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Simpson earns chamber’s humanitarian award

By Jeanna White

Davie County Blog

The Davie County Chamber of Commerce and Davie County Economic Development Commission presented the State of Davie & 51st Annual Chamber Meeting on Thursday, April 15 at WinMock in Bermuda Run.

The meeting was a sold-out event based on COVID-related limits, with 150 community and business leaders in attendance to hear an overview of Davie County’s economy and to honor the recipients of the chamber’s signature awards:  E.C. Tatum Humanitarian Award, Business of the Year, and Chamber Ambassador of the Year. The two organizations opted to host a joint event after COVID restrictions prevented the chamber from holding its annual event in January.

Chamber President Caroline Moser acknowledged the continuing impact of the pandemic on the local community.

“We want to recognize that we all have been touched in some way by this pandemic. Many have experienced it firsthand while others have had loved ones that have been affected. Businesses have struggled and many have unfortunately buckled to the financial strains and closed their doors.

“But just as our muscles only get stronger with the pain of exercise, and trees only grow their roots deeper when the intensity from the sun is turned up, so we have become stronger. We have rediscovered the value of friendship and family. We have grown in our ability to have compassion and empathy. We have learned more about our businesses and maybe explored different avenues. And we are here today to celebrate and continue moving forward.”

Moser recognized the 2020 Class of Leadership Davie.

“Many of you know the chamber re-established our Leadership Davie Program for those individuals who wanted to gain a broader understanding of Davie County, our rich history, and its potential. We believe it is important, that we take the time to invest in individuals who aspire to be better.  Despite the challenges that 2020 presented, this inaugural class demonstrated perseverance, and commitment. We are proud of these Davie County Leaders.”

They include: Karlyn Armsworthy, Davidson-Davie Community College; Allison Brown, Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care; Sam Brown, Davie County Schools; Ashton Burton, The Swicegood Group; Johnny Lambert, Davie County Public Utilities; Melissa O’Connor, Davie Community Foundation; Joshua Perryman, The Andersons; Kimberly Stanbery, Wake Forest Baptist Health-Davie Medical Center; Walter Wilson, Republic Services; and Jessica Yarbrough, Johnson Insurance.

DEX Heavy Duty Parts

The Business of the Year award was presented to DEX Heavy Duty Parts.

DEX came to Davie County in 2014 bringing 38 new jobs and investing more than $2.5 million in its headquarters. The facility houses a showroom, warehouse, and state-of-the-art industrial space.

“The company is an outstanding sustainability leader, with a 99 percent recycling ratio that adds up to over six million pounds of material per year,” said Josh Hanes.

DEX is the country’s largest supplier of renovated, recycled, and surplus heavy-duty truck parts and since 2015 has achieved 29 percent annual sales growth. In 2019, that growth allowed them to open a second location in Oklahoma City.

“Not only have they achieved outstanding financial results, but they are also an important part of our community,” said Hanes. “They seek opportunities to utilize other local businesses. They support the United Way of Davie County, Ignite Davie, and other local community groups.  They have worked with Davidson-Davie Community College and Davie County Schools for continuous education, training, and career days.”   

Computer Guys of CNS

The Davie County 2020 Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Computer Guys of CNS by Keith Beck,  incoming chamber board chair, who recognized the leadership of its owners, Elizabeth Wellman and Todd Flummer,  and their support of the community during the pandemic.

“During the past year, we faced times never before seen. We had new challenges and obstacles to face and overcome. Times like these look to leadership and strength, they look to solutions and support. When I say 2020, often I think of good vision, clear sight, or even a good understanding. This business operates with all of these principles and more,” said Beck.

“When COVID began to hit so hard last year, many changes had to be faced and faced quickly…Our small business of the year remained open and actually gave away lots of free services to help our community adjust to new ways. They taught a new form for meetings called Zoom, now a familiar term to us all. They gave courses to folks and explained the steps to first-time users of these online-only technology meetings. Our small business of the year gave back by allowing free remote access to many of their business clients during Phase 1, which was a huge support and benefit to many during a trying time.”

