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SML Leadership Academy Students Focus on Manufacturing Sector

Members of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy toured the PlyGem factory in Rocky Mount on Nov. 1 as part of its curriculum focused on manufacturing in the SML region.

Charles Keffer, Production Area Manager for Cornerstone Building Brands, the parent company of PlyGem, led the tour. He also provided a detailed presentation on the importance of the Franklin County facility, which produces exterior siding, windows and metal accessories.

“It was fascinating to see the vastly different manufacturing processes active at PlyGem, from machinery that was still operating 50-plus years ago, to the latest, cutting-edge, fully robotic manufacturing technology,” said Andy Bruns, executive director of the Chamber. “And it’s all in downtown Rocky Mount, Virginia.”

Following the tour, Jen Rowland of Rowland Leadership Training & Consulting facilitated presentations by the students at The Franklin Center.

“At the beginning of the year, each member of the SML Leadership Academy was tasked with finding an issue that needed solving in the region,” Bruns said. “The students shared their proposals for solutions, which were extremely enlightening. Some of the issues were theoretical and some actually came to fruition, like the American Flag Repository Station at Bridgewater Plaza created by Holley Scheffel, Business Programs Coordinator for Bedford County’s Office of Economic Development.”

The SMLRCC Leadership Academy is a 12-month program designed to develop a diversified corps of informed, committed and qualified individuals who will assume leadership roles for Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania county organizations.

For additional information, log onto or contact Andy Bruns at 540-721-1203 or [email protected].

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