Food Tours p. 36
Will Advance Auto Parts stay in Roanoke? p. 38
SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
‘Coal depression’ As coal slumps, the suppliers, vendors and railroads feel the pain
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CONTENTS SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
F E AT U R E S COVER STORY
10 ‘Coal depression’
As coal slumps, suppliers,vendors and railroads feel the pain. by Mason Adams
COMMERCIAL INSURANCE Managing risk
Fewer losses mean lower commercial insurance costs. by Joan Tupponce
HIGHER EDUCATION Filling gaps
The Roanoke Higher Education Center adds a new school, and an old partner adds a new degree. by Shawna Morrison
SPECIAL REPORT: TOURISM Telling a story through food
Tourists have to eat, so why not offer a tour that’s built on food?
by Jenny Boone
BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: TILT
Crowdfunding app firm finds Blacksburg a good fit. by Joan Tupponce
34 INTERVIEW: Susan Still
President and CEO, HomeTown Bank What comfort zone? Executive takes on a new challenge at Federal Reserve Bank and remains passionate about industry. by Beth JoJack APRIL 2016
38 BUSINESS EXTRA: ADVANCE AUTO PARTS Advance worries
Roanoke’s only Fortune 500 company was born here. What happens if it leaves? by Dan Radmacher
41 PREVIEW 42 NEWS FROM THE CHAMBER
TOGETHER, WEâ€™RE SOLVING THE HEALTH CARE EQUATION. Providing health care benefits has become a complex problem to solve for your business. Fortunately, the Marsh & McLennan Agency [MMA] and its regional partner agencies have joined forces to offer more ways to reduce costs while still providing quality. Together, MMA and your local agency can provide more resources to review your existing benefit program, assess the feasibility of first dollar or self-insured plans and provide a wider range of benefit providers based on premium levels, plan design and network match. Together, we can move forward. To learn more about how MMA and its regional partner agencies can help you work through the Affordable Care Act, visit MMA-MidAtlantic.com.
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FROM THE EDITOR
Unintended consequences by Tim Thornton
he leading candidates from both major political parties have recently spoken disapprovingly of CEO pay. Some of them have even suggested they might do something about it. CEO pay is a pretty big target. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies make more than 300 times the average American worker’s pay. No one is suggesting CEOs aren’t well above average in importance and value to their companies, but some people wonder why the gap is so large in the U.S. when chief executives in Germany make about 147 times the average German worker’s pay, and CEOs in Japan scrape by on salaries just 67 times those of their workers. How did American CEO pay get so far above workers’ pay and so apparently out of line with CEOs in other countries? One reason seems to be a campaign promise to do something about high CEO pay. Here’s one explanation, which comes mostly from National Public Radio’s Planet Money, a team that produces podcasts, radio stories and a blog focused -- as you may have guessed -- on money. About 1990, an economist named Kevin Murphy began to study how CEO pay was set. The best indicator of pay, he discovered, was the size of the company that a CEO led. Leaders of big companies got big checks, with little or no relationship to how good or bad the CEO’s performance was. Murphy co-wrote a paper that said CEO pay should be tied to CEO performance. Bill Clinton made CEO pay part of his presidential campaign. It was bad enough that companies were paying CEOs huge salaries while laying off workers, Clinton said, but it was worse those huge salaries could be written off as business expenses. Clinton campaigned on the idea that only the first $1 million of a CEO’s salary could be written off. Clinton was elected, and the cap was created, but the $1 million limit didn’t apply to pay tied to performance. No more automatic giant checks, the thinking went. CEOs could get $1 million salaries, but they could get more only if they and their companies did well. It didn’t turn out that way. Companies added the incentive pay, but didn’t shrink base salaries. In 1993, the year Bill Clinton took office, average annual CEO pay at big public companies was a little more than $4.3 million. In 2000, the last full calendar year of Clinton’s presidency, the average was about $10 million higher, according to Forbes. Just something to keep in mind when this year’s crop of candidates pitch their remedies for national maladies.
SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION Vol. 5
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on the cover Norfolk Southern coal hoppers headed east from Roanoke rail yards. Roanoke Photo by Don Petersen
Understanding Your Industry: One more way Gentry Locke attorneys help businesses
Building? Expanding? You’ll need people who understand your industry and your perspective. Gentry Locke attorneys partner with clients, staying attuned to their goals and engaging the right services at the right time. Are you ready to move ahead? We’re always ready to listen. Meet our 55+ talented attorneys and learn how we can help you conquer your industry at gentrylocke.com.
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The evening is highlighted by an awards ceremony, where technology leaders will be recognized in six categories:
• • • • • •
Rising Star Entrepreneur Regional Leadership Innovation Educator People’s Choice
TechNite is an annual celebration of the region’s thriving technology community and a key opportunity to network with more than 600 influential leaders in business and innovation. Come join us as we celebrate the amazing achievements in technology-focused entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership from across the region!
Details and Registration info at:
Items on the calendar are just a sample of Roanoke/New River Valley business events this month. To submit an event for consideration, email Tim Thornton at tthornton@ roanoke-business.com at least one month before the event. April 7
9th Annual Life Science Forum of Southwest Virginia
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Roanoke Presented by the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council and the Virginia Biotechnology Association, the event provides opportunities for networking. Time: 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Event is free, but registration is required.
www.rbtc.tech April 12
Waldron College Interprofessional Symposium & Expo
Roanoke Connecting and empowering young professionals to strengthen our community.
This third annual event, held at the lower level of Heth Hall, gives companies a chance to spotlight their organization and recruit future volunteers and employees in the health and human services fields.
Rob Mangus, Nancy Hack, Candace Benson
Introducing HomeTown Private Wealth
Southwest Virginia STEM Summit Moss Arts Center Cube
An opportunity to share outstanding and innovative STEM programs, and build and expand strong partnerships to promote high quality STEM education.
At HomeTown Bank, we understand that as your wealth grows, your banking needs grow, too. With exclusive products and responsive service from your own Private Banker, HomeTown Private Wealth opens up a powerful new network of local expertise to help you achieve your financial goals.
Preparations are underway for the region’s biggest technology event of the year. Awards will be given in six categories: Rising Star, Entrepreneur, Regional Leadership, Innovation, Educator, and People’s Choice.
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Out About &
Share photos of your company’s special events with Roanoke Business. E-mail your candid photos and identifications to Adrienne R. Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 1. Roanoke-based Interactive Achievement was named as one of Best Places to Work in Virginia in the Small Business category. Pictured are: Back Row (L to R)- CJ Page, Niki Bhatia, Jacqueline Lackey, Michaelia Tyler, Jack Rawles; Front Row (L to R)Heather Cypher, Karenna Glover, Mary Catherine Aesy, Sara Smith 2. Rajesh Bagchi, associate professor of marketing in the Pamplin College of Business, has received the Early Career Award of the Society for Consumer Psychology. Bagchi studies the impact of information framing on consumer behavior, including the influence of color on purchasing decisions as seen in this grocery store aisle photo.
3. Josh Baumgartner (right), vice president of public policy at the Roanoke Regional Chamber, moderated the Roanoke City Mayoral Candidates Forum held on Feb. 11 at Center in the Square. City Councilman Sherman Lea (left) and Vice Mayor David Trinkle were the two mayoral candidates. 4. The U.S. Department of Commerce recently gave a nearly $500,000 grant to the Virginia Tech’s Catalyst Program
to accelerate efforts to support technology, innovation, and job creation for entrepreneurs in the RoanokeBlacksburg region. Stephen Lynn and Morgan Matt, industrial design students in the School of Architecture + Design, with Michael Roan (right), an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, participate in an ideation session to create new tools and approaches for the D.C. Cook Nuclear Generating Station. The work was one of the first Catalyst Program projects. 5. Cox recently opened its new Cox Solutions store at Valley View Mall in Roanoke. The store’s location offers easy access to customers at Roanoke’s largest retail shopping center. Attending the grand opening were, left to right: Christine Broughton, with U.S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s office; Mike Morris, Cox Solutions store manager; Cally Smith, Roanoke Regional Chamber; Jeff Merritt, market vice president, Roanoke operations, Cox Virginia; Wayne Bowers, city of Roanoke Economic Development; and J.D. Myers II, senior vice president and region manager, Cox Virginia.
5 Contributed photos
Tilt co-founder Khaled Hussein is a Virginia Tech graduate.
