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Booze is cruising

Online extras

Statewide: Timber tantrum

Statewide: Environmentalists try to chip away at the rapid growth in exports of wood pellets.


Buying a brand

Reynolds American is acquiring Lorillard in a $25 billion deal that boils down to buying Newport, by far the nation's most popular brand of menthol cigarettes.


Tower of power

The landmark Reynolds Building is the latest piece of the tobacco empire downtown developers want to renovate.


Statewide: Western region, June 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Western region.


Statewide: Triad region, May 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Triad region.


Statewide: Western region, May 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Western region.


Statewide: Triad region, March 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Triad region.


NCtrend: Name recognition

Picture it: The lost becomes found.


Pain and gain

Pain and gain: Gutted unemployment benefits bolstered the ranks of low-paying companies on our list of  largest employers.


The manufacturing myth

The manufacturing myth: The governor wants to rebuild the economy by growing manufacturing. Do the numbers add up?


Statewide: Eastern region, February 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Eastern region.


Statewide: Triangle region, February 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Triangle region.


Statewide: Triad region, February 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Triad region.


Statewide: Charlotte region, February 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Charlotte region.


Statewide: Western region, February 2014

Monthly report of business news from the Western region.


Statewide: Pour performance

Statewide: Business news from across North Carolina.


Regional Report Eastern January 2014

Hatteras Island businesses hope the latest sand to settle under the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge won't shift for some time.


Regional Report Triad January 2014

During the heyday of American-made apparel, Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands Inc.'s hometown manufacturing was done at two huge factories. Both were representative of the city's stature as a manufacturing center, but also are emblematic of the demise of that industry.


Regional Report Western January 2014

Tim Lampkin is proud to promote a great place to hang out - or hang a hammock.


Regional Report Eastern December 2013

Preparing for conflict might be pessimistic, but it’s profitable.


Regional Report Triad December 2013

The North Carolina Zoo is expanding its polar bear exhibit, but until November it wasn’t clear if it would have any to exhibit.


Regional Report Triad November 2013

It’s no secret Piedmont Triad International Airport has seen its passenger traffic slow.


Regional Report Eastern November 2013

U.S. mills produced 3 million tons of wood pellets in 2009, according to forestry experts at N.C. State University.


Laying it online

Feature: How the top private companies in the state are opening up commerce on the internet.


Good Measure

Feature: The state’s richest man recounts how getting nudged from an ivory-tower nest eventually sent SAS soaring.


Regional Report Triad September 2013

Rockingham County used to be known for textiles and tobacco. Now it’s attracting a more explosive industry.


Regional Report Triad August 2013

In the year since Lorillard Inc. bought blu ecigs for $135 million, the Greensboro-based cigarette manufacturer has built the electronic-cigarette brand into a powerhouse with 40% market share.


Regional Report Western August 2013

Evendale, Ohio-based GE Aviation says it has developed something that will change the jet-engine industry, and it has chosen Asheville as the place to produce it.


A place apart

Cover story: Left behind, North Carolina's northeast corner gets a lift from an economic driver across the state line.


Delivering the news

Warren Buffett buys newspapers in North Carolina because he thinks they can still turn a profit.


Regional Report Triad June 2013

Gov. Pat McCrory quickly backed off a proposal to cut the twice-annual High Point Market's state funding.


Let the sun shine

Industry insiders fear the sun will set on the subsidy that makes solar such a bright spot in a dreary economy.


Runs in the family

Mac Jordan spends decades reviving the mill in Saxapahaw his grandfather resurrected.

Regional Report Triad April 2013

Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands has cut its debt to 2.5 times EBITDA — earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization — the lowest ratio since its spinoff from Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sara Lee Corp. in 2006


Regional Report Western April 2013

Though demand for their booze is booming, the owners of Asheville Distilling Co. have discovered that trying to change distribution laws that date to the end of Prohibition is enough to drive a person to drink.


Vapor trails

Cover story: A hot deal for electronic-cigarette seller blu ecigs shows where there’s no smoke, there’s fire.


Making a difference

Up Front: North Carolina is still a leader in manufacturing.


Regional Report Triad March 2013

Winston-Salem hopes Herbalife's decision to open an East Coast manufacturing plant will fare better than Dell's venture at the same location.


Regional Report Western March 2013

President Obama touted manufacturing growth in Asheville, but the region's jobs in the industry are far from their peak.


Minding the store

Cover story: Having the world's biggest retailer — Walmart — as the state's largest employer affects North Carolina's economy in ways obvious and subtle.


Regional Report Eastern January 2013

The N.C. State Ports Authority plans to build a $60 million terminal for wood pellets at Port of Morehead City but isn’t sure how to pay for it.


Making it stick

Small Business of the Year Runner-up: Powder-coating company New Finish is expanding in Norwood.


Regional Report Triad November 2012

Red Oak Brewery's CEO says a state law requiring beer makers to turn all of their distribution over to wholesalers if they produce more than 25,000 31-gallon barrels in a year has stymied his expansion plans.


Regional Report Charlotte November 2012

Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc., born in Charlotte and now based in the Queen City suburb of Matthews, has long dominated the upper end of the grocery market in and around its hometown, but a new rival Publix is threatening its turf.


