COLUMBIA, SC -- James Howell Sikes, founder of Vendors Supply Inc., died on Sept. 22. He was 83.
Sikes founded Vendors Supply, a distributor of food and beverage products to vending operators, in 1964 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. Upon his return to civilian life, he found employment at a bakery, where he realized a need for a company that could distribute product to vending machine operators on regular and reliable schedules. Using the carport at his home in Columbia, SC, Sikes set up his first warehouse and made deliveries in a pickup truck.
That humble start would eventually become a multi-state enterprise. As a result of Sikes' entrepreneurial skills, Vendors Supply experienced immediate growth and it soon moved into a larger facility. And it eventually opened warehouses in North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia.
Under Sikes' leadership, Vendors Supply was routinely recognized as one of South Carolina's top 100 privately owned companies. In 1996, he had received Ernst & Young's prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award, and in 2001 the North Carolina Vending Association bestowed on him its Supplier of the Year honor (see VT, 2001). In 2010, Sikes retired as president and chief executive, and his son Randy succeeded him.
Sikes was born in Cobbtown, GA, but lived most of his life in South Carolina. He was a member of Columbia's Park Street Baptist Church where he was a lifetime deacon and past deacon chairman, taught Sunday school and served on many church committees.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Greta Nelms Sikes; daughter Debbie Stokes and her husband Ronnie; son Randy Sikes and his wife Kathy; sisters Maggie Shoaf and Betty Guinan; and five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He was predeceased by a son, Jaye D. Sikes.
Funeral services for Jim Sikes will be held Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. at Park Street Baptist Church. Visiting hours are 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Dunbar Funeral Home in Irmo, SC. Click here for more details.