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Archive for March, 2011

Industry Profile: Carolina Paper Tubes

When Jerry Melton and his wife Penny established Carolina Paper Tubes (CPT) in 1978 they were no strangers to the paper core industry.  Before CPT, Mr. Melton worked for a California-based operation which manufactured paper cores distributed throughout the west coast.  “In the late 70’s my wife and I began exploring the opportunity to create our own business,” said Melton.  Careful not to compete directly with my current employer I scouted business locations throughout the eastern United States.  “Penny and I hoped to relocate to an area which not only had a great business climate but would afford our family a quality of life not found in the Los Angeles region.”  Western North Carolina was an ideal fit. In addition to being located at the very center of the east coast market, the community offered a number of advantages we couldn’t find anywhere else: a mild, four-season climate, a great school system and excellent access to large metro areas.

The facility in Zirconia is certainly a unique manufacturing destination.  Most visitors are surprised by the rural location. Unlike many manufacturing companies, CPT’s most recognizable neighbors include the Green River and the various camps located in southern Henderson County.  Despite the somewhat untraditional manufacturing location, Carolina Paper Tubes’ proximity to Interstate 26 and US-25 allow for easy transport of product and supplies.  The location allows trucks efficient access to the region’s surrounding metro areas including: Asheville, Greenville, Charlotte and Atlanta.

Since establishing the company in the late 1970’s North Carolina’s economy underwent a number of significant changes; once a premier destination for textiles, Melton recognized early on that many of those operations were pursuing international markets.  Remaining viable meant the company would have to make strategic investments to keep ahead of the global marketplace.  “Carolina Paper Tubes was proactive.  Instead of focusing solely on textile operations the company made critical investments in our workforce and machines which allowed us to capitalize on growing markets.  Today Carolina Paper Tubes serves a diverse customer base which is located throughout the United States,” says Melton.

As the company’s customer base has expanded Carolina Paper Tubes has made continuous investments in the operation. What started as a 20,000 square foot facility has more than doubled and now employs thirty workers.  “The company has come a long way. Investments in efficient equipment have allowed our employees to produce one of the largest selections of paper cores/tubes on the market today. We manufacture paper tubes which range from 14” to 53’ feet in length.  Most products can be customized based on a customers needs.  For example, even before recycled material was expected, Carolina Paper Tubes worked with the production team to convert the company’s entire line to 100% recycled paper.  Carolina Paper Tubes has also been able to offer our customers the ability to comply with ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing practices.  Depending on production volume the company can fulfill nearly any order within 10 business days and because the operation maintains its own delivery fleet, customer orders are processed more efficiently than those operations utilizing overseas shipping lanes and third-party logistics carriers.”

As Carolina Paper Tubes moves forward they continue to identify markets which they feel the company has a competitive advantage.  “Henderson County is home to a number of substantial operations which process engineered materials, nonwoven materials and label stock.”  According to Melton, “Carolina Paper Tubes proximity to these markets coupled with our superior product make for a compelling partnership.”  Over the next few years CPT plans to utilize these strategic advantages to expand their presence within the local marketplace.  “We feel we are in an excellent position to offer substantial cost savings.  As fuel costs and competition for freight services increase over the next year, Carolina Paper Tubes is in an excellent position to partner with local manufacturing firms to supply their paper core needs.”

For more information about Carolina Paper Tubes or to request a product sample please contact Jerry Melton at 828-692-9686.

Industrial Executives Forum Recap

On March 24, 2011 the HCPED hosted the 4th Annual Industrial Executives Forum at Blue Ridge Community College’s Technology, Education and Development Center, bringing leadership from local industries to hear from a select group of speakers covering topics directly impacting the local business climate. HCPED President Andrew Tate kicked-off the event with a concise overview of various programs and support mechanisms which have been designed to assist existing industries with expansion opportunities.

The first speaker was Clark Gillespy with Duke Energy. As the Senior Vice President of Business Development, Territorial Strategies and Economic Development, Gillespy discussed Duke Energy’s role in economic development. Gillespy outlined his past experience with Fluor Daniel Site Selection Group, and how that experience has positively impacted Duke Energy’s economic development program. Utilizing cluster analysis information specifically tailored to their service territories, Duke has put together an excellent team of economic development professionals to assist in the site selection process. Recent projects which Duke has played a critical role include Caterpillar’s decision to locate an assembly plant in North Carolina and several datacenters including Google, Apple and Facebook. In Henderson County, Duke Energy’s proactive strategy has allowed the community to certify western North Carolina’s first Industrial Park under the NC Department of Commerce’s strengthened Site Certification program.

John Franklin with Volvo Logistics followed Mr. Gillespy. After years of experience in the transportation industry, Franklin described the process he took to form the Western North Carolina Transportation Alliance. Stemming from degree work, Franklin envisioned a voluntary association of manufacturers who could work together to reduce freight and logistics costs. Over the past three years the group has grown to include over 40 manufacturing professionals who are directly engaged in the transportation and logistics industry. Franklin indicated that the primary goal of the organization is to help leverage existing expertise in the freight and shipping industry to reduce freight costs, share ideas and identify mutually beneficial freight lanes when possible. “In the freight and logistics industry volume is king. If manufacturers work together to identify common shipping lanes we have the potential to substantially reduce our transportation costs.” Franklin described a recent success story where two companies in the region were able to share a freight lane to Charleston, SC which has resulted in over $100,000 in savings for the participating companies.  John’s presentation slides can be found here.

