by Joan Tupponce
Mark Fernandes takes in the view each day when he pulls into the parking lot at the Goochland County headquarters of Luck Stone Corp.
“It’s such a beautiful setting,” he says. “You look out over the James River. You can see for miles, all the way into Powhatan [County]. Lots of our vendors that come in from the city tell me they would never leave here if they worked here.”
Fernandes is president of the Charles Luck Stone Center division (formerly the Luck Stone Architectural division) of Luck Stone Corp., the largest private, family-owned aggregate supplier in the United States. The company was founded in 1923 and moved its headquarters to Goochland in 1970. It employs more than 1,000 people in its corporate office and four businesses — Charles Luck Stone Center, Luck Stone Aggregate, Lee Tennis Court Products and Luck Development Partners.
The Charles Luck Stone Center, which opened its first location in Goochland last year, caters to homeowners, architects, designers and builders who plan to use stone outdoors (in terraces and gardens, for example) or indoors (as countertops and tile). “We started thinking about what we wanted to do differently so we looked at trends around the world,” Fernandes says. The company found a connection between fashion and self-expression in home design and furnishings. The store center puts a high emphasis on customer service and displays samples of stone from around the world.
In addition to Goochland, Charles Luck Stone Center plans to have five other locations in mid-Atlantic region. “Goochland is our home,” Fernandes says. “It’s a fantastic location for us. That’s why we wanted to launch this here.”
A rural area west of Richmond with gently rolling hills, Goochland has a population of about 20,000 people and is home to family farms and palatial estates. Its historical sites include Tuckahoe Plantation, a house built around 1733 that was the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson. There’s also the Old Jail on the courthouse green, a 175-year-old stone building, which contains exhibits about the county’s history from the 1700s through the 20th century.
Goochland also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating on the James. Public boat landings are available at West View, Maidens and Cartersville.
Golfers can play at two public courses, Sycamore Creek Golf Course in Manakin-Sabot and Royal Virginia Golf Club in Hadensville.
The county’s horse culture is promoted by the Deep Run Hunt Club, which sponsors foxhunts and horse shows, and the annual Commonwealth Cup Polo Match, a charity event that pits American players against an international team.
Where to eat
When Mark Fernandes steps out to lunch or dinner, he enjoys frequenting the Manakin Grill with a menu that features everything from Black Angus burgers at lunch to maple-leaf duck breast for dinner and Enzo’s Italian Ristorante & Café for pasta. The Courthouse area of the county is home to White Hawk Music Café with sandwiches, soups, bagels and pastries in the morning and dessert all day. The café features the music of local and national performers at nights. Other local favorites include the Gray Bear Grille and Tanglewood Ordinary for a down-home country style meal.
The county’s economy
Goochland County subscribes to a steady-growth philosophy. Its largest employer is Capital One Financial Corp. with approximately 4,600 employees. The company’s campus is located in West Creek, a 3,500-acre business park in the eastern end of the county. West Creek is also home to the corporate headquarters of Performance Food Group and CarMax, which together employ about 1,000 in Goochland. Luck Stone Corp. also is based in Goochland with about 300 employees there. Home-based and small businesses along with construction-related businesses add to the business mix in the county. The county has four industrial parks — Mid Point, Lanier, Old Dominion Industrial Parks and Rockville Commerce Center. In 2002 Goochland started a 8,500-acre water/sewer project in the eastern part of the county that it hopes will help attract development.
Where to stay
While it doesn’t have any hotels within its boundaries, Goochland has notable bed-and-breakfast establishments. The Federal-style Brightly Bed and Breakfast is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark. Built in 1842, the home has a full English basement. The B&B even has its own ghost. Apparently one of the suitors of the original owner’s niece, a man named Walter, was shot in a duel. His spirit is said to roam the property looking for the woman he loved. Farther west in the county is Clover Forest Plantation overlooking the James River.
The circa 1761, Federal-style mansion has a private lake and five guest rooms as well as a carriage house cottage suite.
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