Sunday, April 21, 2024

NC portrait: Family business Carolina Biological Supply’s story


Burlington’s Powell family are emblematic of the enduring importance of family businesses across North Carolina. During its 95 years in business, Carolina Biological Supply has met an  unfilled need, created a niche and continued to innovate by providing diverse services. It’s happened because several generations have worked in sync with common goals to build a sustainable culture. We wish continued success to the Powells and other North Carolina family businesses!

At Carolina Biological Supply Company, family and a family-like culture are part of the science educational material company’s DNA. 

Since its unpretentious start in 1927—when Dr. Thomas E. Powell Jr., a young geology and biology professor, began collecting specimens in the field and selling the surplus to his colleagues—Carolina has grown into a thriving 400-plus staff member operation with sales around the world. It remains a family business, espousing values that from the beginning have been key to its success.

Six family members serve on Carolina’s Board of Directors, with Dr. Thomas E. Powell III as chairman. In their leadership roles, the family embraces Powell Jr.’s philosophy of innovation, quality and service. Innovations in kit design and manufacturing, curriculum development and distance learning propelled Carolina to the top tier of educational suppliers for elementary schools through universities. 

Designing and manufacturing science kits are among Carolina’s core functions. These kits are essential to teaching science at every level. Carolina also develops hands-on curricula independently and in partnership, supporting educators in the newest standards for hands-on science learning. Since computers are ubiquitous in today’s classrooms, Carolina delivers digital resources—videos, teacher’s manuals and interactive lessons—through its unique platform at 

In 2016, Carolina Distance Learning was created to provide campus-quality laboratory science to students in their homes. Today, these kits benefit remote students at hundreds of colleges and universities, proving to be a vital service during the pandemic.  

Carolina has long been known for developing lessons using living and preserved materials for a deeper understanding of biological concepts. Now, the company is among the first to bring affordable biotechnology concepts to high school and college students. As an added service, it provides a wealth of free information on organism care, laboratory techniques, lessons and activities.



Carolina Biological Supply Company
2700 York Road
Burlington, NC 27215

For 40 years, sharing the stories of North Carolina's dynamic business community.

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