Sunday, July 14, 2024

Triad: Culture club

Many companies talk about the importance of culture. And then there’s BB&T. The Winston-Salem-based bank promoted three executives to its management team in early July who share the same characteristics as virtually every other group member: They are BB&T lifers.

Jim Godwin, 48, will assist the bank’s chief risk officer, while Brant Standridge, 40, will oversee specialty lending groups, including car dealers, commercial real estate and customers with poor credit ratings. And Dontá Wilson, 40, has a new title — chief client experience officer — which means he is supposed to boost sales and client service while overseeing advertising, marketing and public relations. Each joined the bank in the mid- or late 1990s.

That makes them newbies compared with most of the other 12 members on the team, which is led by CEO Kelly King, a 43-year BB&T veteran. Chief Operating Officer Chris Henson, the most likely successor to King, 67, who has shown no interest in retiring, joined the bank in 1985. The only senior BB&T executives who haven’t spent all or most of their careers at the bank are Chief Financial Officer Daryl Bible and General Counsel Robert Johnson Jr., who joined in 2008 and 2005, respectively.

Few if any other Fortune 500 companies have such an insular approach to senior-management promotions, but it’s worked for BB&T, says Tony Plath, a UNC Charlotte finance professor. The bank has exploded from $10.5 billion in assets in 1994, when it announced its merger with Lumberton-based Southern National Bank in a $2.2 billion deal. It now has more than $212 billion in assets and earned $1.9 billion last year. BB&T’s approach could make it slow to respond to change, Plath says, “But over the last 40 years, BB&T has perfected it to an art form for the bank, and it’s perfectly suited for their way of thinking and their way of doing business.”

As is true for many large U.S. banks, growth hasn’t resulted in higher gains for investors over the last decade. Though shares quadrupled during the decade after the Southern National deal and rebounded after the 2007-09 recession, BB&T still trades more than 10% below the record level set in 2006. It’s up to the newbies to change that.

Greensboro apparel company VF is selling its underperforming contemporary brands businesses for pennies on the dollar to Delta Galil Industries. The Tel Aviv, Israel-based company is paying $120 million for the division, which includes labels Splendid, Ella Moss and 7 for All Mankind. VF paid $775 million for 7 for All Mankind in 2007, when 20- and 30-somethings didn’t blink an eye at spending up to $200 on “premium denim” jeans. The company spent more than $200 million on the parent of trendy womenswear brands Splendid and Ella Moss, which have seen profit and revenue decline as consumers are less inclined to scoop up $100 T-shirts and $200 sweaters. The division, which accounted for less than 3% of the company’s $12.4 billion in revenue last year, represents a rare misstep for the company that has bought niche brands such as Vans and turned them into powerhouses. VF paid $396 million for the sneaker company in 2004, and sales have catapulted from $330 million at the time of the purchase to $2.2 billion last year. Five of VF’s 30 or so brands —Vans, The North Face, Timberland, Lee and Wrangler — each generate more than $1 billion in revenue.

STANLY COUNTY — Aluminum maker Alcoa is selling four hydroelectric dams along the Yadkin River to Bethesda, Md.-based Cube Hydro Partners for an undisclosed amount.  The New York-based aluminum maker has battled state and local governments over control of the dams since closing its Badin aluminum plant in 2007. The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year.

YADKINVILLE — B&G Foods will invest $7.6 million and create 58 jobs in an expansion of its local plant. The Parsippany, N.J.-based company employs 172 people making Melba toast and bagel chips and will begin making pizza crusts at the factory, which opened in 2012.

WENTWORTH — St. Augustine, Fla.-based NTE Energy will build a $450 million natural-gas plant in Rockingham County that will generate enough electricity to power 450,000 homes and will create as many as 25 jobs. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2020.

GREENSBORO — Dow Chemical will close its local silicone manufacturing plant over the next two years, idling 130 workers. The closure is part of a corporate restructuring related to the Midland, Mich.-based company’s June acquisition of its joint venture Dow Corning.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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