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Surry County News

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

Boutique hotel, market center proposed for former Triad textile mill

A hospitality developer is planning an upscale boutique hotel, along with a market center with meeting space, a spa, and a tap room or coffeehouse, at the former Spencer’s textile mill in Mount Airy.

Those plans could, however, limit what redevelopment could occur on other remaining buildings on the sprawling property, reports the Mount Airy News.

Sunhouse Development Co., an entity including Sunhouse Hospitality LLC, the local owner of the Hampton Inn by Hilton on Rockford Street, is planning the 77-room Historic Spencer’s Mill Inn in the four-story Sparger building on the campus of the textile manufacturing site that shut down in 2007. A market center would occupy part of what’s known as the Cube Building on the campus, behind the Sparger building. The Mount Airy News reports that the Cube contains a large main area, a former dye house and an annex.

Sunhouse’s market center would use the dye house, but not the other portions. According to the Mount Airy News, Bryan Grote, a financial professional and volunteer with Downtown Mount Airy, noted during a recent presentation to City Council that there is the potential to strand the remaining portions of the Cube. The city bought the Spencer’s property in 2014 to aid in redevelopment. The community will continue in the weeks ahead to evaluate the redevelopment prospects for the site.

Earlier ambitions by the Kernersville-based Piedmont Triad Regional Council and Surry Community College to put a culinary institute and workforce development center on the property fell through as multiple applications for grants failed to secure funding.

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital receives A grade

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital was awarded an ‘A’ in the fall 2020 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, a national distinction recognizing Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital’s achievements protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care.

The Leapfrog Group is an independent national hospital watchdog organization. The Safety Grade assigns an ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, ‘D’ or ‘F’ grade to all general hospitals across the country and is updated every six months. It is based on a hospital’s performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.

“At Hugh Chatham, we have a passion to provide each and every patient with the safest, highest quality care possible,” said Paul Hammes, CEO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital. “We are pleased to receive an ‘A grade’ from the Leapfrog Group – one of several external measures published over the past year that have validated our commitment to high-reliability healthcare across all settings.”

“We are extremely grateful to hospital leadership and health care workers who have remained steadfast in prioritizing patient safety as our nation battles COVID-19,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “This ‘A’ is a testament to the care and commitment of those who work for Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital. With the current pandemic exposing existing flaws within the U.S. health care system, we appreciate you putting patient safety first. Lives depend on it.”

Surrey Bancorp declares special cash dividend

The board of directors of Surrey Bancorp (Pink Sheets: SRYB) announced last week declared a special cash dividend of 10 cents per share on the company’s common stock. The cash dividend is payable on Jan. 15 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on Dec. 31.

Ted Ashby, President/CEO of Surrey Bancorp, stated the dividend is based on the company’s current operating results, its strong financial condition, and a commitment to delivering shareholder value.

Surrey Bancorp is the bank holding company for Surrey Bank & Trust and is located at 145 North Renfro Street, Mount Airy. The bank operates full-service branch offices at 145 North Renfro Street, 1280 West Pine Street, and 2050 Rockford Street in Mount Airy. Full-service branch offices are also located at 653 South Key Street in Pilot Mountain, 393 CC Camp Road in Elkin, 1096 Main Street in North Wilkesboro, and 940 Woodland Drive in Stuart, Virginia.

Surrey Bank & Trust is engaged in the sale of insurance through its wholly-owned subsidiary Surrey Investment Services, Inc. The insurance agency, dba SB&T Insurance, is located at 199 North Renfro Street in Mount Airy.

Surrey Bank & Trust can be found online at www.surreybank.com.

Hugh Chatham stroke center recognized

ELKIN — Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital has been named one of America’s Best Stroke Centers by the Women’s Choice Award. The award signifies that Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital is in the top 4% of 4,542 U.S. hospitals offering stroke care services, according to a statement released jointly by the hospital and the awarding agency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women in the United States will have a stroke in her lifetime. Nearly 60% of stroke deaths are in women, and stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. Studies show that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed for stroke even with the same symptoms present as men.

“Timely diagnosis and effective care are critical to preventing disability and improving chances of recovery. The time to identify your community’s leading hospital for stroke care is right now, not in the middle of a medical emergency when every minute is precious,” said Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Women’s Choice Award. “We congratulate these hospitals and their dedication to education, prevention, and early intervention to reduce the devastating effects of stroke.”

