Chamber taps into Castelloe’s success story

Published 12:41 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AHOSKIE — For the majority of his adult life, Jerry Castelloe has operated a successful business. Now, one year shy of his 50th birthday, he has been asked to stand at the forefront of numerous businesses. At their Board of Directors meeting last week, the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce named Castelloe as its Executive Vice-President. Castelloe is no stranger to the Chamber. He has served the Ahoskie organization as its Interim Director since August of last year, filling in for Phyllis Frymier who left in April due to health reasons. He also served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors for the past four years. “We were all hoping that Phyllis would return, but when it appeared that she would not, I was asked by the board to consider this position full-time,” Castelloe said. As far as moving from the proverbial “bull pen” to the starting rotation, Castelloe said it has been a learning experience. “It’s different being on the front line each and every day,” he noted. “Before, my interaction with the Chamber was on a monthly basis. Now it’s every day.” As a former business owner, Castelloe has plenty of training when it comes to balancing the financial spreadsheet. He also knows how to watch a budget, or as he puts it, “squeezing 101 pennies out of every dollar.” “There’s also a lot of meetings you have to attend as a director of a chamber of commerce,” Castelloe said. “You have to stay on top of what everyone else in city, county, regional and state government are doing.” What Castelloe does completely understand in this early stage of his chamber of commerce leadership career is that he has some very big footsteps to follow. He called the late Arthur Lee Wiggins, who served the Ahoskie Chamber for decades, the “Godfather” and praised Frymier for her vast knowledge of the area and its people. “All I am doing right now is benefiting from the foundation laid by Arthur Lee and Phyllis,” he stressed. “I just want to build upon that solid foundation.” As far as his short-term goals, Castelloe said he wants to listen to the chamber’s membership and see what they expect of him. “I think one of our biggest challenges is that we need to reshape the image of the chamber,” he stated. “We, as a town, county and area, have become more diverse in nature. The Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce needs to reflect that diversity.” Castelloe continued, “We also need to refocus the chamber’s direction from within. The businesses that are our members have invested in the chamber, they want to see a return on that investment. It’s a business thing, not a personal thing.” A native of Ahoskie, Castelloe is a 1977 graduate of Ahoskie High School. His work-related roots are buried deep in the town, first with the old A&P Supermarket (1975-1990). With the exception of a brief stint as manager of the A&P store in Plymouth and a one-year job as a salesman with Keebler, Castelloe is an Ahoskie fixture. He is perhaps best known for his 16 years as manager of Ahoskie’s Piggly Wiggly Supermarket. During that time, his store was at or near the top of the company’s 10-store district in sales and profits. He left that position in early 2007 in order to spend more time with his family. “Long hours and seven days a week will get to you after a while,” he said. “After I stepped away, I thought I had found my calling. I’d hunt one day, fish one day and then spend the next five days catching-up on my ‘honey-do’ list.” Castelloe and his wife, Wanda, are the parents of two grown children, Christy and Jerry Wayne. His pride and joy are two grandchildren, Matthew (11) and Richard (6). “I’m here to stay,” Castelloe concluded. “Grandchildren have a way of keeping a person rooted and grounded.”