Nutritional-products maker Herbalife officially cut the ribbon on its Winston-Salem plant in January, more than two years after the company announced its plan to make shake mix, herbal tea concentrate and other items there. But some things haven’t changed. The Los Angeles-based company remains under attack from activist investors, such as New York hedge-fund titan Bill Ackman, who believe Herbalife is a pyramid scheme destined to fail. Short sales have paid off, with the company’s stock trading near its lowest level in more than two years in early February, 60% lower than its peak price in January 2014. Naysayers allege the company’s independent distributors make more money by recruiting new distributors than by selling its products. There’s no reason for concern about Herbalife’s staying power, Winston-Salem Business President Bob Leak says. “They are here to manufacture a product. I can’t worry what a rogue investor might say — good or bad — about a company.” Herbalife invested more than $100 million and employs 350 people in the 800,000-square-foot former Dell computer-manufacturing plant in southeast Winston-Salem. It plans to hire 150 workers by year-end. Herbalife said sales rose 7.6% in the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year. The company cited North Carolina’s economic incentives, quality of workforce and proximity to East Coast ports as reasons to land in Forsyth County. Herbalife is eligible for about $10 million in local and state incentives if it meets investment and hiring goals. Officials structured the contracts to make sure Herbalife lives up to its end of the bargain, Leak says.
GREENSBORO — Ecolab will invest $10 million in a headquarters expansion of its Kay Chemical subsidiary here. The St. Paul, Minn.-based company will add a 37,000-square-foot office building
and 45 jobs with an average annual salary of $48,209, higher than Guilford County’s $42,638. Kay Chemical makes cleaning products for restaurants and convenience stores and employs 490 people in North Carolina.
WINSTON-SALEM — Krispy Kreme Doughnuts named Price Cooper chief financial officer. He replaces Douglas Muir, who held the position since June 2007 and is retiring. Cooper, 43, was CFO of Louisville, Ky.-based Texas Roadhouse since August 2011. The company based here also announced plans to add 15 stores to its existing 12 in Russia over the next five years.
HIGH POINT — Thomas Built Buses promoted Caley Edgerly to president and CEO. Edgerly had been vice president of operations for the school-bus manufacturer since 2012 and has worked for Daimler Trucks North America, its Portland, Ore.-based parent company, since 1989. He replaces Kelley Platt, who was named general manager of Daimler subsidiary Western Star Truck Sales and will relocate to Portland.
WINSTON-SALEM — BB&T reported record net income of $2 billion in 2014, a 28% increase over 2013. The bank based here also received regulatory approval for its pending acquisition of 41 Citibank branches in Texas, expected to close this month. BB&T operates 1,839 branches in 12 states and the District of Columbia.
GREENSBORO — Chief Medical Officer William Morgan was named the first president of the newly reorganized Cone Health Medical Group. Morgan joined the group in 2013 as executive medical director. Cone Health Medical Group comprises nearly 500 doctors and providers at almost 100 Triad locations. It is part of Cone Health, the health system based here that employs more than 11,000 people.
WINSTON-SALEM — Shareholders of both companies approved Reynolds American’s planned acquisition of Greensboro-based Lorillard, which was announced last July (“Buying a Brand,” August 2014). Pending regulatory approval, the $25 billion deal between the two tobacco companies is expected to close in the first half of 2015.