West Virginia Executive Summer 2014 - Page 95

The extensive process used by J.Q. Dickinson’s owners and workers results in a small batch of gourmet salt that elevates the idea of the traditional table seasoning and is also meant to be environmentally friendly and community minded. “Environmental responsibility is a major factor in the decisions we make as a business,” says Nancy. “We chose a slow method for production that was environmentally conscious and meant to have as little impact as possible. We also like to showcase that our salt is a product of Mother Nature. We are working with Appalachian Power to install solar panels to continue to lessen our carbon footprint.” Family Matters Since its humble beginnings in the Kanawha Valley, Dickinson salt-making has been a family affair. Today, Nancy and Lewis carry on the tradition in Malden on the same land their family used seven generations ago. Growing up in Charleston, WV, the two siblings didn’t have beginnings in the salt industry. Nancy attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, where she met her husband, Carter. It was Carter, an American historian, who researched the Dickinson family heritage in the salt industry and spurred the decision to explore salt-making. “I had been in the food business for almost 25 years. My husband and I owned a restaurant in North Carolina that we sold in 2008,” says Nancy. As cooking companions, the couple had collected gourmet salts from around the world. “When Carter decided to pursue a master’s degree in American history, he began looking at how salt as a commodity and resource affected the development of the country. He soon discovered Malden and the role it played in the 1800s.” Carter’s research on the Dickinson family led him to write his thesis on the industrialization of the Kanawha Valley, detailing the rise and decline of the salt industry when the center of the meat packing industry moved further west, from Cincinnati to Chicago. Nancy’s interest was sparked, and when she found out there were still remarkable brine resources in West Virginia, she began researching on her own. Nancy is now the CEO of J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. Her brother, Lewis, is the company’s chief operations officer and oversees the daily operations of the company. Both siblings assist with harvesting, cleaning and packaging the salt that they produce alongside their two employees. Lewis’s wife, Paige, also fulfills important roles within the company. “Our children help us when they are around. It is their heritage,” says Nancy. “We want them to understand the importance of what we are doing. By putting labels on jars or making a delivery, they are playing a small part in its success.” Pass it Around In May 2013, J.Q. Dickinson installed their well in Kanawha County and began their mission to produce small-batch gourmet salt, something that Nancy and Lewis want to make personal for the community and, possibly, the world. “Some people are intimidated by specialty salts. I want to communicate that our salt is for everyday use, not just special occasions,” says Nancy. “You can really taste the difference. We also feel that if we can play a small part in getting West The Doorway Is Open Your support can help unlock the door to home ownership. A hand up, not a hand out. What will you build? www.habitatwv.org 304-720-7636 Like us on Facebook: Habitat for Humanity of WV of West Virginia SPONSORSHIPS AVAILABLE Ad Courtesy of Rollins, Cleavenger & Rollins, CPA www.wvexecutive.com summer 2014 95