Companies making products account for 17% of the N.C. economy and employ about 450,000 workers, or 10% of the nonfarm payroll, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Thousands of skilled manufacturing jobs remain open because of a worker shortage, employers say. This section highlights leaders of top companies making both global and local impacts.
chair, CEO | Honeywell
Polish native Adamczyk became an overnight state hero when he moved the Fortune 100 company’s headquarters from New Jersey to downtown Charlotte in 2018, two years after he became CEO. Adamczyk earned engineering degrees from Michigan State and Syracuse and an MBA from Harvard. He oversees about 99,000 employees worldwide.
president, CEO | Curtiss-Wright
Bamford succeeded David Adams as head of the aerospace and defense contractor in January 2021. Curtiss-Wright has annual revenue of about $2.5 billion. Bamford holds a master’s in electrical engineering from George Mason University. She has 30 years of experience in the industry.
senior vice president, general
manager | Corning Optical
Bell joined Corning in 1991 in Hickory and became cable manufacturing manager for Corning Cable Systems America in 2004. He served as a U.S. Navy submarine officer and earned an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill.
ALEX BERNHARDT JR.
president, CEO | Bernhardt
Bernhardt is the fourth generation to run the North Carolina furniture company formed in 1889. It has eight North Carolina factories and employs more than 1,500 people. He became president in 2009 and CEO in 2012. He holds an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill.
CEO | HanesBrands
The former Walmart chief merchandising officer succeeded Gerald Evans Jr. in 2020 at the apparel company that reported revenue of $6.8 billion in 2021. It employs about 59,000 people in 33 countries. He is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College with an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.
executive chair | Mt. Olive Pickles
Bryan, former president of Mt. Olive, oversees the country’s largest independent pickle company, which was formed in 1926. Annually, it packages more than 110 million jars of pickles, relishes and peppers. He is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate.
president | Fairystone Fabrics
Bryan, 69. managed Fairystone for more than a decade before buying the business in 2011. He’s a Florida Southern College graduate who spent 17 years with Burlington Industries. Fairystone makes a variety of fabric products, including materials for automobile interiors.
president | Atlantic Packaging
Carter, 43, started sweeping floors at age 14 at the company founded by his grandfather. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate and his father, Rusty, who is CEO, lead a company that employs 1,000 at 18 locations in the United States and the Caribbean.
Pre-workday motivation: Around 5 a.m. I spend time in reflection and meditation, followed by a sauna and cold plunge routine. I take one of our two kids to school most days and provide a rock-and-roll education on that ride. It’s one of the highlights of my day.
Key to industry success: Creativity and collaboration. At Atlantic Packaging, we are focused on creating solutions for our customers, and that almost always requires creative thinking. Those organizations don’t need just another commodity broker. They need support from companies willing to understand their challenges and create comprehensive programs.
Three people to share a meal: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and the Dalai Lama.
Proud family accomplishment: Our courage and humility. My father, Rusty, and grandfather, Horace Carter, have had immense success in their lives, both overcoming many obstacles. Both men set the example of what it means to be a humble warrior and a compassionate leader.
Favorite hobby: Surfing, skiing, fishing, hunting, hiking, climbing or just sitting under a tree. Sharing that with my wife and kids is a great joy for me.
Where to entertain a visitor: The south end of Wrightsville Beach on my parent’s porch looking out across Masonboro Inlet.
president, CEO | Sealed Air
Named to his post in 2018 after working for Joy Global and Ingersoll Rand, Doheny leads a company best known for Bubble Wrap. Its many products also include equipment that helps automate packaging. Doheny has an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a master’s in management from Purdue University.
FRANK DOWD IV
chair | Carolina Pipe & Foundry
Dowd is part of a fourth generation leading the manufacturer of pipes and fitting. The company is moving its Charlotte foundry to Stanly County with an investment topping $425 million. He’s a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with law and MBA degrees from the University of Virginia.
president, CEO | Core Technology
The New Jersey native and his wife, Tonya, founded their business in 2006. It produces electronic connectors, syringe components and other products for clients, including BMW and Merck. Foster, who has two degrees from N.C. A&T State University and a Wake Forest University MBA, holds a patent for a sealed electric motor that has been used in more than 31 million vehicles produced by Ford, Jaguar, Lincoln and Mercury.
Pre-workday motivation: Praying and working out.
Key to industry success: Consistently delivering quality at the highest level to meet and exceed our customer’s standards.
Best advice: “Block out the noise and stay focused.”
Three people to share a meal: Barack Obama, Derek Jeter and Oprah Winfrey.
Proud family accomplishment: Perseverance by completing college degrees while working full-time and also being a student-athlete.
Favorite hobby: Golf.
Where to entertain a visitor: N.C. A&T State University.
chief customer officer, senior vice
president of health and beauty |
The University of Tennessee graduate has led about 500 employees at the health and beauty company’s Durham office and Morrisville factory since 2017. Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox paid $1 billion to buy the Durham-based Burt’s Bees brand in 2007.
