Three Conway area businesses with a total of 234 years of service to this community were officially named Legacy businesses by the Horry County Board of Architectural Review and Historic Preservation and were applauded this week by the BAR board.
To be named a Legacy business, a business must have been operating for at least 50 consecutive years. After Monday’s presentations, Horry County’s list now has more than 30 Legacy businesses.
Horry’s new Legacy businesses are Latimer’s Funeral Home on U.S. 378; Horry Telephone Cooperative on U.S. 701 North, in Little River, Towne Center in Carolina Forest, on U.S. 501, Murrells Inlet, Loris and Myrtle Beach; and Johnson’s Manufacturing on Bashor Road and a showroom in Downtown Myrtle Beach.
Latimer’s Funeral Home
BAR vice chairman Wink Prince presented the award to Latimer’s Funeral Home to get the morning started.
Prince said shortly after George H. Latimer Sr. finished embalming school in Raleigh, N.C., he returned to Conway to start a funeral home for African Americans.
The original location was at 1712 Racepath Ave., in Conway. He lived there and had a building in the back that he operated out of.
In 1945, he purchased a funeral home from Willie Goldfinch and took care of the needs of Conway’ grieving community at that location until 1978 when he built the present business
Edna M. Latimer, manages the business today, along with the help of her sons George H. Latimer Jr. and Marvin Latimer, who began going with his father to funerals when he was only 8-years-old.
Other staff members include Kim Latimer, Bradleigh Latimer, Nigel Latimer. Nigel and Bradleigh are the third generation of Latimers to work in the funeral business.
Also on the staff are Ronald and Donald Phillips, Edward Davis, Sandra Parker, Donna Walker, Wallace McKnight and Lisa Smith.
The funeral home serves Horry and surrounding counties and even parts of North Carolina. National Shipping has ranged to most of the 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii. International shipping includes Vietnam, Mexico, Africa and several islands of the Caribbean.
Horry Telephone Cooperative
Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC) is the nation’s largest telecommunications cooperative, according to Horry County Councilman Orton Bellamy, who presented that award.
Founded in 1952, HTC serves Horry and Georgetown counties.
Through the years, HTC has led the way to economic development, creating an excellent world-class communications network here in Horry County. HTC was the first provider to give residents a local number for dialup Internet access and now has more fiber optic cable, able to provide gigabit speeds, to more homes than any other communications provider.
HTC now offers not only high-speed internet, but also digital cable, digital wireless, smart home technology, local telephone and long-distance service and advanced business services including local and wide area networks, managed services including VOIP, enterprise level, WiFi, Firewall and Cyber Security service, all delivered using the area’s most extensive fiber optic network.
HTC engages with the community it serves through various support efforts and the annual REEL Kids Awards program where students, who may otherwise go unnoticed, are honorably recognized for overcoming difficult circumstances in their young lives. In addition, HTC members have received more than $139 million in capital credit allocations with the release of capital credit membership refunds.
In 1947, Grier Johnson Sr. used his master carpentry skills to build sofas and chairs for local homeowners under the company name of Johnson Furniture Company. His bothers, sisters and cousins all became his primary employees.
After Hurricane Hazel destroyed the Grand Strand in October of 1954, the hospitality industry exploded and the Johnson Furniture Company had new clientele -- the hotels and motels along the beach.
Business records from 1981 show that Johnson Furniture Company became incorporated as Johnson Manufacturing Company, a privately held company with an annual revenue of $1 million to $2.5 million and a staff of 10 to 19.
The original location of the business was on U.S. 501; however, a fire in 1963 or 1964 destroyed this building. A new shop was built in the Red Hill section of Conway and customers were never told about the fire; it was business as usual. In the early 1980s the company moved to Myrtle Beach at 901 Oak St.
The company not only manufactured sofas and chairs there, but also had a showroom.
In 2006, the company opened a retail showroom in Myrtle Beach and in 2007 the Homewood site was secured, as the Oak Street building that was rented was approaching demolition.
From then until now Johnson Manufacturing Company has become a complete contract manufacturing source for hospitality, healthcare and government applications with all products produced in the USA.
Grier Johnson Jr., who was also known as Sonny, completed his military service in 1966 and came home to join the furniture business. His children Tracy, Jess and Norton became the third generation in the family business.
Orton Bellamy, who also presented this award, said this is truly a family business with skilled employees becoming adopted family and even grandchildren coming to work everyday where an onsite nursery with full-time sitters became their home during the work week.
In a past edition of The Independent Republic Quarterly, published by the Horry County Historical Association, an article entitled “Industrial Development in Horry County,” written by John Cartrette says, referring to Johnson Manufacturing Company, “The firm produces chairs, tables and sofas which are about 60 percent modern and 40 percent Spanish living room.”
The company has branched out now and manufactures everything from the backing for valances and window cushions for Conway Medical Center’s window beds.