Table of Contents May 2013
A chance for a catnap — a 45-minute flight across the state in a private jet — has turned into a discussion of power, and the more Bill Taylor talks, the more frustrated he becomes. “We went down to Raleigh recently and met with this guy, this leader, and tell him some things. He says, ‘Wow, great, I had no idea.’ Fifteen minutes later, there’s a vote on the floor. I forget what, something affecting our industry. And he stands up and repeats exactly what we told him.” A passenger sitting across from him suggests that’s a good thing. “No! That’s disgusting. It’s all about lobbying. If you don’t have somebody up there, whispering in their ear, they have no idea you exist. We need people up there, but solar doesn’t have the money of oil or gas or these other groups yet.” The co-founder of Huntersville-based Daetwyler Clean Energy LLC takes a breath. “They want that tax revenue.”
Taylor has reason to be nervous. In 2007, the state started requiring electric utilities to include renewable sources, such as solar and wind, in their power mixes. It was the first law of its kind in the Southeast and intended to spur development of green power. It worked, especially for solar, which experienced a decrease in panel prices about the same time, making it the cheapest option. But the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard was only the spark. The General Assembly also expanded and extended a tax credit for investment in renewables that, when combined with other credits, meant the cost of solar farms could be written off. Suddenly, the industry had captive customers and a government willing to underwrite infrastructure. North Carolina was one of the few states that offered such lucrative policies, and development went supernova, increasing more than 3,000% between 2007 and 2012, when the state ranked fifth in the U.S. in amount of solar built.
When he joined Fresh Market as a marketing executive in 1999, it had 25 stores in six states. Not bad for a family-owned business that opened its first location in the early 1980s with no idea if it would last a week. But the company has been transformed during his 14 years there — and not just from private to public. It has 130 stores in 25 states and 10,000 employees. Net sales topped $1.3 billion last year. Carlock believes in Fresh Market’s brand. He preaches customer service and thinks it — combined with top-shelf, fresh products — will make the grocer a national name. “Our job is to deliver a great store experience, provide great food, and then customers will come. The stock will take care of itself. Day in and day out, that’s what motivates us.”
Going with the grains
Hamlin Casting is the most productive U.S. foundry that makes money molding melted metal with sand.
he path to this place of intense heat and pressure is long. More than 26 centuries ago, the Chinese discovered they could pour molten metal into impressions in moist sand to make tools such as plows. In 1946, Frank Hamlin began using a similar technique — called sand-casting — in an Illinois plant. Much has changed, but the basics are the same. Aluminum still liquefies at 1,221 degrees Fahrenheit and that keeps the doors open at Hamlin Casting Corp. in Pilot Mountain. Over the years, CEO Bill Welden says, it has sand-cast more than 60 million pounds of parts for the marine, electrical, trucking, aerospace and other industries, the most of any such foundry in North America. “It’s faster and, costwise, the least expensive way to go. Also, in our case, customers are dealing with somebody that’s in the United States, so they can reduce the time it takes to deliver a product by at least a third.”
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