Table of Contents October 2013

October 2013

Cover story

Making its Marque

The GOP did that in the legislative session. But is it something business will buy into? clientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/10/legislature copy.jpg

They came primed, these Republicans, who returned to Raleigh all riled up. Two years after capturing control of the General Assembly, they now had a GOP governor and, even if they hadn’t had him, they held veto-proof majorities in each house. Their day, after more than a century of mostly sitting in the shadows, had finally come, and it would be a new day for the state, too, their conservative agenda reshaping social and economic policies. As the session wore on, the primary opposition came not from the rival Democrats inside the Legislative Building but from protesters outside it, their numbers growing each week. Long before adjournment, the question would arise: How would all this — the legislation that was passed, the protests and the arrests it evoked, the national attention that turned on North Carolina — affect the state’s reputation as a place to do business. On the pages that follow, a group of veteran political observers present their views.
 — David Kinney

Top 10

Hard Turn to the Right

Standing Pat on the 3 R’s

Now, about that new brand

Features

Laying it online

How the top private companies in the state are opening up commerce on the Internet.
 
By Greg Lacourclientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/10/Belk-2.jpg
 
Jessica Kirk emerges from SouthPark mall in Charlotte on a rainy Saturday in August with a plastic bag of loungewear from Belk in her hand. Kirk, 33, is expecting her first child. She still gets around OK, but seven months pregnant is seven months pregnant.
She has shopped at Belk since she was a teenager. She lives nearby and decided to pop in after picking up items from other stores  in the mall. She can always find a bargain at Belk. Of course, she could have stayed home and clicked over to Belk.com, lynchpin of the Charlotte-based department-store chain’s multimillion-dollar expansion into e-commerce. But she doesn’t care for it. Fact is, she hasn’t visited the site in awhile. “I don’t shop for clothes on Belk’s website. I don’t know why — I just find it difficult to navigate for some reason. And I’m a huge online shopper. I shop Nordstrom all the time online. The design is really clean, it’s easy to navigate, has lots of pictures. With Belk, I don’t know — it just doesn’t capture your attention.” The company is working on it. From the dawn of e-commerce in the early 1990s until 2010, Belk Inc. lagged in marketing itself and selling its wares online.

 

Good measure

The state’s richest man recounts how getting nudged from an ivory-tower nest eventually sent SAS soaring.
 
As told to Spencer Campbellclientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/10/Jim-Goodnight copy.jpg

The billionaire surrounds himself with priceless treasures. Some glisten, others overwhelm, most are indescribable to the uninformed. All are rocks. As a child in Greensboro, he envied his friends’ father’s collection, believing glasslike quartz to be a sign of great success. Today, James Goodnight owns a meteorite. He’s definitely made it — with a fortune Forbes magazine estimates at $7.2 billion — though he won’t admit it. “If you ever stop and pat yourself on the back — ‘we’ve made it, let’s relax’ — you’ll be gone.” He amassed that wealth with Cary-based SAS Institute Inc., the world’s largest privately owned software company, which he co-founded with fellow N.C. State University computer programmers in 1976. SAS pioneered business-analytic software, allowing companies to mine data. Top pay and perks, including on-site health clubs, doctors and free M&Ms (it goes through 23,000 pounds a year), help rank it second on Fortune magazine’s Best Companies to Work For. Goodnight, 70 and still CEO, recalls what led him to leave State and start what is now No. 3 on Grant Thornton LLP’s ranking of North Carolina’s top 100 private companies, with $2.9 million of revenue last year.

Photo Feature

Size Matters

Park Liner stuffs plenty of space into a tight place, proving that good things come in small packages.

By Edward Martin, Photography by Griffin Davis

He’s just learning the business ropes, Chandler Palethorpe of Gibsonville says. After all, Park Liner Inc., which manufactures lightweight travel trailers in Gibsonville, is built on the unlikely principle that less is more. “I’ve had a lifelong interest in small-space architecture,” he says. “This is a chance for me to put that to use.” ParkLiners can be towed behind a minivan and navigate tight fast-food drive-thrus but are large enough to incorporate a queen-size bed, kitchen, stand-up shower and other amenities.

Departments

Up Front
The session.

NC Trend
Economy by the numbers.

John Hood — Free & Clear
Paying for a premium.

Scott Mooneyham — Capital Goods
Tax reform or reduction?

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Banking and finance round table

Orthopedic care special section — Joint efforts