Dr. Jerry McGee, President of Wingate University, closed the event with comments regarding Wingate’s decision to locate a branch campus to Hendersonville, NC. Since assuming his current role as President in 1992, Dr. McGee described his leadership style as always looking forward  Over the past 19 years while many institutions have been satisfied with the present, Wingate University has remained committed to the future. Dr. McGee affirmed the University’s commitment to fulfilling the needs of future students. During his address Dr. McGee outlined two specific reasons why Wingate University chose to locate a branch campus in Hendersonville. The first factor which motivated the University to local here was the quality of local leadership engaged in the project. “The Henderson County Board of Commissioners and City of Hendersonville Council were instrumental in this process and without their support and the assistance provided by Andrew Tate with Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, we would not be here today.”

The second factor that played a critical role in our decision was the makeup of Wingate’s student body, and that many of their students come from western North Carolina. With a branch campus in Hendersonville, Dr. McGee and the University leadership expect to see talent retention in the Henderson County area.  Over the past 19 years Wingate University has made critical investments in the communities in which it operates, and the move to establish a branch campus in Hendersonville is a testimony to this investment. Graduate courses in the Master of Business Administration program and Pharmacy School are scheduled to begin in Fall of 2011.  View video of Dr. McGee’s remarks.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Industrial Executives Forum, and a special thank you to those that volunteered their time to direct this year’s program:

  • Mike Armstrong, GE Lighting Solutions
  • Carsten Erkel, Elkamet
  • Doug Salkewicz, Advanced Technical Welding
  • Jim Clarke, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers
  • Steve Sheppard, Blue Ridge Metals
  • Pete Szelwach, Clement Pappas

Industry Profile: Wilsonart International


Since Wilsonart began producing laminate products in 1956, being a responsible member of the community has been woven into the company’s culture. In recent years, as the company’s manufacturing and distribution networks have expanded worldwide, the organization’s impact on the environment has become an increasingly important concern. According to plant manager Dennis Clark during a recent visit, “environmental stewardship is a part of Wilsonart’s culture, not just a one-time project. It is a business strategy which has reduced the company’s environmental impact while simultaneously improving the work environment for employees and reducing operational costs.” Wilsonart International’s sustainability policy follows a three pronged strategy, focusing on energy management, waste treatment and transportation. Effectively managing these three components has allowed the company to produce a better product while ensuring a sustainable future.

Controlling energy costs is essential to any business especially in the manufacturing sector. If left unaccounted for, rising energy costs can hinder growth and monopolize valuable working capital. Tracking energy uses within the manufacturing facility while simultaneously utilizing technological advances to reduce consumption is one way Wilsonart has promoted a sustainable culture. The company has already implemented lighting conversion initiatives that reduce electricity demands in many of its facilities. Replacing the existing lighting system with high efficiency T-8 fluorescent fixtures that are two-times as efficient has allowed for a 50% reduction in electrical consumption for light usage.

In addition to leveraging energy reduction strategies, Wilsonart International is also an industry leader in the development of GREENGUARD® Indoor Air Quality Certified products. GREENGUARD Certified products meet stringent requirements for chemical emissions and toxicity, such as being screened for over 10,000 different chemicals. “Customers demand products which are of the highest quality. Wilsonart International’s product line exceeds these expectations.” Wilsonart is the first in North America to obtain FSC® certification in the industry (SCS-COC-002415), which means their products are sourced from well-managed forests. Our product lines also strive to maximize materials which contain post-consumer recycled fiber content, as certified by Scientific Certification Systems and utilize rapidly renewable materials such as eucalyptus. Utilizing these materials ensures sustainability. In addition to producing a great product, the company also manages waste streams effectively. Untreated scrap Kraft paper and spools from decorative and Kraft paper are weighed, accounted for and then diverted to recycled paper mills or reintegrated into the manufacturing process. Wilsonart employees have also started their own recycling program at work. Office waste paper is collected daily from each office and recycled.

Costs associated with supply chain management are perhaps the most widely experienced issue in the manufacturing sector. To effectively manage the impact of an expanding, international customer base, the company has made strategic investments in a new “greener” fleet arsenal of energy efficient Volvo VNL780 tractors. The company fleet of CSA Certified trucks is equipped with engines that deliver low emissions and high fuel efficiency, aerodynamic enhancements for wind resistance, anti-idling features and low-rolling resistance tires. The company has also realigned warehousing needs which allow the company to more efficiently get product from point A to point B while ensuring timely delivery.

“Sustainability is in Wilsonart’s culture,” says Clark. “It’s about doing the right things for the right reasons.” Following a prescribed sustainability strategy has allowed Wilsonart International to grow into a leader in the laminate industry. However, company leadership and the organization’s dedicated employees continue to look for new ways to increase efficiency and reduce waste streams. To learn more about Wilsonart’s sustainability efforts, please visit sustain.wilsonart.com.