Crowdfunding app firm finds Blacksburg a good fit by Joan Tupponce
he California-based technology firm Tilt had many reasons for opening an East Coast office in Blacksburg last September. One was the proximity of Virginia Tech and other colleges. Students are the target market for Tilt’s crowdfunding app. Another reason was more personal. Eight of the company’s 71 employees are Virginia Tech alums, including Khaled Hussein, Tilt’s co-founder and chief technology officer. “We have huge connections to this area,” says Brian Hartsock, another Hokie who is Tilt’s director of engineering. The company was founded in Austin, Texas, in 2012, but today its headquarters is located in San Francisco. The Blacksburg office can be found downtown at the Tech Pad co-working space. The Tilt mobile app is used for crowdfunding. Photo courtesy Tilt
Since the company’s founding, more than 500,000 groups have used Tilt’s free crowdfunding app. “The app is the easiest way to collect money as a group,” Hartsock says. Students, for example, use the app to collect money for a tailgate party or a homecoming celebration. While aimed at college students, the app can be used by anyone who needs to round up payments for a variety of purposes. Hartsock, who graduated from Virginia Tech 12 years ago, used it to collect money for a vacation house that several families had rented. “One person paid for the house and other people contributed,” he says. “It makes it easy to do.” In addition to its sites in San Francisco and Blacksburg, Tilt has offices in Austin, Toronto, London and Sydney. Outside the U.S., its app is available in Canada, the
United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. A good deal of Tilt’s marketing is based on its “ambassador program.” “College students are our brand ambassadors,” Hartsock says. “We try to get people … in different universities to use our product and tell their friends about it. We have people who serve as country managers that manage our ambassadors.” Tilt makes money through its Sell Something campaigns where “companies leverage our user base and sell products to students,” says Hartsock. The company doesn’t have plans for more apps at the moment. “We are really focusing on our current app and collecting money as a group,” says Hartsock. “We want to expand into new markets and new schools and grow the model we have.” ROANOKE BUSINESS
‘Coal depression’ As coal slumps, suppliers, vendors and railroads feel the pain by Mason Adams
Norfolk Southern’s 2015 coal revenues were down 23 percent and traffic volume dropped 16 percent, compared to 2014.
Photo by Don Petersen
or well over a century, Southwest Virginia’s coal communities have surfed the fossil fuel industry’s boom-and-bust cycles as price and production periodically rose and fell. The latest downturn, however, feels different from past patterns. It’s so steep and has gone on for so long that Carter Machinery CEO Jim Parker calls it a “coal depression.”
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that coal production in 2015 was 10 percent lower than in 2014 and in fact reached the lowest level since 1986, with the Appalachian Basin
falling the most. Coal production in the Central Appalachian Basin last year was 40 percent below its annual average level from 2010 to 2014. That’s a greater drop-off than any other coal-producing region in the U.S., which in 2015 produced a projected 900 million tons of coal. Coal counties aren’t the only places feeling the effects. Ripples from the coal depression have spread into surrounding communities and businesses in the coal inPhoto by Don Petersen
For three decades, Carter Machinery CEO Jim Parker says the coal sector was his company’s best customer. Not any more.
dustry supply chain. Observers who claim coal is dead in Appalachia overstate the case. Yet it’s true the past five years have brought transformative change to the industry. The market for steam coal, used to make electricity, has suffered a massive blow from a combination of cheap natural gas and federal clean air
regulations. Appalachian Power closed or converted five plants, and its parent company, American Electric Power, closed or converted six more in response to a federal air standards rule. A second, more sweeping rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court in early February, pending a ruling from
the high court. Even if the court strikes down the plan, or a future president were to roll back the emissions standards, the demise of coal-fired power plants already has left a permanent mark on coal’s longtime dominance in energy generation. Appalachian Power estimates coal still will produce a majority of its energy in 2016 — 51 percent — with 28 percent from natural gas, 11 percent from renewables and 6 percent from nuclear. But coal’s percentage has fallen from 74 percent in 2005 and is expected to continue to drop. The long-term outlook is better for metallurgical (met) coal, used to make steel, but it, too, has suffered. Demand for met coal has plunged with a slumping Chinese economy. The American dollar — still relatively strong — also has made domestically produced coal more expensive compared with coal from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa. All of these factors have combined to disrupt the American coal industry. Dozens of companies declared bankruptcy, including the Bristol, Va.based Alpha Natural Resources Corp. and Arch Coal, the nation’s secondlargest coal producer. Many mines have been idled, and workers laid off. Some Republicans and coal industry officials blame President Obama for environmental regulations that have put coal at a competitive disadvantage. The president has pro-
posed a series of spending initiatives known as Power Plus, intended to help coal communities adjust their economies. Obama’s budgetary proposals usually run into opposition from congressional Republicans, but some elements of the Power Plus initiative have received bipartisan support. U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Salem, a Republican who often is a vociferous critic of Obama and his coal policies, co-sponsored a bill that mirrors a portion of the Power Plus bill by accelerating $1 billion in mine reclamation funding to revitalize coal communities. The Roanoke-headquartered Southern Coal Co. has weathered the tough times so far, but it, too, has felt the effects of the industry slump. “Business over the last several years, to be blunt, has been terrible,” says Jay Justice, who runs the company. “We’re not immune from the slowdowns in Asia or the other developing countries, nor are we immune from regulation changes or the natural gas pressures.” Most of Southern Coal’s reserves are met coal, so it’s mostly been affected by the worldwide drop in demand for steel. With a huge drop in coal prices — from an average of $119.25 per ton for Central Appalachian coal in October 2008, to $42.05 in February 2015 — Justice says the company has been forced to streamline its operations. “We have closed some
cover story mines and increased production at other mines that have been more efficient,” Justice says. “Overall production is fairly steady, but we’ve had to arrange several deck chairs to be able to do that.” His mention of “deck chairs” brings to mind the Titanic in the moments before it slipped beneath the waves, but the longer-term outlook for Southern Coal is much less dire. Compared with companies that have filed for bankruptcy, Justice says, Southern Coal operates with lower costs — which left more of a buffer when prices plunged — and a much smaller amount of debt. That situation, paired with the fact that most of its reserves are met and not steam coal, leaves it better positioned for a rebound when the world economy turns around. Also working in Southern Coal’s favor are the deep pockets and diverse business portfolio of its owner, Jim Justice, West Virginia’s only billionaire. Jay Justice says his family has used personal assets to subsidize the company during the current coal bust. Southern Coal and its sister company, Bluestone Coal, have been criticized for falling behind in paying taxes and fines in Kentucky and West Virginia. Bluestone accrued many of its debts while it was owned by a Russian company. That company bought Bluestone from Justice, then sold it back to him at a much lower price. Jim Justice has moved to pay off those debts as he’s ramped up his campaign for governor of West Virginia. In early March, however, Tazewell County officials raided three Justice coal mines, seizing equipment to pay a missed $850,000 payment in property taxes due in December. The missed payment came after the company paid two years of taxes, but paid them late, county officials said. Southern Coal also has slimmed down, closing its underground mines, which tend to cost 14
more to run, in favor of surface mines. For the last two years, it also has put off replacing machinery or making new capital expenditures. Those decisions don’t just affect miners but also the supply chain of vendors who provide specialized equipment used in mines — rock dust, conveyor belts, roof bolts and underground machinery. One of the affected companies is Carter Machinery, which distributes Caterpillar products to most of Virginia plus nine counties in West Virginia. Although Carter sells equipment to the construction, ma-
rine, engine, forestry and bus sectors, the coal industry has for the last three decades made up the largest segment of the company’s business. That changed in this latest coal downturn; between 2012 and 2013, construction overtook coal to become Carter’s largest customer segment. Carter, with corporate offices in Salem, has 21 outlets across Virginia and West Virginia. It has seen a big impact on its four locations in Southwest Virginia and southern
Southern Coal’s Jay Justice says, “Business over the last several years, to be blunt, has been terrible.” He blames slowing economies, falling natural gas prices and growing regulations. Photo credit