FRANK HARRISON III
chair, CEO | Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
Harrison has chaired the nation’s largest Coca-Cola bottler since 1996. His family has controlled the franchise since his great-grandfather introduced the soda to North Carolina in 1902. Revenue was $5.5 billion in 2021. He’s a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with an MBA from Duke University.
president, CEO | Renfro Brands
The former VF executive and Georgia Tech University graduate oversees a 2,000-employee sock manufacturer that celebrated its 100th-anniversary last year. Brands include Polo and Fruit of the Loom. New York-based investment company Renco Group bought Renfro last year.
EUGENE LOWE III
president, CEO | SPX
The former Milliken & Co. executive oversees about 4,500 employees in 17 countries. Founded as an auto parts company, it now makes products for boilers and other heating and air conditioning necessities. He has a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from Dartmouth.
president, CEO | Wolfspeed
Lowe has shifted the company’s focus from lighting products to semiconductors since joining in 2017, including changing the name from Cree. He is a graduate of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Stanford University School of Business.
Pre-workday motivation: It’s truly a privilege to lead Wolfspeed, and I’m reminded every day how smart, talented and committed our people are to not just this company but to supporting this once-in-a-generation transition from silicon to silicon carbide. Wolfspeed teams show up each day — both remotely and in-person at our operations facilities — with passion, resilient spirits, ready to contribute and make an impact.
Key to industry success: A long-term view and a willingness to make big bets. Our new Mohawk Valley Fab [in New York] will be critical in keeping our competitive edge and supply the steepening demand curve for silicon carbide. This fab is coming online in the midst of a global chip shortage. The difference between it and recent competitor announcements to build fabs is that ours will be supplying customers in 2022, rather than in a few years. Wolfspeed is also expanding our mega materials factory in Durham. The demand for our devices and technology is only skyrocketing from here.
Best advice: ‘The mess you make is the mess you clean up,’ from my dad; ‘Your dad got that right,’ from my mom.
Three people to share a meal: Muddy Waters, Angela Merkel and Marie Curie.
Proud family accomplishment: I was one of 11 children, and all of them graduated from college. My parents were fantastic role models.
Favorite hobby: Serving as chair of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s education committee.
president | CaptiveAire Systems
The kitchen equipment company that Luddy founded in 1976 includes six factories, 90 sales offices and more than 1,400 employees nationwide. The U.S. Army veteran and LaSalle University graduate founded the Thales Academy, a chain of charter and private schools in the Carolinas and Tennessee.
chair, CEO | Albemarle Corp
The specialty chemical manufacturer employs about 5,400 employees in 100 countries, producing lithium used in rechargeable batteries. The CEO since April 2020 and a director since 2015, Masters, 60, has degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology and New York University.
president, CEO | Reynolds American
The New Zealander joined Reynolds’ parent, British American Tobacco, in 1998 and moved to the top spot in 2020. His BAT work included stints in Hong Kong and Australia. The Macquarie University graduate oversees 5,400 employees.
chair, president, CEO | Jeld-Wen
The Virginia Tech University graduate became CEO in 2018, following 32 years at Ingersoll Rand. The window and door company had revenue of $4.7 billion in 2021. He oversees about 23,000 employees at 117 plants in more than 20 countries.
chair, CEO | National Gypsum
Nelson, 58, has led the large wallboard manufacturer since 1999, four years after his father-in-law, C.D. Spangler Jr., bought the business for $1.2 billion. The Chicago native is a graduate of Stanford and Harvard universities. He previously served as a White House Fellow and an assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
chair, CEO | Martin Marietta Materials
Nye has led the 9,000-employee aggregates and construction supplies company since 2010, adding the chairman’s title in 2014. Annual revenue increased from $1.5 billion to $5.4 billion during his tenure. He practiced law in Raleigh before joining aggregates giant Hanson in the mid-1990s, then moved to Martin Marietta in 2006. Nye has chaired the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association and N.C. Chamber. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a Wake Forest University law degree.
Key to industry success: Having the right people in the right places with an aligned culture of continuous improvement and commitment to excellence. We’ve built our business in 11 of the nation’s 12 megaregions, which collectively will be home to over 70% of the nation’s population growth between now and 2050. People and place offer a powerful confluence of forces.
Best advice: Avoid the irretrievable decision.
Three people to share a meal: Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill.
Proud family accomplishment: Having three happy, moral and productive children.
Favorite hobby: Whatever my family wants to do. Work keeps me away from home a lot, so I cherish the time at home and with my family.
Where to entertain a visitor: The Duke Gardens and Duke Chapel. They never cease to amaze and gratify any visitor.
president, CEO | Glen Raven
Oehmig, 55, joined Glen Raven right out of college and succeeded Allen Gant Jr. as CEO in 2017. Glen Raven, which produces Sunbrella and Dickson fabric lines, is expanding its plants in Warren County and Anderson County, South Carolina. Oehmig holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Clemson University.
Key to industry success: Great people and great values. Glen Raven has the distinction of remaining wholly owned by the family of its founder, John Q. Gant. Because of this, we are able to focus on purpose driven leadership in support of all of our employees, stakeholders and communities around the globe.
Best advice: To lead with care and compassion, from former CEO Allen Gant Jr. Being a hard charger in business and having high expectations of yourself and others do not have to be mutually exclusive from having a heart for people.
