BUSINESS JOURNAL: 10 Under 40

Posted: November 26, 2013

Throughout October, we asked members of the community to nominate up-and-coming business people for this year's 10 Under 40 list. There was quite a response! 

After whittling the list down to just 10 names, we present the winners.

There are many wonderfully talented young professionals in different industries throughout the Valley. If you don’t see your candidate on the list, please resubmit their name next year.

Congratulations to all of the winners for 2013! The 10 winners follow, in alphabetical order.

DARYL BERT

Age: 38

Daryl Bert, vice president of finance at Eastern Mennonite University, says he’s looking toward a bright future for the university that means a great deal to him. Not only is EMU his source of employment, it’s also his alma mater.

Bert graduated from EMU in 1997 with a degree in accounting, after moving to the area from his hometown of Lancaster, Pa. He worked at a local public accounting firm before relocating to Austin, Texas, in 2000 to complete an MBA at the University of Texas.

He remained in the south, working for Dell Inc. in a variety of financial capacities during his eight years with the Texas-based company.

“A lot of my time there was providing financial support one way, shape or form in the product development area,” Bert explained.

He added that he helped oversee products from “concept to delivery in the marketplace,” as well as providing financial support for companies seeking to invest and grow — among other duties.

Bert said this time working for a large company was rewarding.

“I am somebody who really has an appreciation for technology,” he said. “It’s always been an interest of mine, so I found that really rewarding, to be close to technology and ... the next thing that’s going to be released.”

But wanting to be closer to family and a sense of pride in his alma mater brought him back to Harrisonburg in 2010. The former vice president of finance was retiring, and the university was seeking a replacement.

EMU President Loren Swartzendruber contacted Bert, asking if he would be interested in the position.  He applied and went through the interview process, and, as Bert says, “the rest is history.”

Now in his fourth year, he said he’s enjoying his job, adding that he’s “encouraged” by EMU’s direction and being a part of the growth of such a valued institution.

“I get a lot of energy out of thinking ... about our strategic plan, how we implement [it], how we prioritize the investments we need to make to help grow some of our programs or launch new programs.”

Bert said he enjoys being back on his old stomping grounds and living in the Harrisonburg area with his wife, Carrie, and their children, Evan, 9, Davis, 7, and Maren, 4.

He recently joined the board of The United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, seeking additional community involvement in an area he’s found so rewarding.

— By Sarah Stacy



DWIGHT BURACKER

Age: 37


Harrisonburg native Dwight Buracker says he depends on his hometown’s local businesses, as they play a big role in his daily affairs as manager at PBMares.

“Without the small businesses, the community wouldn’t be what it is,” said the young executive at the regional accounting and business consulting firm. “A lot of these individuals who own the small businesses we help also help give back to the community. We’re all supporting one another.”

After graduating from Harrisonburg High School in 1994, Buracker studied accounting and finance at Ferrum College, located about two hours south of the Friendly City. After his time at Ferrum, Buracker landed in Charlotte, N.C., before moving back to Harrisonburg in 2001.

The following January, Buracker started his current firm, where he has since been an active member of the company’s niche team. He and his team of professionals provide tax and assurance services for small businesses that accumulate approximately $500,000 to $50 million in revenue annually.

“I’ve helped build a practice here to help small businesses plan and succeed,” he said. “There’s a lot of partners [who] have done great things in our Harrisonburg office — [I’m] just trying to continue on [that] legacy”

Since he started the firm, he has become a certified public accountant, and, recently, a certified valuation analyst, certifications that say Buracker has satisfied business valuation standards of professionalism, expertise, objectivity and integrity.

Sticking to his commitment to the community, Buracker has worked with local charities, specifically with Mercy House, a Harrisonburg shelter.

“We’ve done numerous projects,” he said of having worked with the local nonprofit. “We helped do some refurbishing to the apartments there, provided gifts for the kids around Christmastime and served meals there in the evening a couple times throughout the past several years.”

