Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer
Economic Development in Macon County is flourishing, and that was more evident than ever last week at the annual Macon County Economic Development BizWeek Banquet at Bloemsma Barn. The week long event, which included networking seminars and opportunities culminated on Thursday night with a celebration of longstanding businesses, recognition of up and coming businesses, and a keynote address from Christopher Chung, CEO of Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
Chung commended Macon County Economic Development Director Tommy Jenkins, as well as Macon County Commissioner Vice-Chair Ronnie Beale for their visionary efforts building business in Macon County.
“Since my time serving with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, Tommy has had me out to Macon County several times, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see all that you have to offer here,” said Chung. “And in my time working in North Carolina, I have probably been to 80 of the state’s 100 counties and met officials in all of the counties. But I probably cannot tell you the name of a single county commissioner other than Ronnie Beale. He is relentless when it comes to working to better Macon County and to bring opportunity to this area of the state.”
Beale was able to honor one of BizWeek’s two honorees, which are recognized each year for representing a history of business and development in the county.
“I am so proud to have the opportunity to honor the Wayah Agency for what they have meant for business in Macon County for the last 63 years and for what they have meant to our community as a business and for the individuals who work there.”
The Wayah Agency was organized in Franklin by Morgan Shatley in 1955. Ed Shatley took over the agency after his father retired in 1967. Ron Winecoff joined the agency in 1975 after resigning his position as Macon County manager. Jim Garner came to the Wayah Agency in 1984, to manage a newly acquired office in Andrews. A new office was then acquired in Highlands in 1989 and was managed by Winecoff until 1992 when Steve Chenoweth joined the agency and assumed those duties. Ed Shatley and Ron Winecoff retired in January 2002, with Jim Garner and Steve Chenoweth taking over agency operations.
“While the management and ownership may have changed, Wayah Agency’s mission and service to the county has not,” said Beale. “They have continued striving to provide the same customer service that has always distinguished Wayah and its employees as a leader in the insurance industry.”
Macon County Commissioner Jim Tate also recognized a business for serving Macon County for generations. The Highlands Country Club was founded in 1928 and currently employs 40 full time and another 25 seasonal employees.
Last year, the Highlands Country Club was responsible for almost $1.5 million in Macon County property taxes, which is just under $400 million in property value.
“This group consistently year after year volunteers their time and funds to make the Highlands community and Macon County a better place to live,” said Tate. “Many of you here tonight have not only cursed this place with reckless abandon, but you have also smile, laughed, and enjoyed yourself like no other place in Macon County.”
In the summer of 1928, one of the greatest golfers who ever lived teed up a ball on the very “roof of the continent,” settled himself and smacked it into the air, launching with it the Highlands Estates Golf Club. That golfer was Robert Sure Jones, Jr. and that ball was the first one struck on the course now known as Highlands Country Club.
“The club is now one of the premier, family-oriented clubs in not only North Carolina, but also the world,” said Tate. “Its rich history and tradition from its Donald Ross designed golf course to its community of over 440 caring members, it is simply unparalleled with its history in Macon County and the town of Highlands.”
The top honor of the night, was naming the first recipient of the newly coveted “Up and Coming Business Award, voted on by Macon County’s Certified Entrepreneurial Community Board. The award, which was open to nominations for businesses operating in Macon County and have been in business for more than three years but less than 10, received more than 30 nominations. The top four nominations were Outdoor 76, Lazy Hiker Brewing Company, Highlands Aerial Park, and Deadhead Truck and Trailer.
Judy Chapman presented the award on behalf of the CEC Board.
“The winner of the Up and Coming Business Award for 2018 exemplifies all of the characteristics of an Up and Coming business,” said Chapman. “Dustin Delozier was working for a large construction company prior to 2015. He oversaw various construction sites and projects all around the United States. While traveling for this other job, Dustin had a drive to open his own business and a vision for executing that goal. He wanted to be near his family and to contribute to the community that he lives in and loves so much. After considering several options, a future home for the business was selected and purchased. This property was a vacant commercial building that a former business left behind. Dustin and Stacey were able to repurpose and reuse this property. Filling vacant commercial space is vital to any recovering and growing community. This shows both innovation and community impact. Through their hard work, Deadhead Truck and Trailer opened its doors in January of 2015.”
Deadhead Truck and Trailer is a one-stop truck and trailer inspection and repair facility. Large trucks and heavy equipment are a huge part of the local economy here in Macon County. “Dustin and Stacey saw a need in our community, and they filled it,” said Chapman. “This shows innovation and community impact.”
Deadhead Truck and Trailer started its operations with Dustin and Stacey and two full-time mechanics. From early 2015 to now, Deadhead Truck and Trailer has seen incredible success. In just three short years, they have increased to 10 full time mechanics. They have also opened a trucking division that provides jobs for truck drivers in the area. In total, DHTT now employs 17 full-time, year-round employees.
“Because of their stellar reputation and aggressive marketing/networking efforts, DHTT has been able to bring in business from outside of Macon County,” said Chapman. “They have contracts to do work for customers in all surrounding counties, and even several customers in the Asheville area that bring their equipment to Franklin. This means that money which was previously spent elsewhere is now being spent in Macon County. This shows significant community impact.”