Lake Norman – Where business is a family tradition

The following article was written exclusively for and appeared in the August 2013 issue of Business Today.

998You may be pleased to know that North Carolina House Bill 998 was recently signed into law by Governor McCrory.  Under this tax plan, the corporate income tax rate will decrease from 6.9 to 5 percent and personal income tax rate will decrease from 7.75 percent to 5.75 percent.  This new tax plan also brings changes to NC sales taxes.

The goal of these changes in the tax code is to make NC a more attractive place for businesses. During a recent presentation to Lake Norman Chamber members, local CPA Jay Lesemann shared facts and trends regarding business in our state that show the need for change. Site Selection Magazine and other business publications have ranked North Carolina as one of the “Best Business Climates” in the United States in past years, and our state has ranked 11th in US wage and income growth.

However, the disturbing fact is that North Carolina is not keeping up with workforce growth and job growth. In 2010, NC was 48th out of 50 in U.S. wage and income growth. Unfortunately, our unemployment and poverty statistics are also worse than the national average.

While some of these statistics and trends are certainly areas of concern, local business owners and managers that I talk with are often optimistic about the future.  In frequent conversations with chamber members, from the real estate market to retail sales, the consensus is that we are indeed starting to see a slow and steady climb in revenues.

As I look toward success for these businesses in the future, I am reminded of the people and businesses that have helped to shape the face of our community and region in the past. The communities of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville are much older than the lake itself, which this year celebrates its 50th Anniversary this summer.  So many of our local businesses such as Davidson’s Soda Shop and Pott’s Barber Shop in Cornelius have stood the test of time.

In 1956, Bob Cashion returned from school at UNC to work in the family grocery store. The Cashions still operate Cashion’s Quick Stops today with three locations in Huntersville and Cornelius.

While celebrations will continue this summer celebrating Lake Norman’s 50th anniversary, many businesses are quietly celebrating benchmarks of their own.  In September, Dressler’s Restaurant in Huntersville will recognize their 10-year anniversary at Birkdale. 

I asked Jon Dressler to what he attributed the success of his restaurants.  He was quick to point out that Dressler’s has three generations of restaurateurs.  For Jon, it’s all about hospitality.  “We are a family at Dressler’s and when you dine at our restaurant, it’s like you are having dinner at our home,” he replied.  “It’s important our guests feel welcome and special.”

His remarks were echoed by Tony Stafford, owner of Ferrucci’s in Cornelius.  When I asked Tony to sum up his success in one word, he quickly replied, “Primo! – which means first & best. In 1999, we were the first in the area to offer Italian provisions, freshly prepared food, and a butcher with over 40 years experience. We made a commitment to our customers to be nothing short of the best and have never wavered from it. Primo!”

Dean Williamson
Dean Williamson


When I originally came to the Lake Norman Chamber in 1996, one of the first people I met was Dean Williamson, who was just opening a Raymond James office.  When he initially opened his office, he was the salesman, receptionist, and janitor.  Today, his business has 12 agents and 5 support staff and is recognized as the largest Raymond James office in the Carolinas.

Dean credits his involvement in the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce as a primary reason for his success. According to Dean, “The chamber helped me create healthy business relationships and relationships are the foundation of my business.”  He often jokes that the Chamber did more than help build his business – it helped him build his family. He met his wife Elizabeth at a Chamber event!

This year also marks a milestone anniversary for the Davidson Village Inn.  Gordon and his wife Rebecca opened the 18-room charming inn 20 years ago. When I asked Gordon what has made his business so successful, he summed it up by saying –   “Our philosophy is people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did.  But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Listening to Gordon, his smile filling his face, I realized he may well have captured business at the lake. It‘s about family. It’s about friends  It’s about how we make people feel that makes business special at the lake. It’s simply, a family tradition!

Bill Russell, CCE