Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina
photograph by © Sam Burton/Stocksy United (Left) / Joey Seawell (Right)

We’re betting you know one, buy from one, or even run one: a family business. The café that grew up in a kitchen. The business that began in a barn. These beloved — often legendary — North Carolina businesses share a common, unbroken thread: They span three, four, five, and sometimes even six generations of the same family. To understand how remarkable that is, consider this statistic from the Center for Private Business at Wake Forest University: Less than one third of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation. Another 50 percent don’t survive the transition from second to third.

Which makes the multigenerational businesses here in North Carolina — hundreds of them — even more impressive. This month, we show our appreciation for dozens of families, and their service shops, stores, factories, and farms that’ve made it to the third generation — and beyond.

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8th Generation Family Business

1821 • Fishing Creek Farm • Whitakers
Known for gorgeous flowers, the eighth generation of this family farm was inspired by the property’s 600-tree orchard and started a small-batch cider house called L.L. Draughton’s Fishing Creek Cider.

2535 Red Hill Church Road • (252) 903-2100 • fishingcreekcider.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Anderson (left) and Michael O’Brien brew hard cider. Photo courtesy of Fishing Creek Farm.


7th Generation Family Business

1830s • Homeland Creamery • Julian
The sixth and seventh generations of this farm-turned-dairy scoop ice cream (peach to coffee) at their creamery.

6506 Bowman Dairy Road • (336) 685-6455 • homelandcreamery.com


6th Generation Family Businesses

1858 • Salem Funerals • Winston-Salem
In the very building where A.C. Vogler sold his custom coffins and furniture, the sixth generation continues the trade.

120 South Main Street • (336) 722-6122 • salemfh.com

1865 • Briggs Hardware • Raleigh
Briggs Hardware is entwined with the history of North Carolina’s capital city. Now, six generations in, the store is taking on new meaning, and a new challenge, in a familiar place. Read more.

111 East Hargett Street No. 100 • (919) 802-5272 • briggshardwarestore.com


5th Generation Family Businesses

1831 • Washburn’s General Store • Bostic
Once a stagecoach stop, Washburn’s General Store in Rutherford County is where the locals ear lunch and orders come in from around the world.

2426 Bostic Sunshine Highway • (828) 245-4129 • washburnstore.com

1871 • Scarborough & Hargett Funeral Home • Durham
Started in Kinston, the company moved to Durham to serve the African-American community. The family has deep connections to black business leaders and a long-standing commitment to public service.

923 Old Fayetteville Street No. B • (919) 682-1171 • scarboroughandhargettfh.com

1875 • Tiger’s Store • Hayesville
First launched as a dry goods general store, the original owner in the Tiger family introduced meat, produce, and a livestock pen out back for bartering animals. Now, the fifth generation dishes ice cream at the adjacent soda fountain.

42 Herbert Street • (828) 389-6531

1880 • Shurtape Technologies • Hickory
It all began with a ball of string: From textile yarns, cordage, and twine, the company evolved to masking tape, and now produces FrogTape, among other brands.

1506 Highland Avenue Northeast • (888) 442-8273 • shurtape.com

1882 • J.E. Ladd & Sons Transfer • Durham
For the past 135 years, a man named J.E. Ladd has been helping Durhamites move. Owner J.E. Ladd V has kept the slogan: “We moved your antiques when they were new.”

113 North Benjamine Street • (919) 596-2469 • laddmoving.com

1889 • J.C. Steele & Sons • Statesville
With a patent in hand, an ambitious brickmaker started a business with his eldest son. Generations of grandsons later, the company is a global leader in extrusion.

710 South Mulberry Street • (704) 872-3681 • jcsteele.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

J.C. Steele rose from brickyard to boardroom. Photo courtesy of J.C. Steele & Sons.

1895 • The Biltmore Company • Asheville
Still run by descendants of George Vanderbilt, the company, which includes a hotel, spa, winery, home furnishings, and other enterprises, has grown to 2,400 employees.

