facility that we have announced in North Carolina this year and demonstrates our continued commitment to increasing clean energy generation in the state,” said Chris Fallon, president of Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. During peak construction, Stony Knoll Solar will create about 70 jobs. Along with indirect economic benefits that accompany solar project development, such as increased local spending in the service and construction industries, Stony Knoll Solar will also have a positive economic impact on the local community by providing local tax revenues to the county and local school districts, as well as meaningful payments to the participating landowners. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions also supports the communities where its facilities and team members are based through the efforts of the Duke Energy Foundation. In January, the company awarded $10,000 to Copeland Elementary School in Dobson to fund the purchase of Chromebooks for students. The facility’s design, procurement of inverters, the balance of plant systems, and construction of the project will be performed by Swinerton Renewable Energy. The energy generated by Stony Knoll will be delivered through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas.

A leader in renewable energy

Duke Energy maintains more than 3,700 MW of solar power on its energy grid in North Carolina, which could power about 700,000 homes and businesses at peak output. The company also operates more than 40 solar facilities in the state. North Carolina currently ranks No. 3 in the nation for overall solar power. With nuclear, hydro, and renewable energy, more than half of North Carolina’s energy mix is carbon-free. As one of the nation’s top renewable energy providers, Duke Energy plans to double its enterprisewide renewable portfolio from 8 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to 16 GW by the end of 2025.

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions

Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a nonregulated commercial brand of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) – a Fortune 150 company and one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. – headquartered in Charlotte, N.C. Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a leader in sustainable energy, helping large enterprises reduce power costs, lower emissions, and increase resiliency. The team provides wind, solar, resilient backup power, and managed energy services to over 1,000 projects across the U.S., with a total electric capacity of more than 5,100 megawatts of nonregulated renewable energy. Visit Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions and follow on LinkedIn and YouTube for more information. Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to operate or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos, and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics, and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements.

This document includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are based on management’s beliefs and assumptions. These forward-looking statements are identified by terms and phrases such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “intend,” “estimate,” “expect,” “continue,” “should,” “could,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “predict,” “will,” “potential,” “forecast,” “target,” “outlook,” “guidance,” and similar expressions. Various factors may cause actual results to be materially different than the suggested outcomes within forward-looking statements; accordingly, there is no assurance that such results will be realized. These risks and uncertainties are identified and discussed in Duke Energy’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and available at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. In light of these risks, uncertainties, and assumptions, the events described in the forward-looking statements might not occur or might occur to a different extent or at a different time than Duke Energy has described. Duke Energy expressly disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

* Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions is a non-regulated commercial brand of Duke Energy Corporation, which includes the following subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corporation that are registered to transact business in various states and may be branded as Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions for marketing purposes: Duke Energy One, Inc.; Duke Energy Commercial Enterprises, Inc.; Duke Energy Renewables, Inc.; Duke Energy Renewables Commercial, LLC; Duke Energy Renewable Services, LLC.; Duke Energy Renewables Storage, LLC; Duke Energy Renewables Wind, LLC.; Duke Energy Renewables Solar, LLC.; and REC Solar Commercial Corporation.

Altec to add 100 jobs

For the second time since buying a division of Pike Industries in 2016, Altec Industries Inc. has announced expansion plans at its Mount Airy location.

This time, the firm says it will add 100 jobs to its existing operation, as well as invest more than $9 million in both the present facility and a new 100,000 square-foot building it will construct.

The expansion comes about after the company and the Surry County Board of Commissioners put together an agreement that will use state grant funds to help with the extension of a natural gas line to the current Altec site just outside of Mount Airy.

The grant was awarded from the North Carolina Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Surry County was a recipient of an Industrial Development Fund, Utility Account Grant in the amount of $540,000, and Surry County will contribute $180,000 to help match the grant funds.

This grant will help construct a natural gas line to the current Altec facility where the company will build an additional 100,000 square foot structure to aid in its distribution and manufacturing processes, company officials said.

“Surry County…is excited about this project and is happy to provide incentive funding to make this a reality,” said Mark Marion, chairman of the board of commissioners. “The board of commissioners would like to thank Altec for expanding operations, Frontier Natural Gas for extending the natural gas line, and the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the state, and all other partners who made this possible.