Regional Report Eastern November 2012

Sanderson Farms Inc., the nation’s fourth-largest chicken processor, announced in August it will open a hatchery in southern Nash County, the first step in a $91.4 million project that is expected to add a processing plant and field to spray poultry waste within five years.


Regional Report Western November 2012

A Valle Crucis harness maker finds success by expanding to the military.

Regional Report Triangle November 2012

Two Davidson College soccer teammates started Raleigh-based Creasman and Baltz Inc., a high-end pen maker.


Regional Report Triad October 2012

Thomasville-based Wright Global Graphic Solutions Inc. has diversified beyond producing labels for home furnishers to succeed and grow.


How top private companies are growing

Top private companies in North Carolina are growing by acquisitions, reinvesting, rebranding, introducing new products and gaining new partners.


Cache a check

Shareholder return is rising faster than CEO compensation, our list shows. And that’s without a nay say-on-pay vote


Moving furniture

Bruce Cochrane resurrected his family business because he believes manufacturing will come back from China.


Regional Report Triad September 2012

Employment predictions at FedEx Corp.'s air-cargo hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport have fallen short.


Cache a check_copy

Shareholder return is rising faster than CEO compensation, our list shows. And that’s without a nay say-on-pay vote


A slow ride

The tepid growth of the Top 75's market value reflects the recovery's current sluggish pace.


Regional Report Triad August 2012

Ralph Lauren Corp. is expanding again in High Point, planning to invest $142 million and create 500 jobs.


Regional Report Triad July 2012

Winston-Salem-based giants Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Hanesbrands are collaborating to combat illness in a Caribbean country.


Regional Report Charlotte June 2012

SunEnergy 1 LLC, a Mooresville-based solar-panel installer, has taken advantage of the spike in solar-energy tax breaks, with contracts jumping from about $50 million last year to an estimated $130 million in 2012.


The battle of Lexington

Cover story: After losing jobs and people, a factory town fights to remake itself.


Regional Report Charlotte May 2012

For the eighth time in 10 years, Statesville-Mooresville in Iredell County was Site Selection magazine’s top U.S. micropolitan area 


Regional Report Western March 2012

Last summer, the N.C. Department of Commerce asked Andrew Tate, president and CEO of Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, to join Project Fishbowl. So began the state and county’s combined wooing of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.


Regional Report Eastern March 2012

Queen Bee can’t talk, but it has quite a tale to tell, and Edenton-based Regulator Marine Inc., which manufactured the 26-foot center-console boat, hopes that story will strengthen the company’s recent resurgence.


Work starts to pick up

Business North Carolina's annual ranking of the state’s largest employers shows many have more jobs, indicating less unemployment ahead.


Memories are made of this?

Once again, G.D. Gearino reviews the year that was, putting such a spin on it that 2011 feels quite dizzy.


Regional Report Triangle January 2012

Rachel Weeks, 27, did something radical last year. The CEO of Durham-based School House Inc., which makes high-end college apparel, moved manufacturing from Sri Lanka to North Carolina — swimming against the current of companies moving production offshore.


Regional Report Triad January 2012

The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement threatens 10,626 textile jobs in the 6th Congressional District — more than any other district in the state — according to Public Citizen Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group


Sticking to his knitting

Small Business of the Year: In the early ’90s, after six years of playing bass guitar for a rock band, Shane Cooper became obsessed with bicycle racing. He didn’t excel as a rider, so he took to coaching, and his team from Hickory went on to win several regional and state championships. He also became obsessed with socks — bike socks.


Rhino extends its range

Small Business of the Year Runner-up: The world turned upside down in late 2008,” says Dan Brooks, president of Rhino Assembly Corp. “All of a sudden, every manufacturer was saying, ‘They’ve cut my budget. I’m not allowed to spend at all.’” Rhino, which specializes in providing customized tools for auto and aircraft manufacturers, was losing $50,000 to $100,000 a month. To survive, Brooks says, “we knew cutbacks had to be made, but we were not willing to cut employees.” 


30 that count

The host of public television’s Carolina Business Review selects the key figures influencing the Tar Heel economy.


Numbers have special power, not the least their ability to measure more precisely than words.

NC 100 2011

Participation in the annual ranking of private companies is voluntary and has been since the list started in 1984.

Regional Report Charlotte October 2011

LINCOLNTONLincolnton Furniture will begin production at a 311,000-square-foot factory here by year-end. CEO Bruce Cochrane says the plant will employ 130 by 2013.


Supply-side economics

Around midnight, the spring sky spawned a twister that tore through Belmont, a small town just across the Catawba River from Charlotte. It ripped an 82,000-square-foot warehouse in half, strewing structural steel and sheets of siding like shrapnel and soaking the ruins in rain.


Regional Report Triad July11

Lee Wyatt, 58, resigned as chief financial officer of Hanesbrands, saying he wants to pursue opportunities with turnaround or spin-off companies. The apparel maker appointed Dale Boyles, its controller and chief accounting officer, as interim CFO. In an unrelated matter, the company purchased Australian clothing distributor TNF Group for $9 million. It says the deal will expand sales of its Champion brand in Asia.


Regional Report Triad June 2011

STONEVILLEGerbing’s Heated Clothing will bring production of its apparel and blankets from China to a factory it is opening here in a former furniture factory. The Tumwater, Wash.-based apparel maker began hiring in May and says it will employ at least 150 by 2015.