1 Lodge Street • (800) 411-3812 • biltmore.com

1902 • PrintElect • New Bern
Most of the election ballots for NC, SC, and much of Virginia are printed by this fifth-generation business, which began as a printing and office supply store. The fourth-generation descendants of founder Owen G. Dunn have expanded the company nationwide.

3731 Trent Road • (252) 633-3197 • printelect.com

1909 • Wilkerson Funeral Home • Reidsville
After working in a furniture store that specialized in making caskets, William Henry Wilkerson pursued formal training in embalming.

1909 Richardson Drive • (336) 349-4341 • wilkersonfuneral.com

1911 • Tripp’s Tire Pros • Ayden
Caleb Tripp Sr. built a blacksmith shop in front of his home in 1889 to employ his six sons. But when a local doctor — the town’s first car owner — got a flat, a new business was born.

4187 East Avenue • (252) 746-3311 • trippstire.com

1917 • Neese’s Sausage • Greensboro
J.T. Neese’s special recipe is a staple at breakfast buffets and holiday parties. (Sausage balls, anyone?) Now in its 100th year, the company is managed by his grandson Tommy Neese.

1452 Alamance Church Road • (800) 632-1010 • neesesausage.com

1917 • Cheerwine • Salisbury
A sugar shortage inspired L.D. Peeler to try out cherry flavoring in his sodas. Now Peeler’s great-grandson is CEO, and “the nectar of NC” is a national treasure.

1413 Jake Alexander Boulevard South • (704) 637-5881 • cheerwine.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo by Joey Seawell.

1934 • Lewis Oil • Sylva
Serving in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, T.C. Lewis was known as “Topcat,” a moniker that adorns the gas stations he founded with his father. As his full-service fuel company expanded west, Lewis was mayor of Sylva, too.

3275 U.S. Highway 441 South • (828) 586-2651 • tclewis.wixsite.com

1939 • Hayes Jewelers • Lexington
Shiny gems and fast cars: When Delmar Hayes combined his passions, his company became the longest-running sponsor of NASCAR and designer of their trophies.

903 Winston Road • (336) 248-6600 • hayesjewelers.com

1943 • Hoke Lumber • Davidson
Every day, founder Charles Hoke donned a black fedora to go to work, a style the fifth generation has yet to embrace. Still, Hoke’s knack for chatting up customers remains a family tradition.

347 Jetton Street • (704) 892-4841 • hokelumber.com

1946 • Mother Murphy’s Laboratories • Greensboro
This lab cooks up playful flavors for candies, sodas, baked goods — even beverages made specifically for soldiers. What began as a curious venture in a pharmacy’s back room now boasts a 93,000-square-foot distribution center.

2826 South Elm-Eugene Street • (336) 273-1737 • mothermurphys.com


4th Generation Family Business

Early 1900s • Schiffman’s Jewelers • Greensboro
Want a ring? A watch? A necklace? The Schiffman brothers will sell them to you. Want a chuckle? Try listening to the stories from a fourth-generation jewelry store that’s still doing some serious business.

225 South Elm Street • (336) 272-5146 • schiffmans.com

1882 • Moose Pharmacy • Mount Pleasant
When a crying infant needed a pacifier at 2 a.m., a mother thought nothing of calling Mr. Moose to ask him to open the store. That’s loyalty. This standby has been in the same downtown location since day one.

8374 West Franklin Street • (704) 436-9613 • moosepharmacy.com

1906 • Marsh Furniture • High Point
Modern kitchens are indebted to Julius Everett Marsh Sr., whose “kitchen safe” design evolved into built-in units with flour bins, iceboxes, and butcher tables.

1001 South Centennial Street • (336) 884-7363 • marshfurniture.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Marsh Furniture.

1907 • Green & McClure Furniture • Graham
A minister who lost his voice and could no longer preach partnered with E.P. McClure to start a general store. Soon they were selling home goods, then furniture and coffins. E.P.’s son took over (after a stint as a minor league baseball player), and so it continued: fathers giving the keys to their sons.

