By Virginia Annable News-Topic, Lenoir, N.C.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Deborah Wilkie says that when she first got involved in the family business she didn't know how well she'd like the work, but as she got into it -- meeting customers, getting to know the staff and learning the details of the work -- she fell in love.
Deborah Wilkie's first memory of taking part in the family business was in high school, cleaning the floors and organizing paperwork.
From there, she worked her way through nearly every job at McMillon Electric Co. in Lenoir. She's been a salesperson, going door to door selling water heaters, she's done financial work, and she's supervised work sites. All in preparation for 2004, when she took ownership of the family business.
Wilkie's parents, Joe and Doris McMillon, opened the electrical and HVAC business in 1970, building their business up to serve the entire county, Wilkie said. Since then, the business has taken off, Wilkie said. With such high demand for electricians and building work recently, the company grew from 15 employees to 40 in a little over a year.
"Work is really good right now," Wilkie said.
When she first got involved in the family business Wilkie didn't know how well she'd like the work, but as she got into it -- meeting customers, getting to know the staff and learning the details of the work -- she fell in love.
"I love it," Wilkie said. "I didn't even know for sure if I'd like it as much as I do."
Wilkie has gone in a crawl space, traveled the county and gotten to know the men and women who do the nuts and bolts of the work.
"I love the people, they're like my family," Wilkie said.
The business has been involved in small projects like individual homes and small businesses to large industrial expansions and government projects, like the Lenoir Fire Department's new base.
Wilkie says what makes the business work is the company culture of supporting one another and working together.
"My guys are like my family," Wilkie said of her employees.
In the stone building tucked away off Clarks Chapel Road, Wilkie spends her days making the business go smoothly, and she also recently took over Wilkie Construction, only adding to her passion for construction work.
"I take pride in my work," Wilkie said.