Table of Contents November 2012

November 2012

Cover story

A world of knowledge

RTI International thinks it can continue to flourish by using minds over matters.
By Edward Martin

Outside Wayne Holden’s window, in a laboratory a few hundred yards away across a piney campus, Dave Dayton uncaps a vial. “Smell,” he says. Inside is what appears to be crude oil with the scent of a campfire. Surrounded by tanks, vats, instruments and stainless-steel tubing, he and fellow researchers use heat and pressure to mimic nature, creating a liquid that can be blended in refineries with the petroleum it replicates. Made from nonfood organic materials such as sawdust, it has vast commercial potential: an eco-friendly biofuel priced competitively with gasoline and diesel.

In a different lab is Peter Stout, another of Holden’s scientists. “One of the big things now,” the forensics expert says, “is touch DNA. Touch DNA might be the trace I leave behind when I bite something or when my lips touch a cigarette butt.” That’s not all he and his colleagues explore. Last year, for example, they certified labs that tested 7½ million people for drug use.

Not everybody works in a lab. Some chart the repercussions of eating too many Big Macs, calculating obesity’s impact on the nation’s economy. Others sample public and scientific opinion. Designers work with psychologists to create shocking images of disease to dissuade tobacco users. Half a world away, teams guided Iraqis learning to govern themselves. Scientists coached China on how to manage air pollution during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Their forerunners identified toxic chemicals bubbling up around a Niagara Falls, N.Y., school in the 1970s. That was Love Canal, which triggered environmental awareness in many Americans.

Features

Hugh's view

Looking back, Hugh McColl recalls two turning points in a career that created the biggest bank in America.
As told to Spencer Campbell
Hugh McColl Jr., 77, built the nation’s largest bank, but in 1959, nearing his discharge from the Marines, all he wanted was a job at the family cotton brokerage and gin in Bennettsville, S.C. His father told him the business was doing fine without him; he’d better head to Charlotte, where a position at American Commercial Bank awaited, to make his fortune. The former CEO of Bank of America Corp. and founder of Falfurrias Capital Partners, a Charlotte-based private-equity firm, recalls two watershed moments that helped him find it. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The last one out

The economy is better, but top contractors are still suffering in the recession's wake.
By Erin Dunn

False starts and delays have plagued the rebuilding of the state’s construction industry. Competition for projects is fierce, resulting in tight margins and serious problems for at least two major general contractors in North Carolina. “I’m not even sure I can say we’re on the way back up. I don’t think we’re at the bottom, but we’re not far off of the bottom,” says Sam Hunter, CEO of Goldsboro-based T.A. Loving Co., whose revenue dipped about 6% this year. Along with the others on this year’s list of the largest general contractors in the state, T.A. Loving has done well in some sectors — health care and higher education — and suffered in others, such as public works. “From my point of view, I don’t think you can make a profit on those projects.”

Photo Feature

Picking up a split

A retrofit bowling alley takes aim at attracting serious bowlers as well as the nightlife crowd.
By Spencer Campbell, Photography by Mike Belleme

The number in the name — 10 Park Lanes — is significant. There are 10 pins in a frame, 10 frames in a game. But on the sign outside it reads more like an address, which is appropriate considering it was the site of the bowling alley — 2.2 acres on one of the hippest streets in Charlotte — that attracted new owner Adam Williams. But location alone wouldn’t pull in the crowds prowling Montford Drive on weekends. The place needed retrofitting.

Departments

Up Front
Who reads us.

NC Trend
How the economy turns.

Free & Clear
Time to pay down the uncertainty principal.

Capital Goods
Catching grief in troubled water.

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Education round table

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