A gathering of top state executives enabled sharing of wisdom and some tributes.
Business North Carolina’s annual CEO Summit in October honored three leaders of thriving Tar Heel businesses, while providing an informal forum for top executives to share insights with their peers.
In the Enterprise Division, Frank Holding Jr. was named CEO of the Year for his leadership at First Citizens Bancshares. Over the past two years, the Raleigh-based bank has nearly quadrupled in size through the acquisition of CIT Group and the assets and liabilities of the failed Silicon Valley Bank. The deals have helped send First Citizens’ shares soaring during a difficult year for most U.S. banks.
Holding is a third-generation leader of the largest U.S. family-owned U.S. bank. He’s
been CEO since 2008 and is a trustee and former chair of Blue Cross Blue Shield of
In the Middle Market Division, Paul Evans of Durham-based Velocity Clinical Research was named CEO of Year. Since leaving industry giant Parexel’s London office in 2018 to move to North Carolina, Evans has led dramatic growth at the clinical trials company, which works with pharma and biotech companies to research new drugs and devices. Velocity ranked No. 543 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing U.S. private companies. About 60 of the company’s 1,700 employees work in the Triangle.
In the Growth Division, judges selected Scott Hoots, the CEO of Charlotte-based QC Kinetix, which is among the nation’s fastest-growing franchise businesses. The company’s 170-plus offices serve people suffering pain by offering alternatives to surgery and medications. A family tragedy during his college days prompted him to start delivering pizzas at Domino’s; he became a regional vice president overseeing 1,500 franchise stores, and later worked for other franchising systems. He joined QC Kinetix in 2020 and has led rapid growth.
During panel discussions, executives shared strategies that had helped propel success. Eric Hobbs, the CEO of Raleigh-based Technology Associates, explained how he shifted the company’s compensation philosophy in the past few years, implementing profit sharing and a flexible pay structure. The move has reduced turnover and boosted recruiting, he says.
At Raleigh-based Bobbitt Construction, CEO Brian Denisar described how the company has held “signing days” for its interns and new hires. Each is given a jersey from their university, with the pictures posted on social media. The program has raised Bobbitt’s profile among college students interested in construction careers.
Other CEOs who discussed their trials and successes included Charlotte developer David Ravin of Northwood Ravin; Brian DuMont of Raleigh-based YardNique, one of the fastest-growing U.S. landscape services companies; and Van Isley, who built Raleigh-based Professional Builders Supply into a $700 million business before its sale to U.S. LBM
The conference also included comments from Jonathan Kozy, a senior macro strategy analyst at Bank of America, who predicted that current interest rate levels may last longer than expected, partly because of a continued strong labor market. Most executives with whom Kozy has conversed say their biggest issue is not finding workers for jobs, “It’s finding good workers who want to show up and work.”
The conference at Pinehurst Resort was sponsored by Bank of America, Brooks Pierce, Catapult Employers Association, FlyExclusive, Rocky Mount Event Center and Ward and Smith. ■