Future 10 of Brunswick County – Meet the First Five!
Future 10 2018
Meet 10 young professionals who are the up-and-coming talent and future leaders of Brunswick County.
What follows are profiles of 10 passionate and noteworthy professionals — all of them younger than 40 — who are working tirelessly in the fields of retail, technology, design, healthcare, real estate, finance, landscaping, sports, event management and civic capacities to contribute to the longevity and viability of Brunswick County.
Future 10 is a collaborative project of Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce and South Brunswick Magazine. The two entities started the Future 10 tradition in 2012, introducing the first group of young professionals who are community-minded and enthusiastic about Brunswick County and who live up to the chamber’s motto of Building Community and Supporting Business.
Everyone involved in this project is excited to introduce the next generation of Future 10 leaders for 2018.
This isn’t a competition, but a nomination-based search in which coworkers, supervisors, employees, business owners, friends and family are invited to recommend exceptional young men and women who not only contribute to the current and future success of the county with a proven commitment to excellence in their careers, but also provide inspiration and leadership for other young people.
In the following pages you’ll hear their stories and come to see that they, like Future 10 alumni before them, are setting the pace for progress and making a positive impact on the future of Brunswick County.
Directing Assistant, Victoria’s Ragpatch
In 2015, as a rising junior at UNC Wilmington studying early childhood education, Danielle Allison had a change of heart about her career path.
“My dream job was to be a preschool teacher, but after taking a summer job at Victoria’s Ragpatch, retail became my passion,” Allison says. She is now the directing assistant of the Calabash and Ocean Isle Beach locations of Victoria’s Ragpatch, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
On being part of this year’s Future 10, Allison is humbled and feels that as a millennial she is breaking down a stereotype: “that we’re lazy, entitled and don’t want to do anything.”
She believes that the special relationship she has with Victoria Clark, founder and owner of Victoria’s Ragpatch, is at the core of her success. “She has taught me so much, and together we prove that older and younger generations can come together to make great things happen.”
Knowing how clothing can help make a woman feel like a new person, Allison enjoys the part she plays in that experience. “Seeing someone come into the store and purchase clothing that makes them feel confident is the best part of my job,” she says. “You can tell that they love what they bought and they’re ready to wear it. That gives me a high like no other. Fashion can do that.”
For her photoshoot for this article, Allison pays tribute to her friend and mentor by wearing a dress that Clark wore when she worked at Saks 5th Avenue in Atlanta in 1969. “This dress helped to fuel her passion for retail and clothing, and here I am wearing it 48 years later doing and loving the same thing,” Allison says.
Committed to learning everything she can about the retail industry, including continuing her education to further her knowledge of business management and visual merchandising, Allison is driven by her mentor’s words of wisdom: “Miss Victoria always says to me, ‘Hard work is timeless and it never goes out of style.’”
Parks and Recreation and Business Coordinator, Town of Shallotte
A love of the outdoors, live music and community events, that’s what excited Megan Bishop about working for the Town of Shallotte as its parks and recreation and business coordinator.
“I’ve always helped my dad, an athletic director in Fayetteville, plan his events,” Bishop says. “I also grew up playing sports, so I loved planning sports tournaments.”
After high school, Bishop enrolled at East Carolina University, where she earned her degree in hospitality management with a concentration in event management. Her family had a vacation condo on Ocean Isle Beach, so after college Bishop decided to make a move to the coast. She got her start in event planning while working for Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce.
With the Town of Shallotte, Bishop’s responsibilities include managing the town’s summer concert series, farmers markets and outdoor movie series. Her favorite thing about the job is “the environment that I work in. I love the people I work for, and the people I work with,” she says.
What also matters to Bishop is being part of the community. “I moved to Brunswick County in my early 20s and I didn’t really know anybody at the time,” she says. “But this community is so close, you can go anywhere and know somebody. I quickly got involved in community events and organizations, and I just got out there and met as many people as I could.”
Since moving to the area, Bishop has volunteered for or been an active member of the North Carolina Oyster Festival, Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce, Shallotte Run Club, Brunswick Sheriff’s Animal Adoption and the YMCA STRIDE program.
For Bishop, being nominated for the Future 10 was a big honor “because I love Brunswick County, and I love what I do.” Before becoming the Parks and Recreation and Business Coordinator, Bishop worked from home. “I didn’t feel like part of the community then,” she says. “Being nominated shows my leadership and loyalty, and that what I do for the Town of Shallotte matters.”
Design Associate/Office Manager, Floor Coverings International
Kimberly Lewis always had an eye for design, but she never realized how profoundly her passion could change someone’s life until she was asked to come up with a floor that would stop a child’s seizures. “Our clients said the coloring contrast of the flooring between rooms caused their wheelchair-bound son to have attacks when he went from room to room,” Lewis explains. “I helped come up with a solution, and after the install his parents called and said the seizures had stopped. I cried.”
