Saturday, April 20, 2024

Proven performers: 2023 list of North Carolina’s largest closely held companies

By Kevin Ellis, Audrey Knaack, David Mildenberg and Ebony Morman

Led by famed entrepreneurs such as Rick Hendrick, Tim Sweeney and Jim Goodnight, closely held companies based in North Carolina play a vital role in boosting the state’s economy. The annual BNC 125 list continues a four-decade tradition in highlighting the state’s biggest private companies.

This year’s list cites 77 enterprises with annual revenue topping $300 million, including 25 that top $1 billion.

Our goal is to make the list more comprehensive every year, while realizing we are unintentionally missing some obvious entrants.

Many companies provide revenue and employment information for the BNC 125. For others, we rely on lots of emails, phone calls and research to develop estimates for employers that decline to provide specifics. Trade publications with deep expertise in specific industries are key data sources.

Newcomers this year include retailer Fleet Feet of Carrboro, medical-data organization Velocity Clinical Research of Durham and forestry products manufacturer Jordan Lumber
of Mount Gilead.

The list includes North Carolina-based companies controlled by private-equity groups. Most of the businesses are closely held organizations, including many family-owned operations.

Many thanks to the dozens of people who contributed to this report.



2. Epic Games
Epic Games reported it had 230 million users of its game store in 2022, up 36 million from the  previous year. In 2022, its daily active users peaked at 34.3 million, while those active at least monthly reached 68 million. Publishers and developers brought 626 new PC titles to the store in 2022, bringing Epic’s total count up to 1,548. Including Epic’s own games, players spent $820 million in 2022, down 2% from 2021.

6. SAS Institute
The Cary-based company, which is mulling an initial public officer, committed to investing $1 billion over the next three years in creating AI-powered advanced analytics solutions. 
The company employs about 4,000 people in the Triangle, about 1,000 fewer than cited three years ago by Wake County Economic Development.

Changes at some BNC125 Top Private Companies over the past year.

7. Pike
Under a leadership restructuring, Eric Pike became chair and former COO James Wyche became CEO. Matt Fisher is president.

8. Amwins
Charlotte-based insurer Amwins partnered with Tokyo-based MSIG North America to provide significant underwriting capacity for more than 20 Amwins underwriting programs. The partnership will support existing business, and provide a catalyst for new product development, says Amwins CEO Scott Purviance.

12. Bojangles
The chain’s new restaurants won’t offer bone-in chicken, reflecting easier preparation and consumer’s preferences. It collaborated with Appalachian Mountain Brewery to offer “hard sweet tea” at various groceries. 

14. Shoe Show
The Concord-based company expanded its retail portfolio with the acquisition of Charleston, South Carolina-based Half-Moon Outfitters. The outdoor-focused retailer will continue to operate under the Half-Moon Outfitters brand.

17. Flow Automotive
The automotive dealership based in Winston-Salem purchased six dealerships and eight franchises in the Charlottesville, Virginia, area in April, bringing its total number of franchises in North Carolina and Virginia to 53, representing 26 brands. Flow acquired the Umansky Automotive Group dealerships, with locations for Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. In July, it bought a Kia dealership in Charlottesville from Jim Price Auto Group.

18. Samet
The Greensboro-based contractor cracked into the Top 100 contractors in the country  based on revenue, according to the industry publication Engineering News-Record. Samet climbed 53 places — from 137 to 84 ­— over the last year.

19. Weisiger Group
Formerly called CTE, it changed its name in July to honor its nearly 100-year history as a family-owned organization. L.M. Weisiger started his business supplying Caterpillar equipment in 1926.  Ed Weisiger Jr. has been CEO since 1991.

20. Prestage Farms
Founder and President Bill Prestage died last October, at age 87. He began his career as an animal feed salesman in 1960. He would later co-own Carroll’s Foods in Warsaw. He sold that interest and with his wife, Marsha, founded Prestage Farms in 1983 by purchasing the Swift turkey operations in Harrells. The family company has grown to 2,700 employees and has contracts with 500 farms in seven states. The company also produces and processes pork.

25. Concord Hospitality Enterprises
The lodging company has been owned by Alleghany Corp. since 2018. It bought the 135-room Cambria Chelsea in Manhattan for $48 million in March, and is opening the 348-room Westin Atlanta Gwinnett next spring. Berkshire Hathaway bought Alleghany last year.



29. Charlotte Pipe & Foundry
The family owned company started full operations at its 500-employee Stanly County plant. It also said it would invest $80 million and create 50 jobs in Maize, Kansas, marking its seventh U.S. plastics plant. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and be completed in early 2025.

32. ECMD
The employee-owned business bought Alabama-based Madison Lumber. It was a title sponsor for a late-model race during NASCAR’s return in May to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.





48. Insightsoftware
Michael Sullivan succeeded Jim Triandiflou as CEO at the company, which is owned by private-equity firms Hg, TA and ST6. Sullivan had been CEO of Boston-based Acquia, a software-as-a-service company.

51. Mako Medical Laboratories
Founded in 2014, the company continues its rapid growth, getting named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies for the third time. Earlier this year, it said it would add its first New Jersey office.

54. Blum Construction
In its centennial year, the company moved into new headquarters near downtown Winston-Salem, allowing more room for employees and meetings.

55. Velocity Clinical Research
The company, which operates about 80 sites in the U.S., Europe and India, added three executives: Nick Campbell is chief commercial officer, Nick Spittal is chief operating officer and Steph Anderson is chief of staff.

58. Hog Slat
Founder William “Billy” Herring was inducted into the National Pork Industry Hall of Fame after more than 50 years in the industry.

64.Tepper Sports and Entertainment
The Carolina Panthers made Alabama quarterback Bryce Young the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and named Frank Reich as head coach. They haven’t had a winning record since 2017.   

67. The Biltmore Company
The Hallmark Channel will feature “A Biltmore Christmas” based on the Asheville estate this holiday season. The time-traveling romance story stars Bethany Joy Lenz and Kristoffer Polaha It’s the first time the Biltmore Estate has served as a setting for a film.

68. OrthoCarolina
The medical practice added Physis, an Australian Labradoodle, to its pediatric team to comfort patients. More than 300 providers in several dozen locations handle more than 1 million patient visits annually.

77. Coastal Beverage
The Wilmington company signed an agreement with Florida-based Splash Beverage Group to distribute Copa di Vino wine, Pulpoloco sangria and performance drink TapouT.




80. Charlotte Hornets
Michael Jordan, the NBA’s only Black majority owner, sold his controlling stake to New York investors Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall. Plotkin has owned shares in the Hornets since 2019, while Schnall was a minority owner of the Atlanta Hawks since 2015.

90. Eagle Transport
The Rocky Mount-based company, which specializes in transporting petroleum, chemicals and plastics, bought Georgia-based Bulk Carriers, which has 22 tractors, 34 trailers, and 18 staffers.



118. DMA Industries
The Tabor City-based auto-body parts supplier changed its name from DMA Sales to DMA Industries in late 2022. The change was made to “match the rapid growth and additional business it gained in recent years, pointing to improved business portfolios, more employees than ever before and a clear future outlook,” according to trade industry reports.

122. Pendo
Raleigh-based Pendo launched Pendo AI, which will utilize data gathered from 10,000 companies using its products to help clients improve software experiences through the use of artificial intelligence. The company, which has been valued at $2.6 billion, has cut about 145 jobs in the past year, about 15% of its staff.


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