The backbone of the state’s economy since the 1880s, manufacturing makes up about a fifth of North Carolina’s total output. The industry also employs more than 10% of the state workforce — and would hire more if it could attract skilled staffers, many executives say. Honeywell, Nucor and Parkdale Mills are among the state’s marquee manufacturers.
chairman, CEO | Honeywell International
The native of Poland became an N.C. hero when he moved the company’s headquarters from New Jersey in 2018, two years after he became CEO. Adamczyk earned a Harvard MBA and engineering degrees from Michigan State and Syracuse. He oversees 113,000 employees worldwide.
CEO | Curtiss-Wright
In January, Bamford succeeded David Adams to lead the 8,200-employee company, which has annual revenue of $2.5 billion. With a master’s in electrical engineering from George Mason University, she joined C-W in 2004 and has 30 years of experience in aerospace, commercial and defense industries.
vice president | Corning Optical Communications
Bell, who earned an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill, succeeded Clark Kinlin last year as general manager of a key division. Bell joined Corning in 1991 in Hickory and was named cable manufacturing manager for Corning Cable Systems America in 2004. He served as a U.S. Navy submarine officer.
ALEX BERNHARDT JR.
president, CEO | Bernhardt Furniture
The UNC Chapel Hill graduate is the fourth generation to run the famous furniture company formed in 1889. It has eight North Carolina factories and employs 1,540 people. He became president in 2009 and CEO in 2012.
president | Hickory Chair
Formerly with the Stanley and Avalon furniture companies, the Florida State University graduate has led Hickory Chair since 2018. The 450-employee manufacturer formed in 2011 was part of Heritage Home Group, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Its owner is Rock House Farm Investments.
CEO | HanesBrands
Last summer, Bratspies succeeded Gerald Evans Jr. as CEO of the apparel company that has $6.6 billion in sales and 68,000 employees. A former Walmart chief merchandising officer, he is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and has a Wharton MBA.
president | Fairystone Fabrics
A Florida Southern College graduate, Bryan, 68, spent 17 years with Burlington Industries. He managed Fairystone for more than a decade before buying the business in 2011. Nearly half of its staff has tenure topping a decade.Read More
Employer’s distinction: Fairystone is a founding member of Alamance Career Accelerator Program and a charter member of the Eastern Triad Workforce Initiative. [The company] is helping veteran workers with technical training.
Favorite passions: Reading Clive Cussler, listening to James Taylor, cooking, tasting wine, gardening, hunting and fishing
Something surprising: As a police officer in college, I guarded the mechanical sharks for Jaws.
president | Atlantic Packaging
Carter, 42, started as a floor-sweeper when he was 14. He went on the payroll as a sales manager after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. Atlantic, founded by his grandfather 75 years ago, employs 1,000 employees at 18 locations in the United States and Caribbean.Read More
Employer’s distinction: We are a family company focused on doing things the right way. Our employees truly care about each other, our customers and our suppliers.
Favorite passion: My passion for this job is driven by our ability to think creatively and collaborate with each other and across the supply chain. We always keep evolving and embracing challenges because we understand that there is always the opportunity to learn more.
Person you admire: My father. He taught me that who we are as people will be reflected in the organization that we create. He reminds me that the job is never finished. It’s a journey of solving complex problems and creating and sustaining relationships. If you do those well, the business will thrive, and you will thrive.
Favorite recent book: The Lion Trackers Guide to Life by Boyd Varty
president, CEO | Sealed Air
Named to his post in 2018, Doheny leads the company best known for Bubble Wrap. Its many products include equipment that helps automate packaging. The Cornell University and Purdue University graduate previously worked for Joy Global, a mining machinery company, and Ingersoll Rand.
FRANK DOWD IV
chairman | Charlotte Pipe and Foundry
A UNC Chapel Hill graduate, Dowd is part of the fourth generation to lead one of the biggest U.S. manufacturers of pipes and fittings. The company, founded in 1901, is moving its foundry from Charlotte to Stanly County with an investment topping $325 million.
