Memphis has cotton, Atlanta has Coke and Greensboro has Cone, the textile company that has influenced American culture for 125 years. Cone’s anniversary this year is a big milestone for a company that dominated U.S. denim manufacturing for generations before its failure to stymie foreign competition prompted a filing for bankruptcy protection in 2003. A testament to the staying power of its signature Levi Strauss & Co. 501 brand jeans, about 220 workers at Cone’s White Oak plant still produce denim for International Textile Group. Cone’s relationship with San Francisco-based Levi’s dates back to 1915. Vulture investor Wilbur Ross formed ITG in 2004 after acquiring Cone and Greensboro-based Burlington Industries. Last year, ITG reported net income of $17 million on revenue of $610 million. While much of its production is in China and Mexico, it also has North Carolina sites in Burlington, Raeford and Cordova.
White Oak, its most famous plant, once stretched the length of four football fields, used 3,000 looms and employed more than 5,000 people. Now, the plant’s looms cover maple floors in a space the size of one football field.
“When the looms are running, you can feel the floor vibrating and bouncing, and that too creates a weave pattern that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world,” Cone CEO Ken Kunberger said during a recent plant tour that included Denver-based rock band Big Head Todd and the Monsters. (Kunberger loves the band, which had a Greensboro gig that week.) Fifty-one old Draper looms, with springs, pulleys and other technology dating to the early 1860s, also provide “a unique look that you can’t get in modern fabric. We are weaving a little bit of White Oak in every piece of denim.” A pair of jeans spun on the looms may retail for between $200 and $350.
While farmers, miners and others who’ve worn more common versions of Cone denim might scoff at those prices, everyone can relate to White Oak’s impact. “This plant is the mecca for true denim aficionados,” Kunberger says. “This is the equivalent of a band or musician going to Graceland; this is an old Panhead Harley; this is a ’68 Mustang.”
Patrick Pritchard was promoted to executive vice president and senior operations officer, a newly created position, at BNC Bancorp, parent of Bank of North Carolina. He has led branch operations, deposit administration, loan operations and loan-processing teams at the High Point-based bank since February 2015. A UNC Chapel Hill graduate with an MBA from Appalachian State University, Pritchard, 46, has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry. He spent more than 15 years at RBC Bank, where his roles included vice president of U.S. lending operations and vice president of retail sales and distribution strategy. BNC will have about $6.8 billion in assets once pending acquisitions of Southcoast Financial of South Carolina and High Point Bank are complete.
WINSTON-SALEM – Annaly Capital Management will acquire Hatteras Financial for $1.5 billion in cash and stock. The deal values Hatteras at $15.85 per share. Annaly is a publicly traded mortgage real-estate investment trust based in New York. Started here in 2007, Hatteras is a REIT focused mainly on adjustable-rate mortgage securities.
WINSTON-SALEM – Baltimore-based Wexford Science & Technology acquired the five-story main building of the former Bailey Power Plant at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and will redevelop it into 110,800 square feet of office, entertainment and retail space. Construction on the $40 million project is expected to be complete by December 2017.
WINSTON-SALEM – Barbara Duck will become chief information officer of BB&T. A Charlotte native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, Duck, 49, has worked for BB&T for 28 years, most recently as data and technology services manager. She succeeds Paul Johnson, who is retiring after 16 years with the company.
WINSTON-SALEM – Jack Braswell will retire as president and CEO of Members Credit Union in September. He has worked for the credit union and served on its board of directors for 37 years and has been CEO since 1991. Executive Vice President Bob Donley will replace him. Members has about $267 million in assets.
WINSTON-SALEM – Hanesbrands will buy Champion Europe for about $228 million. Italy-based Champion Europe designs and sells athletic apparel in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
GREENSBORO – Patrick Rush was named CEO of Triad Financial Advisors. He was president of Independent Wealth Management prior to that company’s 2012 merger with Triad Financial. He succeeds Carter Leinster, who founded the financial-services firm in 1982 and will remain president.
NORTH WILKESBORO – Winston-Salem-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center plans to lease the 130-bed Wilkes Regional Medical Center for 30 years and invest $238 million in improvements. Wilkes Regional this year ended a nine-year management agreement with Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System.