”Surry County citizens need good jobs and this project will add more to our economy, as well as bring natural gas to an area that could really benefit from its addition. We have a real opportunity here to take advantage of natural gas, which can help grow and expand our economy, increasing jobs in Surry County and providing more income to our hard-working citizens,” he said.

“Altec is grateful to be a part of the continued growth in Surry County and we appreciate the outstanding partnership that has been developed with the leaders in this community,” said Ben Griffin, Altex general manager. “We receive tremendous support from the local economic development group, county leadership, and our state representatives. In particular, we’d like to extend our appreciation to the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the Surry County Commissioners, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina for granting the funding to bring the much-needed natural gas line to Altec’s Mount Airy facility. It is a critical element to our growth plans for the plant and will allow us to continue to create new job opportunities within the community.”

This is the second significant expansion Altec has undertaken over the past five years. In 2016 the company bought a division of Pike Electric, establishing a presence in the community. Less than a year-and-a-half later, the firm announced its first expansion, adding 50 jobs with a total investment of more than $5 million, coming from a combination of state and local grants and company resources.

“We are very excited that Altec is growing its presence here in Surry County,” said Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership. “We have worked with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Surry County, Frontier Natural Gas, and others to help them expand and create more good-paying jobs.

Altec’s Griffin said as part of the expansion, the firm is seeking qualified applicants for numerous positions including assemblers, welders, material handlers, CDL drivers, engineers, and technical salesmen.

BSA Trucking holds grand opening

BSA Trucking holds grand opening

BSA Trucking held a grand opening for its new facility in Dobson last week.

The firm, owned by Randy and Sandra Davis, is named for their three children — Blake, Scottie, and Amy, all of whom work at the company.

The couple opened the firm in 1998 with a single truck, and now they’ve grown to 31 trucks and 60 drivers, making deliveries from coast to coast.

The ribbon-cutting was sponsored by the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce and included brief addresses by chamber President David Steelman, Dobson Mayor Ricky Draughn, and local minister Austin Caviness.

Sign company expanding in Mount Airy

Sign company expanding in Mount Airy

Roughly two-and-a-half years ago, in the autumn of 2018, Kieffer | Starlite sign company, with facilities in both Denton, Texas and Sheboygan, Wisconsin, purchased Mount Airy’s Burton Signworks.

Tuesday, the company announced it would be expanding the Mount Airy location, and adding jobs to its local operation.

The firm will actually be consolidating two local facilities, one at 510 Riverside Drive and a second at 609 Junction Street, into one single operation at the Junction Street location, according to Brad Davis, purchasing agent with the company. As part of that move, the company will be expanding, building a 21,000-square-foot addition to the already existing 80,000 square feet at the Junction Street location.

“Two new loading docks are included in the construction, and the layout is redesigned to accommodate channel letter and thermoforming equipment that will be moved to the main facility,” the company said in a written statement about the expansion.

“We are grateful to have the support from our community leaders,” said Roger Miller, director of manufacturing for the Mount Airy plant. “Their commitment to our success is making our vision a reality much sooner than anticipated.”

The firm held what it is calling an “internal groundbreaking” for employees and company officials last week, with the intention of completing the expansion by the end of August.

In addition to housing all of the company’s local manufacturing, Miller said the expanded facility “…will result in a safer and more efficient work environment.”

The firm has 140 employees at present, with 35 of those in Mount Airy. Davis said Kieffer | Starlite has 10 job openings at present, and hopes, after the expansion is complete, to have a workforce of 50 in the Mount Airy facility.

“We have several positions open now and will continue to add more after the expansion,” Miller explained. “Our company offers competitive pay, with benefits and many other monetary incentives.”

He said that “the sign industry offers an exciting career path as there are multiple cross-training opportunities. With custom sign work, there is always a new challenge.”

“We have a great team that works together to take a product from concept to watching it ship out to the customer. Our team of hard workers focus on Kieffer Starlite being best in class when it comes to manufacturing and enjoys being a part of delivering quality products to our customers across the U.S.”

Kieffer | Starlite had its beginnings more than six decades ago when Starlite Signs was founded in Denton Texas in 1956. Three years later, in Sheboygan, Kieffer & Co. was founded, according to the firm’s website.

The two companies operated largely independently of one another, maintaining a successful presence in the industry until November 2016, when the two merged and branded the new company as Kieffer | Starlite.