A stroke center must be certified by the Joint Commission Stroke Certification Program and/or Det Norske Veritas (DNV) as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center and/or Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center to be considered for the award. Those with the Advanced Comprehensive designation receive additional credit.

It is the only award recognizing excellence in stroke care based on criteria that consider patient satisfaction and clinical excellence, according to the statement. The methodology used to select Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital as one of America’s Best Stroke Centers is unique in that it evaluates Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems patient survey results along with primary research about women’s healthcare preferences.

Hospitals must also score in the top 80% of all hospitals in the percent of patients receiving head CT scan results within 45 minutes, and cannot have received a rating of worse than the national rate for the deaths from serious treatable complications measure.

“Hugh Chatham became the first Joint Commission-certified stroke center in the region back in 2011. Since then, our physicians, clinical experts and support team members have relentlessly focused on raising the bar, by implementing emerging best clinical practices and the latest in diagnostic and treatment options, so that our patients can count on us when seconds count for them” stated Paul Hammes, CEO of Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.

Insteel declares quarterly, special dividends

Insteel Industries Inc. last week announced that its board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 3 cents per share and a one-time special cash dividend of $1.50 per share of common stock.

Both dividends are payable on Dec. 18 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 1.

“We welcome the opportunity to return capital to our shareholders through the payment of a special dividend while fully funding our aggressive capital investment program and maintaining ample financial flexibility to pursue acquisition opportunities that may arise,” said H.O. Woltz III, Insteel’s president and CEO.

Insteel, headquartered in Mount Airy, 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 that are used in nonresidential construction.

Renfro Corp. rebrands, launches new e-commerce platform

A century-old Triad-based manufacturer and marketer of some of the world’s top sock brands has unveiled new branding and a new direct-to-consumer e-commerce shopping experience. In the process, Mount Airy-based Renfro Corp. has positioned itself for its second century in business.

Now Renfro Brands, the rebrand for the world’s largest dedicated sock maker, includes a new name, a revamped visual identity including, a redesigned logo and the launch of a direct-to-consumer marketplace called Loops & Wales.

“Our rebrand and launch of Loops & Wales represents the unique combination of strengths we’ve honed over the years,” said Renfro Brands CEO Stan Jewell. “With these changes, we aim to honor our heritage while focusing on what our next 99 years can look like. We are brand stewards and laser-focused on driving brand equity and brand health across the board.”

Renfro acquired its long-term license for the Fruit of the Loom hosiery business in the 1990s, shifting assets, resources and focus into the development of a brand portfolio model. The acquisition set the company on a new path to expand the breadth of its offerings, resulting in deep relationships with large retailers such as Macy’s, Walmart and Costco as well as brand licensors Carhartt, Dr. Scholl’s, Merrell and more.

Fashion sock labels Hot Sox and K. Bell joined the Renfro portfolio in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Today, Renfro manufacturers more than 20 globally recognized brands spanning the essentials, fashion, athletics, outdoors, work and wellness categories.

As Renfro noted a renaissance in socks toward more of a fashion statement than an afterthought, the company recognized an opportunity to develop a digital shopping experience through Loops & Wales. The move is intended to simultaneously capitalize on the acceleration toward e-commerce and the trend toward socks as a fashion accessory.

“Launching Loops & Wales signifies a big shift for Renfro Brands,” Jewell said. “Covid has accelerated e-commerce by at least three to five years, and so while we may have been behind the market during the rise of e-commerce, the opportunity is even better today. “People will want to go to stores again someday, but the trends for e-commerce in this category will stick with us and we are forging right ahead.”

Renfro is no stranger to rapid market pivots. At the onset of Covid-19, the company, which also has a design and packaging presence in Winston-Salem, collaborated with Wake Forest Baptist Health to design its Nightingale brand face covering, which entering this past summer it was producing up to 1 million units per week at multiple manufacturing locations in Alabama and Tennessee.

The moved not only preserved all of the company’s full-time jobs, it also created more than 500 temporary positions as well. Since then, the company has shifted back to focusing on its core business, but has not exited the mask business entirely.

“Currently, our internal manufacturing capacity is fully utilized with the manufacture of socks,” Jewell told Triad Business Journal last week. “We continue to have some of the Nightingale masks available for sale, and we have supplemented our offering with masks sold under our K. Bell and Hot Sox brands.”

Loops & Wales, according to the company,  is a destination for discovering, styling and buying the right socks for the right occasions while providing a unique shopping experience, offering form and function for any occasion.

