ROCKINGHAM — One local contractor is handing over his hammer to the next generation.
Adam Franco is taking over Sammy L. Whitley Construction from the company’s namesake owner.
Whitley began his career in construction in the early 70s. One day, while working at a local mill, he was approached by Norman Bland, local contractor and owner of Bland Construction Company.
Bland recognized Whitley’s hard-working characteristics and offered him a job; thus his venture in construction began.
Whitley became a partner in Bland Construction Co soon after his employment and, in 1975, started his own business. He continued for around 50 years, retiring in 2018 after the passing of his wife, Mary.
A few years ago, Franco approached Whitley with a desire to gain more knowledge in becoming a contractor, beginning a mentorship. Franco is the husband of Whitley’s granddaughter, Whitney Franco.
Franco joined the U.S. Air Force in 2009 where he was active duty for six years. He then joined the Air Force Reserve which led him to Pope Army Airfield in North Carolina.
Franco also began attending UNC Pembroke where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. While attending Pembroke, he met Whitney, through which started his friendship with Sammy Whitley.
In 2016 and while attending college, Franco’s unit was shut down, forcing him to get out or find another unit to join. That was when he decided to venture into construction.
Franco took a job with Ritz Kraft, now VBC Manufacturing in 2018 where he gained even more knowledge in construction. He started out in the production area of building modular homes, then advanced to cabinet shop team leader, and then to facility training manager.
Franco had mentioned his desire to be mentored to Whitley and was told that he needed to obtain his contractor’s license — so he did. However, after receiving his license, he was actively deployed for seven months.
Upon returning home from deployment, Franco made the decision to leave Ritz Kraft and go into the construction business with Whitley which led to the decision of his taking over the company. Future plans are to rename the business Franco Building and Remodeling, which will serve Richmond and Moore counties.
Franco credits many areas of his life in contributing to his learning process.
“I try to tap into what I’ve learned in the military as well as Ritz Kraft and put it into practice while maintaining mutual values in building a quality home, as well as going above and beyond as Sammy did,” Franco said. “He was known as one of the best builders in Richmond County, and I wanted to learn from the best.
“He had a passion for building and was ready to help me in any way he could. I look forward to continuing Sammy’s legacy of passion and quality.”