Humanitarian of Year

The 2020 E.C. Tatum Humanitarian Award was presented to Jane Simpson, president and CEO of the Davie Community Foundation, by Chuck Taylor, executive director of the United Way of Davie County.

“A community is only as strong as the people who enrich it. This community, Davie County, values the qualities of those who not only work hard, but those who weave character, trust, integrity, and promise into the lives of others around them,” said Taylor.

Taylor shared details of Simpson’s professional life noting that “with a laser focus she has taken our little foundation and shaped it into a powerhouse of economic blessing,  year after year for over 30 years.” She has raised millions of dollars to advance the good of the Davie community.

During her tenure, she established a scholarship program to ensure assistance was available to high school students seeking to enrich their futures;  created the SURF Board so that teens have a voice and learn not only financial responsibility but social responsibility, character development, and the importance to giving back to the community that served them on their journey into adulthood; helped drive forward workforce development and ensure an education for all through Ignite Davie;  given a voice to the women in our county to help agencies thrive and advance their good to those who do not have a voice through the Pearls of Empowerment;

He went on to list her humanitarian contributions to the community including volunteering with the chamber, the Rotary, the arts council, her church, the little league, and schools., saying “she gives back at every turn.”

“As we think about what it means to live, work, and play well in Davie County, few other names rise to the top and embody this spirit like our 2020 E.C. Tatum award winner – Jane Simpson.”

Ambassador of Year

The 2020 Davie Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year award was presented to Sarah Arguello of Tru Taekwondo by Chamber Board Treasurer Elizabeth Kilby of Davidson-Davie Community College.

Chamber Ambassadors promote their own companies; promote chamber events and programs; visit new and existing chamber members; represent the chamber at groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and other chamber events and assist with chamber projects. Ambassadors believe in the Chamber and have a desire to share with other businesses the many benefits and camaraderie that is gained by being part of an organization.

In her speech about Arguello, who has served as an ambassador for the past two years, Kilby said that she “has shown her knowledge of the chamber, the ability to share the chamber’s benefits, actively participates in chamber events, and with this past year, has provided insight and wisdom in how to move forward. She is personable, always willing to help, and engages in collaboration whenever possible. She lives her life and her work with trust, respect, and understanding.”   

Economic Past,

Present and Future

After the awards ceremony, Terry Bralley, president of the Davie County Economic Development Commission,  introduced keynote speaker Ted Abernethy, an economic development and  strategic planning consultant with more than 35 years of experience in directing economic development and workforce development programs.

His presentation was titled “State of Davie: Future, Present, Past,” and provided a comprehensive review of all existing economic development strategies, an evaluation of the current economic state of the county, an assessment of trends impacting Davie County’s economic competitiveness, and recommendations for future targets.

He said that Davie’s proactive business approach and success at recruiting new industry over the past 12 years placed it in a much better position to weather the pandemic than any other county in the region and presented statistics to back that statement up.

Bralley pointed out that Davie’s success has been a team effort that is far from over.

“We need to align all of our energy — the towns, the county, the schools, the community college — and make sure we are all aimed in the right direction and aligned with the region and the state in terms of the types of companies and clusters we are trying to attract,” Bralley said. “We are learning from what we’ve done and looking at new and better ways of creating opportunities for business and industry to come to Davie County.”

Moser thanked the sponsors that helped make the meeting a success.

“This meeting would not have been possible evening would not have been possible without our generous sponsors Ashley Furniture Industries, Duke Energy, Ingersoll Rand, Inspira Dental Care, Lambert Funeral Home, and Sage Garden Care Center.”

She also recognized Chamber Champions Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Ashley Furniture Industries, AVGOL, Brakebush Brothers, BB&T Now Truist, DEX Heavy Duty Parts, Duke Energy, Funder America, Ingersoll Rand, TRU Taekwondo, United Way of Davie County, Wake Forest Baptist Health Davie Medical Center, and WinMock at Kinderton.

View the awards presentation and Abernethy’s report on the Davie County Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube page.