04/25/11 — Jackson & Sons recognized by state for civic involvement

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Jackson & Sons recognized by state for civic involvement

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 25, 2011 1:46 PM

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Jackson & Sons of Goldsboro was awarded the 2011 N.C. Community Colleges' Distinguished Partners for Excellence award. From left are Joanne Steiner of the state Board of Community Colleges, Dr. Kay Albertson, president of Wayne Community College, David Jackson, chief financial officer of Jackson & Sons, and his brother, Danny Jackson, its chief executive officer.

DUDLEY -- Jackson & Sons has been recognized at the state level for its outstanding partnerships with Wayne Community College and the local community.

The "Distinguished Partners for Excellence" award was presented during the N.C. Community College System's annual "Excellence Event," held in Raleigh.

Criteria for nominations in that category included businesses or organizations that feature novel, innovative and creative ways of addressing community challenges in economic work force development, as well as education training and services.

Jackson & Sons, a family-owned heating and air conditioning business founded in 1974 by Woodard Jackson and now run by his sons, Danny and David, has 45 to 50 employees and serves a territory primarily centered in Wayne, Duplin, Johnston and Lenoir counties.

The company's association with WCC has been especially impressive during an economic time when many businesses have had to assess where to contribute and where to cut back.

In 2008, the business took over the leadership of the college's main fundraising event, the annual golf tournament, hosted by the Foundation of WCC. Created 15 years before that by Wooten Oil until Dillon Wooten's retirement, Jackson & Sons stepped up to build upon the tournament's success in a big way, said Jack Kannan, Foundation director.

The company recruited new corporate support, relocated the event to a new course, solicited high-end items for the auction -- which doubled profits from $10,000 to $20,000 -- and was responsible for a 60 percent increase in revenues for the tournament in three years, Kannan said, to a record high of $80,000 for student scholarships in 2010.

"What Jackson & Sons has been able to accomplish, during the worst economic time of my lifetime, has been remarkable," Kannan said.

Supporting such an event was easy, said co-owner David Jackson.

"We see firsthand what the college does, not only for us but for the community," he said. "We're just giving back."

Their involvement at the college has been widespread.

For the last 15 years, the company has been represented on the college's HVAC/R advisory committee, which helps determine curriculum. It has arranged for the donation of HVAC equipment so that students have the opportunity to work on state-of-the-art equipment and has informally funded scholarships for students in the program.

College students are often invited to tour the local business and obtain cooperative education experience and Jackson employees are regularly asked to sit in on professional staff development sessions. Similar opportunities have also been made available to neighboring community colleges in Lenoir and Johnston counties.

The sibling business owners have chosen to support many other local causes as well, including Red Cross, Community Soup Kitchen, Boys & Girls Club, United Way and Mount Olive College. Each year, it contributes an HVAC system to a Habitat for Humanity house and installs systems in other homes at a reduced cost.

In 2007, Jackson & Sons was recognized by INC. magazine as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

The company regularly hires graduates from the WCC heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration technology program and sends employees to the college for continuing education.

"You want to be tied to a rising star and that's what Wayne Community College is," said Lyman Smith, vice president and sales manager for Jackson & Sons.

Likewise, as WCC grows its newest sustainability technologies program, it has turned to Jackson & Sons. The company installed solar photovoltaic panels on its warehouse roof last spring and demonstrated a new product line to "go green" as well as save money, savings which were then passed on to customers.

Making the WCC connection even more personal, David Jackson has embarked on becoming a teacher at the college, but not in the HVAC program.

He has offered to coordinate a team of business leaders to present a series of free workshops, which he hopes to bring to the classroom next year, on "Critical Employability Skills," behaviors that will make students more attractive to employers and more likely to advance once hired.

Smith said that efforts are also made to front-load the education, introducing opportunities in the field at high school job fairs in the county.

"Anyone who comes to our booth and wants to know how to get a job in our industry, we point them to the Wayne Community College booth," he said. "We say, 'You start there and you will have an excellent start.'"

Smith, himself a WCC graduate, went on to say that he is just as proud of the quality of education provided at the college and how it advances the HVAC industry.

In turn, Dr. Kay Albertson, president of WCC, said she could not be more pleased to see the state award presented to Jackson & Sons.

"The range of ways in which this company and the college cooperate and mutually benefit absolutely should be held up an example for others," she said. "And Jackson & Sons' philanthropy doesn't stop with us; this business is truly a good corporate citizen to Wayne and surrounding counties."