Horne Brothers a Business Of Integrity

By Bill Kirby Jr.

When it comes to operating a business, you can count on Jack and Charles Horne to do it right.

            They are businessmen with integrity.

            No revelation there.

        Jack and Charles Horne learned from their parents – Billy and Fay Horne.

Charles Horne
Jack Horne

      “When our dad, Billy Horne, started this business 60-plus years ago, he probably never dreamed of how far it would go,” Jack and Charles Horne say in a news release announcing the stock sale of Horne Brothers Construction, the solar energy business that sits off of Middle River Loop Road along U.S. 301 Business. “Our family business is our pride and joy, and throughout the years one thing hasn’t changed – our mission to putting our employees first. We now have more than 400 employees and know how hard our teams work to achieve great things and deliver results for our customers.”

            The brothers are selling the Solar Energy Division to Pine Gate Renewables, a leading renewable energy development and finance company out of Asheville that includes collaboration with Blue Ridge Power, an EPC that will house Pine Gate’s current Energy, Procurement and Construction operations.

            With the addition of the Horne Brothers team, according to a news release, Blue Ridge Power becomes one of the largest independent solar energy EPC companies in the U.S., with full-scale capabilities including engineering, pre-construction and operational management of solar energy assets.

            Chris Dunbar will serve as chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Power and its management team to include key members of the Pine Gate Renewables team, according to a news release. And Jack and Charles Horne will remain in senior leadership roles as part of the acquisition.

            “This strategic shift allows us to serve a broader market and cater to the needs of clients looking for a turnkey project solution,” Dunbar says in the release.  “With a completely integrated team, we bring a very competitive product to the market. We’re excited about the continued growth of the solar industry and the role that Blue Ridge Power will play in the ongoing energy transition for a cleaner planet.”

            From farm solar panels to wireless towers to major construction projects, Horne Brothers has been a major business across the country, including civil and mechanical construction on a major community solar project for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. The business has a simple philosophy – arrive on the job early, stay late and do the job right.

            “Horne Brothers is a great company, and we are very, very happy to have them in Fayetteville and Cumberland County,” says Robert Van Geons, president and chief executive officer of Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development.  “This is a big deal. We look forward to working with Pine Gate Renewables and officially welcoming them to the community.”

            Don’t get the idea that you have heard the last of Jack and Charles Horne.

            The stock sale only is of the Solar Energy Division, while the Wireless Division remain intact, according to Charles Horne, and now will operate as Horne Brothers Communications.

            “We are keeping the wireless business,” Charles Horne says, and it will operate right there on Middle River Loop Road, where Blue Ridge Power also will have a satellite headquarters.

Employees A Part of Decision

            Jack Horne called on Friday to tell me about the news.

            All well and good, I was saying, but how does all of it play out for your longtime employees? I’ve seen mergers and sales of family businesses to larger and outside companies, and too often loyal employees of an established business find their employment and themselves out in the cold.

            I liked Jack Horne’s assurance.

            Of some 400 Horne Brothers employees, they should, too.

             “We could have sold to others for more money, but this is a company we know and have worked with,” says Horne, president of the Solar Energy Division of Horne Brothers since 2012, and with the business since 1981. “Choosing the right one was so important to us, and of course, we knew we could only partner with a like-minded company that was also focused on the well-being of its employees and achieving success by playing a major role in building solar infrastructure.”

                That mindset, Charles Horne says, made a difference.

            “One of the things is they wanted our team,” he says. “They wanted our entire team, and that was attractive to us.”

Epilogue

                Billy Horne was just a country farmer who served as a Cumberland County commissioner from 1970 to 1982 and before that as a commissioner in his beloved Stedman from 1966 to 1970 and 1995 to 1996 before serving as its mayor until the late 2000s.

            Four sons, including Jack, Charles and Cliff Horne, followed in their daddy’s footsteps in business, and one, David Horne, in politics. Something else you should know about Jack and Charles Horne. Not only are they affable businessmen, when it comes to a benevolent cause in this county, they give generously and without fanfare … and from the heart. When there is a need, Jack and Charles Horne are there for you.

            “So today, we are proud to say that Horne Brothers Construction will be joining Blue Ridge Power to create a best-in-class company ready-to-lead solar energy industry, one project at a time,” Jack and Charles Horne say. “It’s with sunshine in our hearts and stocked toolbelts around our waists that we happily leap forward into this next chapter as one team.”

            Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@cityviewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961