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Two new business leaders inducted into Alliance Hall of Fame

View story at The News & Advance...The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance held its annual Business Hall of Fame Gala on Friday at The Virginian Hotel and honored two new inductees.

Megan Lucas, CEO of the Alliance, said these inductees have impacted business, industry and the community of the region in a substantial manner, either through their sustained superior accomplishments or through a specific and important achievement.

“The Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance strategically chose our organization’s tagline, ‘where creativity and commerce connect,’ to intentionally emphasize how powerful things can be when those two things come together,” she said. “To that end, the recognition tonight combines creativity with the inductees’ contributions to commerce.”

Luke Towles, chair of the Alliance, said this year’s inductees have spent their lives not only building their business but building their community.

“I hope that their stories will inspire others in this room,” he said.

Christine Kennedy, COO of the Alliance, said criteria include being a professional from large and small businesses who have made an outstanding contribution to the free enterprise system. The individual may be the founder or someone who contributed significantly to company development and may be active, retired or deceased. Civic and/or philanthropic activities are relevant but not the primary factor in selection. The volunteer selection committee seeks individuals representing ethnic diversity who have demonstrated exceptional business leadership within their community.

The laureates may or may not currently hold the position in which they achieved major success and for which they are being honored. Nominees must have resided in the Lynchburg metropolitan area during their contribution to the community, but do not need to currently reside there.

This year, the Alliance honored local attorney Arelia Langhorne and now deceased N.B. Handy founder, Nathan Handy.
Langhorne is a retired attorney who practiced law for 36 years, during which time she also served many organizations in the Lynchburg community. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University and attended the University of Virginia School of Law. Her legal career began as counsel with Babcock & Wilcox’s Naval Nuclear Fuel Division where she negotiated government contracts to manufacture fuel for the Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines and provided legal advice in regulatory compliance.

Her law practice was established in 1985 to serve ordinary people, small businesses, churches and non-profit groups. Langhorne served on the Virginia State Bar committee to review and rewrite the Code of Professional Responsibility. She was a substitute judge for the General District Court and the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. Her community service began as a member of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA and continued with her involvement with the Lynchburg Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, STEP with Links, the League of Women Voters of Lynchburg. She also was awarded the Lynchburg Mayor’s Service Award.

John Falcone, a friend and colleague of Langhorne, said she has been a path breaker and opened doors for both women and members of the Black community in her career.

“I attribute a great deal of her success, not only to her intelligence and determination, but to her extraordinary personal style with which she conducted business,” Falcone said. “She was a lawyer advocating zealously for her clients. But she conducted her advocacy without unnecessarily offending or demonizing her opponents. She conducted it with grace and dignity, which is very different from what we do often see today in business and politics. Her manor was genteel and understated but firm and effective.”

Handy started his career as an employee at E.D. Bell & Co., a branch of Jones Watts Hardware Co., and was associated with W.P. Clark Hardware firm.

Handy also worked with Virginia Nail and Iron Works and engaged in publishing at The Lynchburg Progress, which was absorbed by The News and The Daily Advance. Handy started and became President of N.B. Handy Co. on April 1, 1891, specializing in steel roofing, copper, solder, and accessories delivered to customers by horse and wagon.

After 38 years, Handy built the 65 10th Street building in Lynchburg to house the firm. After the boom succeeding World War II, the company added heating and air conditioning services. He later retired and N.B. Handy was placed under the stewardship of his grandson, James Christian, Jr. The company went into its fourth generation of family ownership.

Today, N.B. Handy has grown to 16 locations from Maryland to Florida and has become a leading distributor of metals, HVAC, commercial roofing, and machinery products.

Tom Mills, CFO for N.B. Handy, introduced Handy into the Hall of Fame saying he is one of thousands of employees who have benefited from the 131 years of the company.

“It really hit home to me that I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of this organization and to experience that melting pot of opportunity and business and being a part of the force in the community that N.B. Handy has,” he said.
Bruce Christian, Handy’s great grandson, said all N.B. Handy employees are considered family.

“There’s some of us who share blood with N.B. Handy, however I discount that in terms of all the people who are in this organization and have worked at N.B. Handy and are legacies of his vision....