ABOVE: Bill Brater (left) presents the Citizen of the Year Award to Bob Dooley.

BELOW: Bryan Duncan, executive director of I-CARE, accepted the award for nonprofit of the year.

ABOVE: Jeanie Stikeleather was honored as Ambassador of the Year.

Statesville Chamber honors businesses, community leaders at annual banquet

Posted at 7:03 PM on Feb 21, 2017



The Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual banquet on Tuesday at the Statesville Civic Center to recognize the successes and contributions of local businesses and community leaders during the previous year.

Billy Ray Taylor, the director of commercial manufacturing for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, was the keynote speaker, sharing his career journey with attendees and explaining his business model: to define, align and execute winning.

Taylor provided practical advice for managing a successful business, insisting that “if you make people visible, they will make you valuable” and “people follow what you do before they follow what you say.”

He engaged with the audience, providing interactive examples. At one moment, Taylor had the entire audience on its feet.

The word “know,” he said, is the most powerful word in the dictionary, providing opportunity to everyone. Taylor received a standing ovation at the end of his speech.


The meeting also signaled a change in leadership on the board, as John Green passed the gavel to Jeff Smith.

Green, vice president of Iredell Health System and the outgoing Chamber chairman, praised the Chamber staff for its hard work and commitment to making Statesville a great place to live, work and play. “It’s constant chaos, a fire drill that never ends,” he said. “However, if you stop in to see them, and you need something, they have a can-do attitude about any task. And a big thanks to President David Bradly, who has such humility and a heart of service.”

The Chamber’s contributions to civic life are evident in the leadership programs, planning for the future, embracing innovation, and planning for growth of the City of Statesville.

Smith, CEO of Piedmont HealthCare, is the 2017 Chamber chairman. He is looking forward to the coming months.

“My predecessors have set me up for success,” Smith said. “And I can’t wait to make things happen.”

Smith spoke on the new businesses arriving in Statesville, assuring audience members that these newcomers do their research and choose Statesville intentionally.

The following awards were presented during the banquet:


Recipient of the 2016 Ambassador of the Year award was Janie Stikeleather, marketing director for Davis Regional Medical Center. The award was sponsored by Randy Marion Automotive.

Ambassadors serve as liaisons between the Chamber staff, Board of Directors and membership, keeping the members informed of current and upcoming programs and activities.

“The Ambassadors are the ‘Goodwill’ arm of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce,” said David Bradley, president of the Chamber of Commerce said.

Stikeleather was selected for the award by her peers as “one of the hardest working and most devoted ambassadors of 2016,” Bradley said.

She attended 90 percent of ribbon-cuttings, Business after Hours and other ambassador-driven events.


Recipient of the 2016 Industry of the Year Award was JS Linens, Inc. This award was sponsored by Randy Marion Automotive.

“Tonight, we have the chance to honor a local company that has a great impact on your comfortability while being away from home,” said Rhyne Scott, general manager Randy Marion Chevrolet of Statesville and Randy Marion Ford-Lincoln of Statesville.

JS Linens, Inc., in operation in Statesville since 1995, was recognized for being a leader in its field as well as proud supporter of their community by providing a line of goods to both the hospitality and healthcare sectors.

“[JS Linens, Inc.] is a quiet but very important foundation of the fabric of this community,” Scott said.


Recipient of the 2016 Large Business of the Year Award was Engage2Excel. This award was sponsored by Griffin Insurance Company, Nationwide.

Originally known as Tharpe Robbins, the company has been in Statesville since 1981, providing products and services designed to recognize customers’ key employees. The name change, occurring in 2015, sought to incorporate the company’s philosophy: engaging employee success.

“Engage2Excel has become a trusted, reliable and necessary partner for HR departments throughout the country,” said Dennis Long of Griffin Insurance.

The business’ most recent addition to the corporate product line is an “innovative campaign,” providing a vehicle that allows the community to express its gratitude to those who put their life on the line for others on an everyday basis. Thank Responders is a new web-based initiative that allows anyone, anywhere, to re-connect with an emergency responder that provided valuable service. The program will have its inaugural event on March 11 at Statesville High School.

“It’s an honor,” Brett Tharpe, CCO of Engage2Excel, said upon receiving the award. “It’s been quite the journey since our company’s foundation.”


Recipient of the 2016 Small Business of the Year Award was WAME “Real Country” Radio, which has served Statesville and Iredell County for 62 years. The award was sponsored by Wells-Fargo Bank.

“Radio station management and ownership is a tough business,” said Paul Cook, market president for the bank and presenter of the Small Business Award. “You have to find your niche and work it endlessly.”

In late 2014, Billy and Sandra Blevins purchased WAME Radio through their company Signal Media Partnership. Since then, Blevins has become the “voice of Statesville,” and both he and his wife Sandra, have created a “unique, creative hub of activity” at their station in Downtown Statesville.


Recipient of the Non-profit of the Year Award was I-CARE, Inc. (Iredell Community Action Research and Evaluation, Inc.). This award was sponsored by Duke Energy.

“This award is presented to a non-profit organization that seeks daily to help people achieve self-sufficiency, lessen their dependence of public assistance, reduce the energy burden of families and prepare children for kindergarten,” said Randy Welch, district manager of Duke Energy and presenter of the award.

Through I-CARE programs, over 350 children attend the Head Start program. The non-profit also works to locate, assess and train employees for potential employers. I-Care also subsidizes subcontractors to install energy-efficient measures in neighborhood homes, saving residents money on energy costs.

“[I-CARE] works hard to build a better, more self-sufficient community,” Welch said.


Recipient of the 2016 Citizen of the Year Award was Bob Dooley. He was nominated by local attorney Pressley Mattox. This award was sponsored by Nicholson Funeral Home.

Bill Brater, general manager of Nicholson Funeral home, opened up the award acknowledging “the real trailblazers [of Statesville] who have laid the foundation.”

Dooley, who is married to Dedie Dooley and has two daughters, Erin and Landyn, is the owner of Lake Norman Pool and Spa with his wife. The pair have operated a successful business for almost 30 years.

“I nominated Bob because of his undying passion for all things Statesville,” said Mattox. “He has taken on leadership roles and served on boards to make Statesville better.”

Dooley was noted for his eight-year term on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation, serving two times as chairman. His volunteerism for events such as Friday After Five and the Pumpkinfest were recognized in addition to his storage of equipment and supplies for such events at his business. Dooley was commemorated for his leadership position on the Statesville Streetscape Project. He was on the Board of Directors for the National Balloon Rally Charities for four years, serving as Chairman of the Board in 2015.

“Statesville has always been my home,” Dooley said upon receiving the award. “My wife and I have always been blessed to be members of this community. To see others volunteer at these events in Statesville shows that I am but one small cog in that wheel of volunteerism. But to get the opportunity to lead these volunteers is more than you can imagine. I have always been a dirt-under-my-fingernails, get-to-work kind of guy. It’s been a great ride and this community will always be in my heart. This is one of the greatest honors I have received.”

The event concluded with the Chamber revealing one in a series of many videos that will be released on social media about the City of Statesville. The series of videos, titled “Why I love Statesville,” features interviews with residents while showing off different areas around town. Some of the words used to describe the city included: home, comfort, community, family, hidden gem, evolving, and re-inventing.

“This is the first in a series to tell a story – our story,” said Green, the outgoing chairman. “Welcome to the new Statesville.”

Join the VIP Readers' Club!

Creating an account entitles you to the following perks:

Already a member?


Subscribe to SVL Free News Email Alerts

* indicates required