“The result was increased manufacturing capabilities and ability to provide best-in-class sign solutions nationwide and globally,” the company said.

In what the company refers to as its Southeast Expansion, Kieffer | Starlite bought the Mount Airy-based Burton Signworks in the fall of 2018, acquiring the 35-year-old firm and its 80,000 square feet of manufacturing space.

Now, the company has announced the expansion of the Mount Airy location, along with the job openings. For those wishing to know more about the job opportunities, or about the firm in general, visit https://kiefferstarlite.com/careers/

Hospital parking deck, building plans revealed

Hospital parking deck, building plans revealed

Northern Regional Hospital has unveiled plans for major projects costing an estimated $11 million, including the addition of a medical office building, parking deck and other facilities.

This emerged during a presentation to the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners at a meeting Thursday afternoon, when city officials were asked to close a section of Worth Street near the hospital as a safety measure linked to those plans.

The changes in store for the Rockford Street facility — which opened in 1957 — represent 16 months of study and reflect “where we are going for the next 20-plus years,” hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Lumsden stated.

“We are very excited today to be able to present this plan to you,” Lumsden said of the overall campus site study containing various elements, which meets one of his goals when becoming CEO nearly three years ago: growing the hospital.

Mayor Pro Tem Ron Niland mentioned Thursday that it is now the largest employer in Surry County with more than 1,000 people on the payroll.

The project announcement came in the wake of action last month by the commissioners to rezone five separate parcels of hospital land on South South and Worth streets for Medical Business use.

One highlight of the master campus plan — to be done in phases — is the construction of a 25,000-square-foot medical office building on South Street just west of the main hospital site.

It also the costliest, with a price tag of $8.25 million. The construction is scheduled to begin this fall and be completed in the spring of 2023.

“We are moving very quickly to secure pricing for all phases of the project,” said Lumsden, since construction costs are increasing.

Though not included on the list of items presently pursued, Lumsden said that at some point another 40,000-square-foot building is to be constructed to accommodate specialty services.

Parking measures

While more office space is an objective of the expansion effort, Lumsden said safe and convenient accessibility to Northern Regional Hospital is another — “which is a challenge for some of our patients and employees.”

Toward that end, a parking deck costing $2 million will be built on property near the corner or Rockford and South streets above a portion of an existing surgery center parking lot.

The one-level deck is to contain 70 spaces. Work on it is slated to start in February or March of 2022 and be finished in December of that year.

Another parking addition will involve the development of an on-grade lot south of the surgery center, providing another 50 spaces. Work on this phase is to begin in July or August and be completed in December.

About 375 new parking spaces will result from the different projects, according to Lumsden, who said this is “really needed.”

Worth Street closure

Another facet of Northern Regional Hospital’s growth package is focused on the redevelopment later this year of its north campus along Worth Street, where a helicopter landing and takeoff site is located.

“Most important is it will create a safer environment for our employees and patients and visitors,” Lumsden said.

In conjunction with the north campus phase, Lumsden asked Mount Airy leaders Thursday afternoon to close the portion of Worth Street between the intersections of Rockford and South streets.

He said safety is the prime motivation there, adding that the hospital would have sought closure even without the redevelopment plans. “Because it’s a dangerous situation.”

The present setup includes a painted crosswalk on the pavement and signage directing motorists to stop as people cross back and forth between a parking area and the hospital building.

“But the sign gets run over and has to be replaced,” the hospital CEO said.

“The vast majority of vehicles that use Worth Street … exceed the speed limit,” Lumsden added. One driver passing through was clocked at 51 mph.

This is coupled with the findings of a recent one-week survey showing that about 750 crossings of Worth Street occur per day, including ill or injured persons ferried across it to medical helicopters for trauma center transports.

“That’s not good — that’s not safe,” the hospital official commented.

The Mount Airy Board of Commissioners took the first step toward the Worth Street closure Thursday afternoon by giving unanimous approval to a resolution of intent for that and setting a required public hearing for next month on the proposal.

City Planning Director Andy Goodall, who outlined this process Thursday, said the closing of the section of the street in question probably will draw little or no opposition since the hospital owns most of the property abutting the roadway.

Because the street is on the state highway system, the closure must be approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation along with municipal officials. That also is not viewed as an obstacle, based on discussion at the meeting.

