Grady-White receives Industry of the Year honor
By Ginger Livingston The Daily Reflector Saturday, February 9, 2019
A major employer celebrating its 60th anniversary was named Industry of the Year for 2018-19 by the Pitt County Development Commission on Friday. Grady-White Boats, which started in a warehouse in downtown Greenville in 1959, was recognized for its innovation within its industry and it support of community activities in Pitt County and across eastern North Carolina. “Grady-White is a great example of the substantial impact existing industries have on our economy and the need to support and invest in their growth in our community,” said Brad Hufford, the commission’s associate director. The company, one of three nominated for this year’s award, also received the honor in 1999-2000. Friday’s announcement was made during the company’s weekly Friday Focus meeting with employees, who were going to celebrate later in the day with a barbecue lunch. The commission will formally present the award at its annual Existing Industries Reception on Tuesday. “They have brought manufacturing jobs to our region incrementally and through expansions over the years, have weathered recessions, have innovated to stay on top in the industry, and have given back to the community in many ways,” Hufford said. “They are a great company and a great corporate citizen.” Eddie Smith and his family purchased the company in 1968, moving it to its current location at 5121 Martin Luther King Jr. Hwy, in 1972. “We are very pleased and very honored to be recognized for our efforts in the community, for what we provide the community, for the jobs we provide but also all we do in the community through our people and our foundations,” said Mark Doggett, executive vice president. Grady-White Boats is active with the United Way of Pitt County and the Boys & Girls Club, he said. Other organizations and entities it supports are LIFE of NC, the ECU Foundation, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, ECVC, Uptown Greenville, Vidant Health Foundation, Greenville Little League, the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina, Literacy Volunteers and Building Hope. “We also do a lot with our own employees. When people really need something we really do everything we can to rush to their aid,” Doggett said. That help can range from offering aid after a hurricane or helping an employee pay an unexpectedly costly utility bill and then offering counseling to help them better manage their budget. There also is the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Foundation which has given millions in recent years to support Pitt Community College, the cancer center at Vidant Medical Center and other organizations. “No corporation or family has been better to Pitt Community College,” said Randy Waters, chairman of the Pitt Development Commission’s board of directors and members of PCC’s Board of Trustees. “The support from Grady-White and Eddie Smith have been phenomenal for Pitt County,” Water said. It shows the appreciation Smith has with the college’s work and how its graduates touch so many lives in the community, Waters said. The company, which builds 27 models of fiberglass offshore, sport fishing, and family fishing boats, expects to manufacture between 1,000-1,500 boats this year, Doggett said. “We just came out with a 45-foot center console, the 456 Canyon. It’s over a million dollar boat and it’s a big hit in the industry,” he said. Grady-White Boats include material purchases from across the world, Doggett said, including about five manufacturers based in Pitt County “We buy their parts, but we also have developed them into major suppliers. That’s important to us to have that in the local community,” Doggett said. Last year the company added 70,000 square feet of space to its manufacturing facility, adding 65 new jobs, according to a news release. Previously, Grady-White expanded in 2003, when it invested $6 million to expand its facility by 50,000 square feet. Grady-White has been awarded the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association Customer Satisfaction Index award for all 16 years that it has been given. The company also was awarded by J.D. Power Associates for all nine years that studies were conducted in the marine industry. Smith is a member of the NMMA’s Hall of Fame. Grady-White Boats President Kris Carroll is a recipient of the 2018 Hammond Marine Industry Leadership Award for extraordinary service and commitment to advocacy on behalf of the recreational boating industry. Carroll joined Grady-White in 1975 and became president in 1993. Contact Ginger Livingston at email@example.com or 252-329-9570.