Regional Report Triad October 2012
From mattresses to moonshine
Textile and furniture companies in the region aren’t the only ones affected by cheap labor overseas. Two decades ago, making labels and packaging for bedding, floor coverings and upholstery businesses accounted for about 70% of sales at Wright Global Graphic Solutions Inc., while apparel, hosiery and niches made up the rest. The company says it eventually became the largest maker of labels for home furnishings. But in the 1990s, some of its clients started closing or taking production offshore. So the Thomasville-based company began wooing other, growing industries. Today, it’s still the biggest home furnishings label maker — the sector provides about 60% of revenue — but now 30% comes from food and beverages and 10% from sporting goods and apparel. “Diversification is good for any business,” CEO Greg Wright says. It helps that the same machines used to make rug labels can make those for wine bottles, and equipment that produces showroom displays for furniture markets can do the same for sporting goods and apparel companies, such as Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike Inc., at sporting-goods stores. The private company won’t release revenue, but workers have doubled over the last two decades. It has 150 at four Thomasville buildings, which total about 120,000 square feet, including a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center that opened last year and added about 20 jobs.
"Their simultaneous departures were no coincidence."
— Complaint filed by Greensboro-based RF Micro Devices Inc. alleging former employees who left in 2010 and started Jamestown-based Vanchip Technologies Ltd. used its intellectual property to make their company an immediate competitor in China.
Jobs in the Greensboro metro left vacant in 2011 due to a lack of specific skills among the workforce, according to a Chamber of Commerce survey. That’s nearly 5% of the metro’s unemployed. Some of the hardest jobs to fill were in financial analysis and engineering.
LEXINGTON — A federal judge approved a request to convert Linwood Furniture’s bankruptcy case to Chapter 7. The manufacturer, created in 2006 to keep production of furniture designed by artist Bob Timberlake local, filed for Chapter 11 protection in March. About 100 workers will lose their jobs.
BURLINGTON — Convenience-store operator Sheetz will open a distribution and food-manufacturing plant here, investing $32.8 million and creating 254 jobs within six years. The Altoona, Pa.-based company operates 425 stores in six states. The new plant will support its growing retail base in North Carolina and Virginia.
WINSTON-SALEM — Federal regulators approved the $52.5 million sale of Southern Community Financial to Raleigh-based Capital Bank Financial. Before closing, the acquisition must be approved by a shareholder vote, which was scheduled for mid-September.
THOMASVILLE — Old Dominion Freight Line executed a 3-for-2 stock split that gave the company about 86 million shares outstanding. It was the trucking and logistics company’s fifth 3-for-2 split in about nine years.
WINSTON-SALEM — Krispy Kreme Doughnuts’ largest shareholder, Mohamed Abdulmohsin Al Kharafi & Sons in Kuwait, sold 12% of its 13% stake for $7.9 million.
ASHEBORO — Cereal maker MOM Brands will add 50 to its local workforce of 200 after completing a $140 million expansion that more than doubled its plant here to 350,000 square feet. The Minneapolis-based company makes frosted- wheat and frosted-flakes cereals, as well as instant oatmeal under the Better Oats banner.
WINSTON-SALEM — BB&T acquired naming rights to the home of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers after it purchased Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based BankAtlantic earlier this year. The arena in Sunrise, Fla., will be called BB&T Center.