2021 Maggy Awards: Services

Hunter Ekin

Best auto mechanic shop

Atlantic Tire & Service

Frantz Automotive
Bull Tire & Service

Best financial institution

Coastal Credit Union

State Employees Credit Union
Fidelity Bank

Best financial adviser

Ethan Carr, Equitable Advisors

David Hellinger, Hellinger Financial
Kenn Buckner, Edward Jones

Best custom home builder/home renovation specialist

Hunter Ekin / Ekin Contracting & Design

Poythress Homes
Loyd Builders

Best mortgage officer

Kendra McCormick, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group

Sherry Riano, First Heritage Mortgage
April Roberts, Carolina Mortgage Specialists

Best insurance agent

Teri LaRocca, State Farm

Michael Carey, Fairway Insurance and Risk Management
David Bullard, David Bullard Insurance Services

Best real estate agent

Heidi Harris, Home Sweet Heidi Realty

Colleen Blondell, Blondell Properties
Nancy Grace, Keller Williams Realty Cary

Best doctor

Dr. Elizabeth Vandergriff, Preston Medical Associates

Dr. Josh Bloom, Carolina Family Practice & Sports Medicine
Dr. Melanie Mintzer, Generations Family Practice

Best eye doctor

Dr. Kenneth Rousselo, Preston Optometry Center

Dr. Dwight Barnes, Cary Family Eye Care
Dr. Kelly Barnes, Cary Family Eye Care

Best plastic surgeon

Dr. Brian Coan, Care Plastic Surgery

Dr. William T. Stoeckel, Wake Plastic Surgery
Dr. Donald Hanna, Cary Plastic Surgery

Best chiropractor

Dr. Brad Creehan, Spine Care Chiropractic Center

Dr. Jaylene Bair, Harmony Family Chiropractic
Dr. Todd Staker, Staker Chiropractic Center

Best psychologist/therapist

Erin Bircher, Foundations 4 Change

Laura Ashford, LCSW
Roger Moore, The Center for Psychological Wellness

Best dentist

Dr. Bobbi Stanley, Stanley Dentistry

Dr. Tara Bell, Bell Family Dentistry
Dr. Tim Barlow

Best orthodontist

Dr. Todd Bovenizer, Bovenizer & Baker Orthodontics

Dr. Kelly Ritter, Dr. Kelly Ritter Orthodontics
Dr. Deborah Bassham, Riccobene Associates

Best attorney

Jackie Bedard, Carolina Family Estate Planning

Paul Yokabitus, Cary Estate Planning
Cara Petri, Jackson Law

Best hair salon

Twisted Scizzors

The Refinery Salon
J&F Gemelli

Best spa

The Umstead Hotel & Spa

Lorena Luca
Spa Retreat Cary

Best pet services

Town & Country Veterinary Hospital

Mayfair Animal Hospital

Hunter Ekin, Owner; Ekin Contracting and Design

Best Custom Home Builder/Home Renovation Specialist

Hunter Ekin, the 27-year-old owner of Ekin Contracting and Design, launched his business as a side hustle more than two years ago. After getting his general contractor’s license, he worked nights and weekends building his business, while also working full-time at a Raleigh sign company.

“I was getting super busy, and I was waiting for that right time to part ways. Then COVID hit, and I was told to apply for unemployment,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m pretty busy right now. Let’s spread the word and just kind of see what I can do.’ I really haven’t looked back.”

Ekin specializes in smaller interior home renovation projects — installing built-in desks and shelving, remodeling bathrooms and finishing attic spaces.

“People want to utilize every square inch of their house as possible, so these attic up-fits and stuff like that are super common,” he said. “If you’re working from home right now, you see items that have kind of slipped away over time, and I’m happy to get in there and take care of it.”

Eventually Ekin hopes to build houses, like his father, who has been in the construction industry for more than 30 years. For now, he’s pleased with the company he founded.

“I love it. My dad’s super happy with it too,” Ekin said. “It’s nice to have somebody to turn to. I call my dad probably 10 times a day with questions.”


Kendra McCormick, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group

Best Mortgage Officer

Kendra McCormick has been giving homebuyers sound mortgage advice since 2006 and helping them find the best loan for their family. Because of low mortgage rates driving refinances and the hot housing market, she did roughly 250 mortgages in 2020, more than in previous years.

“I love the relationships I have built with my clients and Realtors,” McCormick said. “I love helping people make their dream of a home purchase come true.”

One look at her reviews and it’s clear that her clients return the affection.

“As first time home buyers, we appreciated all the information provided to us in a clear and easy-to-understand format. I felt comfortable asking questions when I didn’t understand something,” wrote one recent homebuyer.


Coastal Credit Union

Best Financial Institution

In its latest Member & Community Impact Report, Coastal Credit Union describes five values that guide its business practices: Be Heroic, Welcome Diversity, Be Accountable, Be Bold and Share Generously. In 2020, this last directive, “to share to make our communities stronger,” was on display.

To combat the effects of COVID-19, the Coastal Credit Union Foundation distributed more than $1 million in community assistance grants, roughly twice what it gave out in 2019.

“Two of our foundation’s areas of focus, promoting financial well-being and increasing affordable housing, were directly affected by the economic impact of COVID. A lot of what we did targeted those two things,” said Coastal spokesman Joe Mecca.

Two grants, of $50,000 each to Kramden Institute and Wake Tech Foundation, had an immediate impact.

“With the Kramden grant, we were able to help further their work to provide computers to public school and community college students across the Triangle, including Wake County. As students shifted to remote learning, we learned that families without reliable computer and internet access run the risk of falling behind,” Mecca said. “Our grant helped 500 families bridge the technology gap and continue with online learning.”

By supporting the Wake Tech Foundation’s Completion Scholarships program, Coastal was able to help well-performing students finish their education.

“As students began feeling the economic impacts of COVID-19, financial hardships became a growing cause for students falling short of earning a degree,” Mecca said. “We were able to help many of them take that final step and complete their education.”


Erin Bircher, Foundations 4 Change

Best Psychologist/Therapist

Erin Bircher. Submitted photo

Repeat winner Erin Bircher, owner of Foundations 4 Change, has given lots of advice over the last year to help her clients get through a difficult time. As we look forward to seeing the end of the pandemic, she offers some mental health tips for all of us:

  1. Talk about it. It’s important to find a sympathetic ear and talk about what is going on and how it’s affecting you. Take time to nurture your healthy, positive relationships with a phone call or video chat.
  2. Let it go. When we don’t have control over things, it can make people feel powerless and unstable. Identify what you have control over and what you don’t.
  3. Be realistic. Evaluate your personal expectations and possibly lower them during this time. When we don’t meet our expectations, we get disappointed.
  4. Reflect and focus on the positive. Take time to think about what you can live without, what you really need and what matters to you most. Focusing on what’s good in life or looking ahead to happier times can make us feel better.
  5. Stay active. Research shows that mental health is linked to physical health. Go for walks outside, if possible.


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