Table of Contents August 2013

August 2013

Cover story

Wheeling & dealing

Cars made Bruton Smith very rich. No wonder he seems to believe “it’s my way or the highway.”clientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/08/Bruton.jpg

By Edward Martin

Vintage warplanes rumble low over southern Cabarrus County. Below, they pray, a bugler sounds taps, and a bald eagle soars over the infield during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Aaron Causey rolls his wheelchair forward — a Taliban bomb took his legs and maimed his hands. The Army sergeant and his wife, Kat, lean into a microphone, and their voices echo across the grandstands: “Drivers, start your engines!” It’s Memorial Day weekend, and more than 100,000 fans leap to their feet as the 36,000 horsepower of 43 race cars sets the grandstands trembling.

A violent stream of sound and color explodes across the starting line, with eventual winner Kevin Harvick’s Budweiser Chevrolet splashed in red, white and blue and sprinkled with stars. The Coca-Cola 600 is high-octane NASCAR patriotism, and as the pack rockets out of the second turn, its 200 mph shock wave ruffles an American flag the size of a football field swathing a section of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s backstretch stands. The banner is one of the biggest in the nation, but what it conceals is flagging attendance. Under it hide more than 5,000 unsold seats, though the speedway has removed at least 25,000. “You don’t want to show that to folks back home,” says Craig Depken, a sports economist at UNC Charlotte who studies NASCAR. Charlotte Motor Speedway once claimed a capacity of 172,000.

Now, it’s officially 134,000.

Features

Bigger spenders

A rise in returns for the top public companies mirrors a comeback in consumers’ confidence.

By Erin Dunn

Consumers are opening their wallets again, a boon for businesses that sell everything from doughnuts to light-emitting diode bulbs. Even some of North Carolina’s long-beleaguered apparel and textile companies, such as Greensboro-based Unifi Inc., High Point-based Culp Inc. and Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands Inc., posted above-average results on Business North Carolina’s annual ranking of the 75 largest public companies headquartered in the state. “We’re starting to see the consumer come back,” says Don Olmstead, managing director of Novare Capital Management LLC in Charlotte. His company compiled the list, which is based on market value on the last trading day in June.

Their Brothers' Keepers

The Peyton boys tend to each other and the golf course. If they do the former, the latter will one day be theirs.clientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/08/Baywood.jpg

By Erin Dunn

The Peyton brothers share blood, a house and a place of employment. Similar intermingling has created more than a few instances of strife among siblings. As the Harvard Business Review recently lamented, “It’s one of life’s sad ironies that folks who love one another can end up having far more acrimonious business relations than people who are unrelated.”

The Peytons swear that won’t be them. “We obviously have our fights here and there, but we work it out, and we work pretty well together,” says Tyler, the eldest.

One question does conjure a whiff of rivalry among them: Who’s the best golfer? “I’ve been playing the longest, and I’m the most consistent, at least. I will say that,” says Tyler, sitting inside the modest member lounge of Baywood Golf Club in Fayetteville. That is about as biting as the brothers get. “Dylan can hit it longer than I can, and Kyle actually just got his first hole-in-one a couple weeks ago here. We haven’t got one yet, so he has that on us.” Of course, it’s in these guys’ best interests to get along.

Photo Feature

Back paddle
One of the world's leading manufacturers of kayaks returns to the river that inspired its launching.

By Edward Martin, Photography by Shannon Millsaps

He shared a love of kayaking with its founders, but Boyce Greer’s role in the creation of Liquidlogic went beyond the Green River of western North Carolina. He often paddled its waters with Shane Benedict and Woody Callaway, kayak-makers who wanted to start their own company. One night, Callaway asked Greer, a banker, where they could find investors. “Boyce said, ‘Well, what are you thinking?’” Benedict recalls. “We told him, and he said, ‘I’m in. I’m your financing.’” Greer pumped several hundred thousand dollars into the startup, which is now part of Fletcher-based Legacy Paddlesports LLC and one of the most prominent brands in the world.

Departments

Up Front
Beaver trap.

NC Trend
How the economy turns.

John Hood — Free & Clear
What's the big idea?

Scott Mooneyham — Capital Goods
Focus on the homefront.

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Energy round table

The Law Journal