Regional Report Western June 2011

Volvo Construction Equipment North America LLC will cut 220 jobs — averaging $82,500 a year — from its Asheville sales and rental operations by September 2012.


Regional Report Western May 2011

Volvo Construction Equipment North America LLC will close its sales and rental operations in Asheville by September 2012, moving 220 jobs — averaging $82,400 a year — to Shippensburg, Pa.


With hiring on hiatus

Work, it’s been said, saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.

Regional Report Triad January 2011

In business since 1916, Thomas Built Buses has a well-known brand but faces significant challenges.


Small differences

Editing this month’s Small Business of the Year package reminded me of Tolstoy’s opening line in Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That, I thought, could also describe the difference between large and small businesses.

Regional Report Triangle March 2010

To Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, it’s simple: Wake County commissioners talk big about recruiting and retaining jobs, but they don’t follow through — at least not for his town.


Working to stay clean

Kevin McDonald moves around the main campus of the nonprofit he founded in Durham with the confidence of someone coaching a championship team.


Regional Report Triad February 2010

It comes as no surprise that Winston-Salem felt pride when Chicago-based Sara Lee Corp. spun off Hanesbrands Inc. in September 2006 and set up its headquarters there.


Tin man has a heart

Scott Hickman grew up in San Francisco and, after graduating from Stanford and earning a Harvard MBA, was a corporate nomad in such places as New York, Geneva and Budapest, where he led Sun Microsystems’ operations in Eastern Europe.


Regional Report Triad November 2009

For a company that keeps up with every package it handles, Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp. has a hard time saying when it will deliver a fully operational sorting hub to Piedmont Triad International Airport, near Greensboro.


Regional Report Eastern October 2009

When commercial fishing and seafood processing foundered in the mid-’90s, industry hunters turned to another traditional maritime trade to help buoy the coastal economy.


Regional Report Triad August 2009

In 1936, during the Great Depression, a High Point company that built and renovated streetcars started a new line of business.


Tight fists choke stocks

Slowly, it seems, Americans are opening their wallets, swiping their plastic and buying more.


Regional Report Triad May 2009

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines admits he’s frustrated with one of Forsyth County’s largest employers. He knows companies need to cut jobs in a downturn, but he says Dell Inc. should provide more details about the future of its local factory and how many it will employ.

Regional Report Eastern March 2009

Ten months after a Greek company announced it would build one of the nation’s biggest cement plants just north of Wilmington, not a shovel has turned but a lot has been churned up.

Trying to make due

North Carolina has lost more than a third of its manufacturing jobs since the end of 1999, and the exodus accelerated last year when the state shed about 6% of its factory jobs through November.

Regional Report Triad January 2009

Just because the Triad sits hundreds of miles from Detroit doesn’t mean it’s immune to the ailments of the automobile industry.

Allen Stancil

When consolidation became the name of the kayaking game in the late 1990s, it would have been easy for designer Allen Stancil to go with the flow.

Company stamps out business

One of Joe Hughes’ longtime customers came to him four years ago with good news and bad. Forklift maker NACCO Materials Handling Group planned to launch a product line and wanted his family’s business, K&S Tool & Manufacturing, to make it.

Marco Polo comes home

Lightning flickers in the Saturday evening sky as Jim Fain’s flight lifts off late from Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Missing his connection in New York, North Carolina’s top industry hunter dozes through the night slumped in a chair at John F. Kennedy International Airport. By the time his Air France flight thunders off the runway Sunday morning, it’s midday in Paris, and the City of Light is aglow when he walks through the gate at Charles de Gaulle International Airport seven hours later.

Owner takes it with a grain

Selina Guerra was just 17 when she boarded a bus for the West Coast, eager to see the world outside her hometown of Indianapolis.

Steve Heese

Tough times call for creativity, particularly when you’re selling luxury items. Steve Heese, who runs Sarasota, Fla., boat builder Chris-Craft from its plant in Kings Mountain, is banking on cooler designs to keep the business afloat.

The fix is In

Think of TigerTek as an emergency responder and hospital for all kinds of industrial equipment. Its predecessor started out fixing broken motors, gearboxes and pumps for businesses in Rockingham County, but in the 10 years Peter Mitchell has owned the company, he has given it international reach.

Regional Report Triad November 2008

Four years ago, Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines called Dell’s decision to build a factory in Forsyth County a “special Christmas present” — one that the city, county and state promised to pay more than $300 million to get.

What’s in store for Belk

The Belks have been operating Southern department stores since William Henry Belk set out a shingle in Monroe 120 years ago to sell overalls and boots to farmers and calico to their wives. By getting bigger, the retailer hopes to strengthen its presence in key markets and amass enough economies of scale to keep its costs low and its prices competitive.

Prevailing conditions

Earlier this year, Perfect Fit Industries Inc. went shopping, hoping to refinance its debt. The Charlotte bedding maker worried about the struggles of its primary lender and wanted to reduce costs. But it couldn’t get a package it liked from anybody else.

Gain amid the pain

Ken Thompson wasn’t the only chief executive of a big Tar Heel company forced out in the past year, and given the pain shareholders are feeling, more might go.

Regional Report Triad September 2008

Despite a marriage that has produced the most successful furniture line ever, artist Bob Timberlake and Lexington Home Brands just can’t get along.