West Virginia. “We’ve managed our workforce down in the coalfields substantially,” says Parker. Carter has done so through two avenues: attrition, in which departing workers aren’t replaced, and by transferring technicians either permanently or in rotations from western locations to those east of Roanoke, which continue to do decent business in noncoal sectors. Carter Machinery is only one company in a regional supply chain serving the coalfields. Vendors are by no means the only business sector that’s been affected. Western Virginia’s railroads were built in large part to help transport coal to a wider market. Before and after the Civil War, many a line was laid during the 1800s, enabling the first Appalachian coal boom and supporting the industry’s up-cycles since then. According to the EIA, 68 percent of U.S. coal shipments were delivered via rail in 2013, compared with 12 percent by water (mostly barges), 11 percent by truck and 8 percent by conveyor belts and tramways. As recently as 2014, coal made up 39 percent of rail tonnage and 19 percent of rail revenue, according to the Association of American Railroads. Yet as coal has crumbled the last five years, the railroads have suffered in turn. Railroad coal volumes dropped nearly 12 percent in 2015. For one week in January 2016, measured against the year before, coal volumes fell 32.6 percent. Norfolk Southern Corp., the nation’s fourthbiggest railroad, saw a 10 percent decline in revenues from the fourth quarter of 2014 to 2015, driven in large part by an 20 percent decline in coal revenue. In response, Norfolk Southern moved its Photo by Don Petersen
Coal shipments to the power sector
U.S. electric power generators consumed 740 million tons of coal in 2015, fueling about onethird of total electric power generation and accounting for 92 percent of all coal consumed in the United States. Nearly 70 percent of the coal used by power plants to generate electricity was shipped either completely or in part by rail. The rest was transported by waterway, truck, or — for power plants located near a coal mine — by conveyor. Coal shipments to the electric power sector by transit mode, 2008-15 100% 80%
other intermodal (nonrail)
waterway intermodal (rail)
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Pocahontas Division headquarters, which was in Bluefield, W.Va., to Roanoke, where it was consolidated with its Virginia Division. The railroad also consolidated operations at two coal transloading facilities along the Great Lakes in northern Ohio. In December, Norfolk Southern announced a cost-cutting plan to boost profits. It aims to grow an initial $130 million in annual productivity savings in 2016 to more than $650 million per year by 2020. The announcement came after a six-month evaluation of the company’s business model, including customer service, network performance efficiency measures and revenue growth, according to a company news release. “Specifically, we are focused on delivering high levels of superior service to build a more profitable franchise based on price and volume growth, implementing efficiency measures and increasing returns, while simultaneously maintaining our commitment to returning substantial capital to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends,” James
Squires, Norfolk Southern’s chairman, president and CEO, said in the release. Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern has been aggressively courted by Canadian Pacific, a railway that serves states on either side of the Canadian-U.S. border, as well as the Midwest and Northeastern U.S. Last fall, Canadian Pacific proposed a buyout of Norfolk Southern three times but was rejected. Canadian Pacific CEO Hunter Harrison has said the deal would create $1.8 billion in cost savings while linking major ports on the East Coast, Great Lakes and West Coast. In a letter to Norfolk Southern executives, Squires wrote, “It would be inconsistent with the duties of the board to pursue a risky and uncertain offer that substantially undervalues the company.” In a letter addressed to Harrison, Norfolk Southern board members agreed, arguing the “latest revised proposal is grossly inadequate, creates substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome, and is not in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.”
cover story Appalachian Power’s coal-fired Glen Lyn plant began producing electricity in 1919. It closed in 2015.
After Norfolk Southern’s rejection of its third offer, Canadian Pacific President and COO Keith Creel said in a statement, “Optionality, agility, efficiency and service are at the heart of our proposal and we urge all stakeholders to examine the benefits of a CP-NS combination.”
Last month on March 2, after abandoning a possible proxy fight among Norfolk Southern’s shareholders, CP filed a petition asking railroad regulators at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board for a declaratory order to approve a voting trust structure that would clear the way to a merger. The voting
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trust, the company explained in a public statement, has been used in dozens of mergers; it allows either railroad to be placed in a trust after clearing regulatory approval of the merger. At press time, the board had taken no action on CP’s request. Due to the ongoing situation, Norfolk Southern officials declined to be interviewed about its markets. Beyond Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific also has looked at Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX, which operates in Virginia, including in Clifton Forge. Canadian Pacific initially considered CSX before setting it aside to pursue Norfolk Southern. As coal bankruptcies make their way through court proceedings and railroad executives try to outmaneuver one another in the boardroom, the question of when, or whether, the coal industry will rebound remains unanswered. Steam coal appears to be permanently diminished, if not entirely shut down. The closure of coal-fired power plants and a broad-based shift by electric utilities away from coal toward natural gas and renewable energy limits steam coal’s long-term future. However, it remains an important energy source for now. In 2015, coal-fired plants generated about 35 percent of the country’s electricity. It was surpassed by natural gas for the first time in April 2015, a trend that continued in every successive month through October, the most recent available month for data. Metallurgical coal is expected to rebound eventually. It is a crucial component in steel, so demand is tied directly to global economic growth and new construction. History says economies go through cycles. When Appalachian coal is tied to what’s happening in Asia and South America, however — both home to economies that saw rapid, long-term growth stall in 2015 — no one knows for sure when ecoPhoto courtesy Appalachian Power Co.
nomic fortunes will change. When or whether the economy comes back, will Appalachia’s met coal industry be ready to return to work? Or have the idled mines, unemployed workers and unused or auctioned-off equipment left a permanent impact? After all, mining is a capital-intensive business. “We’re hopeful that at least Central Appalachia, primarily in Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia, where the quality of the coal is the best, you will see a rebound in the met business,” Justice says. “Areas where it’s steam coal, I think those areas are permanently impacted, and they really may fade away. Even in the met space, he notes, “there’s a lot of production that may never come back, primarily because once these mines are closed and reclaimed or abandoned or whatever the outcome is, the capital expenditures required to get them back online is unbelievable. The market will have to come back and be sustained for
“We’ve been telling our employees for four years, ‘Maybe next year. Maybe next year. Maybe next year: We don’t know how to call this coal market because we don’t know how to call the global economy.” — Jim Parker CEO, Carter Machinery
a while before a lending institution would deploy capital to get these mines back online. There’s going to be some permanent loss, and on the steam side, a lot of permanent loss.” Parker, however, says observers shouldn’t be fooled by the wave of bankruptcies. The companies may even change hands, but ultimately, the process is not about dismantling companies so much as restructuring them for the future.
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“That’s why you go through bankruptcy, to restructure,” Parker says. “If this were to take off real fast, the industry will be healthier because they have had the chance to slim down. I had a boss who worked for 41 years at Caterpillar who said, ‘Never waste a downturn. Get the costs down. Get the excess waste out of your organization.’ When this thing turns back up, profit will be substantially greater than before. It’s true with Caterpillar. The same thing with Alpha, what’s left of Patriot, everyone.” So, to Carter’s way of thinking, the question isn’t so much whether the market for metallurgical coal will come back so much as when. The answer, however, remains elusive. “We’ve been telling our employees for four years, ‘Maybe next year. Maybe next year. Maybe next year,’” Parker says. “We don’t know how to call this coal market because we don’t know how to call the global economy.”
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Managing risk Fewer losses mean lower commercial insurance costs by Joan Tupponce
Duke Baldridge, president of Dominion Risk Advisors, says there are five steps to dealing with risk: “identify, analyze, control, finance and administer.”
Photo by Natalee Waters
f businesses want to lower commercial insurance costs, they should focus on risk management. There are ways to manage risk, say industry executives, but companies need a process and they need buy-in from top leadership. Being successful with risk involves a five-step process, says Duke Baldridge, president of Dominion Risk Advisors in Roanoke. “You have to identify, analyze, control, finance and administer risk,” he says. “You are constantly working your way through the process.” Implementing a safety program isn’t cheap. Top leaders such as a company’s chairman or president need to embrace risk management practices. “They have to buy into making their place of business a safe workplace in order to lower the number of worker injuries,” says Roy Bucher, chairman and treasurer of Roanoke-based Chas. Lunsford Sons & Assoc. Agencies like Lunsford have in-house loss control and safety engineers, he adds. “Our engineer will go out and make recommendations as far as safety programs that our clients should look at and implement.” Companies also need to pinpoint hazards that could expose their employees to work-related injuries. “Each business has a hazard classification based on operations and work performed,” says Stephen Hamilton, executive vice president of Hawk Advisers in Roanoke. “Insurance underwriters look at those hazard classifications.” Hazard classifications vary widely. For example, a manufacturing company would have a different classification than a construction company. “To some extent, that is something that a business can’t change,” Hamilton says of the classification. “What you do have control over are ways to manage ROANOKE BUSINESS
Stephen Hamilton, executive vice president of Hawk Advisers, says companies can’t control their hazard classification — but they can control how they manage hazards.