“The trends were really moving towards more and more consumers purchasing socks directly online. We were behind and needed to catch up,” Jewell said. “We looked to our DNA to find what made Renfro unique in the market. We’ve got a sock for any and every occasion, and that’s where we found a space we can own.”

Industrial Textile Manufacturer to Invest in Mount Airy

Texwipe, a global manufacturer of contamination control supplies, will create 33 new jobs in Surry County, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The company will invest more than $4.5 million to locate a manufacturing facility in Mount Airy.

“Our state’s economy continues to grow, despite public health and economic challenges,” said Governor Cooper. “Companies like Texwipe choose to grow in North Carolina’s because of our talented workforce and our state’s strong management of the pandemic.”

Texwipe has been headquartered in Kernersville, N.C. since 1991. The manufacturer is an innovative leader in contamination control supplies and critical cleaning products for life sciences, semiconductor, and other industries requiring critical manufacturing environments.

“We are thankful for the support from the City of Mount Airy, Surry County, and the State of North Carolina, and look forward to our expansion and the new career opportunities it will bring to the community,” said Luke Grant, Business Unit Manager of Texwipe.

“Texwipe is an important part of our life sciences supply chain, and the company’s expansion brings exciting benefits on several levels,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “North Carolina’s many advantages as a business destination support the success of innovation-minded manufacturers as they embrace expanded market opportunities.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce led a team of partners in supporting Texwipe’s decision to expand their manufacturing footprint in North Carolina. The new positions include production, maintenance, and managerial staff. The average annual salary for all new positions will vary creating a payroll impact of more than $1.2 million per year. Surry County’s overall average annual wage is $37,222.

A performance-based grant of $75,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate Texwipe’s expansion. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

In addition to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina Community College System, Surry Community College, Surry County, Surry County Economic Development Partnership, City of Mount Airy, and Duke Energy.

Insteel shows revenue, earnings up

Insteel’s fourth-quarter results showed quite a turn-around from the same period a year ago, and its year-end results were equally strong.

In the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, which ended Oct. 3, the Mount Airy-based firmed reported earnings of $7.4 million, or 38 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $1.8 million, or 9 cents per share, during the same quarter in 2019.

For the year, net earnings stood at $19 million, or 98 cents per share, up considerably from $5.6 million, or 29 cents per share, from the end of the fiscal year 2019.

For the fourth quarter of this year, the company reported net sales increased 21.9% to $138.2 million from $113.4 million during the same quarter a year ago, quarter driven by a 27.7%

increase in shipments that offset a 4.6% decrease in average selling prices. Shipments increased 12% from the third quarter of fiscal 2020 and average selling prices increased 1.1%. The

company also benefited from an extra week in the current year quarter based on its fiscal calendar.

For the year, net sales increased 3.7% to $472.6 million from $455.7 million in the prior year, driven by a 17.3% increase in shipments that offset an 11.5% decrease in average selling prices, as well as the extra week in the current year based on the company’s fiscal calendar.

Insteel reported that it ended the year debt-free with $68.7 million of cash and no borrowings outstanding on its $100 million revolving credit facility.

“Looking ahead to fiscal 2021, we expect our financial results will remain vulnerable to uncertain market conditions depending on the strength and direction of the U.S. economic recovery,” said H.O. Woltz III, president, and CEO.

“The latest forecasts for non-residential construction indicate a bottoming or modest improvement, but the sustainability of those trends is not yet clear. Public construction has not experienced the level of weakness forecast at the onset of the pandemic, although the impact varies widely from state to state. Federal action on new transportation spending or proposed state budget relief has the potential to be a positive catalyst if implemented by the U.S. Congress.

“Despite the economic uncertainties, we remain optimistic about our key initiatives, which should benefit our fiscal 2021 performance. We are pleased with our performance in the engineered structural mesh market during 2020 and expect further growth in 2021.

“Additionally, the trade cases filed in April and June 2020 alleging illegal activity by importers in the U.S. PC strand and standard welded wire reinforcement markets have progressed favorably. The PC strand cases are now scheduled to conclude during our third fiscal quarter and the standard welded wire reinforcing case is expected to conclude during the fourth fiscal quarter of 2021. As with any litigation, we cannot predict the outcome, but we believe the facts supporting the cases are strong.”

