Resides: Hickory, NC (moved here in May 2017 from Lufkin, TX)
Family: Wife Aimee, sons Cameron and Jackson
Occupation: Director of Supply Chain, Catawba Valley Medical Center (CVMC), Hickory
What made you decide to live here?
The community. I came out for the interview with CVMC in February/March of 2017. I scheduled a Thursday flight out, early morning, so I could spend time in the community talking to people who live here. My first stop was the Lowe’s Foods in Mountain View. I had no idea where I was going or what to expect. I went in and talked to customers and cashiers to gauge their perspective of the community. I went to a couple other stores just to get a variety of personalities, if you will. It was overwhelming the amount of people who love this place and said it’s a great community, it’s a great a family community. Being a father of two boys, that was important to me. The activity level was high. A lot of people said you’ve got mountain biking, you’ve got the lake, so I got really excited about all that.
You mentioned you have two boys. How much of a factor were our local schools in your decision to move here?
It was a major priority. You can only get so much information online, so I actually carved out part of my day to also take in a couple schools. I went to a couple middle schools and several elementary schools. They all said they had challenges but were doing things to address those challenges. That made us feel good as parents that they were actively doing things to address them. We’re not interested in scores, per se, we’re just interested in the delivery of the education, what schools are teaching the kids and how they’re teaching them.
What’s been your experience now that your kids are in school here?
It’s been phenomenal. It really has. Our fifth grader has gotten on the school council, and he’s a backpack buddy so he’s trusted to step up and help out other students. Our seventh grader wants to try out for the baseball team and do all kinds of stuff with the arts, like drama club.
You’ve lived in several different places – Utah, Tampa, Roanoke, most recently Houston area. How does living here compare to where you’ve lived in the past?
That’s a very good question. I would simply say, drive down the road. Look at the people walking, biking, running, kids outside, that environment. That was one thing I noticed when I came up here. I called my wife that first night and said you would not believe the amount of people who are out doing stuff. People were active and engaged in the same things we enjoyed doing in Utah, where we’re originally from. It was just that kind of environment. I actually came to Union Square and talked to some of the folks in the businesses, and I saw they had put out water bowls for dogs. Those are the kinds of things we have come to appreciate about living here. Other communities we’d lived in didn’t have those kinds of things.
When you compare Houston to here, you’ve got the arts, you’ve got the music, you’ve got the outdoors, you’ve got the parks, you’ve got all that. You can catch a baseball game or collegiate football; so in reality, if you break it down to that level, all that’s missing here is a zoo.
We’re excited about it. This is the best community we’ve lived in compared to Lufkin, Tampa, even Roanoke. That speaks a lot of Catawba County, the people who live here, and all that this community has to offer.
Tell us a little more about what you do for a living. That was obviously a big factor in your decision to move here.
I worked for an organization that was growing exponentially. They were a 105-hospital system throughout the United States with 15 hospitals in Texas. My role covered four hospitals in terms of supply chain management – purchasing, distribution, logistics, receiving, etc. Their growth was such that it was getting out of control; I was spending a lot of time at work over 80 hours a week, just trying to maintain that type of growth. My life and my family’s life were really starting to suffer because I wasn’t home or was working when I was home. We’d lived up in Roanoke and traveled down to Winston-Salem on many occasions, and always thought this would be a beautiful part of the country to live in. We had an idea of where we wanted to be, so when the job at CVMC opened up, I thought it would be a great opportunity and put my name in.
What do you like best about what you do?
The interactions. The challenges. I’m a people person. I’m all about relationships. I’m a firm believer that you can’t drive results without relationships. I like to consider our department the silent partner in healthcare. You don’t think about the supply chain, you don’t think about the products or the equipment until you don’t have it. We don’t ever want it to get to that point. We want the caregiver to be able to turn and reach for a supply, treat the patient, and move on to the next. The healthcare environment itself is drastically changing.
What do you like most about living in Catawba County?