risk. Businesses that do that will lower their overall cost of risk.” One of a company’s major expenses is workers’ compensation. “Workers’ comp makes up onethird to one-half of the coverall premium cost related to a company’s property and casualty insurance,” Hamilton says. A company’s experience rating also factors into the cost of insurance. “An experience rating is based on the presumption that 20
historic loss experience predicts future loss experience,” says Bucher. “That’s why it’s important to keep your losses low. The rating is used in workers’ comp and certain types of liability insurance such as general liability, commercial auto and professional liability.” When it comes to preventing injuries and losses, companies should conduct an annual risk evaluation to identify and correct safety hazards. For instance,
make sure the workplace is clean and orderly, materials are secured, and stacks are limited to a certain height. “You also need suitable warning signs and tags for hazardous areas and substances that need to be identified. New employees need basic safety training and should be taught the proper use of safety lifting techniques,” Bucher says. “An approximate 20 to 25 percent savings a year is within the realm of possibility after four years of implementing these practices.” Many employers today are looking into functional capacity testing to help curb worker injuries. The tests can show whether the potential employee can handle the physical requirements of the position. “You can use this as a prehire tool,” says Hamilton. “If you are hiring for a certain job classification, you can send the employee to have testing” to see whether the employee has the physical endurance for the job Wendy Lucas, owner of Lucas Therapies in Roanoke, offers testing services that look at the physical requirements of a job. “It’s one of the least expensive but highest return things you can do to reduce your risk. We test to see where you have the greatest exposure,” she says. Testing runs from $75 to $150 per person, which is much less expensive than “a back sprain, which starts at about $5,000 with no loss time,” she says. “About 80 percent of workers’ comp injuries are musculoskeletal.” Lucas uses isokinetic testing that measures joint forces on the strength of knees, shoulders and the back. “The test is done to see if a person’s strength rate falls into the classification of the job,” she says. “It’s a good methodology for both sides. Employers don’t want to hurt you, and you don’t want to get hurt.” The testing is becoming more commonplace. “If you aren’t testing, you are in the minority,” Photos by Natalee Waters
Wendy Lucas, owner of Lucas Therapies, says pre-employment testing is “good methodology for both sides. Employers don’t want to hurt you, and you don’t want to get hurt.”
Lucas says. “We have one company we have been testing for 10 years and it is in its 1,000th day with no loss injury.” If an employee is injured on the job, the company needs to provide the names of a panel of physicians, including board-certified occupational physicians, when available. That list allows employees to choose physicians they feel are the best fit. “You’re giving injured employees information on where they can get help,” Hamilton says. “You are putting the employee in the hands of someone who has experience with occupational injuries.” The physician will determine whether an injury was the result of the employee’s work. That examination “determines if a workers’ comp claim is valid,” Hamilton says, noting that this type of relationship with medical providers can reduce your cost of risk. “It helps if you can return the employee back to work until he or she reaches maximum medical improvement. The idea is to rehabilitate the employee at work, which improves recovery time.” Having employment practice procedures in force also can reduce commercial insurance costs.
Companies should have an adequate employee handbook as well as employment practices liability
insurance that covers allegations of harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination. “The best risk management strategy is to have really good procedures and practices in place,” says Baldridge. Companies also need to consider insurance that protects against interruption of business income as part of their risk management strategy. This type of insurance falls under property insurance. “More businesses fail to recover from property loss because they didn’t have adequate business interruption insurance. This is insurance that protects your net income and ongoing expenses. People tend to underestimate the need,” says Baldridge. “You need to do an evaluation and understand what could happen and how well you are going to control it.” As companies become less likely to suffer a loss, their cost of insurance goes down, he adds. “You increase your buying power.”
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HIGHER EDUCATION: Roanoke Higher Education Center
Filling gaps The Roanoke Higher Education Center adds a new school, and an old partner adds a new degree by Shawna Morrison
The Roanoke Higher Education Center continues to add new schools and programs.
he Roanoke Higher Education Cen ter has added Florida Institute of Technology to its lineup of schools that offer degree programs locally. Based in Melbourne and commonly called Florida Tech, the institute plans to begin classes this fall for at least two degrees: master of science in human resources management and master of science in health-care management. The school also is working on a master of business administration in cybersecurity. Of the Roanoke Higher Education Center’s 14 member institutions, Florida Tech is the only out-of-state school. Darrell Burrell, Florida Tech’s interim site director for programs at the Higher Education Center and Fort Lee, says he believes the programs will be successful, in part because of Florida Tech’s good reputation. “We’re not some fly-by-night
Photo by Don Petersen
school. We’re a respected research university on par with the other large state universities that also offer programs” at the Higher Education Center, he says. Florida Tech is best known as an engineering school. It has partnered with NASA and was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a Tier 1 Best National University. Florida Tech has been offering classes in Virginia since 1973, Burrell says, primarily for the military. It also has satellite campuses in Maryland, Florida and New Jersey and just received approval for classes in Missouri. “Part of our mission through our college of extended studies is to be able to offer opportunities and access to more working adult students,” Burrell says. “I was out looking for a potential area for us to expand what we do, I heard about the center … and built a business case for
us to expand there.” “We have had other out-of-state schools here in the past,” says Carla James, the Roanoke Higher Education Center’s director of academic and student services. “It is really not a matter of in-state or out-of-state, it is a matter of bringing needed academic programs to the region.” The Higher Education Center has partnered in the past with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Nova Southeastern University, which is also based in Florida. “We’re in the business of bringing educational opportunities to the region,” James says. “We are always looking for new members. We want to be able to offer new and different programs here. Because they’re already established as an institution that delivers programs off-site, we welcomed them,” she says of Florida Tech.
Roanoke Higher Education Center •
Offers degrees ranging from a GED to a doctorate, plus certificate and job-training programs and testing preparation.
Partners with 14 schools and institutions to offer programs: Averett University, Bluefield College, Florida Institute of Technology, Hollins University, James Madison University, Mary Baldwin College, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Roanoke College, TAP/This Valley Works, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and Virginia Western Community College.
Opened in August 2000. School is housed in the former headquarters of the Norfolk and Western Railway on North Jefferson Street.
Most students are adults who have already attended some college.
Offers CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) tests to allow students to show their proficiency in an area with a one-time exam to earn credit; CLEP tests can replace traditional classes and expedite degree completion.
Sources: www.education.edu; Carla James, director of academic and student services
Once an institution becomes a member at the Higher Education Center, the institution decides what programs it should
offer. She says “the technical emphasis of the programs they’re bringing here really do fill a gap.”
Another of the Higher Education Center’s member schools, James Madison University, also has added a new program to its offerings. JMU is set to offer a master’s degree in educational leadership, James says. Another member school already offers that degree, she says, but the JMU program will be different because it will run as a cohort. She says both programs can still be successful because each will fit the needs of different students. Three of the Higher Education Center’s member schools – Averett University, Radford University and Virginia Tech – offer MBA programs through the center, but all have been successful, James says. Jorga Wright, a Florida Tech MBA graduate who moved to Roanoke in November to become a senior site administrator for the new programs, says
Virginia Tech’s offerings at the Higher Education Center include noncredit courses, teacher certification, master’s degrees and one doctoral program.
Photos by Don Petersen
Florida Tech conducted premarket research to determine what programs it should offer in Roanoke. “We were looking at all the other members at the Higher Ed. Center, what niche hasn’t been filled yet,” she says. “They’re popular with the students here, and no other schools are offering them.” Representatives from Florida Tech also looked at what the Roanoke Valley has to offer. With the huge presence of Carilion Clinic and many medical practices and nursing homes, Burrell said, the health-care degree seemed like a good fit. Since the Higher Education Center strives for its members to work collaboratively instead of competing with one another, Burrell says, he felt like the master’s degree in health care would work well for students who obtain their nursing degrees through Radford University, for example, at the Higher Education Center but want to continue their education. “Quite simply, the programs they are bringing fill a gap in our current program offerings,” James says. “I think they will be very successful.” At a time when many classes at the Roanoke Higher Education Center and other schools are moving toward online coursework, Burrell says, the programs will operate on-campus only and as cohorts, meaning the 15 or so students who enroll together will be in all their classes together and complete the programs together. “You’ll have a support system as you go through,” he says, and it’s more likely that networking or job opportunities will be available to students through a co-
Jorga Wright, a Florida Tech graduate, is a senior site administrator for the university’s Higher Education Center programs.
hort. Burrell says Florida Tech is planning to discount its tuition for classes at the Higher Education Center by nearly 50 percent of what it would cost to take them on the school’s main campus. He estimates that the cost to complete a master’s degree at the Higher Education
Center will be about $19,800. “We’re happy to be here,” Wright says. “We look forward to growing with the city and helping to educate the residents here. She’s curious to hear what other programs students would like to see. “Part of us doing a good job is understanding what’s needed.”
