Western: Skin tight
If Theraworx is a well-known brand a year from now, western North Carolina just may have a historic economic boost. The brand’s parent company, Avadim Technologies, expects to add 550 jobs over the next five years, mostly at a new Black Mountain headquarters and manufacturing site, and has the potential to reach $1 billion in sales, Chief Executive Officer Steven Woody says. State and local governments have pledged more than $6 million in incentives if job targets are met.
It may sound hyperbolic for a 100-employee company with 2015 revenue of $4.1 million. But lifelong Asheville-area resident Woody says that’s just the start for Avadim, which has signed contracts with hospitals and college athletic programs, and is working on deals with CVS, Walgreen’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
For the last three months, Avadim has sold products through Guthy-Renker, the California-based online retailer that uses Hollywood celebrities such as Cindy Crawford andJane Seymour in TV infomercials. Florida State and Duke universities are providing their athletes with Theraworx anti-infection spray. “Our goal is to be in 100,000 pharma locations by the end of 2017,” Woody says.
After attending UNC Asheville, Woody, 55, advised medical products companies on how to hurdle government regulations and clinical trials. Both steps can take years before products are sold, which is the story of Avadim. In 2007, he bought the rights and equipment needed to make Theraworx and spent six years testing, modifying, gathering data and earning government approvals.
Avadim’s initial product, a topical applied to skin by spray, foam or towels, helps prevent urinary-tract infections suffered by hospital patients. UTIs are an expensive problem for hospitals, which face pressure to reduce costs and readmissions by patients who get sicker during their stays.
A second application is for athletes, who suffer an unusually high incidence of MRSA and other skin-borne infections. The Duke wrestling team applied Theraworx before matches and after showering last year, cutting the days lost to infection from about 20 to zero, university spokeswoman Meredith Rieder says.
Avadim foresees more than 30 other applications, which make the skin more acidic and less prone to infection.
After raising $4.5 million in the last five years, Woody and President David Fann are now seeking $25 million to finance the new plant that will complement its currently leased space. New York investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald is raising institutional money, while Avadim also is seeking individual investors. Avadim’s board includes Charles Owen Jr., an Asheville civic leader and former CEO of Beacon Manufacturing Co., a blanket maker sold to Springs Global in 2003.
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce economic developer Tim Lampkin has tracked Avadim’s growth for five years. “It is way past the ‘guy with a dream’ part of the process. It used to be eight cars in their lot; now, you have to park across the street to be able to see them.”
Asheville is moving closer to adding restrictions on construction of buildings exceeding 100,000 square feet and lodging developments of more than 20 rooms in the city’s central business district. The topic has been discussed for more than two years and aims to preserve Asheville’s “urban fabric,” Councilwoman Julie Mayfield told the Citizen-Times newspaper. Five new downtown hotels are planned or under construction. Projects of up to 175,000 square feet can now be approved without city council action. Officials fear that larger developments will attract national retailers, pressuring locally owned businesses that have made the city distinctive.
ASHEVILLE — Buncombe County is hiring a real-estate agent to market a 137-acre parcel that was acquired in an effort to court Deschutes Brewery. In March, the Oregon-based company chose Roanoke, Va., over Asheville as the location for an $85 million brewery. The property is listed at $6.8 million.
ASHEVILLE —HomeTrust Bancshares is buying TriSummit Bancorp of Kingsport, Tenn., for about $32 million. TriSummit has about $350 million in assets and six offices. Pending approval, HomeTrust will have more than $3 billion in assets.
CULLOWHEE — Tourism spending in the state’s 26 westernmost counties topped $3.2 billion in 2014, a 4.9% increase compared with the previous year, according to data collected by students at Western Carolina University’s business school. More than 30,000 people are employed in tourism-related jobs, the report said.