Biz Briefs 1/14/18

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 14, 2018

Ward Black Law ranked among nation’s Best Law Firms for 2018

GREENSBORO — Greensboro law firm Ward Black Law has been named to U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Law Firms” for 2018.

This is the ninth consecutive year that Ward Black Law has been selected.

“Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of peer evaluations and reviews from leading attorneys in their field, as well as client evaluations.

“It means a great deal to our staff to once again be selected as a Best Law Firm for 2018,” says Janet Ward Black. “We work hard to give our clients the attention they deserve and be a powerful voice for them.”

In addition, Ward Black Law recently announced that three attorneys from its law firm earned the distinction of being named by U.S. News & World Report to “Best Lawyers in America” in 2018.

Janet Ward Black, Nancy R. Meyers, and Afi Johnson-Parris were recognized by their peers for their commitment to adding value to lives of clients, for innovation, creativity, dedication and perseverance in their respective areas of practice.

Janet Ward Black is the founder of Ward Black Law. Black served as the third woman president of the North Carolina Association of Trial Lawyers and the fourth woman president of the North Carolina Bar Association. She is only the second lawyer in history to serve as president of both organizations.

Black has also earned the distinction of being named to “Best Lawyers in America” listing for ten consecutive years.

With 38 lawyers and staff, Ward Black Law is one of the largest woman-owned firms in North Carolina.

The firm represents people in accident injury, workers’ compensation, defective products, family law, veterans disability, and other matters.

To learn more, visit

For selection criteria, see

Panera Bread donates more than $10,000 to NC Disabled America Veterans

NORTH CAROLINA – Panera Bread’s largest franchisee, Covelli Enterprises, presented a check for $10,795.20 to the North Carolina Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Jan. 10.

NSO Assistant Supervisor Kimberlee Aviles, N.C. Department Adjutant Jeremy Roberts and N.C. Department Commander Kristofer Knowlton accepted the check on behalf of the department.

The donation will go to helping disabled veterans in the areas the contributions were made in central and western North Carolina.

The funds were raised during the month of November as part of the company’s observance of Veterans Day. Customers were able to contribute to the DAV by rolling up their order totals for the entire month at 15 Panera Bread locations, including Salisbury, through the company’s Change Roll-Up program.

The company has made it an annual tradition to honor all veterans and military service members with free You-Pick-Two meals at its participating bakery-cafés and has exceeded $1 million in food and monetary donations since 2011.

“Although it’s important to us to honor our veterans and military every day, this is a uniquely special opportunity for us and for each of our communities to say thank you,” said Sam Covelli, owner and operator of Covelli Enterprises. “This is our chance to give something small back to those who have given so much and sacrificed so greatly for us and for our freedom.”

Lee Street theatre has new technical director

SALISBURY —Lee Street theatre has welcomed a new technical director, Rod Odenas. He will carry out the rest of Season 10 and build future seasons.

Oden joins the company after former Technical Director Chris Speer stepped down in December after five years of service to the company.

Oden departed from his position as production manager and technical director of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society in New Orleans, La., to join the Lee Street theatre family. He brings his wife, Raquel, and four sons — Tristan, Lucas, Jamie and Sylar — with him on this new adventure.

Artistic Director Craig Kolkebeck said that he is proud to see Lee Street theatre moving forward with Rod Oden and has high hopes for the future.

“The impact of losing Chris Speer as our technical director certainly has been felt these last couple of months.  Chris had a work ethic that’s difficult to find — particularly in the theater. I believe we have found the same dedication with Rod. He’s got a tremendous amount of design experience as well as construction, has worked with volunteers and created educational programs for young people in the area of technical theater and stage management. He’s a perfect fit to the team,” Kolkebeck said.

For more than 18 years, Oden has been bringing stories and stages to life with his professional and impactive design.

Oden has designed for theaters from Los Angeles to New Orleans. He enjoys working alongside community members, volunteers and students to help grow and create professional experiences in the theater.

Previously, he worked as the technical director of the Actors Guild of Parkersburg in Parkersburg, W.Va. 

He has worked with countless community theaters, educational organizations and professional troupes to produce quality, high-end productions audiences have enjoyed watching.

Uwharrie Bank names Brendan Duffey as chief executive officer

ALBEMARLE — Roger Dick, president and chief executive officer of Uwharrie Capital Corp — the parent company of Uwharrie Bank — announced that Brendan Duffey has been named the bank’s chief executive officer in addition to his title of president of Uwharrie Bank.

Duffey also serves as chief operating officer and chief risk officer of Uwharrie Capital Corp.

Duffey joined Uwharrie Capital Corp in 2004 as chief operating officer, overseeing the three banks the company owned and all support areas of the banks and holding company. Those banks were Bank of Stanly, Anson Bank & Trust and Cabarrus Bank & Trust.

In 2013, the three bank charters were consolidated under the one name of Uwharrie Bank and Duffey was appointed president of that bank.

Prior to joining Uwharrie, Duffey was vice president and U.S. general manager of a multinational high tech company.

His banking experience includes 10 years as the managing general partner of a U.S. bank consulting firm and 20 years in various executive banking roles in Florida and Texas.

Dick, who will continue in his role as president and chief executive officer of Uwharrie Capital Corp, recommended Duffey’s chief executive officer appointment to the board of directors at the December 2017 board meeting.

The recommendation was made in recognition of Duffey’s efforts in successfully improving the bank’s overall performance for the past 14 years.

As the company expands its operations through rapidly evolving technology and enters new markets, the new alignment and reporting structure allows the company to operate more efficiently.

Retired partner attends holiday gathering of DHG

WINSTON-SALEM — As a retired partner, Charlie Sowers and his wife, Beth, recently attended the DHG, LLC Christmas party.

The event, attended by the Winston-Salem and High Point offices, was held at Nobles Grille in Winston-Salem.

Sowers merged his CPA practice in Salisbury with what was then Dixon, Hauser & Odom CPAs in 1969.

This became the third office of the firm and Sowers was the managing partner in the office and served on the firm’s executive committee.

With the passage of time and after many mergers, DHG is now the largest certified public accounting firm headquartered in the southern U.S. and is the 17th largest in the United States.

It employs more than 2,000 people in 13 states.

Charlie and Beth live in Salisbury, where Charlie is a financial advisor and founding partner with Arco Capital Partners, which is affiliated with Raymond James.