Friday, 02 October 2020 12:36

Robinette named 'Trailblazer' by Business N.C.

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ROCKINGHAM — A young Richmond County business leader is getting recognition in a state publication.


Neil Robinette, CEO of C.F. Smith Property Group, was recently named one of the 19 2020 Trailblazers by Business North Carolina.

“This annual feature recognizes thriving business owners and professionals under the age of 40 who work in N.C. cities and towns that have fewer than 100,000 residents,” reads the introduction to the Trailblazers article. “We received nominations for talented people based from Jacksonville near the coast to Waynesville in the mountains. This year’s list spanned a wide variety of occupations, including a coffee roaster, lawyer, hotel manager and engineer.”

According to his bio on the company website, Robinette studied finance at Wofford College and graduated in 2010. He then went on to earn his Masters of Real Estate Development from Clemson University in 2012.

Robinette, 32, was working at a property development company in Greenville, South Carolina, and wasn’t intending to join the family business, at the time named Tri-City, Inc.

But fate had other plans.

He told the RO earlier this year that his grandfather, Claude Smith, who battled cancer for years, had wanted him to come back home.

Smith had finally convinced him to return and was expecting to make the move during the summer.

Within the next day or so, on Jan. 14 of 2014, Smith passed away and his grandson would come to fill his shoes.

The company was rebranded in January 2020 as C.F. Smith Property Group in honor of the patriarch.

“Since joining C.F. Smith, the team has elevated its presence by executing on more than $125 million in real estate value from development projects, acquisitions, value created through new leases and dispositions,” Robinette’s bio reads. “In addition to being responsible for the strategic business direction and development of C.F. Smith, he also takes an active role in real estate development, leasing and transaction activities.”

The Business N.C. article notes that while the company has properties in 13 states, the main focus is central and eastern North Carolina.

It also lists the closing of the Rockingham J.C. Penny store as one of the challenges in real estate leasing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Demographers say it’s too early to know if the pandemic will reverse the long-term trend in which most population growth in North Carolina occurs around the Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham metro areas,” the intro to the article reads. “State leaders, the N.C. Rural Center and others are emphasizing investments in rural broadband service that is required for businesses to operate effectively in an increasingly digital economy.

“These 2020 Trailblazers are having a significant impact in sustaining their communities.”