National Tire Research Center Displays New Tire Testing Machine “Flat-Trac LTRe”

Friday, 26 October 2012 15:23 by Info@YesVirginia.org
This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machined called the “Flat Trac LTRe”...

This week, the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of its new tire testing machine called the “Flat Trac LTRe.”

This high-performance, $11.3 million machine is the only one of its kind. It allows speeds up to 200 mph on car, truck and motorsports vehicles and tests tire performance during acceleration, brake and burnout events, as well as wheel torque capability.

Located in the Virginia Motorsports Technology Park adjacent to the Virginia International Raceway track in Halifax County, the NTRC provides easy access to real-world testing right on a premier race track.

NTRC is an applied research and testing facility established in 2010 through a public-private partnership between the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, General Motors, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

By combining the industry leadership of General Motors with the research prowess of Virginia Tech, NTRC will focus on developing safer tires that are environmentally friendly, providing higher fuel economy with lower emissions.

Southern Virginia has become quite a hub for the automotive industry. NTRC has partnered with nearby Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Lab (SoVa Motion), a facility also operated by Virginia Tech that rounds out the region’s offering to automotive manufacturers by providing shock and suspension testing, on-vehicle sensing, and full-motion driving simulation.

Virginia's advanced manufacturing capabilities cover all aspects of the automotive industry. To learn why automotive companies have invested more than $1 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Dr. Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the crowd at the National Tire Research Center ribbon-cutting event in Halifax County.

New Coatings Research Facility “C-CARE” Unveiled in South Boston, Virginia

Thursday, 25 October 2012 14:56 by Info@YesVirginia.org

The Center for Coatings Application, Research, and Education (C-CARE) was unveiled this Monday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in South Boston, Va.

C-CARE’s mission is to help commercialize solutions in the field of surface engineering and attract advanced manufacturing companies to the region by providing workforce training, R&D, and improved links between educational institutions and industry partners.

The 12,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility includes a lab equipped with advanced robotics, reciprocating spray equipment, and virtual reality training systems. C-CARE’s lab will be used to test new coatings technologies and design solutions that increase product quality and efficiency for applications in the aerospace, automotive, construction, food, manufacturing and wood industries.

This two-year project is the result of collaboration between Halifax Industrial Development Authority, the Riverstone Energy Center, and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. 

The American Wood Finishing Institute (AWFI) will operate and staff the facility. As a leading provider of coatings technology training and consulting, AWFI will offer C-CARE access to subject matter experts with real-world experience applying coatings to metal, wood, plastics and other composite materials.

C-Care augments Virginia’s existing strength in the advanced manufacturing sector, as leaders such as the Altria Group, DuPont, Honeywell, MeadWestvaco and Rubbermaid have all established operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why Virginia is home to more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments, click here.

Virginia Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Development Mary Rae Carter (center) joins members of C-CARE, industry partners, and state and local officials at the ribbon-cutting ceremony in South Boston, Va.

UBED Advances: VEDP and Virginia’s Universities Sign Agreement

Tuesday, 23 October 2012 13:24 by Info@YesVirginia.org
University-Based Economic Development (UBED) has been a top priority for Virginia, and yesterday VEDP executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Virginia’s public institutions of higher education and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)...

University-Based Economic Development (UBED) has been a top priority for Virginia, and yesterday VEDP executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Virginia’s public institutions of higher education and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Through increased partnership in marketing and outreach, the goals of the MOU are to unify Virginia’s message in the global marketplace and provide a higher number of corporate contacts for VEDP and increased opportunities for Virginia’s institutions of higher education to interact with corporate entities.

The MOU creates a formal framework around an already existing relationship between VEDP and Virginia’s colleges and universities. Virginia’s UBED team has been in existence for seven years and has fostered collaboration on numerous workforce development and research projects.

According to VEDP President and CEO Martin Briley, “This MOU provides a meaningful blueprint to more fully leverage higher education as a differentiator in our economic development outreach marketing, and it reinforces the message to our corporate partners that our public colleges and universities are dedicated to leveraging research and workforce assets to benefit the business community.”

Access to a solid pipeline of skilled and educated employees can be a deciding factor when companies seek to relocate or expand operations. Virginia has one of the most well-educated workforces in the country—more than 34 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree and more than 500,000 students are enrolled annually at Virginia’s top-ranked higher education institutions.