118 North Main Street • (336) 226-2481 • greenandmcclure.com

1907 • Goodman Millwork • Salisbury
The Goodman brothers could repair or create the most intricate woodwork. By preserving the original 1920s steam engine that once powered the plant, their history is still present.

201 Lumber Street • (704) 633-2421 • goodmanmillwork.com

1910 • York Properties • Raleigh
York-built landmarks abound in the Triangle: Memorial Auditorium, NCSU’s bell tower, and Cameron Village. Their civic legacy is just as vital: J. Willie York helped desegregate public schools.

2108 Clark Avenue • (919) 821-1350 • yorkproperties.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo courtesy of York Properties.

1915 • Bertie County Peanuts • Windsor
Grown in sandy soil near Albemarle Sound, the peanuts once roasted by “Papa Jack” Powell Sr. in his trusty popcorn popper are now sold nationwide.

217 U.S. Highway 13 North • (800) 457-0005 • pnuts.net

1917 • L. Gordon Iron and Metal • Statesville
A one-man business that started with a wagon full of scrap metal and rags is now a metal-recycling company that ships all over the world.

1300 Salisbury Road • (704) 873-9004 • gordoniron.com

1918 • Apex Nurseries • Apex
A brother and sister now run this wholesale operation started by their great-grandfather, who cultivated fruit trees and shrubs to sell.

2925 NC Highway 751 • (919) 362-8315

1919 • Beaver Brothers Inc. • Salisbury
As very early adopters of green energy, Clarence Sr. and Clifford Beaver worked on hot water heating systems. Clarence Jr. was an early proponent of solar energy, a passion passed down to the current generation, who install energy-efficient heating systems.

807 Corporate Circle • (704) 766-8889 • beaverbrosinc.com

1920 • Keever’s Key and Repair Service • Hickory
T.S. Keever knew that both nuts and locks are hard to crack. Perhaps that’s why he opened a locksmith business in the back room of his Hickory Nut Shop. Making keys and fixing locks soon took over, and today the company employs five locksmiths, including the state’s first female certified automotive locksmith.

1085 Third Avenue Drive Northwest • (828) 322-6096 • keeverkey.com

1921 • K.B. Johnson Oil and Gas • Fuquay-varina
Seeing Model Ts roaring through the Piedmont gave Kemp Johnson an idea: He started a business distributing fuel to country stores. Today, even airplanes fill their tanks from his company.

1709 North Main Street • (919) 552-5474 • kbjohnson.com

1925 • Smith Turf & Irrigation • Charlotte
While others used horse-drawn mowers, E.J. Smith tended turf with zippy red tractors. Today, his company keeps greens plush and fairways lovely in SC, TN, and VA, too.

4355 Golf Acres Drive • (704) 393-8873 • smithturf.com

1939 • Costner Funeral Home • Gastonia
Charles W. Costner Sr. recalled learning to make a coffin from his father under a red oak tree, soaking the wood to make it pliable. The memory became a business, now run by his grandsons.

2425 West Franklin Boulevard • (704) 864-6787 • costnerfuneralhome.com

1946 • Texas Pete (Garner Foods) • Winston-Salem
The original name, “Mexican Joe,” was quickly changed when Sam Garner declared that his family’s red pepper sauce needed an “American name.” Four generations later, the T.W. Garner Foods group sells condiments and sauces without the heat, too.

614 West Fourth Street • (336) 661-1550 • texaspete.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo of Sam Garner courtesy of Garner Foods.

1955 • House of Raeford Farms • Rose Hill
The state’s largest chicken-frying pan is in Rose Hill for a reason: It’s home to the poultry empire started by Nash Johnson and his sons. At the annual Poultry Jubilee, you’ll find Johnson family members and birds aplenty.

3425 South U.S. Highway 117 • (910) 289-3191 • houseofraeford.com


3rd Generation Family Business

1943 • Atlantic Beach Seafood & Fresh Market • Atlantic Beach
She worked at Atlantic Beach Seafood. His family owned the place. Now, Kamile and Chandler Willis are running the Carteret County institution where the shrimp is hand-packed, the oysters lead to stories, and one spouse (gasp!) doesn’t like seafood. Read more.

