Table of Contents November 2013

November 2013

Cover story

Team building

Former football stars Terrence and Torry Holt want to win fame in the construction game.
By Spencer Campbellclientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/11/Holt_intro copy.jpg


Terrence Holt doesn’t want his team to come across as contrived choirboys, so while he and Leonard Barrier sport white shirts, he told Mike Pritt to wear a black one. Besides, Pritt quips, he looks thinner in black. In about an hour, they will pitch why their company should get a piece of the $35 million renovation of N.C. State University’s William Neal Reynolds Coliseum. Holt isn’t nervous — “No, no, no, no, no. I’m excited. More excited” — but for two days the president of Holt Brothers Construction LLC has been running through rehearsals. This morning is the last chance to perfect their presentation.

Reynolds was the largest arena in the Southeast when it opened in 1949 but is now an elderly edifice that doesn’t even have air conditioning. (It got so hot during President Barack Obama’s speech there in 2011 that at least six in the audience fainted.) Holt Brothers isn’t vying for general contractor; the project is far too large. It wants to be the protégé in a university program that matches smaller, typically minority-owned companies with larger, more experienced ones. It’s like an internship. Holt Brothers had to apply for it, and now it’s one of three finalists.





The king of comedy

He reigns over the biggest U.S. chain of comedy clubs, but for Brian Heffron, business isn’t a laughing matter.
By Katherine Archerclientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/11/Brian_Heffron-intro copy.jpg
This place was built for laughs. The lights are dim, the rows of seats rise toward the rear, and the acoustics are so good that audience members never have to strain to hear a punch line. In the back, there’s a kitchen-and-bar designed for quick service. During evening shows, 14 waiters are on the floor. Bartenders must audition because many can’t handle the volume of drinks ordered. Running through the menu, Brian Heffron points to the food and libations available and ticks off the numbers. “I have 2,000 people in here a week and have time to get one more drink out of them, that’s $5 a head. That’s $10,000 a week, half a million a year.” One of the first things he did upon moving into this location two years ago was call the phone company to request that the last four digits of the club’s number be 4242 — “HAHA.” The Charlotte Comedy Zone is the culmination of years of consulting on new clubs around the nation. People wanted Heffron’s opinion, and they paid for it.

The bigger they are

Those for nonprofits and the public sector dominate our list of priciest construction projects.

How the list was done Business North Carolina surveyed general contractors it ranked as the 25 largest for their revenue in the state in the year ended June 30, 2012, (“The Last One Out,” November 2012) to find the most expensive projects they completed in the 12 months since. Transportation jobs were not included.


Critical care

It’s what these small hospitals provide the economies of remote, rural counties.

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By Edward Martin

Muffled voices and footsteps mark the Monday morning trail of a half-dozen hospital staff working their way down a hallway, stopping at one room after another. At the cluster’s center is Phillip Harris, a graying doctor in blue oxford-cloth shirt and khakis. He pauses at an open door to study the chart in his right hand. “She came in last night?” A nurse nods. “That’s right, late.”
A figure appears, teetering on a cane and steadied by another nurse. “I was woozy,” she says weakly. Harris sizes her up: barely 5 feet tall and frail as a whisper, her snowy hair still permed for church. She wears a floral-print blouse and creased slacks, the kind of outfit elderly country women keep in their closets — “just in case,” as they say. “We’re going to try to help you with that,” he says softly. Members of the group introduce themselves. “I’m James, the respiratory therapist. If you have trouble breathing …” “I’m Betty, and I’m going to be your nurse …” Melissa comes last. “I’m going to help you when you go home …” The possibility she won’t is left unspoken. Outside the window stand Three Rivers Health and Rehabilitation, a nursing home, and Windsor House, for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Photo Feature

Human nature

Syngenta hopes to sow the seeds of profit with a new lab in the Triangle that is always weather permitting. 

By Edward Martin, Photography by Griffin Davis

Mark Twain, academicians insist, is wrongly credited with saying that though everybody talks about the weather nobody does anything about it. Regardless, that isn’t true at Durham-based Syngenta Biotechnology Inc.’s Advanced Crop Lab in Research Triangle Park. “We’ve got 40 different growth chambers,” spokesman Steven Goldsmith says, and workers can adjust the climate in all of them. “If we want to test, say, drought-resistant corn in Texas, Iowa or Canada, we can do it here.” Opened in May as part of Syngenta AG’s $94 million expansion of its 50-acre biotechnology campus, where 400 people work, it’s the Basel, Switzerland-based agribusiness’ most advanced center for genetically engineering crops.


Up Front

We’re getting a new look.

NC Trend
Economy by the numbers.

John Hood — Free & Clear
Getting some good news.

Scott Mooneyham — Capital Goods
Help wanted: jobs creator.

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Triangle round table