To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier education system and why its workforce is consistently commended by companies, click here.

(From left to right) Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng; Peter Blake, Executive Director of SCHEV; Dr. Michael Rao, President of Virginia Commonwealth University; Secretary of Education Laura Fornash; and Martin Briley, President and CEO of VEDP; participate in the MOU signing ceremony.

RTI International Metals Inc. Commences Titanium Production at Martinsville Plant

Friday, 19 October 2012 13:59 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Last Thursday, RTI International Metals Inc. (RTI) hosted an event celebrating its inaugural production of certified commercial aerospace titanium for Airbus...

Last Thursday, RTI International Metals Inc. (RTI) hosted an event celebrating its inaugural production of certified commercial aerospace titanium for Airbus.

The $135 million forging, grinding and hot rolling manufacturing facility was first announced in 2008. The plant is located at the Patriot Centre, an industrial park jointly developed by Henry County and the City of Martinsville.

While 25 jobs have been created to date, that number is expected to increase as the plant ramps up production. At full capacity the facility can produce 14 million pounds of product annually.

The inaugural production follows 10 months of certification testing to meet the high quality standards of Airbus. The titanium will be used in Airbus’ passenger jets, including the company’s A350 XWB aircraft. As RTI completes additional qualifications, it expects its titanium to be used in an extended number of Airbus programs.

According to RTI Vice Chairman, CEO and President Dawn Hickton, “RTI is the largest North American titanium supplier to Airbus and its parent company, EADS, and this new facility adds an additional link in RTI’s ability to meet their needs across the entire supply chain.”

This project exemplifies the strength of Virginia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities across the Commonwealth. The aerospace industry is taking note as well:  Business Facilities magazine ranked Virginia No. 7 as an Aerospace/Defense Industry Leader in its 2012 State Rankings Report.

More than 230 aerospace companies are located in Virginia and the Commonwealth has received more than $1.5 billion in capital investment for aerospace projects over the last ten years. To learn more, click here.

Governor McDonnell addresses company and local officials at the RTI International Metals event in Martinsville, Va.

RockTenn Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for Natural Gas Pipeline

Wednesday, 17 October 2012 16:57 by Info@YesVirginia.org
RockTenn hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of a pipeline supplying natural gas to its mill in West Point, Va...

Last week, RockTenn hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of a pipeline supplying natural gas to its mill in West Point, Va.

RockTenn and Virginia Natural Gas collaborated with Dominion Virginia Power, New Kent County, King William County and the Town of West Point to ensure the project was a success.

The 11-mile pipeline will run along Dominion Virginia Power’s right-of-way and connect Virginia Natural Gas' line in New Kent County to the West Point Mill.

RockTenn is also investing in its West Point Mill to make the facility more efficient and reduce emissions, lessening the mill’s carbon footprint.

The West Point Mill produces containerboard used in the company’s consumer packaging products. In operation since 1914, the mill is the region’s largest employer with a workforce of 550. RockTenn operates facilities across the Commonwealth, including a mill in Hopewell and a converting plant in Henrico County, Va.  

The natural gas pipeline represents a significant improvement in infrastructure, positioning the region for additional growth.

Virginia is home to more than 6,000 manufacturing establishments. To find out why manufacturers have invested more than $13.8 billion in the Commonwealth over the last decade, click here.

Carrie Roth (center), Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, is joined by company, local and regional officials at the RockTenn West Point Mill ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Virginia Beach Hosts 2012 AWEA Offshore Wind Conference

Monday, 15 October 2012 16:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Virginia Beach recently hosted the 2012 AWEA Offshore Wind Conference, welcoming offshore wind energy leaders from across the globe...

Virginia Beach recently hosted the 2012 AWEA Offshore Wind Conference, welcoming offshore wind energy leaders from across the globe.

Coming shortly after Governor McDonnell’s Conference on Energy in Richmond, Va., the Commonwealth continues to lay claim to the title “Energy Capital of the East Coast.”

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling spoke at the opening ceremony and VEDP Managing Director Jerry Giles was one of the panelists for the Virginia Spotlight session. Representatives from the Port of Virginia, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, and the Virginia Department of Commerce and Trade spoke at events throughout the conference.

