Cofield’s got a lock on success
Published 1:50 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Ellis T. Cofield Jr. and his wife, Beneta, have been living the American Dream for the past 25 years, and they show no sign of waking up anytime soon. Along with their son, they’ve built a life through their planning and hard work, which includes a company that’s just earned particular recognition.
Cofield’s Locksmith has been named the 2014 Business of the Year by the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce. The honors will be bestowed during the annual meeting on Thursday, March 5, at the Regional Workforce Development Center of Paul D. Camp Community College.
“Ellis Cofield and his wife Beneta are true entrepreneurs. Operating a business is not an easy task, but they have diversified and thrived,” said Teresa B. Beale, the chamber’s executive director. “Cofield’s Plaza has transformed and enhanced the corner of South and Pretlow streets and provided space for other businesses. They are genuinely nice people that are engaged in making their community better. I am delighted that they were chosen for this prestigious honor.”
The news of the award came as a pleasant surprise to the recipient.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Ellis Cofield said recently. “That was impressive.”
But he shouldn’t be too surprised, because there’s no secret to the longevity.
“Just overall good customer service and loyalty to my customers and community and a regular investment in the community,” he said. Membership in the Franklin Business Friendly Association is among those investments.
For as long as he could remember, Cofield has had “a zeal” to own his own business. The foundation for that started when he was a child and young teenager.
Donald “Dick” Everett and Randy Brickhouse, respectively, showed him the essentials of upholstering autos. He eventually progressed to the point that on meeting Art Beasley, the man who set him up in the business in 1988. Brickhouse called Cofield to work for his brother in Virginia Beach. However, a few months later — Feb. 20, 1990, to be precise — CAS Inc., an auto brokerage, was established. Fuel and auto upholstery were also a part of that company. Cofield’s Locksmith business came about a few years later as a way to diversify.
Though his multi-faceted work has included dabbling in property management, there are no plans for expanding his existing business ventures.
As Beale pointed out above, the work has not always been easy. But the Cofields have met and overcome obstacles.
“You deal with challenges every day,” he said. “I’m used to challenges and I take them as they come. My faith in God has carried me through the years.”
Closer to home, though, his wife and son have been with him in building the businesses, which at one time included a beauty salon that his sister has since bought three years ago.
Ellis T. “Trey” III, 19, has done some of the lock-out work and “created his own identity.”
As for his wife, “she’s part of the reason everyone thinks I’m so smart,” Cofield said with a big smile.
The rewards of work have included “being able to do what I want to do…that’s somewhat of a freedom. And there’s something different every day. It’s not repetitive,” he added.
Meeting different people is another plus.
“I have some great customers, and have developed personal relationships with them,” Cofield said. “It’s a good feeling when they do repeat business with you.”
Two examples include James Gorham and C.J. Sears.
Gorham, who works as the building and grounds superintendent at Paul D. Camp Community College, came to know Cofield about seven years ago.
“He’s a professional guy. That’s the reason I was honored to give him a contract,” Gorham said. “He’s a dependable person and gets the job done. His customer service is on point and he’s got a cheerful personality.”
Sears of ABC Storage is also proud to be associated with him.
“I’ve known him for a long time. I consider him a friend. I know them [the family] all pretty well. They’re good people.”
Their connection includes the building that Cofield uses now once belonged to Sears.
“One thing kind of led to another. I was always impressed by him. He’s very creative…and not shy at all,” Sears said.
In addition to doing small jobs for Sears, Cofield’s opinion is sought when buying a building or remodeling.
“He has some very good ideas,” Sears added.
To find out about attending the chamber meeting, contact Beale at 562-4900. The cost is $35 per person, and reservations are due on Friday, Feb. 27.