The Roanoke Higher Education Center helps working students earn degrees.
SPECIAL REPORT: Tourism
Telling a story through
Tourists have to eat, so why not offer a tour thatâ€™s built on food? by Jenny Boone
Photo by Natalee Waters
The Sunday brunch tour offered by Tour Roanoke stops at Metro! in downtown Roanoke.
tourism The Sunday brunch tour includes stops at seven restaurants over three hours.
ver square bowls of peanut soup and small skillets of spoon bread, Becky Ingram, a tour guide, tells the group of mostly out-of-towners the story of how peanut soup became the Hotel Roanoke’s signature dish in the 1940s. Naturally, the soup needed a companion item, which lead to the spoon bread, Ingram explains, calling the pairing “heirloom menu items.” “Umm,” murmured several in the group as they took bites of the spoon bread while seated at a round table inside the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center’s Regency Room. Ingram continues, discussing Roanoke’s history, including its former name, Big Lick, and the significance of the Norfolk and
Western Railway. After about 30 minutes, the group, which included travelers from Staunton and Maryland, moves on, stopping to discuss a mural inside the hotel’s lobby and then heading outside and across a pedestrian bridge that leads into downtown Roanoke. On this Saturday in January, the approximately three-hour Roanoke Food Tour would include six more restaurant stops. The group tasted Lebanese tabbouleh at Cedars Lebanese Restaurant; shrimp and grits at Billy’s; hamburgers topped with fried egg and cheese, known as Cheesy Westerns, at the Texas Tavern; organic Waldorf chicken salad at Firefly Fare in the Roanoke City Market Building and more. Roanoke history was a
side dish at each stop. Tour Roanoke launched its first downtown food and history tour in 2013. Since then, the business has grown in both number of participants and tour offerings. Today there are craft beer and wine tours, a Sunday brunch tour and a daylong trip to regional craft breweries on Route 151 in Nelson County. Other new tours in the works, include a downtown Roanoke farmers market excursion in which participants choose foods that a chef whips up for a meal and a food and history tour that will debut this spring in downtown Lexington. Larry Landolt, founder of Tour Roanoke, didn’t know what to expect when he started what Photo by Natalee Waters
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Food tours include stops for local history and other interesting tidbits away from tables and kitchens.
he believes is the first food tour in Roanoke. The Roanoke Valley doesn’t necessarily compare to larger cities with well-known Landolt food histories or specialties such as Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, Chicago’s deep dish pizza and Baltimore’s steamed blue crabs. But with research Landolt discovered highlights of the Roanoke food story, from its Southern culture to the influence of Lebanese immigrants and the growth of farm-to-table fare. And many of Roanoke’s restaurants have histories of their own. “The whole idea here is how can you tell the story of a city through its food,” Landolt says. Tour Roanoke’s expansion has been fueled, in part, by an increase in the number of tourists who spend money in the Roanoke Valley. In 2014, out-of-towners spent $784.5 million in the Roanoke region, up 3.9 percent from $754.7 30
million in 2013, according to the Virginia Tourism Corp. The annual data tracks travel-related expenditures by U.S. residents traveling 50 miles or more from home. Similarly, Roanoke Valley hotel room revenue climbed to $99.8 million in 2015, a 9.4 percent rise from $91.2 million in 2014, according to STR Inc., a hotel data tracking company. An array of activities in the Roanoke Valley has helped to boost tourism numbers in the past few years, says Landon Howard, president of the Roanoke Howard Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. Some of 2015’s signature events included a May homecoming event for the 611 steam engine and Salem’s Blue Ridge Music Festival with such country music acts as Brad Paisley and Florida Georgia Line, he says. Also, economic development and tourism officials continue to
market the region as an outdoor lovers’ haven. Food tourism seems a natural next step, since approximately 25 percent of tourist spending includes food and drink expenditures, according to the World Food Travel Association. “Culinary travel experiences are one of the most popular methods of drawing tourists to a region,” says Howard. He says he has heard “rave reviews” from travelers about Tour Roanoke. Its tours seem to complement conventions and corporate meetings that bring large groups to Roanoke. These participants “want to get to know the area,” Howard says. Landolt, a New Jersey native who moved to Roanoke from Orlando, Fla., in 1998, had never taken a food tour before he decided to launch one. Several years ago, Landolt, formerly executive director of EventZone, a Roanoke event company, saw a website for a Memphis, Tenn., food tour while searchPhoto by Natalee Waters
ing for business ideas. “That sounds like fun,” Landolt recalls thinking to himself. He signed on for a three-day training event in Chicago for food tour operators. Shane Kost, a Virginia Tech graduate, started the business, Food Tour Pros, in 2009. That was after Kost launched his own food tour business in Chicago in 2006, and was constantly fielding questions from people about starting such tours in their cities. Now, Kost has more than 300 food tour clients globally. He estimates that it costs $5,000 to $20,000 to start a food tour business Culinary tourism answers an important question for most travelers — “Where will we eat?” or specifically, “How do I eat like a local?” Kost says. Before Landolt started Tour Roanoke, he spoke with food tour operators in cities similar in size to Roanoke, such as Frederick, Md., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. He launched Tour Roanoke with history and food walking tours. The next year, he added the Sunday brunch tour and in October 2014, a tour of local breweries. The spring of 2015 brought Blue Ridge Wine Tours. At least five guides work for Tour Roanoke, and more likely will be added for new tours, Landolt says. Tours are held several days a week, mostly Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, depending on the excursion. Prices for adults range from $36 to $115 for different offerings. Tour Roanoke pays for the food and beverages that restaurants serve to guests, but its prices generally are wholesale, Landolt says. He would not reveal whether Tour Roanoke is profitable. “We’re paying the bills,” he says. “We realize we’re trying to grow something.” Tours include up to 14 people and draw both tourists and locals, Landolt says. January’s Saturday food tour included Steve and Dori Walk from Staunton, who received tour
tickets as a gift and spent the weekend in Roanoke. Also on the tour were Sam and Susan Goodman of Chevy Chase, Md., who were visiting their son and daughter-in-law, Eli and Leslie Goodman, for the weekend. Eli and Leslie, who relocated to Roanoke from Richmond, also took the tour. The food and history tours typically end at the top of Center in the Square, a spot that gives the group a cityscape view. As the
January group took in the view, Ingram, the guide, asked about their favorite parts of the tour. Several raved about the shrimp and grits at Billy’s and the Hotel Roanoke peanut soup. Dori Walk says she liked the history. Sam Goodman says he was thrilled to learn more about the city that his family now calls home. “I was very pleased with the food and seeing the town,” he says. “It’s bigger than I thought.”
Image: Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) No Swimming [detail] Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, June 4, 1921, Norman Rockwell Museum Collections
March 20-June 12, 2016 Tickets at TaubmanMuseum.org or 540.342.5760 Members Always Free 110 Salem Avenue SE, Roanoke, VA 24011 American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell has been organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. It is presented by Friendship Living with additional generous support made possible by WDBJ-7; Kroger; the National Endowment for the Arts; the Henry Luce Foundation; Curtis Licensing, a division of The Saturday Evening Post; Norman Rockwell Family Agency; and the Stockman Family Foundation. Presented by
Tourism resources The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau
Blue Ridge Parkway
Botetourt County Office of Tourism
Franklin County Tourism
Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism
Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce
Explore the New River Valley
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Susan Still is taking 40 years of banking experience to her new seat on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
INTERVIEW: Susan Still, president and CEO, HomeTown Bank
What comfort zone?
