Taylor, McCurry recognized for excellence and innovation

As part of its entrepreneurial development program, AdvantageWest has presented two of the region’s most successful entrepreneurs with awards honoring excellence and innovation.

John Taylor, owner of several businesses, including O.P. Taylor’s toy stores in Biltmore Park and Brevard, won the Lone Eagle Award for 2010, presented for a fifth year to a WNC entrepreneur that demonstrates excellence and success in areas of innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to his or her business and community.  Shortly after moving to Brevard in 1982, John Taylor opened a full-service restaurant and adjacent wine store on West Main St. He sold them in 1987 to start a new career in retail merchandising and to pursue a dream of owning and operating a toy store. The first O.P. Taylor’s store opened in the center of downtown Brevard and has enjoyed steady growth in annual revenues ever since. Taylor later opened a second store in downtown Greenville, S.C., and recently added a third in Asheville’s Biltmore Park.

Taylor’s other retail establishments in Brevard are The Sports Spot, Continental Divide and The Tourist Trap. His achievements, according to award nominators Mark R. Burrows and Bill Layton, of the Transylvania County Planning & Economic Development Department, also include taking the leadership in assembling a group of investors and entrepreneurs who preserved local radio by buying WSQL AM 1240, which would likely have closed or have been absorbed by another station. He is also the president of the Heart of Brevard, a nonprofit organization coordinating Brevard’s downtown revitalization and marketing programs.

“John Taylor is an excellent recipient for the 2010 Lone Eagle award,” said Pam Lewis, AdvantageWest’s senior vice president, entrepreneurial development. “He represents the characteristics unique to the class of entrepreneurs this award seeks to recognize as creative and high-growth innovators who also maintain a stewardship to their community.”

Previous recipients of the Lone Eagle Award have included David McConville of The Elumenati, based in Asheville, specializing in immersive projection design; Tom Dempsey, CEO of Sylvan Sport mobile adventure gear, in Cedar Mountain; entrepreneurship educators Drs. JoAnn and James Carland; and Phil Drake, of Drake Software, one of the world’s largest providers of software for the tax industry, headquartered in Franklin.

Chris McCurry, co-founder of Highland Craftsmen Inc., in Spruce Pine, won the Advantage Innovation Award for 2010, a new award presented to a business or industry in the AdvantageWest 23-county region that demonstrates corporate imagination, innovation and intrapreneurship resulting in increased teamwork, competitive advantage and overall productivity.  Highland Craftsmen designs, manufactures and sells natural, Bark House brand architectural elements for the whole home, which are derived from waste materials reclaimed from the forest industry.

McCurry founded Highland Craftsmen Inc. in 1990 with her husband, Marty. Their mission: to decrease the impact of construction and harmonize with nature. The company is the original manufacturer of poplar bark shingle siding and has received national acclaim from publications ranging from Architectural Record, Fine Home Building, Green Builder and Eco Home to Luxury Living, American Bungalow and Arts & Crafts Home.

Highland Craftsmen is a certified and audited B Corporation, a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. The company has received Chain of Custody (CoC) certification from the top three US affiliated companies: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Program for Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC).

According to Spruce Pine businessman and award nominator Van Phillips, Highland Craftsmen has made a significant investment in downtown Spruce Pine. In addition, the company has done “an outstanding job of bringing innovation to the building industry with a product that is indigenous to our area and has broad appeal in the design and construction industry.”

Adds former Asheville City Council member Bryan Freeborn, who also nominated Highland Craftsmen: “Marty and Chris McCurry exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit unlike anyone I have met in the last year. Marty, Chris and their young son have traveled to Africa, Europe, North and South America and New Zealand to study the integration of local traditions and materials in building communities and homes.

“Chris is a business and social entrepreneur whose true passion is building human capacities. Her focus on ‘holistic’ approaches that consider human and environment interaction is evident in her work whether it’s in product design and development, working with staff or community leaders, creating new processes, public speaking or marketing.”

For more information about Highland Craftsmen, call (828) 765-9010 or visit www.barkhouse.com

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