As we move through life, our experience of dealing with adversity and trials tend to add to our faith that things will ultimately turn out well. We learn over time that the worry that led to sleepless nights as a teenager barely generate a raised eyebrow later in life. But leaving a steady job to start a business can cause considerable angst regardless of age. Cody Hamm recently made that step with confidence and isn’t looking back.
Cody is an Alleghany County native who grew up in the Whitehead/Pine Swamp community. He graduated from Alleghany High in 2011 and moved on to the Alleghany Center of Wilkes Community College (WCC). He completed an associate’s degree in business administration at the Alleghany Center and he says with a certain sense of local pride that he, “Never set foot on the main campus of WCC.”
His work path wound from Lowes Food in Sparta to work as an accountant at Truline Truss and then at Pioneer Eclipse. While at Pioneer, local businessman DW Miles suggested that Cody consider opening an office supply business. Cody took the advice to heart and opened Alleghany Office Supply in Trojan Village.
The location of his business is perfect for Cody. It is a spot with established shopping traffic. His wife, Mackenzie, works with Blue Ridge Cardiology and can walk down to assist in the store on her lunch break or after her work day ends. Cody’s mom also helps out and covered the store while he was still at Pioneer Eclipse. But there came a moment when Cody had to decide if he was serious about owning a business or just flirting with the idea. On June 13, 2016 Cody took what he acknowledges as a scary step – he left the security of working for someone else for the unknowns of entrepreneurship.
At first glance, it would appear that Cody has stepped into an unwinnable situation. Office supplies are readily available online from a multitude of sources. Box stores carry shelves of supplies. A Virginia based company has customers in this area. When asked how he plans to succeed in an extremely competitive market, Cody says that his plan is to build trust with local businesses and organizations that he can deliver quality office supplies to their door at a price that is comparable to that found online. His hope is to capitalize on the desire to support local business and help grow the county’s economy.
His advice on starting a business? Don’t be afraid of that first step. He points out that many people have good ideas, but fear keeps them from putting those ideas to work. He is convinced that if this venture doesn’t work out, he will take the lessons learned and move on to the next challenge.
So the question that begs an answer is, “How does a 23 year-old who has lived his entire life n Alleghany County make this kind of life altering decision?
For Cody the answer is simple – he relies on his spiritual faith. He says with no hint of doubt that, “God won’t let me down.” This is not to say that he feels God is guaranteeing his financial and business success. No, Cody understands that all of his life experiences are preparing him for a higher calling.
Cody is currently the youth pastor at the Full Gospel Church of Sparta. His grandfather is the pastor there and his other grandfather is a Baptist minister. Cody’s long-term goal is to go into the ministry full-time. He views the office supply business as simply a vehicle to help make that goal a reality. Cody Hamm is a young man with plans for both immediate and eternal impact.
As he speaks and sings in area churches, Cody will continue to build his business. He is developing a website where he can sell products via the Internet. His current sales are roughly 25% in-house retail (store sales) and 75% customer accounts. He is making the rounds throughout the county, calling on potential customers pitching service and quality products to local businesses.
A common refrain in rural counties is that there are limited job opportunities for our youth. However, a look around Alleghany will expose numerous young men and women like Cody Hamm who are carving out a niche and creating opportunities for themselves. A question we have to consider is whether we will support their efforts.
Cody Hamm can be reached at 336-572-2592 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alleghany Office Supply is located at 665 South Main Street #15, Sparta, NC 28675