Entrepreneur Highlight: Shannon Huffman

Text Description automatically generated with medium confidenceCity of Burlington

Economic Development Office

November 1, 2022

As a business, one of the most important parts of the job isn’t the job at all – it is the attention to the people. Whether that is the customers you serve or the employees you hire, the individuals that are involved in the process from start to finish give meaning to the work itself. When talking to Shannon Huffman, Co-Owner of Huffman Sales and Service, her conviction for this was crystal clear. Within the metal and fabrication business, Shannon works alongside her husband David Huffman to deliver high quality designs and products as an integral part of the advanced manufacturing industry in Alamance County. 

Starting the Business 

As with many successful business stories, Huffman Sales and Service was founded by finding the missing piece in the industry. David Huffman had been working in sales at a belting company, producing conveyor belts that are used in food processing. One of the key customers of the company, Tyson Foods, showed a specific part to David – a plastic injector used within meat production – because the part was made by a German company, so acquiring the piece was expensive and took a long time to ship. 

Shannon had been a schoolteacher at Western Alamance High School at the time, and with the help of her students in one of her marketing classes, she conducted a feasibility study on the plastic injector part. Very few American companies were actively producing the part, so Shannon traveled to a Wilmington shop to find the mold to make the injector. Huffman Sales and Service was established in 2007 as a manufacturing company for plastic and metal fabrication. Perdue signed the first contract with Shannon and David in November of 2010; in December of 2010, Shannon resigned from West Alamance to focus her attention on Huffman Sales as co-owner.

Huffman Sales and Dexco, Inc. 

Since 2018, Huffman Sales and Service has expanded their product base with the acquisition of Dexco, Inc., adding capabilities in contract machining and fabrication. Where Huffman Sales and Service mainly focuses on the meat processing and food industries, Dexco also works in metal machining to produce electrical enclosures made of sheet metal for a variety of industries. 

Dexco is the owner of the largest fiber optic laser in Alamance County, with an oversized table and press break. “Our press brake can bend parts up to 12 foot wide (Cincinnati brand). The bystronic laser is 2m x 4m (78”x 157”), which is huge because we can produce a part longer [and] wider than 10 feet, the normal/standard size in the industry.” Dexco has 22 employees, including David and Shannon’s son. Shannon said that David’s favorite part of working is that he gets to work with his son, who is one of the mechanical engineers that works with the sheet metal designs. 

Shannon and David have a lot to be proud of. In 2016, Huffman Sales was awarded the Diversity Supplier of the Year by Tyson Foods. “The recognitions were based on supply-chain performance, total cost of ownership, pricing programs, customer-service performance, innovation, sustainability initiatives, and other performance metrics observed throughout the year,” as stated by Tyson Foods in their Supplier Diversity Program. Later in 2021, Dexco was awarded the Siemens Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

When asked what her favorite part of the job is, Shannon said that she loves seeing the process of something created from raw material to a finished product. “The second I walk out of my office and through that door [to the operations and production floor], there’s this feeling of – almost like this is what America is, industrial America and manufacturing.” As a supplier of integral parts and materials to other manufacturing facilities, the work that Huffman Sales and Dexco do extends to many parts of the world. Not only does Huffman Sales interact with companies like Tyson Foods, which is headquartered in Arkansas and has 16 offices across the nation, but Dexco also works with customers abroad like General Electric (GE) in Mexico. 

A central point that Shannon continued to emphasize was how much she cares about the people at Huffman Sales. “Huffman Sales values our employees,” she kept saying, “because we are touching other people’s lives. We’re part of the bigger picture.” The company offers trainings in subjects such as financial literacy, in partnership with First Bank, and supports any workers who want to pursue trainings or education in the skillsets needed in plastic and metal fabrication. As Huffman Sales and Dexco continue to thrive, Shannon and David are actively working towards expanding and finding new customers and industries to service. Their excitement and passion for their work is impossible to ignore. 

When asked why the couple chose Burlington as their home, the answer revolved around family. For a family of five, with two daughters and a son, Burlington was a middle point between Hickory, North Carolina, where Shannon is from originally, and Greeneville, North Carolina, where their oldest daughter attended Eastern Carolina University. Their daughters now both live in Charlotte, one working in telehealth and the other as an attorney. Though Hickory has a place in their hearts, Burlington has also managed to become a home – both for the family and the family-owned business. 

It is always exciting to see manufacturers thrive in Burlington, and to be so proud of their work! The Office of Economic Development hopes to support the industrial companies around Burlington and is excited to see what the future holds for them!

Business Contact
Shannon Huffman, Co-Owner of Huffman Sales & Service  
Phone (336) 584-0260
Facebook @Dexco/Huffman Sales and Service 
Email shannon@huffmansalesandservicellc.com 
Website https://www.huffmansalesandservicellc.com/ 

Isabella DeLaGarza, EYOS Fellow

City Contact
Isabella DeLaGarza
425 S. Lexington Ave. 
Burlington, NC 27215