In addition, VEDP shared a trade show booth with Poseidon Atlantic in close proximity to Fugro and the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition. Other Virginia-based companies in attendance included Apex Wind Energy, Bechtel Corp., and Maersk Line Limited.

VEDP and its partners continue to promote Virginia as the natural choice for the offshore wind industry. With its strong Class 6 winds, Virginia offers companies a central mid-Atlantic location, a high voltage transmission grid close to shore, and a premier maritime workforce with the largest industrial military complex in the U.S.

While the industry awaits news on the U.S. Bureau of Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) competitive auction process from its call for nominations last February, Virginia companies continue to make progress both on and offshore. 

Poseidon Atlantic has installed its Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) monitoring position in Northampton County, Va., as part of its wind measurement campaign. The results show wind conditions are better than expected. The company has also commenced its phase two study investigating offshore testing sites.

Wind energy remains an important component of Virginia’s all-of-the-above approach to the energy crisis. Home to more than 380 energy companies, the Commonwealth has seen more than $4.6 billion invested in energy projects over the last ten years. To learn more, click here.

Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade Carrie Roth speaks about Virginia’s wind resources to a group of wind energy leaders at a dinner hosted by VEDP.

CCAM Member Company Sponsors Seminar for Virginia’s Engineering Students

Friday, 12 October 2012 09:32 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Chromalloy, one of seven Organizing Members of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), announced its sponsorship of an industrial casting seminar for Virginia State University students. Chromalloy is a leading supplier of repairs, replacements parts and maintenance for gas turbines used in the aviation industry...

Chromalloy, one of seven Organizing Members of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), announced its sponsorship of an industrial casting seminar for Virginia State University students. Chromalloy is a leading supplier of repairs, replacements parts and maintenance for gas turbines used in the aviation industry.

This program is one of the first educational initiatives launched through CCAM, an applied research center that partners top Virginia universities with leading Virginia manufacturers.

The three-day seminar is designed to educate engineering students on the latest techniques used in the casting manufacturing process. VSU students will learn a variety of processes, including wax injection and the assembly of molds, investment, pouring, and final part finishing, as well as proprietary processes developed by Chromalloy.

Located on Rolls-Royce’s Crosspointe Campus in Prince George County, Va., CCAM represents a public-private collaboration offering faster commercialization of technologies for Virginia companies and enhanced educational opportunities for Virginia’s students. Research partners include Virginia State University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, and manufacturing partners include Canon Virginia Inc., Newport News Shipbuilding, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik Coromant, Siemens, and Sulzer Metco.

CCAM is one example of Virginia’s commitment to innovation. Home to 11 Federally Funded R&D Centers and 19 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Laboratories, including DARPA and NASA Langley Research Center, click here to learn why companies continue to select the Commonwealth as a leader in technology.

AREVA Opens U.S. Technical Center in Campbell County, Virginia

Friday, 5 October 2012 11:29 by Info@YesVirginia.org
AREVA, a leader in nuclear and sustainable energy, celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new AREVA U.S. Technical Center this September. The center, located in Campbell County, Va., opens just seven months after the company broke ground on the project which brings a $7 million capital investment.

AREVA, a leader in nuclear and sustainable energy, celebrated the ribbon cutting of the new AREVA U.S. Technical Center this September. The center, located in Campbell County, Va., opens just seven months after the company broke ground on the project which brings a $7 million capital investment.

The U.S. Technical Center will add to AREVA’s existing Solutions Complex, the largest collection of nuclear testing and service offerings in the U.S. The state-of-the-art U.S. Technical Center offers full-service nuclear safety testing, including a seismic analysis laboratory, environmental chambers, metallurgic and chemical labs, and industrial ovens.

AREVA provides customized solutions for efficient low-carbon power generation, which allow electric utilities to adapt quickly to new and changing regulations.

Home to a highly skilled and well educated workforce, Virginia has the personnel needed to fuel AREVA’s continued growth. In fact, Virginia companies employ the one of the highest concentration of doctoral scientist and engineers in the country.

Virginia’s ideal combination of abundant natural resources, excellent location for global access, and strong workforce draw energy leaders like AREVA and helps establish the Commonwealth as the Energy Capital of the East Coast.

