• Zaxby's owners enrich lives, have spirit of community service

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    February 16, 2012

    The Chamber presented the 2011 Jimmy Creech Small Business Persons of the Year to a couple who has enriched many lives in Johnston County through their spirit of community service. They are Michael and Kelly Smith, the owners of Zaxby’s in Smithfield and Clayton.

    Michael, a native of Mount Airy, North Carolina is a 2001 graduate of Wake Technical Community College with a degree in hotel and restaurant management. But Michael’s interest in the food service business dates to age 15 where he was dishwasher at a local restaurant. He managed the McDonald’s in Clayton for two years before joining Zaxby’s in 2003. Michael received promotions with the regional food chain in 2005 to General Manager and in 2008 to District Manager. After he and Kelly were married, the couple became partners in the Zaxby’s of Smithfield and Clayton in October 2008. Michael was 27 years old at that time.

    Since becoming the owners of the two Zaxby’s franchises, the Smiths have seen their business increase by 20% - yes during the recession of the last three years.

    The Smiths were nominated by Dr. Norwood Williams, the president of the Mental Health Association of Johnston County. Part of his nomination states the following:

    "We have known Michael and Kelly Smith for nearly two years and with each passing day we become more and more impressed and enriched by their spirit of community service. To accomplish the many goals of the Mental Health Association, it soon became apparent to our leaders that our projects far exceeded our financial means. We turned to the community for assistance and the first ones to step to up and help were Michael and Kelly Smith."

    Over the past 12 months they have helped the association in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:

    1. They paid the expenses of a single mother of an autistic child to attend the Annual Autism Conference in Charlotte.
    2. Michael & Kelly supported hundreds of Thanksgiving meals through St. Ann’s  Catholic Church.
    3. They served free meals to US Veterans of Veterans and Memorial Days
    4. They have sponsored numerous fundraisers for children with terminal illnesses.
    But it’s not just the Mental Health Association that they have supported.
    1. Michael and Kelly Smith are a platinum level sponsor for the Johnston Community College Performing Arts Center.
    2. They have provided free meals to the JCC students and faculty. They raised funds for the Lovely Ladies of Smithfield, a breast cancer awareness group.
    3. They are a major supporter of Smithfield-Selma High School.
    4. They have established a special education scholarship program at Johnston Community College.
    5. And they are a platinum level chamber champion for the Chamber.
    This past November, Michael and Kelly were recipients of the “Serve the Need in Johnston County Humanitarian Award” in recognition of their many community contributions in making a difference in the quality of life for Johnston County citizens.

    Michael and Kelly Smith represent the best meaning of what community service is all about. Whenever special needs arise, where they be food, clothing, time or money, Michael and Kelly are always there with open hands and a generous heart.


    The Jimmy Creech Small Business Person of the Year Award is given in memory of the 1976 President of the Chamber. Mr. Creech operated Creech’s Pharmacy in downtown Smithfield for some 40 years and was the epitome of a business and community leader. The award is given to people who emulate this fine man. The award is sponsored by Mitchell Temporary Services and Stancil Oil Company..

    Rick Childrey, President
    (919) 934-9166

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