Every year the Family Business Center at Wake Forest University bestows four North Carolina family businesses with the Family Business of the Year Award. The center accepts nominations from across the state looking for family businesses that best exemplify the ideals of family businesses: innovation, growth, community involvement, inclusion of different family members and generations, and commitment to keeping the business in the family. This year’s event will be held May 2 at the university.
This year’s proud slate of winners is:
Dampp-Chaser of Hendersonville: Small Category Winner. As a Merchant Marine stationed in Trinidad in the 1940s, Alan Foote designed dehumidifying products for a variety of uses. When he ended his tour of duty, he sold his products door to door before establishing Dampp-Chaser in Hendersonville in 1947. Robert Mair purchased the company with a partner in 1986. Mair’s daughter, Gayle, and son-in-law, Roger Wheelock, joined the company in 1995, and now the third generation of Mair family members is becoming involved, too. Today, Dampp-Chaser produces the Piano Life Saver, an accessory for pianos, which is sold through an international distribution network to piano tuners and technicians around the world. The company has 30 employees. Gayle attributes their success to two principles taught by her father: respect for others, and respect for hard work.
Samet Corp. of Greensboro: Medium Category Winner. Samet Corp. was founded in 1961 by Norman Samet in High Point. Through the years, the family-owned company has grown to become a regional corporation with more than 130 employees and operations throughout the Southeast. Originally known for large industrial buildings, Samet has developed expertise in high-growth segments such as health care and technology, in addition to signature properties, such as stadiums and showrooms. Norman Samet continues to provide guidance and support to the next generation of Samet Corp. associates, including his son, Arthur Samet, president and CEO, and son-in-law, Marshall Tuck, vice president of administration. The success of their business, according to Arthur Samet, is adherence to their core values of focusing on the customer, learning, and professional management.
Richard Childress Racing of Welcome: Large Category Winner. Richard Childress purchased his first race car for $20, and started his career as an independent race car driver at local tracks in the 1960s. In 1969, he was given the opportunity to participate in the NASCAR Cup race in Talladega. Richard seized the opportunity, and took his winnings home to purchase his first race shop and launch Richard Childress Racing. Today, RCR is housed in 14 buildings and occupies more than 550,000 square feet in its Welcome corporate headquarters. The company has approximately 475 full-time employees, and boasts 12 NASCAR championships and 180 wins. Childress still works at the race shop every day, and attends almost every NASCAR race. Son-in-law Mike Dillon is vice president of competition, and grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon are up-and-coming drivers for RCR. Childress’ wife, Judy, and daughter, Tina, also are involved in ensuring that RCR reflects their family’s vision. The success of the family business comes from Childress’ philosophy of hiring good people and continual education, according to company representative Tim Packman.
Salem Funeral & Cremation Services of Winston-Salem: Century Award Winner. In 1858, A.C. Vogler established the Main Street Village Cabinet shop in Salem. That shop became the Vogler family funeral home, and since that time, six generations have followed in the footsteps of A.C. Vogler. With more than 155 years of continual service, Salem Funeral and Cremation Services is an important part of Winston-Salem history. The company employs 16 people, including family members Mosby and Gene Vogler, brothers representing the fifth generation, and Mosby’s son, John Vogler, representing the sixth generation. Mosby attributes their long success to focusing on doing the right thing for the families. Their motto is “Our family helping your family.”
If you would like to attend the awards ceremony, contact award director Kathy Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org. And a big congratulations to this year’s winners from Family Business Carolina.
Henry Hutcheson is a nationally recognized family business speaker, author and consultant in Raleigh. He can be reached at familybusinesscarolina.com.