Blacksburg (WSLS 10) - It's not every business where the boss takes the occasional break to play guitar with one of the staff. Yet on this day, David Poteet, founder and president of New City is picking away.
Poteet is one of two local businessmen who will be honored Thursday night by Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia as Entrepreneur of the Year. The other is Jonathan Hagmaier of Interactive Achievement. Bruce Ferrell -- owner of the Berglund Automotive Group and Jim Wade, former CEO of Advance Auto Parts will be inducted the same evening into the Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame.
More About David Poteet
The web design and marketing company moved into its new headquarters in downtown Blacksburg early in 2015. Poteet says the space, which features open ceilings with exposed HVAC ducts painted a bright lime green, defines or at least reflects the business.
"Well one of the things that I love about it most is it really is an expression of our team… We're trying to create an environment where people can be creative work together in teams plus have quiet and privacy when they need it," said Poteet.
The company's current digs, complete with about 30 employees -- are a long way from the second bedroom in the Fox Ridge Apartments where he, his wife, and several others launched New City in the mid-1990's thinking there might be something to this whole, World Wide Web thing.
When the World Wide Web came out in 1993 he gave me a chance to start playing with some of the tools and I convinced the leadership at Radford University to let me have a chance to create a site for Radford. Once I had done that, there wasn't really a position for me to continue doing just focusing on the website at that point -- no one had a webmaster on staff because it was a new thing," he said.
As he grew into a career in web design, Poteet knew he was in the right place, but it was nowhere near where he started.
"I came to Virginia Tech originally on an aerospace ROTC scholarship in aerospace engineering. Long story behind that but I knew that I really didn't want to be an engineer. I was more interested in art and design and that kind of thing."
The agency specializes in work for higher education – business is good. And Poteet says it's getting better.
"As I mentioned we're at about 30 people. Annual revenue now is north of 3-million," said Poteet. "We are geographic brats -- all across United States and in the UK - we have several clients in United Kingdom and within our niche in higher education, we're one of a handful of really five or six firms that people always look to for this kind of work."
Poteet says his first lessons in business came from Junior Achievement in high school. The only business courses he ever took – before launching one.
"I didn't think about it at the time as being something that I was going to start my own business but maybe in some way that helped me think this is more doable than I would've thought otherwise," he explained.
He describes the perfect employee as an artist with enough math and engineering to really understand what they are building on the web. A rare creature the industry refers to as unicorns. You'll recognize them when you see them. They're the ones playing guitar at a successful business in the middle of the work day.
WSLS 10 is a sponsor of the Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame reception and awards dinner. News Anchor John Carlin will be the host for the evening.