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Presenting the awards is retired DCC Dean Ed White, who was instrumental in starting the Barkhouser Free Enterprise Center.







Accepting the award on behalf of Bennie Sigmon is his wife, Kelly Giles Sigmon.




DCC Honors Alumni with Induction into Small Business Hall of Fame


(December 3, 2017)  – What do the owners of O'Kelly's, Rippe's, SDR Construction, and Southern Virginia Mechanical have in common? All four of these entrepreneurs studied at DCC.
DCC alumni Gerald Kelly, Benjamin Rippe, Shon Roberts, and the late Bennie Sigmon were honored Wednesday evening, Nov. 29, with induction into the DCC Small Business Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held during the college’s annual Small Business Idea Fair, during which aspiring entrepreneurs who attend DCC or local high schools pitch their business proposals in a competition for scholarships and start-up funds.
Both events are sponsored by the DCC Educational Foundation and the Barkhouser Free Enterprise Center, located at DCC, which is dedicated to promoting the American free enterprise system throughout the college and DCC service region.
The 2017 Small Business Hall of Fame event is a project of DCC’s BUS 298 - Seminar & Project Class. The event’s purpose is to inspire DCC students to aspire to the same level of business success as the honorees. Project team members include Christian Bonar, Matthew Compton, John Dixon, Sandra Jennings, Amber Marion, Karly Pulley, and Lindsey Sigmon.
Gerald Wayne Kelly (DCC class of 2005), founder of O’Kelly’s Restaurants, enrolled at DCC in the Administration of Justice curriculum in the fall of 2000. His studies were postponed for National Guard service, and he completed his DCC degree in 2005 after returning from the service.
After DCC, Kelly enrolled at Averett University and finished his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2009. He then opened the first O’Kelly’s, a sandwich and dessert, deli-style walk-in shop at 1055 Piney Forest Road. In 2012 he completed his MBA at Averett. By 2013, three more O’Kelly’s locations were opened; in four years the business had expanded from one small location to six. There are presently eight locations: South Main Street and Piney Forest Road in Danville; Tightsqueeze, near Chatham; Brosville; Lynchburg, near Liberty University; Martinsville; Wentworth, NC near Rockingham Community College; and Roxboro, NC.
By 2015, the business was operated by a management team allowing Kelly to pursue interests beyond the day-day business details. A second Kelly venture, TriCor Properties, opened in 2013, with several backers. TriCor is a property management enterprise with more with more than 120rental properties, with a goal to expand to management of several thousand of properties.
Beyond his business interests, Kelly entered Ministry School with Cornerstone Conference in Greensboro, NC, while also acting as Interim Pastor for Emmanuel Pentecostal Holiness Church at Dry Fork. He has been a full-time pastor serving the surrounding community for two years. Service has been his cornerstone throughout his adult life, having served for over four years as a big brother with Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Danville. Kelly has served on the Board of Advocacy for Danville Regional Medical Center and is the current board chair of the Danville Salvation Army.
Benjamin Rippe (DCC class of 1974), owner of Rippe’s Apparel-Furs-Shoes-Lifestyle, was born and grew up in Danville. He is married to Debbie Holley Rippe, and has one son, Samuel Benjamin. Rippe graduated from George Washington High School, Danville Community College (Associate Degree), Virginia Tech (BS in Agronomy), and a decade later Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (MBA Weekend Program).
He has career experience in textiles, agriculture, and retail. After several years at Dan River Mills (finishing, production, scheduling, and research) and working in farm management, he joined Rippe’s in 1978. In 1992, he purchased Rippe’s from his parents. In 2002, he acquired the buildings, expanding in 2007 next door with Rippe’s Shoes.
One goal Rippe made in graduate school was to give back to the community. Currently, he serves on the board of Temple Beth Shalom and Danville’s River District Association advisory board. Over the past 39 years, he has served multiple terms on the following boards: Downtown Danville Association, Goodwill Industries, Opera Ebony Build, Morotock Foundation, Danville Concert Series, YMCA, Danville Chamber of Commerce, Riverview Rotary, and Beth Shalom congregation. In the last two decades he created endowments at DCC, Averett University, Carlisle School, and the Danville Community Foundation.
Rippe’s, through a series of yearly October Fashion Shows, has raised approximately $50,000 for the Danville Pittsylvania Cancer Association. In general, he supports local arts, education, and local non-profits.  He is a member of the Riverview Rotary and several civic clubs.  He enjoys hiking, surf casting, and his business.
Rippe said, “When I moved back to Danville, I asked Charlie Womack how he accomplished so much positive civic service.  His response inspires me to this day: ‘Just Do All You Can!’” 
Shon Roberts (DCC class of 1988), owner of SDR Construction, is a Danville native and a graduate of Tunstall High School. He graduated from DCC in 1988 with two Associate Degrees:  Business Management and Merchandising Management. Roberts worked in his father’s auto parts business part-time in high school and full-time when he was a student at DCC. Upon graduation from DCC, he became an outside salesman for his dad’s business. He sold paint and body shop supplies to body shops within a 40 mile radius of Danville.
Roberts made a good 23-year career with his father’s business until it was sold in 2005. He then decided to pursue a passion of his and started a construction business called SDR Construction. He did not have much time to prepare, but took a big leap of faith and took all the proper tests to gain his Class A contractor’s license.  Starting with small jobs and working by himself was not always easy. His faith in God and determination not to fail pushed him to success. He is starting his 12th year in business and has eight employees that work together as a team. Additionally, Roberts has owned a real estate investment company called Roberts Investment Properties since the mid-1990s where he invested in rental property in order to generate a retirement income.
Roberts said, “I am thankful for the education I gained from DCC. It certainly helped me learn fundamental and practical business skills that I was able to apply in my related fields of work and build on my entrepreneurial spirit. Education is something that can never be taken from you, and knowledge is power.”
Bennie Sigmon, (DCC class of 1988), former owner of Southern Virginia Mechanical, graduated in 1988 with a degree in Electrical Electronics Services from DCC. He worked in the HVAC industry for more than 30 years, working since he was 16 years old. Sigmon owned and operated his own business, Southern Virginia Mechanical, which consisted of heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical.
Sigmon married Kelly Giles Sigmon in 1995. They have two daughters: Lindsey, who currently attends Danville Community College and will graduate in May 2018 with an Associate Degree in Business Management/Marketing; and Emily, a junior at Westover Christian Academy.
Sigmon passed away on June 4, 2015 when he was shot and killed in his own yard protecting his family and home. The intruders were sentenced to life in prison.



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