415 Atlantic Beach Causeway • (252) 247-2430 • atlanticbeachseafood.com

1880 • Glen Raven • Glen Raven
In the ’50s, the wife of this textile company’s president had an ingenious idea that led to the invention of pantyhose.

1831 North Park Avenue • (336) 227-6211 • glenraven.com

1890 • Thompson’s Store • Saluda
The oldest grocery store in the state also includes Ward’s Grill and an event space — affectionately named after Lola Thompson Ward, who ran the business well into her 90s.

24 East Main Street • (828) 749-2321 • thompsons-store.com

1908 • Hodges Farm • Charlotte
One of the last working farms in Charlotte (ownership dates back to 1869), Hodges moved away from the dairy business in favor of agritourism; they host school field trips, too.

3900 Rocky River Road East • (704) 608-8897 • hodgesfarmnc.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo by Seth Snider Photography.

1908 • Stewart’s Jewelry Store • Washington
Civic pride more valuable than diamonds: Three generations of the family, including two owners, have served as mayors.

121 North Market Street • (252) 974-2611 • stewartsjewelrystore.com

1913 • Pfaff’s • Winston-Salem
Now a home design store, this glass-glazing shop opened the year that the towns of Winston and Salem merged.

1550 South Stratford Road • (336) 765-1260 • pfaffsinc.com

1915 • Baker Roofing Company • Raleigh
One of their divisions brings the company full circle: They help preserve historic buildings — from the same era when Baker was founded.

517 Mercury Street • (919) 828-2975 • bakerroofing.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo by Tim Robison.

1916 • Kannon’s Clothing • Raleigh
Before founder and Lebanese immigrant Isaac Kannon officially opened his fine-clothing storefront, he peddled quality goods on foot and, later, by horse and buggy.

435 Daniels Street • (919) 366-6902 • kannonsclothing.com

1916 • Joe Sugar’s of St. Paul’s • St. Paul’s
In the mid-1800s, a third of the businesses in Robeson County were Jewish-owned, including men’s clothing store Joe Sugar’s. Today, it’s the last one remaining.

119 West Broad Street • (910) 865-5149 • joesugars.com

1917 • Capel Rugs • Troy
A. Leon Capel created the first-ever reversible braided yarn rug 100 years ago. Using raw materials from NC and locally sourced dyes, the rugs reflect the state.

831 North Main Street • (800) 334-3711 • capelrugs.com

1920 • B.E. Holbrooks • Stanfield
B.E. Holbrooks was a garage, a hardware store, and a grocery store before landing on plumbing and HVAC services.

204 West Stanly Street • (704) 888-2411 • beholbrooks.com

1920 • Holland Furniture • Henrietta
Owner Edwin Holland employs the fourth generation, and though they can’t exactly work there (yet), little fifth-gens are already underfoot.

177 North Main Street • (828) 657-6328 • hollandfurniturestore.com

1928 • Hickory Sheet Metal • Hickory
Workers here once needed brute strength: The first workshop was on the top floor of a downtown building, which meant all equipment had to be carried up a steep flight of stairs.

706 Highland Avenue Southeast • (828) 322-3720 • hickorysheetmetal.com

1928 • Clark s. Brown and Sons Funeral Home • Winston-Salem
Despite the name, the third-generation funeral director is actually founder Clark S. Brown Sr.’s granddaughter Carla.

727 Patterson Avenue • (336) 722-8117 • clarksbrownandsons.com

1929 • Quality Oil • Winston-Salem
To help launch Shell Oil, Quality Oil built eight shell-shaped gas stations; the only one that remains is on the National Register of Historic Places.

1540 Silas Creek Parkway • (336) 722-3441 • qualityoilnc.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo by Jay Sinclair.

1934 • Carolina Foods • Charlotte
One of the first bakeries to perfect the honey bun, this company actually got its start as a sandwich business before expanding to sweets after World War II.