Executive takes on a new challenge at Federal Reserve Bank and remains passionate about industry
by Beth JoJack
usan Still likes a challenge. “I always like to think I’m moving up and out of my comfort zone to try new things,” she says. After 40 years in banking, Still embraced a new endeavor this fall after her peers at other banks in the Fifth Federal Reserve District selected her to serve on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “It’s kind of an honor to be able to participate with the Fed,” explains Still, who has worked as president and CEO of Roanoke’s HomeTown Bank since 2008. “As a banker, you know of the Fed your whole career.” More than a ceremonial post, serving on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank requires travel to Richmond eight times a year. Before accepting the post, Still approached her board of directors to make sure they were okay with that kind of time investment. “They were very supportive of me doing this,” she says. “They think it’s important for the Roanoke Valley/New River Valley to be represented. They think it’s important for a community bank to have input into what goes into making interest rate decisions.” Roanoke Business: The Federal Reserve System sets monetary policy, supervises and regulates financial institutions and handles financial services like distributing paper money. You are one of nine board members on the board of the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. What will you do for them? Still: While I represent the banks, and I’m elected by the [member] banks, this is really just overall board governance and representing what’s going on in our market from a Main Street
Photo by Don Petersen
versus Wall Street perspective. One of the important things board members do besides … overseeing corporate policy is being an advocate kind of for Main Street. What’s going on in our market … I will give at each board meeting a report, a more anecdotal type of report … So we provide realtime economic feedback about what’s going on in the Roanoke/New River Valley in our market. RB: What kind of information would you prepare for one of these reports? Still: I would talk about businesses. What’s going on in the real estate market, housing. What is the lending environment like? Are businesses really looking for loans or are they not borrowing? I remember back several years ago during the recession the government kept saying, ‘Banks aren’t lending.’ Well, it wasn’t that the banks weren’t lending. There wasn’t the demand because businesses had stopped borrowing. It’s really just things like Norfolk Southern Corp. [relocating 500 employees from Roanoke as they did in 2015]. That would be a big deal [to tell the board]. New business coming to the area when it’s hot off the press. That type of thing. So I’ll talk to members of [the HomeTown Bank] board. I have a member in the car dealership business. They’re a good source because they’re all business people in the community. ... I’ve talked to people in the mortgage business, people in the real estate business, the Chamber of Commerce, The [Roanoke] Regional Partnership. And then just anecdotal talking to customers. I was a commercial loan officer, so most of my career was spent calling on companies and talking to businesses about how things are going. So that’s nice for me. I get to do more of that and hear from customers and business partners.
RB: What impact has the DoddFrank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which President Obama signed in 2010, had on community banks? Still: I think Dodd-Frank is way in excess regulation. They are peeling back some of that but not most of the paperwork, and everything that has to happen. Community banks did not start the recession. They are not systemically that big that any one community bank could have that kind of impact. I think it was kind of a onesize-fits-all regulation. I mean it’s as big as Obamacare in terms of massive regulation, so they kind of took that treat-all-banks-the-same [approach]. RB: So, it’s a tremendous amount of additional work? Still: It’s really just overkill, to the point of being ridiculous. We have our compliance people, and we have folks who follow Dodd-Frank and roll out what we need to make sure we’re doing at the right time. We’ve already got that cost embedded … Ultimately, it drives up costs for customers because it’s part of your cost of doing business. Eventually you get caught up in how banks have to price their loans, how banks have to price their deposits and still be competitive with other banks. I think regulation is really what – not just in banking but also in health care and everything else – slowed the recovery from the recession. RB: The number of independent commercial banks in the United States decreased by 14 percent from 2007 to 2013, according to a 2015 report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Some banks failed, but many more have merged. Is consolidation in HomeTown Bank’s future? Still: There’s always going to be that ROANOKE BUSINESS
interview group of banks consolidating. It’s kind of like Wal-Mart. You had them buying up all the mom and pop shops, and now they’re closing stores. I think you’ll always have the big banks, the regional banks and the community banks. RB: The same report says that an average of three new banks have formed each year since 2010. In 1990, the average number was 100. Do you think it will be rare for new community banks to launch in the future? Still: One thing I’ve learned from banking is that it’s cyclical. There used to be these great big New York banks; then some of them got acquired and started these regional banks. So there’s an evolution and because of Dodd-Frank and because of capital requirements being so much more, which I don’t think is a bad thing, you probably won’t see new banks starting up as often, and I think when they do, they’ll start off a little bigger. But I think you’ll definitely see that again, because I think the public wants that. As long as community banks stay relevant in terms of technology and in terms of the value they add as relationship managers, I think people will always aspire to have community banks. We need banks of all sizes. There are things that big banks do that small banks don’t do. RB: Like what? Still: They have bigger lending limits. They may do international services. They may have industry expertise that again tends to be geared toward big customers … I think you need big banks to take care of big customers. You’ve got regional banks to take care of maybe the midsize, and then you’ve got community banks to take care of the small to medium-size businesses. RB: Will HomeTown Bank still be a community bank headquartered in the Roanoke Valley 10 years from now?
Susan Still talks with a customer at HomeTown Bank in Roanoke. Dogs are welcome in the bank’s branches.
bank operates six branches, including branches in Smith Mountain Lake and Christiansburg. How big would you like to grow? Still: You hear different benchmarks about where the right place is to be. It’s where you can be the most successful financially and still take care of your customers. I’m not sure exactly where that is. I’m going to say it’s in the one to two billion dollar size.
Still: I sure hope so. I just don’t think big banks can as effectively serve the customers as a community bank. Our goal is to continue to grow and serve the community.
RB: So you would say that the loan officers at HomeTown Bank would look at a loan application for a Roanoke muffler shop differently than those working at a bank headquartered in Charlotte?
RB: In October, HomeTown Bank reported assets of $473 million. The
Still: They do. Our focus is more on the small to medium-size businesses
… There are a tremendous number of small businesses that need loans to be able to operate. Our focus is on the companies owned and headquartered in our market. We tend to know the small businesses better. We know their owners. We know more about the businesses. The larger banks look for larger loans. The big difference in community banking, too, is we really focus on relationships and not just transactions. Not just doing a loan for this company but to have a relationship with the company. We stay in touch with them. We know them. The large banks will generally do that with their largest customers, but just due to scale they can’t as effectively handle the small to medium businesses … Photo by Don Petersen
they just want to call and let me know, which I think is great. Sometimes they’ll complain about something. If they don’t like a process or a procedure, they’ll call. RB: Who decided to allow dogs in the bank branches? Still: That was our first marketing director who was a dog person and thought it would be nice to be dog friendly. RB: Do people bring their dogs? Still: Oh, yes. Particularly downtown. We have dog biscuits for them. I even had a lady [who lives near the South Roanoke branch] that walks her dog in the morning … She said she got to the point she couldn’t get her dog to get back home because he wanted to get into the branch and get a cookie.
I think community banking in particular is so important to the economy. You can have banking, but if it’s headquartered elsewhere it’s just not the same. They don’t put money back into the market. They don’t support the market in the same way. They can make decisions to not lend in certain industries. They can just make decisions overnight that can totally impact the customers and the community. You see the impact of banks that have consolidated. I think there’s a correlation between not having good strong com-
munity banks and the financial health of the small business community. RB: The HomeTown Bank website tells customers to feel free to call the CEO directly. Do people do that? Still: They do. RB: What do they talk about? Still: Usually, it’s something to tell me about one of our employees. They’ll point out somebody like a teller or financial specialist at one of our branches. Or some great job one of our commercial officers did, and
RB: In 2014, HomeTown Bank settled an unfair competition claim it brought against HomeTrust Bank for using a too similar name. HomeTrust Bank agreed to add the words “Roanoke Division” when using the name in the Roanoke Valley. What did you think upon learning that North Carolinabased HomeTrust Bank would be taking over Roanoke-area branches of Bank of America? Still: I immediately thought HomeTrust, HomeTown – how confusing is that going to be? And it is. Still. We still have people come in at least once a day. They call or come by. It was particularly more so when Bank of America was leaving the market. People had to do certain things for their bank accounts to remain open. It’s a confusing name. Our customers aren’t confused by
it. They know, of course. But it’s prospective customers that are confused by it. It creates opportunity sometimes because they walk in and think they’re going to HomeTrust and they’re not, so they end up staying, which is great. It’s more of a confusion thing than a negative impact from it. We’ve probably had a positive impact. RB: Did you expect to end your career running a community bank? Still: I wanted to be a math teacher. My dad, I think, was concerned I needed a career. If I wanted to have a career maybe I ought to do something with math in business. He was an electrical engineer … I’d never anticipated going into banking. I really didn’t even know, except for savings accounts, what banks even did. RB: After graduating with a degree in accounting at Virginia Tech, you took your first job working at Dominion Bank in Blacksburg. What has kept you in banking? Still: I liked the people part of it. It’s a great combination, a balance between numbers and people … I’ve just enjoyed my career all along the way. I’ve stuck with it for that reason. Investing this kind of time and taking away from my [family’s] time, I want to be doing something I know is meaningful. I think everybody should. I’ve never thought about it in terms of having a job. I want to have a career. I want to have something I can get better at and learn from. I’ve been fortunate those opportunities have come along.
BUSINESS EXTRA: Advance Auto Parts In 1932, Arthur Taubman bought Advance Stores Company, a chain of two stores in Roanoke and one in Lynchburg, and the creation of a Fortune 500 company began.
