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Triad

Cuts dye Unifi's quarter black 

Earlier this year, Greensboro-based yarn maker Unifi managed its first profitable quarter since 2003. It did so partly by consolidating production, closing factories and slashing jobs in North Carolina and other states. The profit wasn’t much — just $12,000 — but compared with a $13.2 million loss in the same quarter last year, it’s a promising start for CEO William Jasper, who was promoted in September from vice president of sales.

Another beneficiary of Unifi’s job shuffle has been Yadkinville. Later this year, for the seventh time since 2004, the company will increase employment at its five polyester plants there because of consolidation elsewhere. This time, the boost will come at the expense of a factory in Staunton, Va., which Unifi plans to close by Sept. 30.

That plant has 145 employees, but company execs aren’t sure how many positions they will transfer to Yadkinville or how many people will move from Virginia to keep their jobs. Some management positions will be eliminated. Once the Staunton plant closes, all of Unifi’s domestic production will be in North Carolina and all of its polyester production in Yadkinville. That’s mostly because the plants there have the company’s newest equipment, courtesy of about $600 million in renovations made in the late 1990s. Unifi also has a dyeing plant in Reidsville and a nylon plant in Madison. It employs about 2,100 in North Carolina and 1,100 overseas.

Another reason it has seeped into the black has been efforts to widen its sources of raw materials, which has brought down costs. It also stepped up efforts to sell its products to apparel makers in Asia, particularly China. Sales also have been bolstered by increased demand for Repreve, a recycled yarn that’s made from fiber waste and recycled plastics such as soda and water bottles. “It’s an important part of the growth of our business,” says Chief Financial Officer Ronald Smith.

Repreve could help the company in another way — by bringing it publicity. The manufacturing process in Yadkinville has caught the eye of the producers of the How It’s Made television show on the Discovery Channel. A segment on Repreve recently was filmed for the show’s 12th season, which begins in January.

What Vow Is Worth Now

Seven years ago, Ken Thompson promised Winston-Salem 3,000 jobs. He did it to generate support for Charlotte-based First Union’s takeover of Twin City pillar Wachovia, and it worked. Wachovia merged with First Union, even surrendering its name. Winston-Salem shed about 1,300 jobs when the headquarters moved to Charlotte, but it might have been worse if not for Thompson’s pledge. Wachovia still has heavy concentrations of workers there in its wealth-management, Carolinas banking and Internet-technology divisions. But with Thompson’s ouster as CEO in June, city officials fear his word might be out the door with him. Wachovia executives aren’t commenting.

 

COOLEEMEEJockey International plans to close its knitting mill by the second quarter of 2009. About 210 people will lose jobs. The Kenosha, Wisc.-based apparel maker says the 20-year-old factory is outdated. An adjacent warehouse that employs about 180 will remain open.

WINSTON-SALEM — Starting in 2009, Wake Forest University will no longer require SAT or ACT test scores for admission. School leaders say they aren’t accurate predictors of academic performance. Wake Forest will become the only top 30 university in the U.S. News & World Report ranking to make the tests optional.

WINSTON-SALEM — The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference agreed to hold its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments here for three years, beginning next year. In that time, they’re expected to generate $5.2 million for the city’s economy. Raleigh hosted the tournaments the past three years.

LEXINGTONSunEdison of Beltsville, Md., plans to harvest solar energy by 2011 on 100 to 200 acres in Davidson County. Charlotte-based Duke Energy has agreed to purchase power from the $173 million solar farm. It will employ three.

GREENSBORO — Executives at Piedmont Triad International Airport expect about $27.6 million in revenue during the fiscal year that begins this month — down 4% from the year just ended. They say 6.5% fewer passengers will fly from the airport this year because of higher fares and elimination of some routes.

HIGH POINT — CBL & Associates Properties wants to sell Oak Hollow Mall for $40 million. The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company also owns Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem and Randolph Mall in Asheboro. Oak Hollow is 13 years old and about 800,000 square feet.

WINSTON-SALEMTargacept, which was spun off from cigarette maker Reynolds American in 2000, received $500,000 from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline for identifying a chemical compound that could lead to a new smoking-cessation drug. London-based GSK has an option to market the drug.

GREENSBOROCanplast will add 33 jobs at its factory here by the end of the year, bringing employment to about 75. The company, part of Buttenwiesen, Germany-based Surteco, makes edging used in furniture and cabinets.

WINSTON-SALEM — Software maker Silk Road Technology secured $54 million in venture capital. The round was led by Menlo Park, Calif.-based Foundation Capital. Silk Road’s software helps companies manage human resources. It plans to use the money on product development, sales and marketing, international growth and acquisitions.

WALNUT COVE — Gastonia-based Parkdale America plans to spend at least $30 million on new equipment to preserve the 85 jobs at its yarn factory here. Stokes County commissioners approved more than $200,000 in incentives.

MOCKSVILLERenegade Holdings, parent of cigarette maker Alternative Brands, plans to add 25 jobs at its factory here by September after buying cigar-making equipment from Yoe, Pa.-based House of Windsor. It did not disclose the purchase price. Renegade employs about 150.

HIGH POINTLifeStyle Enterprises, which imports case goods and leather upholstery from Asia, scuttled plans to expand its Forbidden Center showroom here. It will sell back — for the price it paid — a 1.5-acre site it bought from the city in 2006.

GREENSBORONewBridge Bancorp plans to buy Capital Bank’s branch here for an undisclosed price. When the deal closes in the third quarter, NewBridge will have 38 branches — six in Guilford County. Raleigh-based Capital Bank still will have seven branches in the Triad.

GREENSBORO — The News & Record wants to sell 3.6 acres adjacent to its offices for $5.7 million. That includes a 280-space parking lot and a 31,338-square-foot warehouse. Norfolk, Va.-based Landmark Communications has been trying to sell the 117-year-old newspaper since January.