North Carolina trucking company opens new terminal, adds 100 jobs

North Carolina trucking company opens new terminal, adds 100 jobs

Bottomley Enterprises, a family-owned carrier, recently opened a new trucking terminal in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

The company’s new estimated $13 million, 33,000 square-foot terminal will create approximately 100 new jobs, according to the Mt. Airy News.

Bottomley’s team drivers haul expedited refrigerated freight, including meat, produce, and Christmas trees, to several western locations in the U.S., from its Bottomley Evergreens and Farms operation.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data, Bottomley Enterprises has 57 power units and 120 drivers.

The company decided to move its headquarters from Ennice, North Carolina, in January 2019 after receiving approval from the Surry County Board of Commissioners, the news outlet reported.

Career Academy prospering

Although many businesses and school-related programs have been curtailed because of COVID-19, the Next Generation Career Academy sponsored by Surry County Schools and Surry Community College has continued this fall.

The program has placed 12 interns with area businesses during the autumn semester.

The Next Generation Career Academy began in 2017 as Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent of Surry County Schools, and Dr. David Shockley, Surry Community College president, brainstormed ways to create a workforce development program. Their desire was to facilitate a program in which students would complete internships or apprenticeships with local business and industry partners that could ultimately lead to employment.

The Golden LEAF Foundation’s funding made the dream a reality.

“The Next Generation Career Academy continues to evolve. In the spring, Insteel partnered with us to begin an apprenticeship program in machining and signed one apprentice for full-time employment,” said Crystal Folger-Hawks, the career coach for Surry County Schools and Surry Community College.

”I am currently working with other businesses who are receptive to partner with us to expand the apprenticeship programs, and I am pleased Insteel will continue with us for a second year.”

Folger-Hawks continued, “I think this speaks volumes that businesses are seeking our students to fill their employment needs. Additionally, it is great for us to be able to provide internship opportunities for our own students as Surry County Schools is hosting two interns as school custodians.”

“Northern Regional Hospital is fortunate to partner with Surry County Schools and Surry Community College to find local talent in the healthcare industry,” said Christi Smiley, human resources director, Northern Regional Hospital. “They are helping us fill the need for qualified employees and students get hands-on experience. This is a win-win for business and education partners.”

Students are enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) course at Surry Community College, and these students will be looking for internships in the spring. Other points of interest regarding the Next Generation Career Academy and how the program has exceeded the Golden LEAF Foundation’s grant milestones include:

• 41 students have obtained a minimum of twelve credit hours of college credit or an Associate in Science degree. The Golden LEAF Foundation goal was 30.

• 70 students have earned a total of 144 industry-recognized/third-party credentials. The Golden LEAF Foundation goal was 30.

• 73 students completed a minimum of 100 hours of work experience through internships or other work-based learning. Again Golden LEAF Foundation goal was 30.

An average of 92% of program graduates obtained employment in their field of study within six months or continued training in advanced manufacturing programs or STEM-related fields, according to SCS. The Golden LEAF Foundation goal was 80%.

“I am so proud of our students and the partnership we have cultivated with Dr. Shockley and Surry Community College,” said Reeves.

”The ability of our school system to collaborate with the community college to provide students learning experiences steeped in real-world application is invaluable. Students are not only learning the curriculum but they are applying that knowledge to the world of work. The Next Generation Career Academy has been a tremendous benefit to our local businesses, with our students both contributing to local business workforces and benefiting from the hands-on learning.”

To date, here is how Career Academy interns have participated in work-based learning by doing and contributing to workforce development, by the numbers:

• 88 students have participated in the Next Generation Career Academy internship program.

• 34 local business partners have hosted interns.

• 34 students have committed to continue working with their company on a full- or part-time basis at job signings.

“To be able to couple the academic classroom with a hands-on, real-world experience makes the big difference in education,” Shockley said. “This is where the rubber hits the road; when students have light bulb moments of being able to apply classroom instruction into an everyday work setting.

“This experience is valuable to students in that it helps them network with local professionals and build up their resume experience,” said Shockley.

“I am proud and delighted of the partnership we forged with Dr. Reeves and the Surry County Schools to establish the Next Generation Career Academy, and I look forward to seeing future student successes from this program. We are grateful to Golden LEAF for supporting our students through its grant program.”

“Golden LEAF is proud to support innovative strategies that help develop a skilled workforce,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF president, and CEO. “This project is a great example of how public-private partnerships can create sustainable programs that meet the needs of local business.”

“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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