Four emerging leaders and a 30-year-old retail veteran were honored at the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce’s 5th Annual 4 Under 40 Awards. The event was held on Tuesday night to a live, socially distant audience at the Appalachian Theater in downtown Boone. The 4 Under 40 awards are presented annually by Appalachian Commercial Real Estate.
Nearly 50 nominations were submitted by members of the local community and 16 finalists were recognized at the event. Candidates were searched for in the categories of Business Owner, Education Professional, Non-Profit Professional, and Rising Star. A biography of each winner is listed below:
Business Owner: Matt Vincent, VPC Builders
Matt Vincent was born and raised in Boone and considers the High Country of North Carolina to be his home. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Appalachian State University, with a concentration in Finance and Banking. Vincent is an Unlimited Licensed General Contractor in the state of North Carolina and South Carolina and holds a Master Builder and Certified Builder designation through the Builders Institute of North Carolina.
Vincent also earned a degree in Renewable Energy and Green Building from the North Carolina Solar Center. He is LEED AP certified and participates in the NC Healthy Built Home program. Currently, Vincent holds the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Associate (CGA) and Certified Green Professional (CGP) designations with the National Association of Home Builders and is certified by the Building Performance Institute in as a building analyst.
Vincent is an active participant in the causes and activities of the High-Country community. He is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Watauga County Tourism Development Authority (WCTDA). He has not only contributed to the local community by serving on the board, he continues to seek ways to financially support local organizations and nonprofits. VPC Builders is heavily involved in the High-Country section of Purple Heart Homes serving our local veterans and Wine to Water.
Additional finalists: Charlotte Baxter, Shear Shakti; Elise Sigmon, Sole Impact Studios; Jessica Stansberry, Hey Jessica!
Education Professional: Dr Alex Howard, Appalachian State University Student Affairs
Dr Alex Howard is currently Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Appalachian State University. In this role, Dr. Howard leads the Departments of Counseling and Psychology, Student Health Services, University Recreation, and Wellness and Prevention Services. In his efforts to improve the holistic functioning of all students, Dr Howard is deeply involved in the process of education and involving various stakeholders, such as the University Board of Trustees and members of the wider Watauga County community. During his time at Appalachian State University, Dr. Howard developed a variety of student support services, helped change university policies, managed various research projects, and maintained his love for teaching in class acting as an instructor at Beaver College. health sciences.
Prior to working at Appalachian State University, Dr. Howard was a professor and undergraduate program director at the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. Alex, originally from Sampson County, North Carolina, received his doctorate and master’s degree in public health from the University of Kentucky. In addition, he also obtained a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from High Point University. In February 2021, Dr. Howard was honored by Appalachian State University with a Staff Excellence Award.
Additional finalists: Brian Bettis, Bethel School; Amanda Combs, Watauga County Schools; Jason Marshburn, Appalachian State University, Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Management.
Nonprofit Business Professional: Mollie Furman, The Mediation & Restorative Justice Center
Mollie Furman is a social worker at the Center for Mediation and Restorative Justice and is the program coordinator for the Watauga County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program and the Watauga Detention Recovery Program at the interior.
Since 2018, Furman has worked with hundreds of people in prison or at risk of incarceration to take steps to recover and break free from addiction to end the cycle of incarceration. She has been successful in creating opportunities for change, both for individuals and for the community as a whole, by solidifying critical partnerships between law enforcement, namely the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office and the Department. Boone Police Department, and local human services agencies. Equally important, Furman has harnessed the transformative power of his own story of triumph over addiction and is using his platform to give the same opportunity to other people whose stories may have gone unheard of.
Furman graduated with a Masters in Social Work from Appalachian State University in 2019 and since starting this work, she and her team have secured over $ 1,000,000 in state and federal funding to support the people involved in justice. of Watauga County.
Furman is originally from Watauga County and lives in Bethel with his partner Tom and their six children.
