In January 2018

By Luke Bollinger

Asheville is adding to its growing list of outdoor-industry businesses as Fox Factory Holding expands its East Coast bike operations, with plans to add about 47 jobs. Fox began renovations to its 20,000-square-foot Asheville site in October, moving its bike service department to a new location, with the engineering staff soon to follow. Over the next five years, Fox will add sales, finance, research and development, and distribution jobs to its current staff of 18.

Since 1974, Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Fox has made shock absorbers and racing-suspension products for mountain bikes, snowmobiles, motorcycles and other off-road vehicles. The publicly traded company had sales of $354 million in the first nine months of 2017 and employs more than 1,400 people worldwide. The Asheville site is led by Shelley and Kevin Booth, former owners of locally based Suspension Experts, an 11-year-old bike-repair business acquired by Fox.

Western North Carolina is already home to more than 30 outdoor-industry businesses, making gear for boating, camping, biking and other adventure sports. Legacy Paddlesports has made its Liquidlogic kayaks in Fletcher since 2012. Other outfitters include Cane Creek Cycling Components, camping-trailer manufacturer SylvanSport and Eagles Nest Outfitters, maker of ENO hammocks.

The Asheville location puts the company within one or two days’ reach for East Coast customers. Its access to mountain-bike trails also is a recruiting magnet for talented workers.

“This very strong bike industry and out-door community that we have in western N.C., in general, makes it a place that’s favorable to do business,” Shelley Booth says. “We know we have a lot of like-minded people that we can work with and collaborate with.”


ASHEVILLE — Mission Health resolved a contract dispute with insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, allowing Mission patients back in network beginning Dec. 15. The state’s sixth-largest health system said in July it was canceling BCBS contracts because of payment rate cuts. Mission employs about 12,000 people in western North Carolina.

MORGANTON — VEKA will invest $18 million and create 102 jobs over five years at a local plant. The Germany-based company makes PVC components for vinyl windows and doors. Average annual wage for the new jobs will be about $34,412, lower than Burke County’s $38,799.

CULLOWHEE — Chancellor David Belcher planned to take medical leave after six years leading Western Carolina University. Belcher was diagnosed with brain cancer in April 2016. Provost Alison Morrison-Shetlar was named acting chancellor, effective Jan. 1.

BREVARD — Earth Renewable Technologies raised $2.7 million from seven investors, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company founded in 2009 makes plant- and mineral-based biodegradable packaging. Earth Renewable Technologies is led by Gaia Herbs founder Rick Scalzo.

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