The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles has closed the license plate agency in Holly Springs.

A Wake County DMV office once known for its decor and cupcakes is shut down

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles has closed the license plate agency in Holly Springs.

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles has closed the license plate agency in Holly Springs.

NC DMV

A DMV license plate office run by the CEO of a medical testing company and once renowned for offering cupcakes along with license tags, has been closed due to “several contract violations,” the state says.

The Division of Motor Vehicles closed the license plate agency at 408 Village Walk Drive in Holly Springs on Wednesday.

In a letter to the operators of the office Wednesday, Portia Manley, DMV’s chief deputy commissioner, said it had misused a process designed to expedite title work for auto dealers and other businesses handling large numbers of vehicles.

DMV spokesman John Brockwell said the agency is still investigating the office’s operations and “will have no further comment at this time regarding the issues which led to the closure.“

The DMV has more than 120 offices across the state that handle vehicle licenses, titles and registrations. The license plate agencies are separate from state-run driver’s license offices. All but one are run by private contractors.

The Holly Springs office opened in 2015 when the state awarded the contract to Chad Price, co-founder and CEO of MAKO Medical Laboratories in Raleigh. In an email late Wednesday, Price said he was traveling and had only just learned of the closure.

“My business partner and branch manager has managed and run the day-to-day operations since we first opened in 2015,” Price wrote. “I am still gathering all the facts.”

Price has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates in North Carolina and other states and was active in politics when he won the DMV contract. On his application he indicated that he had a bachelor’s degree in finance and a graduate degree in business from the University of Maryland, even though he had neither, The News & Observer reported in 2020.

A DMV spokeswoman said at the time that she wasn’t sure what vetting was done before the contract was awarded and said the supervisor involved in the process had left the agency.

Price had also listed two other college degrees he didn’t have on a resume he submitted to Wake County commissioners when they appointed him to the Wake Technical Community College Board of Trustees in 2014, The N&O reported. Price resigned from the Wake Tech board the day after The N&O published the article.

The DMV office Price operated was different from most, which earned it a spot on ABC’s Good Morning America in 2016. Customers arrived to find cupcakes, fruit smoothies, a children’s play area and a decor that looked more like a cafe than a government office.

The DMV periodically shuts down license plate agency offices when it finds they aren’t abiding by their contracts or state law. In 2017, the agency took over the Raleigh office on New Bern Avenue after it found the contractor wasn’t following standard operating procedures, resulting in accounting errors.

Brockwell said the DMV may soon seek bids for a new license plate office in southwestern Wake County. In the meantime, DMV directs people to the following offices, open Monday through Friday.

Cary: 1251 Buck Jones Road, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 919-469-1444

Angier, 18 E. Depot St., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 919-639-9900

North Raleigh, 2533 Atlantic Ave., Suite 102, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 919-831-9996

Some services, including property tax payments and registration renewals, also can be completed online at MyNCDMV.gov.

This story was originally published August 10, 2022 5:39 PM.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak. He’s been a reporter or editor for 35 years, including the last 23 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.

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