Lifestyles



Celebrating Independence
January 29, 2009 1:00 PM

by Joan Tupponce

News


A business opportunity in Independence freed David Durnovich from a long commute.

For many years, Durnovich worked in Trinidad running the Caribbean operations of Mittal Steel, now ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel company.  He stayed with the company even after 1997 when he moved his family to Independence, his wife’s hometown, which is the county seat of Grayson County in Southwest Virginia. He traveled from Trinidad to Independence every six weeks, a trip that would include eight hours in a plane.

Durnovich was on leave from his Caribbean job in 2002 when he heard that Darco Southern, an industrial gasket manufacturer and fabricator in Independence, was for sale.  Buying the company offered him the chance to live and work in the same place. “It took a lot, but I put a group of investors together and bought the company in February 2003,” he says.

Darco Southern had moved from Philadelphia to Independence in 1976. “Grayson County did a lot to attract Darco to the area,” Durnovich says. “The location between Interstates 81 and 77 is ideal for our type of business. The Charlotte airport is only two hours away.”

Since Durnovich and his investors purchased the company, sales have increased 330 percent. The 35,000-square-foot plant has 25 full-time employees and 1,200 distributors in the United States. “We also have distribution in 47 countries,” he says.

U.S. customers include General Electric and Clever-Brooks, which makes boilers. “We supply aluminum, power generation, iron and steel making, petrochemical and pulp and paper to the industrial sectors,” Durnovich says. “We ship by truck and plane.”

Durnovich likes the skilled, stable work force in Independence. “It’s a good community in which to raise children,” he observes. “There is plenty of hunting, fishing and canoeing.”

In 2000, Independence had a population of 971. Located in the center of Grayson County, the town is surrounded by the Grayson County Recreational Park. The scenic area offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, hunting and horseback riding.

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Grayson’s attractions also include Mount Rogers, the highest mountain in Virginia at 5,792 feet, and the Appalachian Trail, a 2,160-mile footpath from Georgia to Maine. In addition, the county has the Virginia Creeper Trail, which offers biking, hiking and horse-riding trails, and New River Trail State Park, which parallels the second oldest river in the world.

The county also is part of The Crooked Road, a highway tour of sights tracing Virginia’s musical heritage.

The area’s economy
The Davis-Bourne Inn, built about 1865, is in the town’s historic district. The bed and breakfast offers four individually styled bedrooms with private baths and lush robes. Visitors in the area for an extended stay can rent one of three homes at Mountain Memories Farm, a sheep farm with a view of the Jefferson National Forest.


Where to eat
The Independence area has several dining options. The Journey’s End Restaurant at The Davis-Bourne Inn is a Victorian-style restaurant featuring dining by candlelight. Menu choices include Not Guilty Your Honor Chicken and filet mignon with a Kentucky bourbon sauce. Another local restaurant, La Casita, offers Mexican fare.


Where to stay
The Davis-Bourne Inn, built about 1865, is in the town’s historic district. The bed and breakfast offers four individually styled bedrooms with private baths and lush robes. Visitors in the area for an extended stay can rent one of three homes at Mountain Memories Farm, a sheep farm with a view of the Jefferson National Forest.

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