Lunenburg Chamber of Commerce names Citizen of the Year

Meet John Hite, the Lunenburg Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year for 2023. When Hite heard his name announced at last weekend’s Lunenberg Chamber of Commerce banquet, gratitude ran through his mind.

“I was really honored,” he said. Hite was named Citizen of the Year by the Lunenburg Chamber on Saturday, Jan. 21, a title he said he doesn’t take lightly. 

“It was a nice banquet and there were so many familiar faces that do so much work around the community,” Hite said. “To go and have dinner that night and to find out that I had been selected for this award was a huge honor. There were other qualified citizens and businesses that were nominated, and it was a great honor to be in their company.”

The 45 year-old is known for his entrepreneurial spirit – one he says he’s had all of his life. He started “IMG College Seating” while in college at Virginia Tech in the 1990s. The business sells comfortable seat cushions for college stadium seating. It was an idea developed alongside friends at Virginia Tech that grew into a business.

“We started with two contracts – Virginia Tech and East Carolina (University),” he said.

From there, the business grew into what it is today. According to their website, IMG represents more than 30 institutions and agencies throughout the United States with representation in a number of major football conferences. 

Hite sold the business in 2008, but has remained on as vice president. 

“I knew I wanted to raise my kids and family in Kenbridge, in Lunenburg, and in 2007  I had the opportunity to move home,” he said.

Lunenburg Chamber winner says this is home

Moving from Blacksburg to Lunenburg, where he was born and raised, wasn’t a hard decision. 

“While we loved life in Blacksburg, in Christiansburg, we appreciated the small town, south-side Virginia,” he said. “To be near my three brothers, my parents, and to have my children grow up with all of their cousins, and nieces and nephews, it’s really special.”

The small-town feel, he characterizes as a community tribe of sorts. 

“It goes far beyond the family,” he explained. “It’s generational friends, other families in the community, the church, etc.”

And he’s using what he’s learned outside of Lunenburg, to inspire younger generations. 

“(I like to) try to mentor and coach other people working on their other businesses, and encourage young people to do the same,” he said. “To follow their dreams with passion and persistence.”

Persistence, he believes, is what brought him this far, and has allowed his business to grow over the years. It’s a value he tries to instill in every young person he mentors.