North Carolina has a rich history of enterprising retailers as the starting spot for Belk, Family Dollar, Food Lion, Lowe’s and other enduring chains. This section includes a variety of executives steering their companies amid tough competition from Amazon.com and Walmart.
president | Harris Teeter
Antolock began his grocery career with Albertsons in 1978 and joined Harris Teeter in 2000. After stints in merchandising, human resources and as vice president of operations, he became president in 2015, two years after Kroger paid $2.4 billion for the 260-store chain.
CEO | Bojangles
A former McDonald’s senior executive, Armario, 61, was named CEO in January 2019, shortly after the quick-service chicken chain was taken private by two New York private-equity companies. The University of Miami graduate also worked for LensCrafters and Burger King.Read More
Employer’s distinction: The values our team lives by — hard work, teamwork, harmony and respect — resonate with mine.
North Carolina’s challenge: Dealing with the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic, ensuring equity in recovery efforts and strengthening our communities
Best advice: My mother taught me the value of working hard and protecting your integrity.
CEO | Boddie-Noell Enterprises
Boddie leads the business that family members started with 15-cent burgers in Fayetteville in 1962. It operates more than 340 Hardee’s restaurants in four states — the brand’s largest franchisee — and a ’50s-themed diner, wedding and event venue. It also develops real estate.
chairman, president, CEO | The Cato Corp.
Cato started with his family’s apparel chain in 1989 and has been CEO since 1999. The UNC Charlotte graduate closed 1,300 stores at the pandemic’s start and reopened them by June 2020. His grandfather, father and uncle started the business in 1946.
president | Sonic Automotive
Dyke has steered the group of more than 100 dealerships through pandemic sales pressures, technology revolutions and other challenges since 2018. He was paid more than $4.7 million last year at the company, which has about 10,000 employees and a market cap of $2 billion.
president, CEO | Lowe’s
The former JCPenney CEO joined Lowe’s in 2018. An Emory University MBA graduate, he oversees a 2,200-store chain with annual revenue topping $90 billion. Its $153 million global technology center will open in Charlotte this year. He’s among the handful of Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
chairman, CEO | Flow Automotive
Flow accelerated his family’s car business, where he started as a mechanic in 1978, to 39 dealerships and 1,500 employees. A Wake Forest University, Regent College and University of Virginia graduate, he is active in many local and state groups.
president, CEO | Alex Lee
The grandson of the company’s co-founder, George took the reins in 2014. He oversees 74 Lowes grocery stores plus Merchants Distributors, wholesaler to more than 600 stores, and about 14,000 employees. The Notre Dame University graduate bought 20 Bi-Lo stores last year.
CEO | Advance Auto Parts
Greco joined Advance in 2016. The graduate of Laurentian University and Ivey Business School drove up the 5,000-store chain’s net sales 5% to $10 billion last year despite the pandemic. He wants to add 50 to 100 stores this year.
CEO | Compass Group North America
The Great Britain native holds a food-service degree from Johnson & Wales University. Compass provides contract food and hospitality services in many business, industrial, education and health care settings. Green joined in 1987 and became CEO in 1999. Sales reached
$20 billion in 2019.
president | Food Lion
The New York native and Cornell University graduate has led the 1,100-store grocer since 2014 after working for company owner Ahold Delhaize since 1988. Despite strong advances from discounters and high-end rivals, the chain has reported consistent gains in profit and revenue.
CEO | Belk
The UNC Chapel Hill graduate in 2016 became the first non-family member to lead the retailer. A Belk employee in Durham as a teenager, she later led Gymboree and Hot Topic. Sycamore Partners bought Belk for $3 billion in 2015, then restructured its debt in February.
president | Furnitureland South
Harris runs the shopping-mall sized retailer that his parents started in 1969. It’s the nation’s largest furniture store with annual sales of $160 million and 500 employees. The High Point University graduate serves on bank and charity boards, including Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.
president, CEO | Ingles Markets
Lanning started as a teen with the 200-store grocer, which focuses on the Carolinas and Georgia. The Western Carolina University graduate was named president in 2003 and CEO in 2016. He’s the first non-Ingles family member to lead its 19,000 employees.
president, CEO | Rack Room Shoes
Lardie has led several footwear sellers, including Footstar in 2000 and Brown Shoe Co. in 2010. He joined 101-year-old Rack Room and its companion, Off Broadway Show Warehouse, in 2012. The Washington University graduate oversees 450 stores in 34 states.
president | Lowes Foods
The University of Houston graduate started with Walmart. He was named president in 2013 and has helped transition the chain to reach more affluent customers. A division of Hickory-based Alex Lee, it has more than 80 stores and 6,000 employees.
owner, CEO | Variety Wholesalers
Pope, 64, runs a chain of more than 400 discount stores. He’s a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University School of Law. A staunch conservative who served in the legislature and as state budget director, he is on the UNC Board of Governors.Read More
Employer’s distinction: We’re one of the few North Carolina family-owned retail operators that’s growing. We’re proud to sustain employment in communities across 18 states and provide one-stop family shopping, offering alternatives to national dollar-store chains and big-box retailers.
North Carolina’s challenge: We need to promote a growing economy that gives people opportunities for upward mobility. We should prioritize affordable, quality education to meet each individual’s unique needs.
Favorite passion: Our family foundation, which supports human services, education and public policy research
Something surprising: I am a conservationist. As a legislator, I received a 100% positive rating from the Conservation Council in 2000.
CEO | The Fresh Market
Potter was named CEO in 2020 by private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which bought the 159-store grocer for $1.4 billion in 2016. He’s the fourth CEO in the past six years. The Harvard Business School graduate had been chief operating officer at Canada’s Sobeys grocery chain.
chairman, CEO | Krispy Kreme
A former executive of Yum Brands, Limited Brands and Caribou Coffee, Tattersfield came to the doughnut chain in 2017. It is owned by Luxembourg-based SAB Holdings. He is an Indiana University and Harvard Business School graduate. Launching Krispy Kreme’s delivery service just before the pandemic, he expects to open 450 stores by 2022.
president, CEO | Golden Corral
The Mississippi State University graduate has helped build the biggest U.S. buffet-restaurant company since 2000. He became CEO in 2015. Annual sales neared $2 billion before collapsing during the pandemic, forcing changes including offering plated entrees, testing frozen margaritas and emphasizing off-premises sales.
CEO | Tanger Factory Outlet Centers
The George Washington University graduate, 58, succeeded Stephen Tanger as CEO of the 36-store chain in January. He previously was president of rival Simon Premium Outlets. Tanger operates in 20 states and Canada.Read More
Employer’s distinction: We’re the only U.S. real estate investment trust that focuses completely on outlet retail in the United States. Since going public in 1993, we have a strong track record of delivering return and dividend growth for our investors. Although the pandemic made this more challenging over the past year, foot traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels. We have a strong road map in place to help us maintain the increase.
Best advice: “Any time a customer raises a concern, multiply it by 50,000. The total is the number of people who have a similar concern but won’t bring it to your attention.” (Gap founder Mickey Drexler)
Proud family accomplishment: My two children
Favorite music: Grateful Dead