Regional Report Western February 2013
Same song, different keys
“One doesn’t hear much talk of synthesizers here in Western North Carolina,” Bob Moog wrote in a column for Keyboard magazine in 1978, a year after he moved to Asheville. That’s not true anymore. Moog Music Inc. — which makes the synthesizers he pioneered and other instruments — spends roughly $5 million a year on everything from office supplies to taxes, employs 50 and recently completed a $2 million renovation of new downtown digs. Moogfest, an electronic-music festival, contributes about $15 million each year to the city’s economy.
At age 20, the native New Yorker started making and selling theremins, electronic instruments that emitted sound without the player’s hands touching them, with his father in the early 1950s. More an academic than an artist — he would earn a doctorate from Cornell University in engineering physics — he created his synthesizer in 1963 and founded what would become Moog Music four years later. But demand for his instruments didn’t take off until Wendy Carlos used one on her album Switched-On Bach in 1968. It would become a staple of popular and classical music. He sold the company and, seven years later, moved to Asheville to raise his family. There he started Big Briar Inc., which became Moog Music when he regained rights to the name in 2002.
In a planned transition, partner Mike Adams became owner, president and CEO when Moog died in 2005. He has broadened the company’s scope, developing products that appeal to more people. Over the last few years, Moog Music has released its most expensive synthesizer as well as designed a $29.99 iPad app that is the best-selling product in the company’s history and one reason revenue reached $10 million last year, up 20% in three years.
In May 2011, Moog Music moved from a suburban industrial park to the city’s resurgent downtown. Murals decorate its brick walls, and visitors can watch the production floor. Sales, marketing and engineering departments are also in the 25,000-square-foot space. Adams sees the move as a recommitment to Asheville. “It was Bob’s home for almost 30 years, my hometown and one of the most livable and desirable locations in the country.”
“I won’t say I’m particularly sanguine about the possibility."
— Henderson County attorney Russ Burrell on chances the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, N.C. Division of Water Quality and lot holders will agree on how to spend $6 million of performance-bond money tied to the failed Seven Falls Golf and River Club in Henderson (Regional Report, June 2012). Commissioners voted in January to sue the parties if they can’t reach a deal.
LENOIR — Exela Pharma Sciences will expand its manufacturing plant here, adding 38 to its local workforce of 40 and investing $8.5 million within three years. The company is a subsidiary of Reston, Va.-based Exela PharmSci and makes injectable pharmaceutical products and eye medicines. Average annual salary will be $47,395, higher than Caldwell County’s average
MONTREAT — Montreat College President Dan Struble stepped down after leading the private Christian school for nine years. Joe Kirkland, vice president for advancement, was named interim president.
ASHEVILLE — Mission Health and Western Carolina University are collaborating to offer graduate certification in health-care innovation management. The four-course program, which began in January, is offered twice a year and takes 21 months to complete.
RUTHERFORDTON — Rutherford Regional Health System named Jeff Rush chief financial officer and vice president of finance. He previously was interim CFO at Angel Medical Center in Franklin. He replaces Cindy Buck, who became CEO of the health system last year.
BOONE — Watauga County commissioners approved Templeton Properties’ $18.9 million purchase of a vacant high school. The developer wants to build student housing, as well as retail and restaurant space on its 74 acres.