CEO, president | Core Technology Molding
The New Jersey native came to the South to study at N.C. A&T State University. He worked for some large companies before starting his business in 2006. It molds electronic connectors, syringe components and other products for clients including BMW and Merck. He has earned honors such as Southeast Entrepreneur of the Year from Ernst & Young.
president, CEO | Honda Aircraft
Fujino turned a youthful dream sketched on an envelope into HondaJet, an innovative jet that retails for about $4.5 million and achieves 450 miles per hour. A University of Tokyo graduate who once had dreams of playing professional pingpong, he leads 1,500 workers in Greensboro.
president | Burt’s Bees
Clorox spent nearly $1 billion for the maker of personal care products it calls “Earth friendly” in 2007 and put longtime staffer Gregory in charge in 2017. The University of Tennessee graduate oversees about 500 employees at its Durham headquarters and Morrisville factory.
FRANK HARRISON III
chairman, CEO | Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Harrison started at the nation’s largest Coca-Cola bottler in 1977. A UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University MBA graduate, he has been CEO since 1996. His great-grandfather founded the public company, which has 13 factories and distributes in 14 states. Annual revenue tops $5 billion.
president, CEO | Renfro Brands
Jewell leads one of the world’s largest sock manufacturers, selling brands such as Polo and Fruit of the Loom. The Georgia Tech graduate was named president in 2017 after serving as VF Corp.’s Central and South America president. He oversees more than 2,000 employees.
president | Genpak
The University of Vermont graduate was named president of the maker of foam takeout boxes, trays, plastic utensils, cups and food-service products in 2015. Two years later, he moved its headquarters, research and development, and a factory to Charlotte from Glen Falls, N.Y. Genpak is owned by Vancouver, British Columbia-based Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s second-largest private company.
EUGENE LOWE III
president, CEO | SPX
Lowe has led the maker of cooling towers, boilers and other heating and air conditioning necessities since 2015, overseeing about 4,500 employees in 17 countries. A former Milliken & Co. executive, he has a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech and a Dartmouth MBA.
president, CEO | Cree
Lowe joined the company in 2017 after serving as president of Freescale Semiconductor. The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Stanford School of Business graduate has focused Cree on semiconductors after selling its better-known light-emitting diode business for $300 million last year.
president | CaptiveAire Systems
Luddy, 75, oversees six factories and 90 sales offices nationwide. He’s a LaSalle University graduate and Army veteran who is responsible for starting several charter and private schools in North Carolina. The company, which makes commercial kitchen ventilation and fire-control gear, was founded in 1976 and has annual sales topping $400 million.Read More
First job: Pharmacy inventory and sales clerk
Employer’s distinction: We lead the kitchen ventilation system manufacturing industry by focusing on high quality and radical decentralization of sales and operational management. That has allowed us to expand throughout North America.
North Carolina’s challenge: Too much governmental overspending and a lack of quality opportunities in education
Best advice: To best serve society is to continuously improve oneself. One does this by seeking the truth, beauty and order.
Proud family accomplishment: Remaining faithful to the Catholic Church and [its] teachings
Favorite passion: Nature
Person you admire: Thomas Sowell for his brutal honesty
Favorite recent book: Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World by Jill Jonnes
Favorite music: Classical
Something surprising: After college, I was drafted by the Army, did basic training at Fort Bragg and served in Vietnam.
vice president, large generator product line & Siemens Energy Charlotte Hub | Siemens Energy
The German multinational company makes gas and steam turbines in Charlotte with about 1,300 employees, down from 1,700 as utilities shift to renewables. The Mohawk College graduate has been with Siemens for about 15 years. He succeeded Kevin Poet as the local general manager last year.
chairman, CEO | Albemarle Corp.
Masters, 59, leads this specialty chemical maker, whose lithium, bromine and other materials are crucial to communications equipment and other products. With degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology and New York University, he leads about 5,400 employees and has customers in 100 countries. He was CEO of global contractor Foster Wheeler from 2011 to 2015.Read More
Employer’s distinction: Our company has deeply ingrained values that strengthen our culture and help us seize growth opportunities.
Best advice: Former Barclays CEO Bob Diamond once said that five years at Credit Suisse First Boston early in his career was the most miserable time of his life. Still, it helped him realize that the most important things in business are people and culture. If you get the people and culture right, everything follows.