Roanoke’s only Fortune 500 company was born here. What happens if it leaves? by Dan Radmacher
hen Norfolk Southern made the surprise announcement in January 2015 that it was closing its Roanoke office building and transferring 500 employees from Roanoke to Norfolk and Atlanta, it felt like a body blow to the city. Now city leaders and others in the region are wondering whether they should prepare for a similar hit as uncertainty swirls around the future of Advance Auto Parts, the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in Roanoke. “Advance Auto was born here,”
says Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill. “They are a great community player. We brag about what a great corporate citizen they are. Their executives have a very high level of community engagement here.” While the company has its corporate headquarters in Roanoke, in recent years the connection has begun to feel tentative. Former CEO Darren Jackson moved some of the top corporate officials to Minneapolis when he was hired in 2008, never taking up residence in Roanoke. When the company
bought General Parts International in January 2014, Jackson and other top executives, including Chief Financial Officer Mike Norona, moved to Raleigh, N.C., where GPI had its headquarters. Combine that with sluggish sales — fourth-quarter sales dropped 2.6 percent to $2 billion compared with the fourth quarter of 2014, while profits dropped a hefty 35 percent. Total sales of about $9.7 billion in fiscal 2015, however, were just slightly lower than the $9.8 billion reported in 2014. Still, with reports that the Photos by Don Petersen
company is courting potential buyers, Roanoke sees reason to worry. Advance Auto officials, though, are quick to reaffirm their commitment to the city. “As a team here in Roanoke, we are committed to the community and to making a positive difference here,” says Laurie Stacy, Advance’s manager of corporate communications. “We pride ourselves on the longstanding partnerships we have.” The corporate office in Roanoke may no longer be home to the CEO, but vital shared services for the entire company are based here, Stacy says: information technology, operations support, call centers, human resources and real estate. Every new general manager goes through a training program in Roanoke. The Roanoke office employs 800 people directly, plus a couple of hundred contractors, Stacy says. “We’ve invested millions of dollars in the Roanoke office.” After a fire at the Crossroads Mall offices, she adds, Advance is investing even more in updating the space. What about the rumors of a potential buyer? “Those are rumors,” Stacy says. “We don’t comment on rumors. We’ve been in business 80 years, and this is not the first time that rumors about our company have come up.” Morrill, for his part, is somewhat sanguine. “The big picture is that this is just how the modern economy works,” he says. “We probably can’t influence a corporate sale. What we need to do is build a diverse economy.” Wayne Bowers, Roanoke’s director of economic development, says the city already has seen dividends from diversification. “We just got the job figures from last year, and even with Norfolk Southern [job transfers], we’re up,” he says. Roanoke’s 4.2 percent unemployment rate in December is near what many economists consider full employment, Bowers notes.
Warner Dalhouse is convinced Advance will always have a significant presence of employees in Roanoke.
Advance Auto’s primary concern isn’t Roanoke, says Warner Dalhouse, founding board member of HomeTown Bank. “[Former CEO] Nick Taubman sold the company quite a long while ago,” Dalhouse says. “They’re going to do what’s in the best interests of the stockholders of the company, not necessarily what’s in the best interests of the Roanoke Valley.” Still, Dalhouse isn’t overly pessimistic. “As long as the company’s in business, we’re always going to have a pretty sizable contingent of
Advance Auto employees here in Roanoke,” he says. “Commercial rents are low; wages are competitive.” Roanoke does have some competitive disadvantages, though, that Dalhouse says could make it harder to keep Advance here. “Roanoke is a little bit remote, and it doesn’t have real good air transportation options right now.” Morrill agrees the air travel options can be a hindrance to business but points to regional efforts to bring in direct flights to Denver or Dallas. That kind of regional cooperation is invaluable in addressing such weaknesses, Morrill says. “Our assets aren’t great enough to compete on our own,” he says. “Regionally, we can compete.” Roanoke, for instance, doesn’t have huge tracts of developable land, he says. Yet other localities in the region do. Morrill points to the development of the Western Virginia Regional Industrial Facility Authority, which is helping identify and assemble developable tracts of land. Another important regional effort, he adds, is the Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. It’s creating a 47-mile broadband network
Wayne Bowers, Roanoke’s director of economic development, says the number of jobs in the city increased even as Norfolk Southern moved jobs out of the valley.
business extra across Roanoke, Salem and parts of Roanoke and Botetourt counties. A big proponent of regionalism is Heywood Fralin, chairman of Medical Facilities of America. He criticized Roanoke and Botetourt counties for not participating fully with the authority. “It’s shortsighted not to build the infrastructure necessary to support businesses that need the broadband-width capability provided by fiber,” says Fralin. “We need the whole region on board. Our region extends from Roanoke to Radford and all the areas in-between.” The loss of Roanoke’s only Fortune 500 company would be a blow, says Fralin, but far from a fatal one. “No community would consider that to be welcome news. It doesn’t mean the community can’t recover and focus on creating more jobs in other areas, and that’s certainly what the community needs to be doing.”
Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill advocates regional cooperation and economic diversity.
The concern isn’t just a loss of jobs, but the loss of quality jobs, Fralin adds. “I think we have to work extra hard to make sure that we provide opportunities for citizens to have meaningful, well-pay-
ing jobs.” Bowers agrees, which is why he’s enthusiastic about the Virginia Tech-Carilion Research Institute and investments being made there that will bring in 25 more research teams. “That’s huge,” Bowers says. “People don’t think about VTC as an economic driver, but it is huge when you look at the brain power it’s brought in, along with the national attention it brings from studies that are published.” And, he notes, the average wage for researchers and faculty members is not small. “That puts buying power back in the community. It will be a tremendous driver in the future.” Whatever happens with Advance Auto, Roanoke and the rest of the region need to prepare for change. “Change is going to occur all the time,” Dalhouse says. “I’m all for progress, but I hate change.”
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Reimagining the river
Preview of next month’s Roanoke Business
Roanoke River is increasingly seen as a potential tourist attraction for the area. Some businesses are betting that visitors will want to paddleboard, tube and kayak on the river. Also in the May issue:
Community profile: Pulaski County.
Education profile: New River Community College.
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Chamber champions are members who support the Roanoke Regional Chamber through year-round sponsorships in exchange for year-round recognition.
2016 CHAMBER CHAMPIONS BNC Bank
Pepsi Bottling Group
The Roanoke Times
Gentry Locke Attorneys
LifeWorks REHAB (Medical Facilities of America)
Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC
Woods Rogers Attorneys at Law
Thursday Overtime – Feb. 4 Longhorn Steakhouse
The following members joined the Roanoke Regional Chamber from Jan. 11 to Feb. 8, 2016.
2016 Capital Reception – Jan. 26
AFLAC - Brad Burrus
Appalachian Power Cox Danville/Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce Member One Federal Credit Union Norfolk Southern Corp. Union Bank & Trust
Roanoke City Candidates Forum – Feb. 11 Appalachian Power Center in the Square RGC Resources
Arara Language Solutions LLC CNG Services Crandall & Katt, Attorneys at Law Crystal’s Healing Hands Massage GreenScapes VA Ltd. Iron Level Wood Artisans Margie Sanders, Certified Massage Therapist Quick Training Pros The Daniel Law Firm P.C.
NEWS FROM THE CHAMBER Ameriprise Financial advisers, employees and clients recently came together to help feed Roanoke Valley families. Organized by the Myrias Group, 35 people volunteered at Feeding America Southwest Virginia to stock food shelves, repackage bulk food items and assemble meat packages. The event was part of the national days of service arranged by Ameriprise in partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hungerrelief organization. Balzer and Associates, an architectural, engineering and surveying firm, has announced that Sean Horne has joined the firm as a new board member. The firm has also named two new associates, Jeff Bridges and Matt Shrader. 42
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia celebrated National Mentoring Month with a Big for a Day program. Garry Kelly, general manKelly ager at WSLS 10, hosted his “Little for a Day’ on Jan. 26. Kelly and his charge enjoyed a day of learning about media and journalism and exploring it as a career. Other professionals participating in the program included: Meredith Glenn McGrady, Glenn Insurance; Captain Brandon Hamblin, Pulaski Fire Department; Blair Hoke, Pulaski Yankees; Beth Macy, author; Jeff Merritt, Cox Communications; Michael Solomon, town of Pulaski; Peggy White, Pulaski Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Webb, AmeriCare Plus; Dr. Patrice Weiss,
Carilion Clinic; and Jeff Wynn, New River Computing. Branch and Associates, one of the largest and most diverse Virginia-based general contractors, has announced the hiring of Tim Harris Harris as director of operations and Chuck Claar as director of business development. Both new employees will work in the Northern Virginia office. Patrick Bartorillo, president of Branch Highways, has announced that Jane Brasier has been hired as director of business developBrasier ment for its operation in the Carolinas. She will be based at the company’s regional office in Cary, N.C. Brown Edwards has announced its merger with Johnson, Equi & Com. PLC. Charles F. Equi has been named a director at Edwards Brown Edwards. Equi, former owner and managing partner of Johnson Equi, brings over 30 years of experience in accounting, taxation and business advisory services. Justin Mummey, CPA, formerly with Johnson Equi, has also joined the Brown Edwards Roanoke staff. Carilion Clinic’s Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences began seeing its first patients the final week of January. The building, originally a 55,000-square-foot grocery store, has been completely renovated over the last two years with an investment of $32 million. The renovated facility boasts 116,000 square feet, 125 patient exam rooms, nine procedure rooms and the capacity for eight diagnostic imaging rooms.
