Eric Hinshaw receives top Elon award for business leadership

W. Eric Hinshaw, chairman of the board and CEO of Kingsdown, Inc., was honored at an April 2 luncheon with the Frank S. Holt, Jr. Business Leadership Award, Elon University’s highest honor for business leadership.

(l-r) Mary Gowan, dean of Elon’s Love School of Business, Frank Holt III, Eric Hinshaw, and President Leo M. Lambert

Hinshaw has served in his dual position since 1982. During his tenure, the company has expanded from a small regional mattress manufacturer to a company with an international presence in 23 countries and nine manufacturing facilities worldwide.

Hinshaw accepted the honor from Frank S. Holt III, the son of the award’s namesake. Several Holt family members were in attendance at the luncheon, as were many of Alamance County’s business leaders.

“Many thanks to Elon University and the Frank Holt Jr. Family for this prestigious award,” Hinshaw said. “To be included among the great leaders who have previously received this award is a true honor.”

Hinshaw is responsible for Kingsdown’s new corporate identity, Sleep to Live. The brand, dedicated to the science of sleep, promotes the relationship between sleep and overall health and wellness. Through the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Mo., Sleep to Live conducts pioneering research into proper sleep equipment, behavior and environment.

As the former President and Chairman of the Board of the International Sleep Products Association, Hinshaw is one of only a few members to receive the organization’s highest honor – the Exceptional Service Award. Hinshaw currently serves on the Board for the American Furniture Hall of Fame.

In 2004, Hinshaw led Kingsdown in commemorating its 100th anniversary in the bedding industry with a celebration dedicated to fundraising efforts for the Children’s Miracle Network. During that year Kingsdown raised more than $1 million for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in the United States and Canada.

“Eric is a highly respected businessman,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “He values his employees. And he believes in giving back to the community.”

Hinshaw is a past member of the advisory board for the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University a winner of the prestigious Charles A. Dukes Award. A member of the National Board for Duke Children’s Hospital, he recently provided a fellowship in Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Duke University, which was named in honor of his wife, Rebecca, and himself.

An Alamance County native, Hinshaw is a graduate of Southern Alamance High School and holds a bachelor of science in management science from Duke University. Hinshaw resides with his wife in Durham, N.C. His children include son Lee Hinshaw, daughter Morgan Hinshaw, step-daughter Debbie Zimmermann, step-son Matthew Bledsoe, and four grandchildren.

Elon’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business established the award to recognize a local citizen whose contributions to business and the community reflect the same progressive, visionary leadership exemplified by the award’s namesake. The late Frank S. Holt, Jr. was president of Holt Manufacturing Co., and an active civic leader.

“The Martha and Spencer Love School of Business selects the recipient of the Frank S. Holt, Jr. Business Leadership Award based on several criteria,” said business school Dean Mary Gowan. “Not the least of those criteria is the extent to which the recipient has character and stature such that his or her selection is a credit to the memory of Frank Holt, Jr., a local business leader known for his both his business acumen and his civic engagement.

“Eric Hinshaw exemplifies those same qualities and we are honored to name him as this year’s recipient. We consider Eric to be a friend of the Love School of Business and a model business leader.”

A committee of university, civic and business leaders annually selects the recipient of the Frank S. Holt, Jr. Business Leadership Award. Past recipients of the award have included the following:

Ralph M. Holt, Jr.
D. Earl Pardue, Sr.
Dr. James B. Powell
Ernest A. Koury, Sr.
Maurice J. Koury
J. Harold Smith
James W. Maynard
C. Avery Thomas
The Gant Family
Jack R. Lindley, Sr.
Virgil L. Stadler
Thomas E. Chandler
James A. Barnwell, Jr.
Richard H. Shirley, Jr.
Sam and Vicky Hunt
James C. McGill
James R. Copland, III
Jo Watts Williams