Table of Contents March 2013

March 2013

Cover story

Vapor trails

A hot deal for an electronic-cigarette seller shows where there’s no smoke, there’s fire.
By Ken Otterbourg

Last April 25, blu ecigs had big news to share with its 30,000 Facebook fans: It had agreed to be bought by Lorillard Corp. for an eye-popping $135 million. The reaction was swift, and it wasn’t all congratulatory. Complaints were posted. One commenter wrote, “I feel dirty … it’s like buying a bible from a satanist or child safety equipment from a registered pedophile.” Though the companies are within 100 miles of each other — blu is based in Charlotte; Lorillard’s headquarters and factory are in Greensboro — in many ways they are a world apart. Started in 2008, blu sells electronic cigarettes. Lorillard, founded in 1760, is a bastion of Big Tobacco, its Newport brand the nation’s top menthol cigarette. Another commenter on the Facebook page put it this way: “It was good for y’all to get that money from the one industry everyone who ever bought a blu was trying to escape.”

Features

On the record

It’s where good vibrations from an Asheville studio’s special environment and unique equipment wind up.
By Jordan Lawrence
 
The Avett Brothers love North Carolina. That much is evident in the band’s song and album titles, which are sprinkled with markers such as Robbinsville, Matthews and Greenville. But the state turns up in their music in less obvious ways too. Siblings Scott and Seth Avett, the heart of the group, were reared on a Cabarrus County farm, and their folk-rock melodies are reminiscent of such legendary Tar Heel pickers as Doc Watson, while their breakneck energy calls to mind the indie rock that came out of Merge Records in the Triangle during the 1990s.
The pastoral harmonies and acoustic strings on the band’s latest record, The Carpenter, are homages to the Avetts’ home state. So it makes sense that the album, which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart in September and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Americana Album, was recorded at a studio in western North Carolina’s mountains. “Echo Mountain, it just feels very real,” says Seth, the younger brother. “Everything just feels so substantial with the doors and all that dark wood. The gear is sort of tried and true, and it has this perfect balance between tradition and a modern take on recording methods. And the engineers that work there seem to have a masterful hold on both.”

Medical evidence

Hospitals will have to prove to insurers they provide quality care as pay-for-performance contracts prevail.
By Edward Martin

Hospitals are going to unprecedented lengths to improve patient care and safety. Their finances are at stake. Insurers are negotiating how to reward them for getting people well quicker and with fewer complications. A decade ago, contracts were mostly battles of who was the biggest, hospital or insurer, and who needed the other more at the moment financially. Asking few, if any, questions, insurers forked over payments, then passed the costs along to premium payers.

“We have understood for some time that the traditional fee-for-service system is unsustainable,” says Joan Thomas, president of Managed Health Resources Inc., the negotiating arm of Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System, the state’s largest hospital network. “For many years, even before health-care reform, some of the changes were really accelerating.” She and her organization handle several hundred contracts a year for the hospitals the system owns and those it manages for others.

Photo Feature

Turnabout
Stanley shifted production of its Young America line from Asia to Robbinsville. The move has already paid off.

By Edward Martin, Photography by Mike Belleme

Expectant mothers are tough customers. That’s one reason Stanley Furniture Co. defied the conventional wisdom that furniture manufacturing is lost overseas by moving production of its Young America line from Asia to its plant in Robbinsville. “Safety comes first, so we make sure products go above and beyond all regulations and guidelines for protecting children and infants,” Chief Operating Officer Micah Goldstein says. “The best way to do that is to completely own and control the process.”

Departments

Up Front
Making a difference.

NC Trend
How the economy turns.

Free & Clear
There is no Popish plot.

Capital Goods
Dems' sum isn't very filling.

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Biotechnology round table

Workforce training

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