The candy man can

Even in Momeyer, a place that smells like peaches year round despite the lack of orchards, some find him odd. He has been known to stroll around this Nash County hamlet of some 300 souls and down the road in Nashville — population 4,000 — dressed in purple and wearing a top hat. Or decked out like Uncle Sam. That’s on special occasions. His preferred habit is seersucker suit, bow tie and spectacles, which makes him resemble Orville Redenbacher, or period pinstripes in which he looks like a Prohibition-era banker. But life is sweet these days for J. Brooks West III, or as he would like for you to know him, J.W. Butterfield.

Count down

As the nation celebrated its 232nd birthday, many public companies around the state seemed locked in some kind of free-market limbo contest, with share prices dropping and lots of folks wondering how low they could go.

Regional Report Eastern July 2008

PCS Phosphate’s clock is ticking, but only time will tell if the countdown by one of Eastern North Carolina’s largest employers is cause for alarm. Ross Smith, environmental manager of PCS Phosphate, says the company needs federal permission — soon — to mine about 4,000 acres of wetlands near Aurora. “We don’t have that much reserve remaining in the currently permitted boundaries. So if this thing were prolonged for another matter of years, we’d have no choice but to shut down.”

Regional Report Triad July 2008

Earlier this year, Greensboro-based yarn maker Unifi managed its first profitable quarter since 2003. It did so partly by consolidating production, closing factories and slashing jobs in North Carolina and other states. The profit wasn’t much — just $12,000 — but compared with a $13.2 million loss in the same quarter last year, it’s a promising start for CEO William Jasper, who was promoted in September from vice president of sales.

Tall order

Western North Carolina boosters say the region’s quality of life will
help it achieve its economic-development goals.

Arrested development

Flames crackle and pop as they blacken skeletons of pines unlucky enough to have taken root in this patch of Wake County. Until recently, they flourished here, thanks to ample sunlight, water and human indifference. But there’s no room for them anymore. They don’t fit the new landowner’s plans and didn’t make the grade as timber.

Marching on

Looking up information about Lexington’s past while fact-checking this month’s cover story, I Googled the name of my great-great-grandfather.

Regional Report Triangle May 2008

Pick the phrase that best completes this sentence: A Yellow Pages directory is:
a) a useful way to find business phone numbers.
b) a pretty good doorstop.
c) unnecessary if you have Internet access.

Seeking critical mass

Cities and counties in the Piedmont Triad must work together to leverage the region’s assets if it’s to compete with the Research Triangle and Charlotte as well as metro regions outside North Carolina. That is the opinion of a panel assembled by Business North Carolina for a round-table discussion sponsored by the nonprofit Piedmont Triad Regional Partnership. Participating were Don Kirkman, president and CEO of the partnership; Rosemary Wander, UNC Greensboro’s associate provost for research and public/private partnerships; Austin Pittman, president of UnitedHealthcare of the Carolinas; Chuck Greene, regional director for the Piedmont Triad Region, AT&T North Carolina; and Kevin Baker, assistant director of Piedmont Triad International Airport. The discussion, moderated by Arthur O. Murray, BNC managing editor for special projects, was held at the partnership’s office in Greensboro.

Would work

Stacks of headless bedposts and orphaned dresser drawers exude the acrid aroma of cut, cured hardwood. The screeching of planers, sanders and saws bounces off cavernous walls that echo workers calling one another from around the room. Despite the scent and sound, the place seems empty.

Of arms and men

Capt. Jonathan Kuniholm crouches, low and quiet, as he and three dozen other Marines advance through a thick palm grove along the Euphrates River. The platoon is looking for Iraqi insurgents who a few hours earlier had fired at a boat patrolling near Haditha Dam. As they close in on the suspected hot spot, a homemade bomb hidden in an olive oil can explodes. Shrapnel rips through the squadron, knocking Kuniholm off his feet.

Regional Report Eastern April 2008

Brunswick Corp. is closing its 200-employee Hatteras Yachts plant in Swansboro, a year after local boosters gave it an award for creating the jobs. But state officials say Brunswick, a Lake Forest, Ill., company with nearly $5.7 billion in revenue in 2007, will get more than $4.5 million in state and local incentives for opening another plant farther down the coast. “Regardless of what they do elsewhere, it’s going to be at our expense,” says Jim Reichardt, director of the Onslow County Economic Development Commission. “The whole thing has been a shocker to us.” Hatteras Yachts’ headquarters is in New Bern, about 30 miles away in Craven County, and Brunswick’s new plant, where hiring is under way, is in Navassa, west of Wilmington in Brunswick County.

Biotechnology wants a lead role

After years of preparing a work force and other infrastructure, the industry is ready to take a star turn in the state's economy.

Regional Report Triad March 2008

All three events occurred within a week. Asheboro-based Klaussner Furniture Industries said it was closing a plant in its hometown. Norfolk, Va.-based furniture importer Ison International announced it was moving to Thomasville. Chinese manufacturer Dream Rooms revealed it was shifting its American headquarters from Los Angeles to High Point. More evidence that, battered by foreign competition, the mighty Triad furniture industry was dwindling into warehouse and office jobs?