Though he is busy year-round on the PBMares front, Buracker finds time for his family as both a husband and father. He and his wife of nearly a decade, Allycin, are parents of twins, Tyler and Mia, who turned 3 in November.
Buracker admits that, at times, it can be difficult balancing his life as a businessman, family man and humanitarian, but he insists he loves the act.

“Since I’ve had my kids, the last three years [of my life have been] just like a whirlwind,” he said. “Whenever time permits, I try to give back whatever I can. I believe if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you.”

— By Therran M. Dennis

JOSHUA DOVE

Age: 31


Growing up in a musical family, Joshua Dove knew he wanted to take over his grandfather’s business. Dove got his start helping his grandfather, Carroll Motsinger, spending days sweeping and dusting pianos at Whitesel Music.

“From a very young age, I had a natural interest in the business,” Dove said.

But it wasn’t just the musical aspect that allowed Dove to envision his future position as owner, but also witnessing how purchasing a musical instrument positively affected families.

Dove graduated from Bridgewater College in 2004 with a degree in communication studies, a major he chose to gain the tools that would help him run the business his grandfather had purchased from the original owner, after whom it is named.

Since taking over six years ago, Dove has expanded Whitesel Music, making it a retail and service company for all acoustic and digital pianos, as well as electronic and pipe organs.

Dove began the Whitesel Music Academy and added both a workshop and concert series, forming stronger connections with the community that he says has been important to owners of the Harrisonburg business since its founding in 1948.

Those customers have helped make this a record fall for Whitesel Music.

“We beat every record we’ve had in at least the last 20 years,” Dove said. “It’s been a very successful and good year for [the company, and] the business is continuing to grow.”

This progress has been possible due in part to Dove’s vision for the company, which he’s hoping to achieve through a partnership with Jordan Kitt’s Music, a Washington, D.C.-based company, and an expansion of the services Whitesel Music offers.

The company recently moved locations to accommodate the expansion, but Dove says he feels responsible for protecting the Whitesel name, and ensuring that the company remains a downtown business.

Dove is proud to still be making a difference, and says knowing that more than 1,000  churches across the mid-Atlantic are playing organs and pianos purchased from Whitesel Music proves the company is doing so.

“We’re affecting hundreds of thousands who are sitting in the pews …  and that’s why we do what we do,” he said.

Dove remembers his grandfather saying that their family was chosen to serve in the music ministry and he is proud to remain dedicated in that duty.

— By Sarah Stacy

KEMPER FUNKHOUSER

Age: 33


Real estate has been a part of Kemper Funkhouser’s life ever since he can remember.

“People ask me, ‘How long have you been in the business?’” stated the 33-year-old chief operating officer at Funkhouser Real Estate Group in Harrisonburg. “I remember real estate discussions at the dinner table as a child. So, I kind have been in the business all my life.”

A Harrisonburg native, Funkhouser graduated from Harrisonburg High School in 1998, where he was involved with the school’s student government, as well as a member of the golf team.

His post-graduation goal was to combine his desire to study business and his love of golf at an accredited institution; James Madison University proved a winning combination. Funkhouser earned a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2002 and a master’s in business administration in 2010.

During his freshman year at JMU, Funkhouser joined the Funkhouser Group — a firm that his father, Joe, started in 1972 — where he’s been since. Funkhouser earned his license to conduct real estate transactions in 2003, and worked his way up the group’s ladder from residential sales associate, to director of marketing, to the helm, a post he’s held for the past three years.

As COO, Funkhouser manages the firm’s daily operations, and examines contractual transactions. Additionally, he focuses on keeping associates up-to-date with business practices, instilling his knowledge of the profession.

“I’m a strong believer in making sure the people in our industry are acting in professional ways,” he said. “This year is the 100th anniversary of the Realtor Code of Ethics, one of the longest standing codes of ethics that’s out there.
“I’ve had the opportunity to chair the National Association of Realtors Professional Standards Committee, which has been an interesting experience for me. As the committee chair, I oversee the interpretation the code of ethics. That’s something I’m proud of.”

In addition to his responsibilities as a professional, Funkhouser spends his time in education, teaching real estate at his alma mater. His class targets senior finance majors interested in real estate and finance careers.