To learn more about Virginia’s top workforce and leading role as Energy Capital of the East Coast click here.

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Virginia Economic Development Partnership is the Best State for Business

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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University of Mary Washington’s Convergence Center Joins Learning and Technology

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 16:39 by Info@YesVirginia.org
The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014...

The University of Mary Washington’s energetic new learning facility, the Information and Technology Convergence Center, was completed fall 2014.

This technology-rich, four-story building offers UMW students and faculty a “commons” space that includes a digital auditorium, 10 conference rooms, four high-tech classrooms, audio/video production space, and multiple collaboration, study and meeting spaces through an open design. It also houses UMW’s speaking and writing centers, along with a café.

Visitors are greeted by a multi-story media wall in the atrium that uses laser phosphor display technology to showcase student work. The digital gallery on the third floor also features student artwork on interactive touchscreens.

The Convergence Center houses a production studio with a 180 degree green screen, high definition cameras, teleprompters, a control room and an audio recording booth. The multimedia editing lab has five iMacs loaded with a full suite of A/V editing software so students obtain real-world experience.

The center also holds a two-story digital auditorium that can seat 150 people for classes, lectures or performances. The auditorium has three screens and a full theatrical lighting system. It also opens up into a lobby and garden that can be used to host events holding up to 300 people.

Sprinkled throughout the center are collaboration spaces and conference rooms that have conferencing capabilities, projectors and flat-panel displays. There is even an incubator classroom that allows professors to experiment with the latest technology. The modular design is complemented by high definition projectors, cameras, flat screen displays and wireless microphones.

UMW’s Convergence Center has become a central gathering place for students to learn and engage with their schoolwork in an interactive, high-tech environment. It is another example of the state-of-the-art technology Virginia’s higher education institutions are using to train the 21st century workforce. To learn more about the Commonwealth’s premier educational offerings, click here.

VEDP gets a tour of the digital auditorium at UMW’s Information and Technology Convergence Center.

Virginia Western Community College Offers Cutting-Edge Mechatronics Training

Monday, 22 June 2015 15:07 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective...

Mechatronics is a growing interdisciplinary field that incorporates mechanical and electrical engineering with computer science and looks at industrial operations from a system-wide perspective.

Students in this field become well-versed in electro-mechanics, computers, digital control systems, robotics and mechanical CAD, and go on to pursue careers in the automotive, aerospace, defense, consumer and manufacturing industries.

Virginia Western Community College offers three programs in mechatronics. First, students can earn a certificate that will allow them to take Level 1 of the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program. Second, students earning a two-year associate degree can sit for Level 2 of the Siemens certification. And, third, students completing the two-year program who go on to a university and earn a four-year degree can sit for Level 3 of the Siemens certification.

The Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification is an industry standard with worldwide recognition allowing students to illustrate to employers that they are qualified and ready to work as technicians. The college began offering mechatronics courses in 2008, and now has 100 students in the program.

VWCC is one of only 35 colleges in the world that offers a certified Siemens Mechatronics program.

VWCC is actively engaged with high school students in the area. Through The Regional Academy for Advanced Technology it offers both engineering and mechatronics training for high school juniors and seniors interested in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career. Currently, about 250 students are enrolled in The Regional Academy.

VWCC maintains an active dialogue with companies in the Roanoke Valley to ensure its training closely aligns with industry requirements. They have held two annual manufacturing summits where faculty meet with employers in the area to better understand their needs. Regional employers have also made commitments to mentor students and donate lab equipment.

“The goal of the mechatronics program at Virginia Western is to prepare students with globally, in-demand skills through local engagement to be well-educated, work-ready engineering technicians,” said Professor Dan Horine, Mechatronics Program Head at VWCC.

VWCC is a great example of the cutting-edge STEM education available through Virginia’s 23-member community college system. To learn how Virginia’s higher education institutions are preparing the workforce of tomorrow, click here.

VWCC mechatronics students commission the FESTO Modular Production System at one of the labs in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Specialty’s Our Name — Expanding a Family Business Through the Generations

Friday, 29 May 2015 09:19 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va. His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders...

Butch Harrison founded Specialty’s Our Name in 1990, a precision sheet metal fabrication and machine shop based in Ashland, Va.