The accessibility, ranging from small neighborhoods to small local businesses to community events. People are gathering in the community in different ways, and that’s stuff my wife and I really, really enjoy. And then just the accessibility to bigger cities – Asheville, Winston-Salem, or Charlotte. You’re close enough to those cities that if you want to go to them, it doesn’t turn out to be a day trip. My wife’s a big Costco fan, so one of her big questions was, is there a Costco here? No, but there’s one 43 miles away: 43 miles is a lot better than 120 miles. So when I say accessibility, that’s what I mean.
Is there anything you like most about living in Hickory in particular?
I’d say the walkability, and how animal-friendly it is. My wife and I are dog people, we have 3 rescues. Seeing people walk their dogs, that’s an important thing. We’ve got a small little lap dog. You go to Home Depot, and the guy at the paint shop will give your dog a treat. It’s things like that – the little things that people maybe don’t see or understand or know.
Do you feel like it was pretty easy to get connected with other people here, socially and through work?
It took maybe a month, less than that. Our son got an ear infection right after we moved here, and our insurance hadn’t kicked in, so my wife took him to a CVS Minute Clinic. Turned out the provider is our neighbor across the street. A few days later, she came knocking on our door and asked if we remembered her. Through that connection, we began connecting with a larger network of friends through gatherings and things of that nature.
You’ve got a lot of opportunities to get plugged in. The YMCA is out of this world here. My kids love to swim there, but we’ll even go to the gym on off days and work out. How many 10, 11, 12 year olds like to run on the treadmill, ride an exercise bike or lift weights? It’s because they see other kids doing it. People are involved, and that’s a huge thing.
Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time? Any hobbies?
I enjoy mountain biking. My son and I ride the trails at Jacob Fork Park. There are some good trails at Riverbend too. I enjoy hiking. We do the river walk trail up at Geitner Park. For us it’s really more about staying active, getting out. I have to get some fishing in.
What are your favorite places to play or shop or eat in Catawba County? Any particular haunts that you really love?
If we eat out, it’s always a local or regional place. We like a variety of stuff. One of my most favorite foods is pho. We have five or six restaurants that serve pho. We didn’t know that going online and doing research. I went two years in Texas without any pho, so when we found out there was pho here, I must’ve eaten two years’ worth in six months. It’s amazing to see the amount of people who support the local eateries. I mean, look at this coffee shop (Taste Full Beans in downtown Hickory). We had a coffee shop near us in Texas and it wasn’t nearly as busy.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about Catawba County?
The little things we talked about. The pho. That people here are pet people, animal people. The dog parks. You know, I hear a lot that there’s not much of a nightlife here. Well, my wife and I went out the other evening to Hickory Tavern up on 127 and there was a local band playing. That place was jam-packed. Next door, there was another band playing. There might not be any dance clubs or that kind of stuff, but in terms of a night scene, if you want to go and see some live music, drink, eat, you can do that here.
What does Making. Living. Better. in Catawba County mean to you?
I would say what we’re doing right now. ‘Making’ is all about making a good life here. Talking about the ‘Living’ part, that’s all the things Catawba County has to offer. My wife and I can tell that our dogs are happy here. They enjoy how much we can walk them here, and take them places to get socialized. And then ‘Better’, that really ties in with the ‘Living’ part. It was really evident during Christmas season. There were so many Christmas plays going on, starting right after Labor Day and all through the season there were festivals, events and more; all of which brings people together.
I also think about CVMC and how it compares to my past experience. The things they’re doing to not just advance healthcare but to truly put the patient at the center is phenomenal. Everybody from Eddie Beard, who just was promoted to CEO, all the way down to front line staff, everybody buys in. Everybody’s committed to the patient experience. Just in the six months that I’ve worked there, I‘ve seen it and experienced it. That’s definitely ‘Making. Living. Better.’ for us in Catawba County.
Is there anything else you’d like share about what you like about living here?
The people. The people are really, really friendly and generous. Outgoing and down to earth. You know, you do your research on political affiliation just to see how it’s been over the course of time and to see how you’re going to fit in. We found there’s perfect balance here. There seems to always be open dialogue. It’s good because in other places where we’ve lived, you can’t do that.
Interviewed January 10, 2018