Laker Magazine this year is celebrating several businesses that have served the Smith Mountain Lake community since its very early years. Part 1 (in July/August issue, available online at www.smithmountainlaker.com) profiled Brownie's Auto Parts, Diamond Hill General Store and Lakeside Marine. Here we look at three more area businesses that have survived the test of time.
Capps Home Improvement Center
Capps, arguably the area's primo get-what-you-need-for-your-lake-property place, began in 1978 when Dave Cappellari, then 23 and a newly minted civil engineer from Ohio University, decided that running a building supply store was what he really wanted to do. Dave's dad was closing the family coal business in Summerville, West Virginia, and just such a store, located near the railroad tracks in downtown Moneta, came up for sale shortly after the original owners passed away in quick succession. Dave, along with his dad and a minority partner, decided to purchase Moneta Building Supply.
“It was just a shed out back of where the Lake Christian Ministries building now stands,” Dave recalls. “There was no running water; we had to go across the street when we needed a bathroom.”
The business took hold and a new building was built to house it in 1981. Sixteen years later, the Cappellaris donated that stucture to LCM when they finished acquisition of all MBS assets, moved their operation to its current Westlake location, and renamed it Capps.
Since then, the business has blossomed — “six or seven additions to the Westlake store and, recently, a new showroom on Electric Road in Roanoke to better serve customers from there, Lynchburg and Blacksburg,” Dave Cappellari said. “I could never have dreamed how the businesses would grow,” he added, citing imminent plans for construction out back at Westlake to stage inventory and better handle truckload deliveries to professional builder job sites. “About 80% of our businesses comes from contractors, though the general public thinks of us mostly as a retail store.”
And how has Capps grown to employ more than 70 loyal workers? “From day one we recognized our success would depend on support from employees, customers and the community at large. That hasn't changed for 43 years. We try to pour back into the community and treat employees like family.”
Cindy Cappellari, a management partner and co-owner from what she terms “the gamble” they took by expanding into the Westake property back in ’97, gives an example of that employee connection: “We recently attended the wedding of a daughter of one of our early team members. We've watched Sara grow and mature from early childhood. She worked in the store summers during high school; her dad's been with us over 30 years. It felt like like going to a relative's wedding.”
Moneta Farm and Home Center
The original Moneta Farm Service opened as a retail store in 1973 on property that had been home to a family poultry business for 50 years. Samuel (Pete) and Lula May Woodford had started the poultry operation with the help of a World War I veteran’s program. Calvin Woodford, the third of four sons, returned to the family business in 1950 after serving in World War II and earning a degree in poultry husbandry at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, better known today as Virginia Tech. In 1965, after Samuel’s death, Calvin purchased his younger brother Warren’s interest in the business and guided it to a production peak of 12,000 dozen eggs per week in the late 1970s. Calvin and his wife Macklyn raised five children (Patricia, Jim, Kathie, Stuart and Mark) and they all participated in the growth of the family business.
But poultry farming was becoming less profitable and, in 1973, Calvin took the opportunity to open a Southern States store which he named Moneta Farm Service to reflect its principal product lines: feed, seed and fertilizer. Son Jim’s return to the business in 1978 brought a mechanical interest to the operation that has evolved into a Power Equipment Department that, to this day, offers top quality equipment at competitive prices plus a parts and service department to keep the machinery humming.
Stuart returned to the family business in 1982 after graduating from East Tennessee State University with a degree in business management. He has overseen the growth of many of the other departments, including hardware, lawn and garden, construction materials and marine. Stuart’s wife Teresa works in the office and nephew Clifford now manages the power equipment arm. Calvin passed away in 2018, but his legacy lives on.
In response to the growth of the Smith Mountain Lake area population and its unique lifestyles and needs, Moneta Farm Service was renamed Moneta Farm & Home Center in 2008 to help customers recognize the variety of products being stocked. Then, in 2017, the business became associated with Ace, which provided access to thousands of additional products plus large-company buying power to help keep prices down.
According to current owners Stuart and James Woodford, “Moneta Farm & Home Center prides itself in being a family business with a quality and customer-focused operating philosophy that we intend to follow as we adapt to the future needs of the SML community.”
Crawford Excavating and Water Hauling
Crawford Excavating was one of the lake's early site preparation businesses. It began in 1970 when V.T (Slim) Crawford, then a mechanic/engine builder for Mack Trucks in Roanoke, started covering over septic installations for C.T. Jamison, who was serving early lake property owners set on having indoor plumbing during their weekend getaways.
Slim met his wife-to-be Jane Hovack at a restaurant in Hollins, and they married in 1961. Jane was a career educator, retiring in 1991 after 27 years teaching health, physical education and driver training at Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount. Along the way, the couple began frequenting Nelson Jones' lakefront campground off Dudley Amos Road. By 1968 they decided the lake was the place to live and purchased a 10-acre plot off of Bluewater Drive in Franklin County. That property has been their home and business location ever since.
Crawford Excavating has done road and lot preparation at nearly 50 lake-area subdivisions since Slim landed the contract for excavating Bernard's Landing — a three-year undertaking — in 1981. Most recently, their heavy equipment and operators adapted the topography at Kennedy Shores in Southside, fronting Bull Run, followed by Lakeview Estates off Burnt Chimney Road. Slim passed in 2019; now the business is being managed by Jane — who has handled the books, taxes and other administrative chores during and after her teacher time — and vice president Chad Dudley. Their fleet of equipment includes over 25 trucks, dozers, trailers and tracked excavators, plus tankers for hauling water to fill swimming pools and spas. At one time the business had 13 employees; there are eight at present.
Both Slim and Jane have also served the community long term as first responders. In 1975, they founded Scruggs Fire and Rescue as a lake-based adjunct to Burt Chimney Fire Company. Slim served as chierf until his death in 2019 — an incredible 41 years at the helm. Jane continues volunteering as captain of the Scruggs Fire Company and remains very active with training as well as fire and accident response.