Your Neighbor: Meet Larry Frazier
Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 9, 2021
By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier
Larry Frazier has never shied away from opportunities that require hard work and ingenuity. “I never enjoyed academic pursuits all that much, however, I really enjoyed working and earning a paycheck from a young age,” recalls Frazier.
Frazier like many kids enjoyed outdoor activities and sports. “I played baseball pretty regularly and throughout high school. Also, hunting and fishing was of great interest to me too,” said the West Virginia native. When Frazier had to decide where to go to college, he chose one close to home. “I headed to West Virginia College, which was basically an extension of high school. I started studying business administration and I was bored to death,” laughs Frazier. “During my freshman year, I took a stock boy position in a small family-owned chain of fabric stores called Piece Good Shops. Fabric stores were growing across the nation because polyester double knit had created a high demand in the home sewing industry. One day, the owner complained to me they were having difficulty in keeping new personnel in the middle management ranks. I had a very honest moment with him, as I explained they were missing the mark because they were hiring from the outside as opposed to promoting qualified managers from within to meet their needs. Making a long story short, he ended up offering me an opportunity to travel to other states to open new stores,” notes Frazier.
After opening new stores for a year, Frazier chose to go back to college. However, Frazier couldn’t ignore the offer that the owner had extended to him to grow with the company. “I realized that I wasn’t interested in what my professors were teaching me because I was out in the real world experiencing it myself. I knew if my boss committed to me that I would have an opportunity to grow within the fabric company, then I would be willing to give it a try,” explains Frazier. He left college to tackle the fabric industry and revolutionize their growth and retention of a robust team of employees that were promoted from within.
“As I was promised, I was given lots of opportunity to grow. At 21, the owner assigned four eastern Ohio stores to me to supervise. By the time I was 26, my responsibilities had grown to over one third of the family’s Piece Goods Shops with having all of the stores in four states. In 1982, the family sold the business to an investment firm in New York City and executive management personnel were offered a minority equity position in the highly Leveraged Buy Out (LBO). The new executive management team initiated a highly aggressive expansion plan to open over 300 new stores over the next 10 years and we did!” summarizes Frazier. Piece Goods Shops was sold again through another LBO in 1985 which created one of highest returns in LBO history and was recognized in several national financial publications. The company sold once again in 1989 through another LBO. As the original family owner promised, opportunities to grow with the company indeed came to pass as Frazier was elected president at the age of 39 and later was elected CEO by the board of directors. As the entire home sewing industry declined in the late 1990s, Piece Goods was sold to three different strategic players and Frazier retired.
Frazier’s experience growing and managing the Piece Goods chain inspired him to think of new business ventures when he explored his next chapter of life. “Throughout my professional career I’ve acquired three industrial patents and 19 inventions. I love thinking of untapped markets and ways to become more efficient in delivering a product in demand,” says Frazier.
Frazier’s expertise was noticed by Lowes Home Improvement where he worked in a promotional marketing position. “We opened 17 stores in the Atlanta area in 18 months,” remarks Frazier. Once Frazier’s contract expired, he headed back to North Carolina to start a new chapter, as an executive business solutions consultant that he continues to enjoy immensely.
“My hobbies and down time have always revolved around inventing and creating new products has never gone away,” reflects Frazier. “Most recently, I have created a new all-purpose and versatile sauce called Hot Dippity Dawg.” Frazier took note of the food truck craze and combined the savory and sweet with a kick of heat to create a unique and delicious compliment to an array of foods. “I haven’t found a food that it doesn’t enhance with the exception of spaghetti noodles,” laughs Frazier. “The flavorful sauce can even be used on salmon, salads, chicken, you name it.” In just 6 months of the inception of Hot Dippity Dawg, the sauce has been acquired by over 100 stores. Frazier’s focus is to work strictly with independent markets across the country. “The team that has helped spread the word from Indiana to Florida with a concentration on the Carolina markets has been fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about them, especially Cindy Craig and Cindy Bell with their work ethic and dedication. We have all really enjoyed having an opportunity to work with small businesses in our community too. Places like the Clemmons Country Store, Lewisville Country Market, Smitherman’s Hardware, Steelman’s ACE Hardware, Tanglewood Pizza Company and Cherries Restaurant have all picked up Hot Dippity Dawg and supporting each other has been a neat thing to see,” says a grateful Frazier. “I have been a very lucky man because my family has always been supportive of my career and inventions. My wife, Karla and adult children, Scott, Sarah and Anne Marie have always been my greatest cheerleaders. I think they know how hard it is for me just to relax. I don’t profess to be good at anything, but I will always give it my absolute best.”