Years ago Dick Geibert was not sure a New Yorker could survive in a service business in Southeastern North Carolina.
Business Visions speaker – Paul Dordal, executive director of the BRAC Task Force
Twenty years later the Lumberton, N.C., resident’s pool and spa business continues to thrive, and his wife, Kathy, who helps run the business, was named the 2008 Business Visions Entrepreneur of the Year.
In accepting the award at the April 28 annual banquet, Kathy Geibert said the family is “very passionate about the business.”
“We did get my husband to slow down a little,” she said. “We are in the process of transitioning management to our son.”
It was all about business at the 12th annual event as the top business people and students were honored at UNC Pembroke’s Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development at COMtech.
For his contributions to the community during 10 years as manager of J.C. Penney’s store in Lumberton, Abe Marshall was named Business Person of the Year. Retired Brigadier General Paul Dordal was named winner of the Spirit of Unity Award.
Dordal, who is executive director of the BRAC Task Force, was also the guest speaker. His role in the military’s Base Realignment and Closing process is to make way for the expansion of Ft. Bragg.
“We have the opportunity in the 11-county region to shift to high tech industry in support of the military,” Dordal said. “We need a clear vision of the future and the economic transformation that will happen with 25-35,000 new people in the region.”
Dordal said Ft. Bragg will become a “four-star headquarters” with many high-ranking officers on base, and the expansion represents an unparalleled economic opportunity to reverse a trend marked by a large military presence in North Carolina but little defense industry.
“We want some of the DOD (Department of Defense) dollars coming to our communities,” he said. “Robeson County will attract additional defense-related companies.”
The retired Air Force pilot is promoting partnerships with educational institutions and other organizations in what has been dubbed the “All-American Defense Corridor.”
“The economic impact of the military is already $5.5 billion, and the realignment will add another $1 billion,” Dordal said.
Top business students at UNCP and Robeson Community College (RCC) were also honored.
Paula Bissett was named Outstanding RCC Business Student of the Year. Since transitioning from a manufacturing job and entering college, Bissett was hired by the State Employees Credit Union.
Whitney Posey was named Outstanding MBA Student of the Year. Posey works in product development for a large pharmaceutical company in Wilmington, N.C.
Mildred Webber, assistant director of UNCP’s Office of Financial Aid, was named Outstanding MPA (Master of Public Administration) Student of the year.
Jana Bradley, an MBA student at UNCP and administrative assistant in the Office of the Chancellor at UNCP, was named the recipient of the Caring Touch Home Health Care Scholarship.
Sponsoring the awards banquet were Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative, Acme Electric, Southeastern Regional Medical Center, Native Angels Healthcare and Hospice, First Bank and Caring Touch Home Health Care.
Business Vision Award Winners – From left, Sylvia Pate, Regional Center director; Entrepreneur of the Year Kathy Geibert; Business Person of the Year Abe Marshall; Spirit of Unity winner Paul Dordal; and Chancellor Allen C. Meadors
RCC Business Student of the Year – Paula Bissett, middle, with George Pate of RCC and Kathy McCoin of sponsor Acme Electric
UNCP’s MBA Student of the Year – Elizabeth Posey is flanked by Randall Jones (left) of Lumbee River EMC and Don Soucy, director of UNCP’s MBA program.