ROSEBORO — Brand new signs aren’t the only thing taking root in town, as a solar industry is blooming and already providing jobs to residents in Roseboro and across Sampson County.
Roseboro dignitary Roland Hall addressed the town board about the industrial prospect at the top of its meeting earlier this week, noting that in mid-January, word started spreading that someone was buying Dorman Chevrolet.
“You know how rumors are, everyone wanted to know what is going on,” said Hall. “You couldn’t find out much, but later we learned that Horne Brothers bought Dorman and Mercer sold his part of the building and property and the thing started coming together.”
As a member of the Sampson County Economic Development Commission and longtime town leader involved in recruiting industrial prospects, Hall said many come with expecting tax breaks and incentives in return for their investment.
“This didn’t happen with Horne Brothers,” Hall remarked, noting the heavy machinery down N.C. 24 and crews already hard at work. “They have been very busy. They are bringing jobs to Roseboro. Twenty years ago, things began to get bad in Roseboro — a lot of plants closed and we haven’t recovered yet.”
Nick Hancock, operations manager for Horne Brothers Construction-Solar Division in Roseboro, offered details on the project and what it meant for the community. Hancock has worked for the company for several years, he said, but the Horne name is steeped in tradition.
“The name ‘Horne’ around the Stedman area is a well-known name,” Hancock noted. “We’re not some big out-of-state, out-of-town company that is going to come into your town and disrespect or mistreat anything you have in your town.”
Horne Brothers Construction Inc., family owned and operated for 60 years, offers a full line of turnkey services for both the wireless and solar industries. In 2012 HBC became a multi-industry contractor by expanding its focus to include the installation of commercial solar projects.
“We started two and half years ago with two employees,” said Hancock. “After one year, we saw a niche. We traveled this market all over the country. We went to California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland … we were all over the nation and we saw where the market was going with solar producing a lot of work for us.”
Those two employees ballooned to 60 within the first year.
That brought with it a fair share of growing pains. A lot of work and employees meant a lot of equipment, and it was just too much for the Fayetteville offices to handle, Hancock pointed out.
“We decided that we outgrew our outfit up in Fayetteville and we needed a place to fulfill our needs,” he attested, “and Roseboro was a perfect opportunity for us to have a good structure and a base home for where we’re starting.”
Currently, HBC employs 200 people in its Solar Division alone.
“And up until July, we have already surpassed the work we did in the past year,” Hancock said. “The high demand for work creates a high demand for people and a labor force. We go around to all these local towns in North Carolina just like Roseboro … and we’re bringing work and money. We’re helping not just that little town but the state in general.”
Since Horne Brothers moved to Roseboro in May, the company has already hired 10 people from the town. Within the surrounding area, including Salemburg, Autryville, Garland and other areas of Sampson, there have been another 15 people hired. Additionally, there are 30 from Stedman and over 40 from Fayetteville, Hancock noted.
“This is a good thing,” said Hancock. “There are a lot of rumors about solar, but this is a good thing that is really bringing jobs to your hometown.”
Commissioners praised Horne Brothers and shared their gratitude. Hancock said the company is still hiring.
“This is a family-based organization that has been built on morals and ethics. We’re just asking permission to come in your town, get involved and be committed to helping the community,” he commented. “We’re always looking for good help and good people.”
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.