“I think education is important to the advancement of our community,” he said. “[It] is such a major aspect of what we do.”

Funkhouser is also involved with the Harrisonburg Education Foundation, an organization that supports the financial needs of Harrisonburg City Public Schools. He remains involved with his alma mater not only as a lecturer, but also as a leader.

“The relationship between James Madison University and the City of Harrisonburg/ Rockingham County is very important,” he said. “Most recently, I’ve worked on the Madison Future Committee. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to step in and give a voice [as an] alum, and as a lifelong member of the Harrisonburg community.”

— By Therran M. Dennis

NICK LANGRIDGE

Age: 35


Turning his tassel didn’t dampen Nick Langridge’s purple pride. After graduating from James Madison University in 2000, he’s remained a true supporter of his alma mater.

Langridge earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication, and decided to stay at JMU to work as a fundraiser for athletics, despite having five other higher-paying job offers.

“I [didn’t] have much money to give back to JMU for the great experience I had, but I [had] a lot of passion,” he explained, “So, I thought I would give back a couple of years before I moved on with my career.”

After more than a decade and an MBA from JMU, Langridge is still serving the university, now as vice president of University Advancement. There, he works closely with a team, as well as donors, who envisage and implement university development and growth.

“We get to envision what that future will look like, and make room and invite donors in to be the difference,” he explained, adding that after seven years in the athletic department holding numerous positions, including director of the Duke Club, he found that he “loved the field of philanthropy and loved having conversations about generosity.”

Before his current role, Langridge served as the assistant to former JMU President Linwood Rose, and says individuals such as the former university president greatly influence his work today.

“I’ve been blessed to be mentored by great leaders ... who have allowed me to be a part of [JMU’s] growth and be a part of achieving new levels of quality,” Langridge said.

Although Langridge has seen his alma mater grow in size, he says his job is not just about numbers but “smarter ways of doing things.”

Langridge, the son of a U.S. Army colonel, moved around during his youth. But after 14 years in the Friendly City, he said Harrisonburg feels like home.

He says it’s also been a rewarding community for him and his wife, Jill, to raise their three children, Camden, 6, Parker, 4, and Elisabeth, 1.

He strives to give back to the area, serving on the boards of the United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Greater Madison and the JMU Foundation Inc. He is also a 2009 graduate of Lead Virginia, a nonprofit organization that aims to teach leaders about regional differences, opportunities and challenges across the commonwealth.

Additionally, he’s pursuing a doctoral degree in the Strategic Leadership Doctor of Philosophy program at JMU.

Langridge says he sees a bright future for the university, and is proud to be a part of its development.

— By Sarah Stacy

ABBY LONG

Age: 28


Abby Long, owner of Blakemore’s Flowers, says she can’t believe the shop has played such a significant role in her life.

“It’s been wonderful,” said the young entrepreneur. “Blakemore’s was [once] the premier shop; I really felt confident I could restore it back to being the best shop in the area. I know flowers, and I know how to treat customers.”

Long revived Blakemore’s, at 4080 Evelyn Byrd Ave., Harrisonburg, when she took control of business operations in June 2012. Before her stint as owner, she was a floral designer at three area shops for eight years.

When the previous owner decided she wanted to spend more time with her family, Long took over the shop. With Long at the helm, Valentine’s Day sales tripled those of last years.

Blakemore’s was recently named “Best Flower Shop in the Valley” by readers of the Daily News-Record and Rocktown Weekly, an award that Long says said is “awesome and such a huge honor.”

“I sometimes can’t believe it’s my life,” she said.

Blessed as she may feel, it took Long awhile to find her purpose. She attended both Radford University and Blue Ridge Community College, studying whatever piqued her interest at the time, whether it was fashion design or psychology. She says she never thought Harrisonburg would be where she’d settle, but now, Long couldn’t be any happier.

“I really love Harrisonburg; it’s a great town,” she said.

Since she’s been here, Long has become active with the community: she hosts Holiday Evergreen Workshops at the James Madison University Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, where she helps people make holiday decorations.

