When Mike Weaver and his father, Herman, founded Greensboro-based Weaver Foundation 48 years ago, they took a “bootstrap approach.” The family’s construction and real-estate companies were succeeding enough that the Weavers wanted to give back. Unlike many family foundations, they didn’t start after an inheritance or large liquidity event. Instead, they put in $50,000 to start an endowment, with a plan of growing it over 10 years. “We thought if we get a $1 million endowment, that would be really something. We thought that would be nearly impossible,” Mike Weaver says.
Today, the endowment stands at about $25 million, and the foundation is among Greensboro’s most respected charities. Last year it paid $731,575 to organizations such as the United Way, Adult Center for Enrichment, Hospice of Greensboro and ArtsGreensboro. That was a 9% increase from the $671,475 paid a year earlier.
In June, the foundation pledged $1.25 million to help bring the national Say Yes to Education college-scholarship program to Guilford County. Youth development has been a major focus through the years for the foundation, which gives most of its money to organizations based in the Greensboro metro area. Most donations are much smaller, ranging from hundreds of dollars to $50,000. “Million-dollar grants are important and nice, but sometimes a $10,000 or $20,000 grant can be just [as] or more impactful,” Weaver Foundation President Kevin Gray says.
In recent years, the endowment has grown mostly through investment returns, Gray says. Weaver, who now focuses on real-estate investments, periodically makes personal contributions, and he also donates in conjunction with the foundation. “You really have to look at my father, myself and the foundation as sort of one,” Weaver says. Around 2000, the foundation helped rebuild the YMCA’s local children’s camp, now known as Camp Weaver (pictured), aided by $4 million from the foundation and $2 million from Weaver. Other projects include study-abroad scholarships at UNC Greensboro, a financial-literacy project with the N.C. Bankers Association and a partnership with the Raleigh-based Golden Corral restaurant chain that gives scholarships to children from military families.
Weaver credits the foundation’s success to smart planning similar to a multigenerational family business. “Starting so small forced us into some really good management decisions and management culture,” he says. “We don’t think of it as our personal money. In our mind, this endowment is held in trust for the citizens
of greater Greensboro.”
That approach is still evident, though Weaver no longer has an official role at the foundation. His family, including four children and eight grandchildren, has an annual goal-setting retreat. In 2006, a junior board was formed to involve youth, ages 15 to 21, to help direct some of the foundation’s giving. The family decided five years ago to remove a clause from the foundation’s bylaws, enabling members to decide, once every 10 years, if they want to continue the philanthropy or let it be phased out. Weaver, 78, is pleased. “Of course, as the only living founder, I love what it’s doing, and I follow what it’s doing. As [for] most of the decision making, I’m divorced from that.”
MEBANE — German grocer Lidl will invest more than $125 million in a regional headquarters and distribution center, creating 200 jobs over three years. The company operates nearly 10,000 stores in 26 countries and is establishing its U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Va. Average annual salary for the new jobs will be $80,000, more than double Alamance County’s $37,395. Lidl could receive a state grant of up to $250,000.
WINSTON-SALEM — Herbalife will create 301 jobs by the end of 2018 and will invest $3.5 million to expand its manufacturing operations and establish a technology center. The Los Angeles-based company, which makes nutritional products and supplements, employs 404 people at its local plant, which opened in 2014. Average annual salary for the new jobs will be $54,506, higher than Forsyth County’s $45,110. The company will receive a state grant of up to $3 million if it meets job–creation targets.
GREENSBORO — Zack Matheny, 42, became president of Downtown Greensboro July 1. He replaces Jason Cannon, who stepped down in June. Matheny served on Greensboro City Council from 2007 until July and is president of White Oak Capital, a local real-estate investment firm. The nonprofit promotes economic-development efforts in the center city.
HIGH POINT — North State Communications will acquire Stalwart, a Charlotte-based information-technology company that provides security products and monitoring services, for an undisclosed amount. Based here, North State sells TV, Internet and telecommunications services and will employ 400 people when the deal closes, which is expected to be in the third quarter.