Left behind

Ken Burnette knows what’s in the long, narrow box the second he sees it leaning against a wall at East Coast Plywood Co. in Rocky Mount. “My golf club came!” he yells to his only employee, who’s sweeping sawdust and dirt off stacks of plywood. “My golf club is here!” Tan, with a full head of brown hair and wearing an oversized white golf shirt and khaki pants, he opens one end of the box and pulls the plastic from around the Callaway driver, inspecting it. He lines up a mock shot but doesn’t swing.

The new order

This, our annual Business Handbook issue, is when we take measure of the Tar Heel economy, sizing up where it has been, trying to figure out where it’s going. As such, it’s a magazine full of charts, graphs, lists and rankings. To produce them, our editors must find, collect and analyze reams of data. But numbers, if not put into proper context, are no more than cryptic ciphers. That’s why we try to illuminate them through the perspective of people and places. We turn them into stories.

Tipping point - Furniture

Bernhardt Furniture Co. has been family-owned since it was founded in Lenoir in 1889. Alex Bernhardt Sr. became president in 1976, then CEO in 1996. The company’s 1,400 employees make household furniture, including product lines licensed from domestic diva Martha Stewart and the Smithsonian Institution.

Tipping point - Textiles

In 2004, New York financier Wilbur Ross combined two North Carolina stalwarts, Burlington Industries — once the world’s largest textile maker — and Cone Mills, to form Greensboro-based International Textile Group. He had purchased both companies from bankruptcy the year before. ITG had sales of $769.1 million through the first three quarters of 2007.

What's working now

Up the hill from God’s Acre, biotechnology could be Jim Crawford’s salvation. In a laboratory a few blocks from Old Salem’s cemetery, where Moravians sleep — some since the 1700s — beneath rows of marble slabs, he works in the sterile air of biological safety cabinets, extracting cells from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. The nonembryonic stem cells can morph into different types of body tissue.

Burning down the house

Legislators returned to Raleigh talking tough. Democratic leaders fumed about Gov. Mike Easley's veto of incentives for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., vowing an override. Some Republicans, suddenly finding the slippery slope of incentives to their dislike, spoke of gathering enough votes to sustain the veto. But as often happens in the state capital, bluster turned into murmur.

Upper crust

Blink and you’ll miss it. In the vast Triangle suburbia, along a parkway featuring strip malls and sprawling apartment complexes, sits La Farm Bakery. Flanked by a Papa John’s Pizza and a Caribou Coffee, La Farm oozes European charm in Cary.

Incentives might pay off for GOP

Legislators returned to Raleigh talking tough. Democratic leaders fumed about Gov. Mike Easley's veto of incentives for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., vowing an override. Some Republicans, suddenly finding the slippery slope of incentives to their dislike, spoke of gathering enough votes to sustain the veto. But as often happens in the state capital, bluster turned into murmur.

Getting it wholesale

Every year, convenience-store suppliers get together for a conference, and every year, it seems to Sherwin Herring, there’s talk of consolidation. “Our industry has the worst return on investment out of, like, 80-some wholesale industries.” It’s tough to boost revenue or margins much when competitors can get goods for about the same price you can. You can try to give better service, but so can they. Consolidation is one way to quickly increase sales, cut costs and maybe widen margins.

Leviathan's lair

At Beaufort County’s largest employer, 1,050 workers follow a daily routine: Ore from the mine goes in, and out comes phosphoric acid and other compounds to make fertilizer, fire retardants, soft drinks, jams and jellies, animal feed and other products.

For what it's worth

Jim Rogers made more than $3 million in salary and bonus as chief executive of Cinergy Corp. in 2005, the year before the Cincinnati-based electric utility merged with Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. When he agreed to work for stock and options as Duke’s CEO last year, it made a good impression on shareholders but not his wife. “I can’t honestly say there wasn’t a comment from the other part of my team,” he admits.

Parts will boost his company's sum

Now that Robert Skillen has his aircraft company off the ground, he hopes it will fly well enough to lure hundreds of jobs to a county that needs them and make western North Carolina a hub for aerospace parts. But it hasn’t gained altitude as quickly as he had hoped.

State recruiting efforts get a dose of court aid

The legal climate for business in North Carolina is better than you might think — better than in all but five states, says The American Justice Partnership, a Lansing, Mich.-based lobbying group formed in 2005 by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Action does speak louder than words

Not quite three years ago, a Philip Morris USA executive had nice things to say about doing business in North Carolina. Prompted by $1.1 million in state incentives to protect about 2,600 jobs, the cigarette maker was spending $138 million to upgrade its Concord factory.

CEO likes treading on the big wheels

Joe Rayna didn’t have much choice about moving Bridgestone Aircraft Tire (USA) Inc. from Miami. The federal Department of Transportation needed the property it was on near Miami International Airport, and “there is precious little land available for industrial use in South Florida,” the CEO of the maker of airliner tires explains.

Toyota fears there’s something in the air

Davidson County Manager Robert Hyatt was having a bad-air day, but nobody told him. On Feb. 27, the county lost out on a $1.3 billion factory that will build Toyota sport utility vehicles.

Amen in uniform

An Asheboro apparel maker thought a new contract would be the answer to its prayers. Now it’s singing the GI blues.