1807 South Tryon Street • (704) 333-9812 • carolinafoodsinc.com

1935 • Mills Manufacturing • Asheville
The start of the Korean War led to a large contract to manufacture military parachutes — and a devotion to making them ever since.

22 Mills Place • (828) 645-3061 • millsmanufacturing.com

1936 • Daniel Furniture & Electric • Mocksville
This company began selling appliances when the first rural electric lines were laid; in 2016 it was presented with a key to the city.

848 South Main Street • (336) 751-3975 • danielfurniturenc.com

1937 • K&W Cafeterias • Winston-salem
It wasn’t until 1951 — after a fire forced a renovation — that K&W debuted the cafeteria concept, which became so popular it was implemented in every location.

1391 Plaza West Road • (336) 852-1661 • kwcafeterias.biz

1937 • The Derby Restaurant • Mount Airy
Originally a roadside dive for sandwiches and beer, the owners built a new, modern building in 1947, along with the famous “hat,” which was intended to sell gas. When gas wasn’t profitable, they switched to ice cream.

1901 South Main Street • (336) 786-7082 • thederbyrestaurant.com

1937 • Ashworth’s Clothing • Fuquay-Varina
Steve Ashworth started working in the family’s men’s clothing store at 9 years old, standing on a telephone book to run the register. His father and uncle taught him the business — just as their father had taught them.

210 South Main Street • (919) 552-5201

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Charles Harris.

1937 • Capitol Broadcasting • Raleigh
One radio station, WRAL-AM, launched by attorney A.J. Fletcher, has grown into a multi-media empire run by his son and now his grandson.

2619 Western Boulevard • (919) 890-6000 • capitolbroadcasting.com

1938 • Jackson’s Western Store • Asheville
Their love of horse ownership has expanded beyond transportation needs to all horse-related necessities.

641 Patton Avenue • (828) 254-1812 • jacksonwesternstore.com

1942 • Julian’s • Chapel Hill
Maurice Julian introduced his native New England style to Franklin Street. Meanwhile, his Southern wife, Mary, introduced him to the merits of bright colors: Together they created the classic Tar Heel preppy look — and a shop that keeps the style fresh.

135 East Franklin Street • (919) 942-4563 • julianstyle.com

1946 • Wayco Hams • Goldsboro
The Worrell family makes hams just like grandfather Waitus, the founder, did: salt-cured and dry-aged. George, the current president, says the company’s mission hasn’t changed, either: “to bring happiness to people gathered around a table.”

508 North William Street • (919) 735-3962 • waycohams.com

1946 • Hampton Farms • Severn
The leading roaster of in-shell peanuts in the U.S. — roasting some 100 million a year — began as a simple peanut-shelling company.

413 Main Street • (800) 642-4064 • hamptonfarms.com

1946 • Stephenson Millwork • Wilson
Russell Stephenson left his father’s lumber business to strike out on his own with a cabinetry shop located in a cow pasture, a far cry from today’s 100,000-square-foot factory.

210 Harper Street Northeast • (252) 237-1141 • stephensonmillwork.com

1949 • Hardin’s Furniture • Asheboro
What started in a small house on Kivett Street has transformed into a business that now includes moving customers into their new homes.

2404 North Fayetteville Street • (336) 672-0344 • hardinsfurniture.com

1949 • Barnhill Contracting • Rocky Mount
Using surplus military equipment and machinery purchased after WWII, the company quickly specialized in road and highway construction.

800 Tiffany Boulevard, Suite 200 • (252) 823-1021 • barnhillcontracting.com

Backbones & Cornerstones: 100 Family Businesses That Built North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Barnhill Contracting.

1952 • National Wholesale Co. • Lexington
Orphaned at age 8, Eddie Smith learned early on to value family and community. With the help of both, his direct-mail hosiery business has expanded to apparel — and 200 employees.

400 National Boulevard • (336) 248-5904 • shopnational.com

1958 • Ruggero Piano • Raleigh
Robert Ruggero learned to play the violin as a child in Torino, Italy. Music followed him to America, where he eventually started a piano service that is now the most complete piano store in the area.