Longtime Woods Rogers’ attorney Nick Conte has joined Carilion Clinic’s legal team as general counsel and senior vice president. Conte served as the chairman of Woods Rogers. He
is a board member of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Carilion Clinic Foundation.
Research Center, BNC Bank, the Virginia Tech Foundation and the Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences.
Cox customers in Roanoke will get a full hands-on retail experience at the new Cox Solutions Store at Valley View Mall. The state-of-the-art, 1,936-square-foot store allows customers buy the latest Cox products and services, ask questions and get one-on-one help.
Hall Associates has announced a change in its name from Hall Residential Management and Leasing Division to Hall Residential. The new name more accurately reflects the company’s expanded residential management, leasing and sales service. Expanded services include a more comprehensive business model by providing residential sales and home watch service options for its clients.
GENEDGE has announced the formation of a new business growth program known as Enterprise Development Growth Engine (EDGE). EDGE is tailored to accelerate business growth via a focus on 18 key drivers of business value. The program helps company ownership grow business value by closing identified gaps in the 18 value drivers.
Jefferson College of Health Sciences, an affiliate of Carilion Clinic, has announced its partnership with eSSENTIAL Accessibility. Through the partnership, Jefferson College now offers a desktop application that empowers students, faculty, staff and site visitors with physical disabilities to access the college’s website at jchs.edu. The application provides a suite of keyboard and mouse replacement solutions, among other tools, designed to help people with physical, reading and age-related disabilities get online.
Hall Associates announces that Aaron Garland has joined the firm as an associate in both residential and commercial sales and Garland leasing services. He comes with more than eight years of experience as a real estate investor and developer. Garland will continue to manage and develop a portfolio of properties for Garland Properties.
LewisGale Medical Center has earned national recognition for the care it provides in its knee and hip replacement programs. The hospital recently earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval certification for both knee and hip replacement, the hallmark of excellence in the industry. As part of the certification process, the hospital recently underwent a rigorous on-site review of its knee and hip replacement programs.
Christina Greene with Hall Associates has earned the Professional Community Association Manager designation from Community Greene Associations Institute. The designation is the most prestigious and respected credential for community association managers. Hall Associates announces that the 2015 sales and leasing person of the year is Frank C. Martin III. Since joining Hall AssociMartin ates, Martin has earned some of the most prestigious office property assignments in downtown Roanoke. Notable clients include the Virginia Tech Corporate
Poe & Cronk Real Estate Group has announced its 2015 top producers. They are: Bryan Musselwhite, overall top producer; Darrell Morris, total sale transactions; Peter Ostaseski, total transitions; Stephen Pendergrass, total lease transactions; and Thom Hubard, distinguished merit recipient.
The Roanoke City Department of Economic Development has launched its new website. The site – bizroanoke. com – reflects a wealth of economic development information for the city of Roanoke. Its mission is to make content available to local businesspersons, entrepreneurs, site selectors, prospective businesses and individuals who want to know more about Roanoke in a more user-friendly and marketing-oriented format. The Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department recently promoted eight personnel to officer ranks. The new officers are: Deputy Chief C. Travis Griffith, Battalion Chief Darryl Burks, Battalion Chief Craig Robertson, Battalion Chief Randy Spence, Capt. Jeffrey D. Johnston, Capt. R. Chad Wheeler, Lt. Michael Haubner, and Lt. Christopher Shaun Lacy. Tamalyn Tanis has announced she is stepping down as coach of the Cave Spring High School volleyball team in order to spend more time with her family. Tanis, a 1989 graduate of Cave Spring, was named the coach of the Lady Knights in 2002. Under her direction, the team won five state championships and was state runner-up twice. She was named the state AA coach of the year in 2011. In recognition of the university’s robust wellness program, Virginia Tech has been certified as a wellness workplace by CommonHealth, the state’s wellness program. Virginia Tech’s employee wellness program is coordinated by Hokie Wellness, which recently merged with student wellness programs to form a unified program for students and employees. The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools selected Virginia Tech Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw to receive its award for outstanding contributions to graduate education in the Southern Region. DePauw has been the dean of the Virginia Tech Graduate School since 2002. ROANOKE BUSINESS
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Jeri A. Baker has been named director of parking and transportation at Virginia Tech. In her new role, Baker is responsible for all Baker administrative functions relating to the management, maintaining and planning of the university’s parking and transportation programs. Virginia Tech’s proposed School of Neuroscience has hired its first faculty member, J. Michael Bowers, who joins the univerBowers sity as an assistant professor. Bowers previously was at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine in Baltimore. Paula Byron has been named director of marketing and communications for Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Byron Sciences. Byron previously was director of communications for both the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke. Allen W. Campbell has been appointed Virginia Tech’s senior director of application architecture and planning in Enterprise SysCampbell tems, a unit of Information Technology. Camp‑bell will facilitate the planning and delivery of enterprise-level services, using standards and best practices that support security and compliance. Jaan Holt, Patrick and Nancy Lathrop professor of architecture and longtime director of the Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center, has stepped down as director. Holt will continue to teach at the center through the spring semester. In an effort to spur economic growth, Botetourt County will lease about 600 acres in the Greenfield industrial park to the county’s Economic Development Authority. County officials say 44
the lease will give the authority more mobility in promoting the property, while also allowing for grading, boring and other activities that can make it more attractive to potential tenants. Jay Sullivan, professor of forestry economics and management, has been named head of Virginia Tech’s Department of ForSullivan est Resources and Environmental Conservation. He has worked at Virginia Tech since 1988. Brad Sumpter has been promoted to Virginia Tech’s director of finance information technology. He previously served as assisSumpter tant director of Finance Information Technology at Virginia Tech. The town of Boones Mill will get $600,000 from the state Industrial Revitalization Fund to support its effort to turn a long vacant building into an industrial park. The money will go toward renovating a two-story industrial building, a remnant of the defunct North American Housing manufacturing complex the town purchased in 2011. Established by the Boxley family in Roanoke in 1906, Boxley Materials announced in February that it has signed an agreement to sell the company to Summit Materials, an international, publicly held company headquarter in Denver. Both companies’ product lines include ready-mixed concrete, crushed stone, concrete, asphalt and other construction materials. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy Inc. — one of the leading diversified energy companies in the U.S., according to its website — says it has entered into an agreement to sell its Buchanan coal mine in southwestern Virginia and certain other coal reserves in the commonwealth, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, to Coronado IV LLC for $420 million, including $398 million cash payable at the closing.
Virginia Western Community College culinary arts instructor Ted Polfelt has been named the 2016 American Culinary Federation (ACF) Southeast Region Chef of the Year. Polfelt faced off against three other chefs and came away the winner at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts during the organization’s Southeast Regional Culinary Salon. Polfelt, who teaches in the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program, will represent the ACF Southeast region in the national competition in Phoenix in July. Carilion Clinic opened its newest Carilion Children’s Pediatric Medicine clinic in February in Rocky Mount. The new location will fill a community need since Rocky Mount’s only pediatric clinic closed more than a year ago when its pediatrician retired. The clinic is located at 490 S. Main St. in Rocky Mount. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality fined Associated Asphalt of Roanoke $18,000 after one of its tanker trucks overturned and spilled nearly 5,000 gallons of liquid asphalt into a Rockbridge County creek. Once the consent order becomes final, Associated Asphalt will have 30 days to submit a plan detailing how it will repair and stabilize the contaminated area.
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'Coal Depression': As coal slumps, the supplies, vendors, and railroads feel the pain.