Business gets good when his customers are hurting

For General Dynamics Inc., the 21st century and its conflicts have been good for business. And Mike Mulligan, president of the defense contractor’s Charlotte-based Armament and Technical Products division, sees no immediate slowdown. “Given the war and the pounding everything is taking, there’s going to be a lot of demand for refit of equipment and replacing things that have been worn out.”

Factories find future is what you make it

Barry Matherly lives in the future. As executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association, he scouts the globe for prospects. The result of his efforts is a mosaic of what manufacturing might become in North Carolina.

Making a difference - N.C.'s largest employers

As the number they employ continues its long decline, Tar Heel manufacturers manage to do more with less.
Broyhill Furniture Industries, the Lenoir-based manufacturer that once was a Tar Heel icon, ended last year the way it ended 2005: announcing that it was shutting a plant in its hometown.

Lend leash

Battered by the economy after its biggest deal, Insteel Industries also had to battle its bankers.

Cigarette maker takes up the Penns'

Calvin Phelps sees a bit of himself in Jeff Penn. Like that fellow, whose family started Penn Tobacco in Reidsville in the 1870s, Phelps is a tobacco executive. His Mocksville-based Renegade Holdings Inc. and its subsidiaries make cigarettes and filters as well as refurbish and sell cigarette-manufacturing and -packing machinery.

Ex-exec tries to run the table

Around High Point, Harvey Dondero is the modern equivalent of a cowpuncher who sold out to the rustlers.

Paper losses

My buddy Doug Warren, travel editor of The Boston Globe, was telling me how it had just won a national award for best travel section among newspapers of 500,000+ circulation. “And if we keep losing readers the way we have been, we can win the gold award in a different category next year.”

Union trips up member's trip to India for surgery

This is a story about Carl Garrett’s gallbladder — a tale that might have meandered in obscurity from the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the plains of India and back if not for the griping of a Pittsburgh-based labor union. It is a tale of sickness and health, of globalization and collective bargaining. And like many Southern yarns, it is a tale of a lost cause.

Cashing the first stone

Even with summer slipping away, greenery envelops Hiddenite, sheathing the hills sliding down from the Brushy Mountains and the pastures flanking the two-lane highway leading into the Alexander County hamlet, about 15 miles northwest of Statesville.

Consultant has auto motive for this plan

Though he’s 60, Dick Dell never got over hot cars, particularly his first new one, a glacier-blue ’63 Falcon Sprint with four on the floor and a high-revving V-8 under the hood. Now he’s the driving force behind the Advanced Vehicle Research Center of North Carolina, an R&D center on 630 acres in Northampton County. It will, he says, put the state on the international automotive map.

25 years made a world of change for economy

Michael Walden has monitored changes in North Carolina’s economy since joining N.C. State University’s faculty in 1978. A professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, he prepares The North Carolina Economic Outlook, a semiannual forecast. In 2008, the University of North Carolina Press will publish The Modern North Carolina Economy: Origins and Prospects, his analysis of how it has evolved over the last 30 years.

Holly Springs gets stuck by incentives

Maybe Holly Springs should hold a really big bake sale. But the town would have to sell a lot of cookies, brownies and cakes to make up the $11.8 million gap between what it has promised to spend on Swiss drug maker Novartis to land a vaccine plant and what it has on hand.

Look away

Anniversaries come and go, sometimes coinciding and even colliding. We’re putting this, our 25th anniversary issue of Business North Carolina, to bed three days after the nation commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11. I had asked Alex McMillan, who was on our editorial staff from 1994 to 1999 and is now a freelance writer in Hong Kong, to do a piece on Chinese workers as part of the package. He filled me in on what he’s been up to.

Market fears buyers put off by inn crowd

Quit biting the hand that feeds you, the High Point Market Authority is pleading to hoteliers who routinely triple room rates for the twice-yearly furniture markets. Pretty please. We’ll try to scratch your back if you scratch ours.

The China trade

Our jobs for their cheap goods is how these workers have shaped the Tar Heel economy – and they're not finished.

Under pressure

No closely held company wants to go where Conbraco has been. This family beat long odds to bring it back.

Pay setters

Chairmen of compensation committees give the lowdown on why executive pay keeps going up.

Distiller doesn't have a bootleg to stand on

Shh, don’t tell anyone: Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine isn’t what it claims. It’s corn liquor, but not the potent popskull distilled in stealth that blockaders ran down back roads. It’s 80-proof, same as Jack Daniel’s sipping whiskey. And unlike the real stuff, it’s legal.

He profits when his products get swiped

As president and CEO of the nation’s largest maker of hotel key cards, Mark Goldberg has heard the rumor: The magnetic stripe on the back is filled with personal information — your credit-card number, for example — that a tech-savvy person could steal.

CEO wants Krispy Kreme to make lots more dough

Winston-Salem-based Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. once was a Wall Street wonder. Its glazed doughnuts, each packing 200 calories and 12 grams of fat, still are the undoing of dieters. But investors have been turning up their noses at its stock.

Goose riders in the sky

To resurrect a worldwide market, a small-town startup melds a 70-year-old design with modern manufacturing.

Leaving lost wages

With furniture manufacturing moving overseas, Las Vegas bets on winning the world’s biggest market — High Point’s.