4720 Hargrove Road, No. 120 • (919) 839-2040 • ruggeropiano.com

1959 • D.H. Griffin Companies • Greensboro
The founder’s first demo project was a dilapidated church. Young and newly married, Griffin reclaimed the lumber and nails to build himself a house.

4716 Hilltop Road • (336) 855-7030 • dhgriffin.com

1959 • El’s Drive-In • Morehead City
Carhops deliver burgers (beef or shrimp), dogs, shakes, and sides to picnic tables under the oaks. You may see three generations pitching in at this Crystal Coast landmark.

3706 Arendell Street • (252) 726-3002 • elsdrivein.com

1960 • Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies • Clemmons
The Sugar Crisps recipe goes back nine generations at this company that started in the kitchen of a small dairy farm.

4643 Friedberg Church Road • (336) 764-1402 • hanescookies.com

1963 • Atlantis Lodge • Pine Knoll Shores
This pet-friendly beach lodge nestled in the maritime forest was jointly designed by the owner, a former Raleigh city planner, and a modernist architect, and maintains its original ’60s flair with turquoise accents and wood paneling.

123 Salter Path Road • (252) 726-5168 • atlantislodge.com

1963 • McCullough Tile • Winston-Salem
Tiling is an art form these days, with backsplash mosaics and hand-painted tile surrounds. Mr. McCullough’s daughter and grandson help clients embrace the newest designs.

8101 North Point Boulevard • (336) 744-0660

1967 • Murray Nixon Fishery • Edenton
Humble beginnings — a pickup, a fridge, and fish from the Chowan River — turned into a national business and a fleet of 14 trucks.

1141 Nixon Fishery Road • (252) 221-4115 • nixonfishery.com

1969 • Autobell • Charlotte
Founded at a time when keeping your chrome fenders shiny was a top priority, now — more than 60 million car washes later — there are 78 stores throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland.

1521 East Third Street • (704) 527-1872 • autobell.com

1978 • Brookwood Farms BBQ • Siler City
No gas. No liquid smoke. Ever. Throughout North Carolina — even at RDU airport — this is a go-to for charcoal pit-cooked pork.

1015 Alston Bridge Road • (800) 472-4787 • brookwoodfarms.com

1983 • Mattamuskeet Seafood • Swan Quarter
The lake that shares this company’s name comes from the Algonquin word for “dry dust.” Tell that to the crabs and oysters processed here.

24694 U.S. Highway 264 • (252) 926-2431 • mattamuskeetseafood.com

2001 • Greenlands Farm & Store • Bolivia
What’s plucked from the fields and baked in the ovens of this sustainable homestead farm is sold in the shop. There’s a sanctuary for rescue animals, too.

668 Midway Road Southeast • (910) 253-7934 • greenlandsfarm.org


8 Strawberry Farms

Read more here.

Patterson Farm • China Grove

Ingram Farm • High Point

The Berry Patch • Ellerbe

Cottle Farms • Faison

Vollmer Farm • Bunn

Lewis Nursery and Farms • Rocky Point

Holden Brothers Farm Market • Shallotte

Rudd Farm • Greensboro (featured on the cover of the May 2017 issue.)


7 Century Farms

Read more here.

1756 • Mount View Farm • Chapel Hill

Early 1800s • Sugarloaf Orchard • Taylorsville

1910 • Funston Farms • Winnabow

Mid-1700s • Adams Vineyards • Willow Spring

1861 • Lyon Farms • Creedmoor

1867 • BN Acres Farm • Lexington

1890 • Biltmore Estate • Asheville


5 Furniture Businesses

Read more here.

1889 • Bernhardt • Lenoir

1947 • Century Furniture • Hickory

1960 • Hickory Furniture Mart • Hickory

CR Laine

Southern Furniture


3 Family-Owned Bakeries

Read more here.

1947 • Central Bakery • Asheboro

1946 • The Sweet Shoppe Bakery • High Point

1946 • Mickey’s Pastry Shop • Goldsboro

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