Chapin, SC (Paul Kirby) – When people speak of treasures, some think of pirate’s gold buried in the sand many years ago. Others immediately think of large safes with heavy doors that have beautiful art, gold bars, or piles of currency behind them. Often however, a treasure can be a living, breathing thing that hasn’t been around forever; a person with spirit and drive so that everywhere they go, they enrich the community and the people they come into contact with. Such is the case with Chapin’s Jaime Bohnke. Spend a few minutes with her and you’ll immediately feel you’re in the presence of someone different than most. Talk to her awhile, and you’ll fully realize how lucky Chapin is to have her.
Jaime is not a Chapin native. She was raised in California by a mother from Louisiana, just 15 when she married a Navy man. The Navy took the couple to California. These weren’t her biological parents; her mother couldn’t have children. California laws on adoption made a couple wait years to adopt so Jaime met her parents later in their lives. Shortly after her adoption, her parents divorced and later, her mother remarried. To Jaime, that man, her mom’s second husband was her dad.
Jaime’s mom quickly knew her daughter was different. In hindsight, her mom was likely feeling what you still feel when you’re around her today. It’s hard to describe, but she’s a bundle of energy, excited about whatever she takes on. She has a drive to be the best at everything she decides to do regardless. That passion for excellence exudes from her; it’s contagious. You can quickly catch it if you’re around her. Just being close makes you want to get busy and inspires you to do something great yourself. Jaime’s mother quickly realized what she had on her hands. Instead of trying to stifle this bundle of “try and experience everything now” ball of boundless energy, mom decided her best course was to direct that energy in a positive way. Mom would point Jamie and then just watch her go!
You might ask, what makes this woman so special. If one were to guess, they’d probably say spirit; Jaime has a winning spirit. In school she was mediocre in her studies but excelled in every sport she tried. She went to Christian schools her entire life and she had thirteen letters in various sports like volleyball, basketball, softball, and track at graduation. Not only was Jaime the team’s captains and MVP at her high school, she received MVP of the league in volleyball, basketball, and softball, a first in California at the time. Again, not to ever be bested, Jaime had perfect attendance from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Later, it would become clear why Jaime wasn’t the best student. The things she was studying never grabbed her interest, never gave her a real challenge. She is proud to admit she was voted class clown. You might say Jaime had ADHD when ADHD wasn’t cool. She wasn’t the best student, but that didn’t temper her dreams. Jaime said during our interview that from a very young age, “I wanted to be the Governor of California.”
Despite a GPA that was in the mid 2’s, she was recruited by a number of prestigious colleges on the west coast to continue her athletic journey, several wanted this wonder girl. Her college offers could have resulted in full-ride scholarships, but to Jamie, none felt right. To her, how a situation feels is very important. She finally decided to attend a Christian university where she had to play volleyball and basketball to help pay her way. In her own words, “I really didn’t like basketball that much either.” After graduating with her first college degree in business, her thirst for knowledge and challenges became insatiable.
Jaime first went to work in the aerospace and defense industry herself. McDonnell Douglas, who later merged with Boeing, hired her to work as a material requirements planner in the UAW, the union that covered its employees. Jaime said the company paid for her to go to school and go to school she did. She collected degrees like baseball cards and by thirty, was Doctor Jaime Bohnke. Her doctorate is in Organizational Behavior and Business Policy. Never heard of that course of study, it doesn’t matter. It was a degree that she would use well for the rest of her professional life.
If you’ll remember that drive to excel, of course Jaime became the best in her field. She’s one of the nation’s leading experts on global integrated supply chain & procurement and operational excellence. For the uninformed, that’s the purchasing and distribution of goods and services throughout a trans-national company’s global network. The goal for her was to aggregate demand, optimize the buy, maximize profits and minimize waste while getting things people needed all over the world.
Jaime worked for many worldwide companies in her career. It wasn’t that she couldn’t keep a job, no, each business recruited her to come in, fix their supply chain, and maximize their performance while minimizing cost. Once the challenge of a job was gone, things were fixed and running smoothly, she was bored and ready to move on. Each job she took was a step up, ultimately leading her to the “C” suite and an being an officer of the company. She recently said about her job history, “I always wanted to be where there was a need.” Jaime was much sought after and heavily recruited by Fortune 100 companies who needed a person of her expertise. The fact that this expert was a woman only made her feeling of fulfillment more satisfying. One of Jaime’s stops was at Raytheon, a military contractor and state-of-the art, world-wide missile system provider. Through her expertise, the company’s parts and components got where they were needed efficiently. As it turns out, she met her husband at Raytheon. He was also an employee there.
At one point, Jaime worked for Westinghouse and was involved in their facility here along the Congaree River. She and her husband loved the area and enrolled their daughter at Heathwood Hall. They bought a home on Lake Murray near Chapin and Jaime commuted to her job at Westinghouse’s HQ in Pittsburgh, PA. She was also in demand as a speaker across the globe, sharing her expertise. Finally, at just 51, Jaime put her travel bag away and retired to Chapin with her family. Her mother, the one who adopted her so long ago, lives with her family now. Jaime says regarding her mother, “We’re soulmates.”
Now, Jaime and her husband have invested heavily in the Chapin community. He’d always wanted to run a package shop, so he has several in the area. Jaime, with her drive for excellence and zest for a challenge, has decided to do something totally different, something she’s never done before. She bought the old Trucky’s Wheels used car lot and is turning it into the S&S Destination.
The S&S is a play on two things. First history. S&S Garage was a local destination to get gas or to have your car repaired. Floyd Slice and Wendell Shealy owned that across from Jaime’s S&S, and the building best known as Trucky’s Wheels too. They were just a part of its long lineage. As with everything Jamie does, she’s studied the history of the little building at Chapin Road and Lexington Avenue and knows it well.
The second part of the name S&S Destination is a play on what you’ll get there, sweets and sandwiches. After describing Jaime, I know you aren’t thinking two pieces of bread, some sandwich meat, and cheese. This place will feature high-end sweets and sandwiches at a frugal price. Frugal doesn’t mean cheap, it means you’ll get value for what you spend. The sandwiches will be in waffle boats with only the finest things inside. There will be chicken and waffles and candy; candy and sweets of every kind. Just hearing her describe it is amazing!
Jaime has renovated the building to take it back to a different period. Walk in and you’ll think you’ve been in a time machine. The beams of the roof are now exposed, the floors are a gorgeous period perfect knotty pine, and the fixtures make you think of Ike Godsey’s store of the Walton’s fame. Are you old enough to remember Ike's? It really is like that.
More important than the business, Jaime is sharing herself with the community. She is mentoring young girls, has joined every club and organization in town, and is genuinely making a difference. She’s doing all that and she’s just really getting started.
You know pirates sometimes buried their treasure in the sand for safekeeping. If someone got exceptionally lucky, the waves of the sea might eventually erode the sand until a portion of the treasure chest was exposed, ready for them to discover all the wonders it contains. Being around Dr. Jaime Bohnke is like that. She’s definitely a treasure, but I think that Chapin’s only just begun to see what glorious things are there, it's just being exposed. As the waves of time washes away more sand, the real treasure that is Jaime, the excellence and gift will be fully revealed. When the chest is opened, you may not find gold inside. Instead, you’ll find the riches of a spirit that’s ready to invest of herself and her resources to bring crashing waves of beautiful, limitless greatness to her part of Lexington County. Just you wait and see.