She believes her software can size up manufacturing

Ping Fu thinks a lot about your shoes. As president and CEO of Geomagic Inc., a Research Triangle Park software developer, she sees a future when manufacturers will turn out goods customized for each buyer. Your shoes will be made to fit the contours of your feet. Your jeans, that of your seat. “Mass customization is all about combining the customized part of craftsmanship with the efficiency of mass production.”

VF's new president expands wardrobe

Greensboro-based VF Corp. looks different from when Eric Wiseman joined the apparel giant in 1995. Long known for its jeans and intimate apparel, it now also outfits skateboarders with studded belts, preppies with polo shirts and students with backpacks.

Kayak manufacturer: I'm back in the paddle again

No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that in the sixth century B.C. Now, a High Point man who founded a kayak factory that left the Triad last year will embody the old Greek’s saying by opening another one there this spring, thanks, in part, to the newfangled notion of economic incentives.

The China trade

The state lands the headquarters of a company from a country many Tar Heel manufacturers love to hate.

The east, with the least, remains much the same.

Eastern North Carolina has done little to improve its economy in the past five years, according to a report from the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, a Raleigh think tank.

New Hanes job fits Sara Lee exec to a T

It may not have the cachet of some of the other places he has called home — Paris, Rome and Toronto — but Winston-Salem has quickly grown on Lee Chaden, who came to the Triad with his wife two years ago. “We love it down here.” That move, like the others, happened because of work.

Answering to a hirer power

Turmoil roils payrolls of companies that can’t help but feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Factories dig niches to divert job runoff

Among North Carolina manufacturers, one topic dominates most discussions: globalization.

Furniture factory didn't know what it was missing

Johnny Cash once had a hit about a Detroit autoworker who for decades smuggled parts out of the plant in his lunchbox until he had enough to build his own Cadillac. That guy had nothing on eight former employees at Bassett Furniture Industries’ Mount Airy factory. They’re accused of taking thousands of pieces of finished furniture from their plant.

VP says incentives computed for state

When Dell Inc. officially opened its computer-assembly plant in Winston-Salem in October, there was plenty of fanfare. The plant, which took nine months to build, was headline-worthy: It is the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker’s largest U.S. factory, and North Carolina officials anted up $242 million in incentives to land it.

Designer will draw on past to shape future

Nancy Webster might be the most influential home-design diva you’ve never heard of. Last year, HFN, a trade publication, ranked her the third-most-powerful person in home fashion and design, behind French designer Philippe Starck and Martha Stewart.

Reign maker

While Charlotte calls itself the Queen City, the rest of North Carolina calls it other names: The Great State of Mecklenburg is the nicest. Why the hard feelings? That’s what Senior Editor Arthur O. Murray asked five leaders who live and work in Charlotte or its surrounding counties: Walter McDowell, North Carolina president of Charlotte-based Wachovia Corp.; Joan Lorden, UNC Charlotte provost; Jerry Orr, aviation director of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport; Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Atlantic American Properties Inc. in Kannapolis and the person overseeing development of California billionaire David Murdock’s proposed biotechnology project there; and Ronnie Bryant, chairman and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

State’s business climate shows signs of warming

It costs more to do business here than in South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, but at least North Carolina is cheaper than Virginia and most other states, according to the Milken Institute.

N.C. textiles need to knit new niches

For more than two decades, North Carolina’s textile industry has struggled with increased competition from overseas. But Tar Heel mills can survive if they change their business models, says a report from Anderson Bauman Tourtellot Vos & Co., a Greensboro-based turnaround company.



Official says draw on martial dealing

Lonely singles have Now North Carolina companies in search of more business have a Web site where they might find that federal-government contract they’ve always dreamed of. is run by the Fayetteville-based North Carolina Military Business Center and head matchmaker Scott Dorney.

This move might be a shore thing

Chuck Hayes, the fiery-tempered executive who wrenched Guilford Mills Inc. into the big time, must be rolling over in the grave at Lake Lure where they laid him three years ago.

Fare shares

CEOs keep pulling down princely pay packages, but one is just taking stock, betting a
fortune on its performance.


Kannapolis biopolis will be on the Dole

When it comes to Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock, Kannapolis has long been of many minds — some of them angry ones. That could change if the California financier’s plan to turn the town into what he calls a biopolis comes to fruition.

She reaches peak of the Sierra Club

Asked to name environmentally friendly businesses, the new president of the 750,000-member Sierra Club rattles off a litany. General Electric. Bank of America. Lloyd’s of London. Missing from Lisa Renstrom’s list, however, are the two Acapulco hotels she ran from 1983 to 1993. “I would have had to have been really blazing new trails to be running my hotel with environmental practices in Mexico in the 1980s.”

Banks on it

Collectively, the state’s largest public companies didn’t have an awesome year, but it was better than a poke in the eye. Business North Carolina’s Top 75, which ranks public companies based in the state by their market capitalization on June 30, shows growth that was promising, if not spectacular, by several measures.


For the third year in a row, a story by Senior Editor Ed Martin won the gold prize for best magazine feature in the Alliance (formerly Association) of Area Business Publications Editorial Excellence Awards — the fifth time in six years a writer for this magazine has claimed top prize in that category. Pieces by Contributing Editor Irwin Speizer won it in 2000 and 2001.