His three sons, Brandon, Utley and Kevin, worked in the shop since high school and each found their niche, whether it was handling the finances, managing customer relationships or processing orders. When their dad passed away in 2009, the brothers took ownership and proudly carried on the family name and reputation for a superior product and customer service at S.O.N. Inc.

“We do the work other people don’t want to do,” said Brandon Harrison. “Our high-end, custom sheet metal work is in the White House Visitor Center, the American Civil War Museum at Tredegar and the Virginia Historical Society, and our customers include Homeland Security, Architectural Graphics Inc., Dometic Corporation and Showbest Fixtures.”

The company has successfully grown from two people in a 2,500 square foot building to more than 30 people in a 32,000 square foot facility. The company delivers custom products and can offer consulting, drafting, welding, deburring, powder coating and precision parts, all from one location.

The Harrison brothers not only weathered the recent economic downturn, but were able to continue growing their company. “We did feel some of the effects, but we manage our finances well and purchase equipment as we need it, so we don’t carry a lot of debt.” said Harrison. “We also have a broad customer range, from the marine industry to railroads to store fixtures. Being diverse helped us stay strong and grow our company through the tough times.”

The brothers also took a calculated risk and started a sister company in 2008, Pro Powder & Paint Inc. “About 90 percent of our customers want a finish on their steel or aluminum products. We provide that and do our own powder coating and wet paint at a facility just down the street,” said Harrison.

The company just had one of its best years and has a solid plan to grow both businesses and eventually combine them into one larger building.

“We are lucky,” said Harrison. “The three of us are all equally responsible and we get to expand on what our father built. We really try to keep the family atmosphere throughout the company as we grow. We have several cousins and family members working in the shop, and we treat all of our employees like we are one big family. Without every piece of the puzzle coming together, this wouldn’t be possible.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Specialty’s Our Name serves as another great example of the ingenuity and dedication of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why the Commonwealth is a great location to grow a business, click here.

Specialty’s Our Name owners Brandon, Utley and Kevin Harrison at their company headquarters in Ashland, Va.

Marstel-Day — Growing a Green Business in Virginia

Thursday, 28 May 2015 09:33 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base...

Rebecca Rubin started Marstel-Day in 2002 with a passion to help large institutions conduct business in a way that is both effective and preserves the natural resource base.

Based out of Fredericksburg, Va., the company has grown from a one-woman desk to 160 employees nationwide. With clients ranging from government agencies to academic institutions, Marstel-Day helps organizations develop an overall strategy to be more eco-friendly.

“Our customers may have the interest and funding, but we help them with their strategies and policies,” said President and CEO Rebecca Rubin. “Whether they want to be carbon neutral or make better use of their ecosystem services or reduce water consumption or be ready for climate change, we help them get there. We look at such things as their vulnerability to drought, temperature change, responsiveness and resilience of the IT structure to climate events — and help them answer the big picture questions.”

The company’s success speaks for itself. Marstel-Day experienced 8-10 percent growth every year, including during the economic downturn. Its impressive client roster includes the Department of Defense, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration and National Laboratories. 

Marstel-Day has also received numerous accolades, including being named to both the Inc. 5000 list and Zweigwhite’s Hot Firm list for six consecutive years, the Alliance for Workplace Excellence Eco-Leadership Award three years in a row, the Virginia Fantastic 50 list for the third time, and the UVA Darden School’s Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience.

Rubin chose to headquarter the business in Fredericksburg for two reasons:  proximity to a rail line and access to a great park system. “We were deliberately trying to get our employees off the roads and onto public transportation,” said Rubin. “Our other Virginia offices in Richmond and Alexandria are also within a quarter of a mile of a main train line. If you translate that into hours saved, it has an enormous impact on employee morale and health.”

“Because of its battlefield history, Fredericksburg has preserved green spaces and they have a new trail system. Having a park system where our employees can jog or bike during their lunch hour or after work is tremendously important to us.”

“There’s a reason why we’re here. Historically, Virginia has done a good job of understanding and appreciating the significance of nature and ecotourism. We find Virginia’s and the Governor’s commitment to green important to us as a company.”

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Marstel-Day is another great example of how entrepreneurs find a successful environment for innovation in the Commonwealth. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Marstel-Day President and CEO Rebecca Rubin at the company’s headquarters in Fredericksburg, Va. Photo courtesy of Marstel-Day LLC.

