Donna Lowry, president and CEO of Caring Touch Home Healthcare of Pembroke, was named Business Person of the Year, and Pembroke Hardware was named Business of the Year at the 14th annual Business Visions Awards Banquet on April 29.
Diane Surgeon, who has launched several businesses for senior citizens, was named Entrepreneur of the Year. Dan Kenney, UNC Pembroke’s athletic director, was the recipient of the Collie Coleman Spirit of Unity Award.
Outstanding Student Awards went to Caroline Sumpter, a business student at Robeson Community College (RCC), Katherine McGinniss, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate at UNCP, and Peter J. Skeris, a candidate for the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree at UNCP.
Curt Locklear, founder of the 50-year-old Pembroke Hardware, accepted the award with his wife, Catherine, and family looking on.
“I feel insufficient,” Locklear said. “The kids deserve this more than I do because they have done it all in the last few years.”
Pembroke Hardware, a True Value Hardware affiliate, and Pembroke Building Supply moved to a large new store in 2006.
Donna Lowry started her home healthcare and behavioral counseling business in 2005 and now has 600 employees. She is a philanthropist and member of UNCP’s Board of Trustees.
RCC’s top business student – Carolina Sumpter, middle, accepts her award for George Pate, business instructor, as Sylvia Pate of UNCP looks on.
In her introduction, Beth Wilkerson, assistant director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at UNCP, called Lowry a “fierce competitor and a warm and compassionate person.”
Lowry thanked her family, the University and SBTDC, who consulted during the business start-up.
“I have a lot of people to thank,” Lowry said. “I didn’t do this by myself.”
An attorney, Diane Surgeon said she saw a need for legal and other services for seniors.
“I am excited by the opportunity to serve people,” Surgeon said. “My role is to help seniors at an important time in their lives.”
Surgeon, who also consulted with SBTDC, started two businesses: Comfort Care Senior Services and Elder Law Care, and is planning a day care for seniors.
Dan Kenney has been busy at UNCP, where he launched a football program, and in the community, where, as past president of the Robeson Road Runners, he helped launch two major events, the Chevy to the Levy and Rumba on the Lumber road races and festivals.
UNCP’s top MBA student – Catherine McGinniss, middle, accepts her award from Dr. Howard Ling, MBA director, as Sylvia Pate looks on.
“It takes a team with a vision,” Kenney said. “I would like to thank Business Visions for celebrating Robeson County’s success stories.”
RCC’s Outstanding Business Student is an outstanding student, said George Pate of the business faculty. Carolina Sumpter is also a mother and employed full-time as a branch manager for H&R Block.
UNCP’s Outstanding MBA Student is also an outstanding student, said Dr. Howard Ling, program director. Katherine McGinniss is director of the medical library at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, N.C.
UNCP’s Outstanding MPA Student is a battalion chief for the Charlotte, N.C., Fire Department, said Dr. Dan Barbee, program director. Peter Skeris is a former New York City law enforcement officer.
UNCP Chancellor Charles Jenkins addressed the banquet, which was held in the Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development at COMtech. As the vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University, he helped found the center.
UNCP’s top MPA student - Peter Skeris, middle, accepts his award from Dr. Dan Barbee, MPA director, as Sylvia Pate looks on.
“One of the greatest things we can do is celebrate the successes of our citizens,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “Entrepreneurship adds to the quality of life in our region, and the University has taken many steps to promote economic development.
“This is not a narrow focus for us that is limited to the business school,” he said. “Last winter, we graduated the first group with entrepreneurship certificates. They were drawn from majors across campus.”
UNCP’s Thomas Center for Entrepreneurship, SBTDC, Biotechnology Center and the Regional Center all work to promote economic development, Dr. Jenkins said.
“There is wonderful potential for entrepreneurship at the University, and if we’re going to grow and prosper in Southeastern North Carolina, it will come through education,” he said.
Keynote speaker was entrepreneur, motivational speaker and author Kelly Castor.
Sponsors for the event included Lumbee Guaranty Bank, BB&T, Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation, Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Robeson County Committee of 100 and SBTDC.