Young Entrepreneur competition shows off businesses

Surry Early College High School held is school-level Young Entrepreneur of Surry County competition recently. The event, for Surry County students, allows young entrepreneurs to compete for prize money that will be invested in their business projects.

Surry Early College had two students who competed at the school-level competition. First place winner, Nathan Turner, won $500 to invest in his wreath-making business, Nathan’s Creations. Nathan will also move on to compete in the countywide competition in May.

Isaac Libbert finished second in the competition and won $250 to invest in his business, Access Technology, which is a tech support company geared towards helping senior citizens manage and maintain their computers.

Make an impact: Mount Airy native hopes younger people invest in N.C.’s more rural areas

“I thought that I would move far away,” Morrison said. “Part of the reason that I chose Auburn University was because of the distance that it is from Mount Airy.”

She came back for what she thought would be a year but has turned into roughly a decade.

She’s now the Main Street Coordinator, working to bring public art and change the face of Mount Airy.

When she first took the position, there was no public art downtown. Now, large murals decorate the sides of buildings and painted walkways brighten the streets.

“We’ve gradually introduced more and more art as being part of downtown, and now I’m just really seeing that snowball like rolling much faster now,” Morrison said.

Next, she’s working to get students involved in the project. In May, they’ll have a parking spot painting competition with local high school students showing off their artistic skills.

Over the past 50 years, the rural areas of North Carolina have seen a shift in populations.

A 1970s census report showed 55% of North Carolinians lived in rural areas. In a 2017 study, however, 72% of people had moved to urban centers.

Morrison has high hopes for Mount Airy. Based off the impact she’s been able to have, she knows you can move the needle faster and harder than if you try to do the same thing in a bigger city.

That’s one reason she wants the students to feel invested in downtown Mount Airy, so they see they don’t have to leave to have an impact.

“I firmly believe that the reason why Mount Airy thrives is because apathy has not taken over here. There’s just a lot of people that care, and I think that it’s important not to just disregard your small town for a larger city, nothing against larger cities, but if you care about your small town I guarantee you can do something about whatever it is that you think is lacking there,” Morrison said.

Insteel Industries net earnings jump

Insteel Industries Inc. (NYSE: IIIN) recently announced its second-quarter net earnings had more than tripled from the same period a year ago.

Net earnings for the quarter were $14.9 million, or 76 cents per share, up dramatically from $4.4 million, or 23 cents

per share, in the same period in 2020.

Net sales increased 21% to $139 million from $114.9 million in the prior-year quarter driven by a 15% increase in average selling prices and a 5.2% increase in shipments.

For the first six months of the year, net earnings were up even more, at $23.1 million, or $1.18 per share, from $4.9 million, or 25 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Net sales increased 21.7% to $258.6 million from $212.4 million in the prior-year period, driven by a 12.7% increase in shipments and an 8% increase in average selling prices.

Net earnings for the prior-year period reflect a $900,000 decrease in the cash surrender value of life insurance policies and $300,000 of restructuring charges and acquisition costs related to the STM acquisition, which, in the aggregate, reduced net earnings by 5 cents per share.

Insteel ended the quarter debt-free with $58.9 million of cash and no borrowings outstanding on its $100 million revolving credit facility.

“Looking ahead to the second half of our fiscal year, we expect solid performance given the favorable trends in non-residential construction markets along with the usual seasonal upturn in demand,” said H.O. Woltz III, Insteel’s president, and CEO. “Recent private non-residential construction leading indicators are signaling a rebound in activity close to pre-pandemic levels and public construction activity has remained resilient which causes us to be optimistic about the demand environment for the next couple of quarters.”

“Over the last year we have pursued anti-dumping and countervailing duty trade cases against 16 countries we believe violated U.S. trade law with respect to their exports of PC strand and standard welded wire reinforcement to U.S. markets,” Woltz said. “We are pleased to report that we have received favorable determinations in the cases and expect to obtain margins against every country and every company we targeted. This lengthy process should wrap up by the end of our third quarter.

“The resources and assistance provided by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the City of Mount Airy, the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Surry Community College were essential to the success of our start up venture.”
Andrew Clabough

President, Willow Tex

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Inc.
1218 State St.,
Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128
336.401.9900

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership Inc. 1218 State St., Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128
336.401.9900

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