Additional finalists: Jenn Bass, Hunger & Health Coalition; Emily Neff, WAMY Community Action; Ashley Yepez, Watauga Humane Society.
Rising Star: Richard Campbell, Boone Rent-All & Parties Too
Richard Campbell is originally from Boone and is Director of Operations and Director of Marketing for Boone Rent-All & Parties Too.
Since joining the company, Campbell has significantly improved its processes and procedures, resulting in higher equipment utilization rates and less downtime. He also changed the company’s inventory mix to effectively meet changing customer needs, while improving margins and profitability. Campbell implemented new training programs for all staff aimed at improving product knowledge, a better understanding of the sales process and a more efficient approach to customer service.
As Chief Marketing Officer, Campbell implemented a marketing effectiveness tracking system and improved our scores and reach across all social media and marketing categories. The company’s marketing efforts are now reaching improved target markets both geographically and demographically. This led to increased sales revenue and a significantly improved economic impact for their investment in marketing dollars.
Campbell sets a professional example for the company and represents Boone Rent-All & Parties Too in numerous professional organizations. He was instrumental in helping the company navigate the unpredictable COVID-19 economic factors that plagued its event business, and helped stabilize market share, profits and develop unaffected lines of the l company to better support the organization throughout 2020.
Additional finalists: Amber Batemen, Watauga Arts Council; Neil Brunson, Mountain Lumber Company; Spencer Hodges, Boone Drug, Inc.
Respect Your Elder Award: Lou Ella South, Owner, Southern Textile Specialist
Lou Ella South has been a fixture in the Boone retail community for nearly four decades, owning Specialty Clothiers South in Boone Mall since 1981. South’s is a community leader in exceptional customer service. The company received the 2009 Outstanding Customer Service Award from the Boone Region Chamber of Commerce. South’s has also been named “Store of the Year” twice by Retail Logic.
With roots stretching back to an educational background, Lou Ella South has been a constant source of encouragement, ideation and technical knowledge for those attempting a career in retail. She regularly attends continuing education workshops on business and finance and is always willing to share anything she has learned with other local retailers. During COVID-19, South stayed on top of developments in operational guidelines and government loan programs, and shared her knowledge and experience with other businesses in the shopping mall community, to help retailers quickly resume their activities.
Southern sets and customer service expectations that many businesses in the region have sought to follow. Its loyal customer base transcends generations and has helped South Specialty Apparel to become one of the best such retail outlets in the region. While maintaining a business like this for over 30 years requires an incredible amount of work, South never misses an opportunity to talk business with a colleague or aspiring professional. She advocates for business in Boone and the High Country and her lawyer is responsible for many of the retail success stories we enjoy today.
“This year’s group of finalists and winners is a testament to the depth of leadership skills we have here in the High Country,” said David Jackson, president of the Boone Region Chamber of Commerce. “We see quick editors in their industry, those who are motivated by philanthropy, and people who are good at taking ideas and turning them into successes represented within this group. The diversity of skills and impact is of crucial importance when thinking about the current model of community leadership. In order for Boone and the High Country to continue to grow and evolve, we are looking for leaders who bring new ideas and capabilities who also see value in building on the successes of what has been accomplished here for decades. We look forward to welcoming these 16 leaders into more conversations about our next step as a community.
As part of the celebration of the 5e year of the 4 Under 40 Awards, 11 former winners returned to the stage and were recognized during the ceremony. Anthony Brumfield (Rising Star, 2017), Dr Jim Street (Respect Your Elder, 2018) Jennifer Warren (Non-Profit Professional, 2017) addressed the audience on the values of a leadership mindset in the world today.
Additional support for the event was provided by BB&T, now Truist, Beech Mountain Resort and Mast General Store. Wayne Sumner and Yosef Media have teamed up to bring streaming services to a virtual audience of attendees
If you have any questions, please contact the Boone Region Chamber of Commerce at 828-264-2225 or email [email protected].