By: Pat Winter
Although Melissa and Craig are newcomers, chances are you may already know them or know someone here on the Plantation who does. Why? Melissa and Craig are the proud owners of a new business, NC Soft-Wash, a roof and exterior house-cleaning company. Over the last 18 months, between forty-five and fifty of your neighbors have used their services to clean their roofs or house exteriors. And, Craig proudly claims them all as his very best new friends!
Back in 1993-94 in their hometown of New Bern, Craig was ready to talk with Melissa about a career change. He and Melissa seriously discussed what life might look like for them if he joined the Coast Guard. Melissa reluctantly agreed, with the stipulation that Craig would not accept assignments to Alaska or Elizabeth City. And, as the saying goes, “Never say never.” Craig was stationed at Base Elizabeth City for five years from 1996-2001. During this time the Lawrances lived in Virginia or Hertford, and Melissa was employed as a social worker with Albemarle Alliance for Children and Families.
Assignments took them away from our area until July of 2016, when Craig was stationed in Elizabeth City again. With retirement only two years away, the career-change discussion with Melissa resumed. Craig decided to work part-time on starting up a Soft-Wash business during his last year in the military. The big question this time was where the business would be based. They drove around areas from Manteo to New Bern to Virginia Beach, looking for a good fit. Melissa remembered Albemarle Plantation from their first Coast Guard assignment in Elizabeth City and wanted to have another look around. As they were driving down Broad River Drive, Penny and Geoff Byrd just happened to be out-side and struck up a conversation with the new entrepreneurs. Before long, Craig was working on cleaning Penny’s house and experiencing what he calls “The Penny Byrd Effect.” He cleaned six houses on her street alone, totaling nearly fifty just in AP over the last year and a half.
The Lawrances quickly decided that our community was where they wanted to live. After looking at the very first home offered for sale, they told their astonished realtor, “We’ll take it!”, and moved into their home on our golf course’s first hole last January. Craig retired fully in July and now is working full time on growing their company, with Melissa helping out on the business end of things. Their daughter, who is completing a clinical pharmaceutical research degree from UNCW, also likes to come to visit when she can.
The Lawrances love living so close to the water. They have a crab pot off D Dock, and fishing poles are a necessary accessory for their golf cart. Looking at all the boats in the marina is one of their favorite pastimes, as their “big goal” is to travel on a Grand Banks trawler and complete the Great Loop, although they might practice by going to the Bahamas first.
So…. be on the lookout for Craig and Melissa and be sure to help us welcome them home!