Favorite passions: Water skiing, paddle boarding and kayaking, plus golfing and gardening
Something surprising: I’m a thrill-seeker. My son and I have bungee jumped a few times, starting with the Victoria Falls bridge in Africa, which is 111 meters over the Zambezi River.
president, CEO | Reynolds American
Meldrum has worked for Reynolds’ parent, British American Tobacco, for 16 years. He moved here last year after stints in Hong Kong and Australia. The Macquarie University graduate oversees 5,400 employees at what Fortune rates as one of the nation’s best workplaces.
president, CEO | Jeld-Wen
The Virginia Tech graduate, 58, joined Jeld-Wen, a $4 billion annual seller of windows and doors, in 2018, after 32 years at Ingersoll Rand. He oversees 117 plants in more than 20 countries, about 23,000 employees and $4 billion in annual revenue.Read More
First jobs: Mowing lawns and working at a delicatessen, washing dishes, mopping floors, stocking shelves and filleting fish
Employer’s distinction: Quality, design and a focus on continuous improvement
North Carolina’s challenge: North Carolina has done a great job with manufacturing making up 18.3% of gross state product and 10.4% of the workforce. To remain competitive, we must support vocational training, community colleges, and apprentice and internship programs.
Best advice: Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated, particularly in business. Always look for opportunities to simplify systems and processes, and guard against complexity if it doesn’t add value.
chairman, CEO | National Gypsum
Named National Gypsum’s vice chairman and chief financial officer in 1995 and CEO in 1999, Nelson, 57, has an MBA from Harvard and a bachelor’s from Stanford University. The building products manufacturer, best known for its wallboard, has annual revenue topping $1.5 billion. He’s a former director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.Read More
First job: Caddying at a local golf club and mowing lawns
Employer’s distinction: We say our employees come for a job and stay for a career. They are the company’s backbone. We work together toward a common goal, driven by collaboration and open communication. We are never done investing in the safety, skills and promotion of our associates.
North Carolina’s challenge: Increasing third-grade reading proficiency. A student reaching proficiency is three times more likely to graduate from high school and enter postsecondary education or training than one who doesn’t. If not met, that student is four times more likely to drop out of high school.
Best advice: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” (President Harry Truman)
Favorite recent book: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
chairman, CEO | Martin Marietta Materials
A Duke University and Wake Forest University School of Law graduate, Nye, 58, has chaired the 9,000-employee construction-aggregate company since 2014. He has been its CEO since 2010. He previously worked at Hanson Aggregates and as a construction-industry lawyer. He chairs the NC Chamber.Read More
Employer’s distinction: No significant development — roads, subdivisions, offices, health care, schools — happens without our products and services. Even in pandemic-challenged 2020, Martin Marietta turned in its safest and most profitable year. Over nearly 30 years as a public company, we’ve never reduced or suspended our dividend.
North Carolina’s challenge: We need a long-term, sustainable transportation strategy that closes the gap between 20th-century funding models and 21st-century investment needs. Our transportation investments currently rely on a few revenue streams, each tied to long-standing assumptions about our driving and how we purchase goods and services. But dramatic population growth and seismic technological, social and environmental disruptions have upended them, putting those revenue sources in jeopardy.
Best advice: A former law partner said to try to avoid the irretrievable decision.
Favorite recent book: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
president, CEO | Glen Raven
Oehmig, 54, succeeded the company founder’s grandson Allen Gant Jr. as CEO in 2017. The Clemson University graduate joined the company in 1989 and became chief operating officer in 2013. Its fabrics are used in many applications including outdoor furniture and the American flag planted on the moon in 1969.Read More
First job: Glen Raven after college
People you admire: First responders, health care workers and teachers who wear the personal protective equipment that we make
Favorite passion: Spending time on the water. Growing up, my family’s best memories were made on a boat.
president, CEO | EnPro Industries
Riley has led the 5,300-employee conglomerate that makes industrial products, from engine bearings to semiconductors, since 2019. A former General Motors executive, he is a graduate of Howard University, Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University’s advanced management program.
president, CEO | Universal Furniture
Scheffer has led the company since 2008. A furniture industry executive for 30 years, he arrived at Universal from Stanley Furniture, where he was president and CEO. He holds a business degree from Miami University. Hong Kong-based Samson Holding owns Universal.
R. GLENN SHERRILL JR.
chairman, CEO | SteelFab
Many well-known buildings have backbones supplied by the family-owned company, including Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame and Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Sherrill, 50, is an N.C. State University graduate. Started in 1955, SteelFab has 1,200 employees and 15 locations.Read More
First job: A fitter’s helper in our Charlotte plant
Employer’s distinction: We try to treat all of our stakeholders, employees, vendors and clients like we want to be treated.
