03/13/05 — Cardinal Coach wins Duplin business award

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Cardinal Coach wins Duplin business award

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 13, 2005 2:00 AM

KENANSVILLE -- Cardinal Coach Inc. of Warsaw has received the first annual Small Business of the Year Award in Duplin County.

The program, sponsored by James Sprunt Community College, the Duplin First Council, the Wallace Chamber of Commerce and the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, seeks to honor successful businesses and their contributions to the community. Three judges from outside Duplin County examined applications submitted by each of the five nominees and made their choices independently.

Cardinal Coach was founded in 1990 and operates charters and tours with 20 employees. It also sells and services buses and sells bus parts.

It is owned by Jim, Odette and Mel Harris with Jim Harris serving as president.

The company's involvement in the community includes donating transportation to the veterans at the Warsaw Veterans Day Celebration and to athletic events at Duplin County schools. Employees of Cardinal Coach are involved in the community as well, said Cathleen Eldridge, director of the Small Business Center at JSCC.

Jim Harris has served as the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce president for five years. He also has served as a member of the Economic Development Commission Board of Directors, on the Warsaw Veterans Museum Board and on the Duplin First Council.

"This was a great surprise to me," said Mel Harris. "It's an inspiration for you. It makes you feel good after all the hard work that it's coming together."

Mrs. Eldridge said the judges were impressed by the answer to the question about why this business is doing so well. Cardinal owners said they believe their "deep committment to excellence, pride in our work and customer satisfaction has contributed to our company's continued growth. Had we not had this commitment from each employee, we could not have survived the devastating effects that the Sept. 11 tragedy had on our business as part of the travel and tourism industry."

The company had thousands of dollars in trips that were cancelled the week after Sept. 11, Mel Harris said. "But we were able to stick through it, and now things are just about back to where they were before."

Other nominees were Carolina East Home Care & Hospice of Kenansville, Industrial Hydraulics Inc. of Beulaville, Garcia Roofing of Pink Hill and Moulding Solutions Inc. of Chinquapin.