Favorite hobby: Water sports and boating.
president, CEO | Universal Furniture
The veteran furniture industry executive has led the Hong Kong-based company’s Universal division since 2008. The Miami University graduate served on the High Point Furniture Market board for seven years, including a stint as chair. He is on the board of the American Home Furnishings Alliance.
CEO, founder | Nufabrx
The Arizona native, 30, founded his health wear manufacturing company in 2011 from his dorm room at the University of Washington. Nufabrx ranked eighth in Deloitte’s list of fastest-growing U.S. companies in 2021. It makes medicated infused fabrics.
Pre-workday motivation: Honestly, I’m excited to check my emails every morning and see what’s happening at Nufabrx.
Key to industry success: One-hundred percent perseverance. We’re creating an entirely new technology and a new category. We always need to keep pushing forward.
Best advice: To get a business coach. Putting my ego aside and having someone there just to listen and provide insights has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Three people to share a meal: Michael Jordan, 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki and Robert Iger.
Proud family accomplishment: We unwaveringly support one another and truly enjoy each other’s company.
Favorite hobby: Travel. The goal is to visit every country in the world by age 40.
Where to entertain a visitor: A Nufabrx facility tour and a Charlotte Knights’ game.
chair, CEO | SteelFab
Sherrill has been CEO since 2017 at the family-owned steel fabrication business founded by his grandfather after World War II. It has worked on many of the tallest buildings in Charlotte and Atlanta. Sherrill chairs the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte board.
Pre-workday motivation: Trying to do the right thing every day.
Key to industry success: Treat our colleagues, suppliers/vendors, and clients like you want to be treated and do what you say you will do.
Best advice: Everyone makes mistakes, but you cannot make the same mistake twice.
Three people to share a meal: George Bush, Jamie Dimon and Jack Nicklaus.
Proud family accomplishment: Providing well-paid jobs and giving to nonprofits.
Favorite hobby: Golf.
ALEX SHUFORD III
CEO | RHF Investments
The Pomona College graduate is the third generation of his family to lead Rock House Farm, whose furniture brands include Century and Highland House. The company acquired Hickory Chair last year. RHF employs 1,750 at eight North Carolina factories.
CEO | Shurtape Technologies
Shuford joined the family’s Shurtape division in 1994, two years after completing his MBA at UNC Chapel Hill. He’s led the expansion of some of its best-known brands, including Duck and Painter’s Mate. The Shuford family has been operating businesses in the Catawba Valley region since 1880.
owner, CEO | Grady-White Boats
Smith, 79, and his late wife, Jo Allison Smith, bought the boatbuilder in 1968, nine years after its inception. Its 450 workers turn out boats from 18 feet to 45 feet long that sell for as much as $1.6 million. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate is a major supporter of Tar Heel athletics with the field at Kenan Stadium named in honor of his late son Chris, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2019.
Key to industry success: An unrelenting and total commitment to unsurpassed customer satisfaction.
Best advice: My father stressed integrity above all else, followed by how to treat employees and customers while focusing on quality.
Proud family accomplishment: Our entire family is committed to philanthropy, believing strongly in “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
Favorite hobby: Time with family and enjoying God’s great gifts of nature by boating, fishing and hunting.
partner | Rise Capital
The East Carolina University graduate co-founded Pamlico Air in 2019 after working as CEO of Flanders Filters, a publicly-traded air filter manufacturer. He and partner Travis Stephenson rapidly expanded Pamlico by establishing a half dozen plants employing more than 1,500 people. Mann + Hummel, a 22,000-employee German industrial firm, bought the business earlier this year. Smith is a former chair of the UNC System Board of Governors who now leads Rise Capital, a private equity company.
Key to industry success: Innovation and world-class service.
Best advice: Operate on facts, not emotions. Be strong enough to stand on the facts, no matter how much noise is created by emotional operators. Facts always come out.
Three people to share a meal: Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill and Elon Musk.
Proud family accomplishment: Our closeness.
Favorite hobby: Blue marlin fishing.
Where to entertain a visitor: Havens Wharf, my office building constructed on the Washington waterfront in the 1800s.
president, CEO | Nucor
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate joined the company in 1996 and became CEO in January 2020 as the pandemic erupted. But the largest U.S. steel company has thrived with revenue soaring last year to a record $36.5 billion as profit totaled $6.8 billion.
president, CEO | CommScope
Treadway had nearly two decades of experience as CEO for a variety of companies, including Accudyne Industries before moving to CommScope in 2020. The Louisiana Lafayette graduate has a Harvard University MBA and master’s in electrical engineering from Clemson University.
chair, CEO | Parkdale Mills
The 1979 Citadel graduate has been a top executive for more than 30 years at the company led for years by his father-in-law Duke Kimbrell. Warlick and his wife are now sole owners. During the pandemic, he helped organize textile industry coalitions to make masks and swabs.
HOWARD WOLTZ III
chair, president, CEO | Insteel
Woltz, CEO since 1991, has helped build Insteel into the largest U.S. maker of steel wire reinforcing products. The UNC Chapel Hill graduate started at the public company founded by his father in 1953.