Highground Services — A Successful Graduate of the Franklin Business Incubator

Friday, 1 May 2015 09:34 by Info@YesVirginia.org
John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business...

John Warren and James Strozier, two former International Paper employees, put their experience together and became entrepreneurs when they created Highground Services in 2006. They co-founded the company with their wives, allowing it to qualify as a veteran-owned, SWAM (small, women-owned and minority) business.

The company provides high quality engineering services for process control, system automation and instrumentation projects.

The company was off to a fast start — they landed their first contract with International Paper in May 2007 and became a part of the Franklin Business Incubator that December.

When International Paper announced the closing of its Franklin Mill in 2009, this represented a substantial part of Highground Services’ sales.

Rather than be discouraged by the economic downturn and loss of their largest customer, Warren and Strozier seized the opportunity to hire displaced International Paper workers and expand their customer base. They also diversified their business by providing new services, including electrical construction and plant maintenance.

“We made a conscious decision to locate in a historically underutilized business zone and we really value being a part of this community,” said CEO James Strozier. “Our employees are tremendous and they worked tirelessly to help us not only survive, but thrive in what could have been a very challenging time.”

The company’s efforts have paid off in multiple ways. They received the Virginia Business Incubation Association's Donna Noble Incubator Client Award in 2009, UVA’s Darden School of Business Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards in 2011 and the Franklin/Southampton Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award in 2010.

Highground Services has surpassed the $5 million revenue mark for the third straight year, and grown from four founders to 65 employees. The company is also poised to graduate from the Franklin Business Incubator and is in the process of purchasing a building across the street in downtown Franklin.

The entrepreneurial spirit and resiliency of Highground Services is a great reminder of the innovation that exists here in the Commonwealth as we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month. To learn why Virginia offers the resources for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, click here.

Co-founders Jim and Lisa Strozier (center) are joined by local officials in front of their new property in downtown Franklin, Va.

Renewable Energy Company Enviva Breaks Ground on Virginia Manufacturing Facility

Friday, 27 July 2012 15:01 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Secretary Todd Haymore attended Enviva’s ground-breaking ceremony at the Southampton County Commerce and Logistics Center in Franklin, Va...

On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Secretary Todd Haymore attended Enviva’s ground-breaking ceremony at the Southampton County Commerce and Logistics Center in Franklin, Va.

Enviva began construction on its 454,000-metric-ton wood pellet manufacturing facility after announcing this project would bring a $75 million investment and 64 new jobs to Southampton County last November. The facility is expected to support more than 100 additional jobs through the company’s logging supply chain.

As a leading biomass fuel supplier, Enviva’s commitment to sustainable practices is evident in its location requirements. To minimize its carbon footprint, the company seeks strategic locations offering close proximity to both biomass sources as well as waterways and ports, for easy shipment to international customers.

Southeastern Virginia is uniquely positioned to meet the company’s needs on both counts. According to Enviva Chairman and CEO John Keppler, “Southampton County has all the elements essential to our success: a rich wood basket, a strong and seasoned timber industry, a skilled and experienced labor force, and is logistically advantaged to our Port of Chesapeake export terminal.”

This past New Year’s Eve, Enviva opened its deep water terminal at the Port of Chesapeake. The company selected Virginia’s Port of Chesapeake for its deep water capacity and ability to handle a variety of vessels. The company’s inaugural shipment consisted of 28,000 metric tons of wood pellets destined for Europe aboard the MV Daishin Maru.

With the Commonwealth's “all-of-the-above” approach to energy, this investment continues Virginia’s quest to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” From conventional fuel mining to renewable energy producers, Virginia provides energy companies with the resources for success.

To learn why energy companies have invested more than $4.6 billion in Virginia over the last ten years, click here.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Enviva CEO John Keppler (center) join state, local and company officials at the Enviva ground-breaking ceremony in Franklin, Va.

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