Small Employers Offer Big Opportunities

When Jane Debbage was preparing to graduate with her MBA from the Bryan School in May 2016, she had a few job offers to consider. One was with a major Piedmont employer where she had worked as an intern. The other was from a small, family-owned business in Asheboro, NC. It was a major decision, and she took some time to consider what each position had to offer. Then she chose the job that she thought would give her the most opportunity to grow – she picked the small business, Thermaco.

Thermaco, Inc. is a leading separation technology company in the highly specialized field of oil and grease extraction from wastewater. Simply put, they create grease traps and other tools that allow restaurants and other commercial entities to collect oils and other harmful materials before they reach municipal wastewater systems. This is important because these materials can cause significant and expensive damage to pipes and other infrastructure.

Like most small to mid-sized businesses, Thermaco isn’t a household name. It is, however, one of the many important economic drivers in North Carolina. In fact, according to ReferenceUSA.com, 90% of businesses in Guilford and Forsyth counties hire less than 50 people.

Debbage isn’t the only Bryan graduate to find a fulfilling position at Thermaco. Marketing Manager David Lillard (BS ’06) has been with the company since 2010. Company president Randy Batten has been happy with the can-do attitudes that both Lillard and Debbage have brought to the 33-year-old company.

“As a small company we wear a lot of hats and we do a lot of things together, and the onboarding process may be a little bit shorter than in some larger companies,” said Batten. “Jane was willing to roll up her sleeves and take on projects and responsibility. Even though she may not know all the ins-and-outs of our products and industry yet, she was willing to jump in and contribute right off the bat.”

Debbage said that one of the things that led her to Thermaco was this piece of advice from a professor: “Don’t choose your first job. Choose your first boss. That’s the one who will mold you the most.” She said that she views Batten and Lillard as valuable mentors who are helping her make a successful transition to the working world.

“I would want people to know, especially students in the marketing department and the business school in general, that there are a lot more opportunities out there at small and medium-sized businesses than I think they realize. There are a lot of smaller businesses that are growing, and that are looking for talent.” – David Lillard

“We know that by teaching students to become exceptional problem solvers we’re preparing them to succeed in a variety of workplaces,” said Employer Relations Specialist Bramley Crisco. “Working in small to mid-sized businesses not only gives our graduates the opportunity for career success, but it gives many of them the personal satisfaction of being able to stay in the Piedmont Triad region. We’re proud to help provide the human capital local employers need.”

Crisco is working to build more connections with small to mid-sized companies interested in participating in hands-on student consulting projects, employer spotlights, or recruiting opportunities. Interested businesses should contact her at bkcrisco@uncg.edu or 336.334.4159.