For customers, he's dyeing to tie one on

Erik Chumley will tell you with something approaching pride that he’s never done much of anything in “the rat race.” Such disdain is not surprising from someone whose résumé includes carnival work, horse-trailer assembly and just about anything else to keep the wolf from the door. Chumley, 38, is the owner and operator of The American Tie-Dye Co. in Taylorsville. Customers include Wal-Mart, and his shirts have been featured on the Survivor television show.

Glazed & confused

What happened to Krispy Kreme has investors scratching their heads. Here are some hints from beyond the grave.

Learn to earn

The Triangle is home of world-famous universities. But for the region to thrive, leaders say, its residents need more schooling.

Snack maker's new CEO gets sweet deal

David Singer made $854,026 last year in salary, bonuses and other compensation as chief financial officer of Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated. He resigned in May to become CEO of Charlotte-based snack maker Lance, where he’ll make at least $1.1 million a year. But he’s still on the Charlotte-based bottler’s payroll. He’ll get $21,330 a month for the next 20 years. That’s $5.1 million.

Paper cuts

We didn’t fire everybody,” Bob Ashley, the executive editor of The Herald-Sun, says with a nervous chuckle. “They’re out on assignment.” The newsroom of Durham’s daily newspaper is nearly empty. Fluorescent lights give a sickly green cast to the warren of paper-strewn desks. Blinds are drawn, sealing out time of day and turn of season.

Trouble in river city

The September sun gives it life, siphoning moisture from the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. The earth’s rotation coaxes it into a counterclockwise spiral as it begins its two-week journey to the Gulf of Mexico, where, nudged by the jet stream, it tears northward across the Florida Panhandle into Alabama. By now it has a name — Ivan.


High ambition

Western North Carolina is a great place to live but a hard place to make a living. Its assets include rugged mountain beauty and a willing work force, but much of it is isolated, geographically and politically. New companies barely keep pace with plant closings.

Tar Heels' victory suits Soffe to a T

Pete Gilman showed up for work at M.J. Soffe Co. around midnight. His job as sales manager for the Fayetteville apparel manufacturer’s collegiate division usually requires him to work while the sun shines. What happened this night had changed that.

Home office

So what’s the true value of having corporate headquarters in a city? Is it worth the effort and incentives to recruit new ones? Nucor provides a reference point.

The fixer

When Joe Gorga was growing up in Paterson, N.J., his father managed a plant that supplied fabric to clothing makers in New York City’s garment district. The boy started work there at 13, sweeping floors.

The hull truth

New Bern-based Hatteras Yachts began with a frustrated fisherman, an experimental powerboat and a dare. Forty-six years later, it employs about 1,000 people.

A woman's work

Susan Ivey is one of a handful to reach the pinnacle in North Carolina. Among the state’s 14 Fortune 500 companies, she’s alone. Only three of the top 75 public companies based here have female CEOs.

Make work

Triad leaders profess faith in life after dearth for manufacturing

Scratch that – handshake deal turns into a fistfight

Maybe they should have seen it coming. After all, executives of Kannapolis-based Pro-Tint Inc. and Charlotte-based United Packaging & Industrial Inc. were trying to adapt a product to help military helicopter pilots see through their windshields better. But the two companies flew blindly on a collision course created by their informal partnership.

Dell pickle

Maybe the outcome was inevitable. On one side stood Mike Easley, governor of a state battered by the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. On the other was Dell Inc., the world’s leading computer maker, famous for tightfisted cost control.

Pulling strings

Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood took root in the horse-and-buggy 1890s, but now cars on their way downtown flash past the old houses along shady East 7th Street. In one of those houses, though, time is marked on a different clock.

Service station

It might seem a cinch to land a job in North Carolina. The unemployment rate was 4.8% in October, nearly a percentage point below the U.S. average and 1.6 lower than a year earlier. But while the state’s unemployment rolls held 71,500 fewer names, its labor force shrank by 89,000 and 17,500 jobs vanished.

State can't manufacture the kinds of jobs it loses

Here’s the good news for the state’s manufacturing sector: During the first nine months of 2004, it lost about 6,800 jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s compared with the 30,000 that disappeared during the same period in 2003.

This furniture maker pushes values-added

Taylorsville-based The Mitchell Gold Co. isn’t your ordinary furniture maker. While many companies in the industry have slashed employment, this one added about 100 jobs and increased revenue 15% in 2004 and will wrap up a 240,000-square-foot expansion in early 2005.

Employers profit when Hispanics feel at home

Alan Shao, professor of marketing and international business at UNC Charlotte, and some of his MBA students studied the benefits of making Hispanic workers feel more comfortable in the workplace. They focused on the Statesville plant of Trim Systems LLP, a Columbus, Ohio-based maker of interior trim and curtains for heavy-duty trucks. About 140, 45%, of the plant’s workers are Hispanic. Trim Systems placed bilingual signs in the plant and required senior managers to learn basic Spanish and attend cultural-diversity training. Monthly turnover among all workers fell from about 25% last year to about 3% this year, about the national average for manufacturing.

Out of work

Their plight rocked the state’s political establishment. The unemployed are
our Mover and Shaker of the Year.

Trouble looms for N.C. textile center

The North Carolina Center for Applied Textile Technology in Belmont celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Rep. Debbie Clary, a Republican who represents Gaston and Cleveland counties, is considering a special gift: a cutoff of state funding.