Performance Signs — From a Dorm Room to the Highway

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:30 by Info@YesVirginia.org
Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995...

Founder Robbie Morris was an engineering student at Virginia Tech when he started making decals for his brother’s stock car racing team. Robbie actually ran the decal machine out of his dorm room in the fall of 1995.

While out on an engineering co-op, Robbie realized he enjoyed the creativity of the sign work much more than the structure of his engineering internship and decided to pursue the sign business full-time.

Today, Performance Signs makes a variety of signs, banners, vehicle lettering, vehicle wraps, window lettering and real estate signs for commercial businesses, public safety vehicles and highways.

Self-awareness is an important trait for entrepreneurs, and surrounding oneself with the right people and skillsets is critical. Robbie found the perfect business partner in his wife Katherine. She came on board full-time in 2004 and made improvements with her ability to manage, schedule and handle the day-to-day business, allowing Robbie to focus on the creative side.

Robbie and Katherine focused on building relationships with their customers and that paid off. “We were doing work for a sign company that supported a police department in Southwest Virginia,” said Performance Signs Founder Robbie Morris. “Those decals were an exact match for the Albemarle police department near us. We were able to approach them and found that there was a need for somebody to serve the public safety vehicles in our area. There’s a tightknit community among the police, fire department and rescue squad, and our relationship with that core group has helped us grow.”

When the recession hit, Robbie and Katherine looked at everything they did in order to be more efficient, from the number of phone lines they needed to the amount of equipment. They also took a calculated risk when a property became available. 

“All indications were that it would be crazy to buy something right now, but it completely came together for us,” said Robbie. “We really felt like God was moving in our lives and the timing was right. We did an SBA 504 loan. It was a lot of work, but through that process it helped us see our business in a new way.”

Robbie and Katherine closed on their building in the fall of 2009, and continuing their quest for efficiency, installed a solar-paneled roof on the 8,000-square-foot facility. Depending upon the time of year, the solar panels generate anywhere from 55-100 percent of the building’s electricity. 

Robbie and Katherine’s tenacity allowed them to successfully bounce back from the recession. The company has doubled sales since 2010 and grown from four to 12 people.

Performance Signs was also just selected to participate in the inaugural class of Ones to Watch, a business mentoring initiative run by the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia.

As we celebrate Virginia Business Appreciation Month, Performance Signs stands as another great example of the innovation and creativity of Virginia entrepreneurs. To learn why Virginia is a great place to grow a business, click here.

Performance Signs CEO Katherine Morris and Founder Robert Morris outside their company headquarters in Ruckersville, Va.

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VEDP Releases Exporting Guide for Service Companies

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 09:18 by Info@YesVirginia.org
VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters”...

VEDP’s International Trade division recently released an exporting guide focused on the unique needs of service companies called “Exporting Services: A Guide for New Exporters.”

Some of the issues addressed in the guide include assessing export readiness, understanding export regulations, identifying a target market, protecting intellectual property, acquiring work permits and certifications, developing a market entry strategy, and negotiating financing and payment terms.

The services industry is thriving in Virginia—professional, scientific and technical services was the top sector for job creation in 2011, announcing 12,769 new jobs. With human capital as the major input, it’s no surprise that Virginia’s highly skilled workforce has proved to be a key advantage in growing this sector.

According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia’s service exports accounted for 42.6 percent of the state’s total exports in 2010, illustrating an opportunity to grow Virginia’s exports in a sector where the Commonwealth has the resources to leverage its success into international markets.

Helping Virginia companies grow sales overseas not only benefits Virginia businesses, but it also creates jobs at home. According to The Brookings Institution, Virginia exports supported more than 236,000 jobs in 2010.

To learn how VEDP’s International Trade division can help your company grow, go to www.exportvirginia.org.

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The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP), a state authority created by the Virginia General Assembly to better serve those seeking a prime business location and increased trade opportunities, provides confidential site selection and international trade services. VEDP's mission: To enhance the quality of life and raise the standard of living for all Virginians, in collaboration with Virginia communities, through aggressive business recruitment, expansion assistance, and trade development, thereby expanding the tax base and creating higher-income employment opportunities.

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