It’s opportunities like these that take Lewis by surprise but make her appreciate her job at Floor Coverings International even more. “It’s not the sale that makes me happy, it’s being able to make someone’s dream a reality, and in the end to see someone smile over a design makes it all worth it,” she says. Her expertise has been recognized with several Diamond Award–winning homes in Brunswick County Parade of Homes.
As a seasoned building industry professional, Lewis knows the business from the blueprint up. She started her career with Gallimore Building Company working with crews, clients, new construction and renovation projects. When Gallimore relocated from Summerfield, North Carolina, to Brunswick County, Lewis made the move with them. She had family in Ocean Isle Beach, where she had spent her summers as a child, so relocating to the area was like coming home. As a single mom of three young sons, being close to family was important.
Though Lewis gives her full attention to her clients, her first priority is her sons and giving back to the community. She is a coach in COAST FA, a soccer and football program that her sons are active in. She is also involved with Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce and volunteers at the Sunset Beach Concerts.
The Future 10 title is “very humbling” for Lewis, who says she still can’t understand what she’s done to deserve the recognition. She offers this advice for any hardworking individual: “Know your worth, and if you want it, go for it.”
IT Systems Administrator, ATMC
There was never a question that Bo Watkins would make any other career choice than the field of computers and information technology. He earned his bachelor’s degree in information systems from Gardner-Webb University and holds several professional IT certifications.
After graduating from college, Watkins worked for smaller internet providers and other tech-related businesses in the county before signing on with ATMC. His knowledge, experience and forward-thinking initiatives make him invaluable as ATMC’s IT systems administrator. He diligently manages the network and servers, provides technical assistance for hardware and software issues and is always quick to respond to issues. But what Watkins enjoys the most about his job are the people he works with. “We’re a corporation, but at the core, we’re a big family,” he says. “Everybody knows everybody. That’s what’s great about being in such a tight-knit location.”
Watkins was born and raised in Brunswick County and is still inspired by the area. “It’s great because it’s a vacation place for others to come and do things they can’t do at home, but for us, it is home, we get to do these things on a daily basis,” he says. “You can lay low here in the countryside but we’re still close enough to Wilmington or Myrtle Beach for everything else.”
Watkins’ Future 10 award has him feeling humbled but proud to know that community members have confidence in his ability to lead them through today’s ever-changing technology. “It lets me know that the effort I’ve put into my education and training is worth it,” he says. “To be acknowledged for my skill set for the things I’ve done for people around me is an honor.”
When he’s not solving computer problems or participating on the ATMC Community and Education Grants Committee, Watkins makes time for his wife, Andrea, and their three sons. He is a coach for his son’s Wee Ball Team as well as a soccer coach. He also volunteers regularly at his church, First Baptist Church of Shallotte, as the IT, audio visual and media director.
General Manager/Vice President, Williams Plantworks
“It’s so satisfying watching something grow from a seedling to maturity,” says Patrick Williams, general manager and vice president of Williams Plantworks. This might be a metaphor for Williams’ own career. He is carrying on the 25-year-old business started by his father in 1984 in Ash, North Carolina. Williams grew up helping his father and now he’s taking the business to new levels, including tree framing.
A native of Brunswick County, Williams once considered becoming a firefighter. He volunteered for several years but couldn’t tear himself away from the family business. “It’s all I’ve ever known,” he says. Today he is expanding the business by growing shrubs and trees from seedlings over months and years on both owned and leased land. Tree farming, as it’s called, can help create shelter belts for livestock and crops, provide a solid leasing income, prevent erosion, conserve wildlife and create greenspaces for neighborhoods and businesses. Williams is also very involved with the local agriculture extension agency to monitor and control insects that are invasive to area trees and shrubs.
Though he works countless hours along with the rest of his staff, being self-employed gives Williams the freedom to volunteer in the community and at his church. The list is long: He is on the Parent Advisory Committee at Waccamaw Elementary School. He is on the steering committee at Soldier Bay Baptist Church, where he is also the athletic director. He is softball coach and president of West Brunswick Dixie Youth Softball League. Volunteering with children is important to him. “I was always fortunate enough growing up that my dad did these things with me. I just want to give back. A lot of kids today don’t have anybody there for them.” And when he can find the time, Williams also indulges in his passion of racing cars. He owns his own car and drives in local events.
Of the Future 10 Award, Williams says, “I was flabbergasted when I found out. And when I learned that it was one of my competitors and peers who nominated me, it just blew my mind.”