“Last year was my first year; they asked me to do it again this year,” she said. “I’m really excited to do it again. Usually 20 to 30 people show up; I provide the materials.”

As for the success of her shop, Long believes the future can only get better.

— By Therran M. Dennis

ZACHARY NAFZINGER

Age: 37


Zachary Nafziger, owner of and sole craftsman at ZN Stained Glass, is the first to admit business may not be his strongest suit.

But the clients who nominated him for the 10 Under 40 and invest in his works, which includes the entrance to Eastern Mennonite High School — an 18½-foot piece featuring a starry night version of Midtowne Market’s logo — and glasswork for at least two dozen private establishments in the downtown Harrisonburg area, disagree.

Nafziger has more than 1,400 followers on Facebook, and he’s only been in business for eight months.

“I claim to not be a good businessman, but I’ve come up with sort of a price structure that’s extremely reasonable for one-of-a-kind regional art,” said the artisan who came to Harrisonburg by way of Morris, Minn. “It was shocking to see my Facebook page — suddenly everyone’s like, ‘Hey, you’re really good.’”

Nafziger’s success, however, did not come overnight.

After he graduated from EMHS in 1994, Nafziger followed his passion for art to the Savannah College of Art in Savannah, Ga. He remained in the port city for the next two years, before taking time to travel.

After that point, Nafziger decided he wanted focus in his life: He moved back to Harrisonburg, enrolled in and graduated from Eastern Mennonite University’s art program in 2002, and found stability as a photographer with Rosetta Stone.

“It was my first real and only job ever,” he said.

Nafziger held that position until Rosetta began cutting payroll and, eventually, employees. His layoff was a trying moment.

“I sat around for about three or four days, feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “It was weird to get dumped by something I was so connected to for 12 years. I watched the company grow and take over the entire language-learning world.”

Throughout his tenure with Rosetta Stone, Nafziger made glass part time and, at the urging of a fellow local artist, moved his home studio to The Gladys Burke Studio in Larkin Arts on Court Square, where others would have access to his works.

He signed a year lease in March and business has increased since.

“At this point, word-of-mouth has helped me so much,” he said. “People aren’t just looking for any glass; they’re looking specifically for me. When I’m meeting clients, I’m not selling something that already exists — I’m selling myself and what I can do for them.

“I want whatever I make for them to be permanent.”

— By Therran M. Dennis

JENNIFER RISSER

Age: 35


When Jennifer Risser talks about her position as the managing editor of The Journal of ERW and Mine Action at the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, it’s clear she loves her job.

She’s proud to be part of the staff at CISR, “a grant-funded center founded at [James Madison University] in 1996, which works around the world to help communities affected by conflict and trauma through innovative research, training, information exchange and direct services,” according to a press release.

Risser, a Valley local, graduated from James Madison in 2000 with a bachelor’s in English.

In 2004, she earned her master’s in publishing studies from City University in London, before returning to the United States to serve as the assistant to the vice president of merchandising for Barnes & Noble Inc. This led to a position at Penguin Group, where she worked as an editorial assistant for two years.

Although she says book publishing was her “dream job,” Risser found the “competitive, cutthroat business” and the fast-paced city life unfulfilling, and decided to return to her hometown.

She returned to the Friendly City in 2009 to serve as assistant editor for The Journal of ERW and Mine Action, which is the longest continuous source of information on explosive remnants of war and mine action in the world.

Though Risser says she knew nothing about the field before working at CISR, her experience with the nonprofit has altered her perspective regarding the issue of land mines, as well as other repercussions of war and disaster.

“I think because it doesn’t generally happen on our soil, we are not aware of what a big deal it is,” she said. “[Land mines are] a huge issue; people lose lives, lose limbs ... these things are happening.”

In 2011, Risser had to take a leave of absence from her position when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As an individual with cartilage-hair hypoplasia, Risser has an increased risk of developing cancers, particularly skin cancers, leukemia and lymphoma.

She spent six months in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy before continuing her treatment at home. But within a year, Risser was back at work.

