During the year of Zaxby’s 30th anniversary, Oconee resident and Zaxby’s co-founder Tony Townley is stepping away to focus on family, according to a company spokesperson.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported last week that Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division will use private capital to buy a significant stake in Watkinsville-based Zaxby’s Operating Company LP and its subsidiaries.

Co-founder Zach McLeroy will continue to serve as CEO.

“He will retain a significant portion of the company, because he knows the growth potential is strong,” stated a company spokesperson. 

“This partnership [with Goldman Sachs] symbolizes the strength of our company, and their involvement will accelerate our growth and expansion into a national brand,” McLeroysaid, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Zaxby’s currently operates more than 900 restaurants in 17 states.

When asked about the financial details of the Goldman Sachs deal, the spokesperson decline to give The Oconee Enterprise said that it was proprietary information.


Local business turns 50

American Pest Control is ringing in its 50th anniversary. Founded in 1971 by Oconee Native Gene Higginbotham, American Pest Control will hold a number of fundraisers, service projects and giveaways next year. For more information about a 50-day long charity campaign, visit operation50-50.com.

The Gene Higginbotham Memorial Scholarship will celebrate the founding year by awarding students across the company’s broad service areas with $1,971 scholarships.

Higginbotham died in 2015 after a battle with cancer. His children, Laurie and Scott Higginbotham, continue to operate the company with the same values he instilled in them.

A great testament to the family-oriented culture of the business is the longevity of its employees. For example, Kathy Hollin and Doug Craft joined soon after Gene Higginbotham opened the company’s doors.


Locals appointed

Gov. Brian Kemp has appointed the following Oconee County residents and business owners to the following boards:

n Kevin Price, president of Kevin Price Construction, has been named to State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors. He earned a master’s degree from Auburn University in 2018, and he is a 1977 graduate of the University of West Georgia. He and his wife, Karen, reside in Watkinsville, and they have two adult children. Price is also on the Chamber board.  

n Amy Washinger Arnold, a Watkinsville speech-language pathologist, has been named to the State Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. After receiving her master’s degree in Communications Disorders from Auburn University, she served skilled-care facilities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, homes and schools.

n Tom Lord, owner of Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, has been named to the State Board of Cemeteries.

He graduated from the Gupton Jones College of Funeral Service in 1977. Lord and his wife live in Watkinsville, and they have five adult children.


ESP raffles off SUV

Extra Special People is partnering with Big Hearts’ presenting sponsor, Bulldog Kia, to raffle a 2021 Telluride S.

Raffle tickets  are being sold for $100 each, and only 2,500 are available for purchase. Proceeds help children attend summer camp. The winner of the raffle will be announced the day of Big Hearts on Feb. 13. For more information, visit espfanclub.org/bighearts 

“Our families of children with disabilities have increasingly faced financial hardships this year,” said ESP Executive Director Laura Whitaker. “We anticipate seeing our families needing additional family support for the foreseeable future.”


Virtual workshops offered

As the coronavirus pandemic limits gatherings, people have to find other ways of celebrating the season.

One new tradition launched this past week involves a series of video conferences initiated by Bogart resident Jenna Burt-Weeks, a financial advisor with Raymond James.

This coming Sunday, Sarah Lutte, who co-owns Lazy Acres Farm in Farmingdale, Maine, will show how to make a special wreath via a virtual platform.

On Dec. 28, Cocktail Concoctions from The National, in Athens, will demonstrate different beverages to serve to celebrate the new year. Both programs are free. To RSVP, email Burt-Weeks at Jenna.Burt-Weeks@RaymondJames.com.


Government helps business

The Georgia Department of Economic Development has been awarded a grant of more than $162,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to bolster export assistance to small businesses. These funds will officially launch the International Trade division’s “Go Global Georgia” initiative to help small business exporters in the state stretch their international marketing budgets and develop global markets. Eligibility guidelines can be found at georgia.org/go-global-ga.


For more on this story, see the Nov. 25 edition of The Oconee Enterprise, on sale now at convenience stores and grocery stores and newspaper boxes throughout Oconee County. To subscribe, call (706) 769-5175 or visit the tab on our website. 

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