By Eugenia Jones
This year, Outdoor Venture Corporation (OVC) is celebrating its 50th birthday. As McCreary County’s longest existing manufacturing industry, OVC’s Board of Directors and employees have played a significant role in growing the local community including spearheading the establishment of a local public library and county park.
One of OVC’s “founding fathers” and current Chief Executive Officer, JC Egnew, describes OVC as a large “small” business of 325 employees. Egnew is thankful OVC planted its roots in McCreary County and innately knows the business “was in the right place at the right time.” He recognizes the importance of giving back to the community noting we all have a mission in life.
“The mission in life is to make things better,” Egnew observed. “If people see that I’m willing to do something for the community, they are more likely to respond. We can’t achieve unless we have support and cooperation from a lot of people. It’s important for us to support those who support us.”
Reaching out to improve the community’s quality of life began as soon as OVC was established in McCreary County. Egnew recalls that his wife, Azalie, valued two thing in the early ‘70s-skating and libraries. When the Egnews, along with three other couples, first arrived in McCreary County to establish OVC, JC recalls Azalie insisting there had to be a library in McCreary County.
As the early president of OVC, JC Egnew was appointed as a library trustee and acted as spokesperson for local individuals who were determined to secure a McCreary County library. After much effort, the McCreary County Public Library was officially established in the 1970s. It has grown phenomenally throughout the years.
Recognizing the importance of networking and improving the local quality of life, Egnew next stepped up to help establish the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce. Egnew served as the first president of the local organization and continued to serve for multiple terms.
In the early 1980’s, OVC’s Egnew once again played a major role in community development by helping establish a County Park. With the public library flourishing, Egnew stepped down from the library board to serve as chairman of the McCreary County Park Board. Egnew remained active in development of a county park, both at the park’s former location at the McCreary Center and its current location north of Whitley City.
Promotion of McCreary County tourism was the next target for Egnew and others associated with OVC. Formation of the McCreary County Heritage Foundation, with Egnew as chair, eventually led to the Foundation’s ownership of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway and McCreary County Museum as well as promotion of the Polar Express.
The Air and Space Education Institute, a program for middle and high schoolers taught at the McCreary County Airport, benefited greatly from the generosity of OVC when the company donated a classroom/lab building and provided funding for Institute operation and flight simulators. The Institute led to local students earning pilot licenses and two McCreary County high school students working through a paid apprenticeship for certification in aircraft maintenance/mechanics.
The Christian Care Center is also a recipient of OVC’s involvement in the community. Azalie Egnew, a long-time volunteer with the charity, was actively involved in the Center’s formation. It was a dream of Azalie Egnew and Sister Lorraine to develop a place to help people who were falling through the cracks. Today, the Center provides medicine, food, and care for those in need.
“The company is proud to support the Christian Care Center,” JC Egnew said as he noted OVC employees recently completed a donation drive for the Center.
OVC is also a generous supporter of projects throughout the County, including the provision of financial donations to the school system, annual 4th of July fireworks displays, and other community events and local organizations.
OVC will continue its 50th anniversary celebration through September with special, celebratory events including the planting of an anniversary tree, OVC golf tournament, OVC wall of fame, company picnic, product recognition, etc.
With fifty years of success under its belt, OVC plans to continue its business success; while at the same time, remaining a loyal partner with the McCreary County community.