North Carolina’s challenge: Finding young people who want to work with their hands in construction or manufacturing
Best advice: If you get up every day, work hard, work smart, do the right thing, keep your word and treat others with respect, the profits will come.
Proud family accomplishment: I am proud to be the CEO of a company that my grandfather founded and my dad and uncles ran for many years.
Favorite passions: Playing golf and spending time with my sons
People you admire: Winston Churchill because he was fearless, quick-witted and passionate. And my mom and dad.
Favorite recent book: Bourbon Empire by Reid Mitenbuler
Favorite music: The Eagles
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. More than 1,300 employees work for the business, which dates to 1947.
CEO | STM Industries
Shuford joined the family’s Shurtape division in 1994, two years after completing a UNC MBA. LIke his brother, Stephen, he followed the company rule of working outside the business for five years before joining its staff. He’s helped expand its brands, including Duck and Painter’s Mate.
vice chairman | STM Industries
STM is the holding company of the world’s second-largest maker of tape. Shuford, 52, shares leadership with brother Jim and other family members. He is a Princeton University and UNC Chapel Hill MBA graduate. He is a director of the Catawba County Economic Development Corp. and the county’s K-64 career development project.Read More
North Carolina’s challenge: An aging population, increasing urbanization and reluctance among younger workers to work in manufacturing will hinder companies to the extent that the “talent gap” is not addressed.
Proud family accomplishment: Our past and present philanthropic support of various nonprofits
Favorite recent book: Farther Than Any Man: The Rise and Fall of Captain James Cook by Martin Dugard
owner, CEO | Grady-White Boats
The UNC Chapel Hill graduate, 78, bought the boat builder in 1968, nine years after it was founded. Its 450 workers turn out boats from 18 feet to 45 feet that cost as much as $1.6 million. Grady-White is frequently honored for its community contributions. In 2013, he auctioned off his father’s vintage Ferrari for $27.5 million and gave the proceeds to charity.Read More
First job: Paper route
Employer’s distinction: Internationally recognized brand for quality, performance and value
North Carolina’s challenge: The extreme partisanship and division in state government. We need elected officials to work together and accomplish things that are in the best interest of all.
Best advice: Have integrity, treat employees and customers well and focus on quality. (my father)
Proud family accomplishment: Our philanthropy
Favorite passions: Spending time with family, boating, fishing and hunting
Person you admire: Theodore Roosevelt, whose incredible vision included conserving wildlife and setting aside large tracts of land
Favorite recent book: The Tuscarora War by David La Vere
Favorite music: Country western
president, CEO | Nucor
Part of the largest U.S. steel producer since 1996, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy graduate became president in 2019 and CEO in January 2020. Topalian has held company posts in Australia and South Carolina. Annual revenue exceeds $20 billion.
president, CEO | CommScope
The former CEO of Accudyne Industries was selected to succeed longtime leader Eddie Edwards at the communications networking company last October. The Harvard MBA and Clemson University master’s graduate oversees about 30,000 employees. CommScope had annual revenue of $8.4 billion in 2020.
chairman, CEO | Parkdale Mills
The Citadel graduate, 63, has invested $800 million in technology to modernize operations and control energy costs over the past 15 years. Privately held Parkdale Mills makes spun yarn at 29 plants in the U.S., Mexico and South America. It is the largest consumer of cotton in the U.S.Read More
Best advice: “Patience? Look at me! I’ve got plenty of patience. Know why? I’ve never used any of it.” (Duke Kimbrell, my father-in-law and a former Parkdale Mills CEO)
Proud family accomplishment: Two children, five grandchildren and seeing Duke Kimbrell selected by Textile World magazine as one of the two most influential textile executives of the 20th century
Favorite passions: Duck hunting and golf
HOWARD WOLTZ III
chairman, president, CEO | Insteel Industries
Woltz 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 in 1978 and was named CEO in 1991. Revenue is expected to top $525 million this year. His father, Howard Woltz Jr., started the company in 1953.
president, CEO | DAK Americas
Young, who earned an MBA from Wharton, was named CEO in 2012 after working for the largest U.S. maker of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, since its 2001 founding. A graduate of Tecnológico de Monterrey University, Young oversees 1,300 employees in North Carolina for the company. It is owned by Mexico’s Alfa conglomerate.