Upon her return, she was named managing editor of The Journal of ERW and Mine Action, where she oversees students hired as editorial assistants.

“I love working with the JMU students; it’s probably my favorite part of the job,” Risser said of the group she refers to as her “students.”

She also values the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and supportive staff at CISR.

Outside work, Risser participates with First Descents, a program that takes cancer survivors on outdoor adventures, and is a longtime member of Little People of America.

— By Sarah Stacy

ADAM SHIFFLETT

Age: 31


Adam Shifflett, the eldest of three sibling owners of Three Brothers Brewing, spent more than a decade working in numerous cities before returning to his hometown to open the ’Burg’s sole brewery.

The Valley local briefly attended Virginia Tech before joining the Navy after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, serving as an electrician on submarines. He finished college at North Carolina State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2007.

Just before his return to the Valley, Shifflett worked as an engineer in Norfolk, where he had the opportunity to help at a brewery — trading his engineering skills for knowledge of how the brewing equipment worked.

Feeling as though his experiences had prepared him for the next adventure, Shifflett signed his release papers from the Navy in September 2012 after serving 11 years.

He said that after years of discussing ideas and finally arriving on a plan, he and his brothers, Jason and Tyler, were ready to open their production brewery and began construction at the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on North Main Street in October 2012.

The first batch brewed in December 2012 and a public tasting room followed in May 2013.

Though the name Three Brothers Brewing seems fitting, it was agreed upon only after much consideration: The siblings realized it was their teamwork that led to the formation of the business.

But for the three brothers, the idea of family extends beyond sharing the same last name.

“We really want to make a lot of what we focus on this area ... [and] try to extend that idea of family to community,” Adam Shifflett said of the brewery.

Three Brothers has worked to create relationships within Harrisonburg, partnering with local restaurants and businesses.

But the business also focuses on producing quality microbrews.

After less than a year of brewing, Three Brothers already has won numerous awards. The company’s double IPA, The Admiral, won Best in State at the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival, and the Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout came away with a medal, as well.


The brewery also received national recognition, gaining an award for the Rum Barrel Aged Belgian Dubbel at the Great American Beer Festival.

Overall, Shifflett says being back in his hometown with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Gabriel, 7, and Olivia, 4, has been rewarding and he’s looking forward to the future of Three Brothers Brewing.

— By Sarah Stacy

DR. MARIA WHITMORE

Age: 34


Though she shoulders responsibility for half the practice at Mountain View Psychology, Dr. Maria Whitmore devotes her time to helping others — especially children.

“I love working with people, and I’ve always wanted to work with kids in particular,” said the clinical psychologist, who specializes in children’s anxiety and behavioral disorders.

“I think, with kids, there’s so much potential. If we can catch these things early in a kid, something like anxiety or depression, we can teach them the skills they need that can impact their whole life from there on,” she continued.

Whitmore graduated from Turner Ashby High School in 1997. She then enrolled in the University of Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2001 and worked as a research assistant for the following two years.

Hoping to continue her studies, Whitmore attended graduate school at Virginia Tech, earning a doctorate in 2009. While in graduate school, she interned at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, before serving as a research scientist for three years at Virginia Tech.

For her research, Whitmore examined childhood phobias and oppositional behavior.

She returned to the area about 18 months ago, and began her practice at Common Law Psychological Services. After the owner retired, Whitmore, along with fellow clinician Rowland Shank Jr., opened Mountain View last December.

“We primarily do individual therapy, adults and children,” she said. “We also do assessments, as well, for things like ADHD, and educational issues, as well as pre-employment assessments and pre-surgery evaluations for the hospital.”

Whitmore says she’s sees nearly 45 patients a week. However, she makes time to be an active member of the community, dedicating time especially to her church.

“I’m involved in children’s ministry there, so I work with kids there, as well,” she said.

Whitmore says Mountain View has been growing rapidly since the building first opened, which she calls “fantastic” and “exciting.” She says she and Shank are planning to add another full-time clinician, as well as hire additional staff.

— By Therran M. Dennis




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