2007-10

Article Title Issue

Banks think global but still give local

Banks pulled off plenty of mergers between 1994 and 2004, often cutting costs in the process, yet their charitable giving didn’t suffer, according to a study of seven large banks and their predecessors.
2007-10

Dodging the overdraft

Within an eight-day stretch earlier this summer, two news reports appeared in my local paper that, when taken together, perfectly illustrated why the banking industry’s relationship with its ordinary-Joe customers is like that of a dysfunctional couple who swing wildly between love and strife.
2007-10

Getting it wholesale

Every year, convenience-store suppliers get together for a conference, and every year, it seems to Sherwin Herring, there’s talk of consolidation. “Our industry has the worst return on investment out of, like, 80-some wholesale industries.” It’s tough to boost revenue or margins much when competitors can get goods for about the same price you can. You can try to give better service, but so can they. Consolidation is one way to quickly increase sales, cut costs and maybe widen margins.
2007-10

House brand

It began as a rich man's folly — a French Renaissance chateau in North Carolina’s hillbilly highlands. George Vanderbilt, grandson of steamship and railroad magnate Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, nearly exhausted his share of the family fortune by buying 125,000 acres and building the 250-room mansion.
2007-10

Legislative trash talking

n 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that moving garbage constitutes commerce. As a result, New Jersey couldn't prohibit Philadelphia from trucking trash across the Delaware River into the Garden State. Nearly three decades later, North Carolina’s political leaders decided that they didn’t want this state to become New Jersey’s, or any other state’s, dumping ground.
2007-10

Leviathan's lair

At Beaufort County’s largest employer, 1,050 workers follow a daily routine: Ore from the mine goes in, and out comes phosphoric acid and other compounds to make fertilizer, fire retardants, soft drinks, jams and jellies, animal feed and other products.
2007-10

Matter of opinion

As business editor of The News & Observer, Dan Gearino wrote a weekly column, but one annoyed the executive editor so much that he pulled the plug. “I’ll stipulate the charge: My columns were notably short on reverence,” concedes Dan, who channeled some of the creative energy that went into writing the column to his first novel — What the Deaf-Mute Heard — which Simon & Schuster published. It would win the state’s top fiction prize and be turned into the highest-rated TV movie of the decade.
2007-10

Point blank

Keith West stood 6-4 and weighed about 260. Nearly 40, the ex-Marine had gone soft around the waist, but his arms still looked as hard as tree trunks. His size served him well in his business. He had left the Smithfield Police Department in 2001 to start West-Tek Inc., his private police force, which within five years had more than 100 employees. He rarely took vacations, spending much of his time away from the office boning up on security practices and networking.
2007-10