“We came to Wayne County for the business climate. We liked the work
ethic of the people here. They’ve been very good to work with. It was
a place we felt we could raise our families.”
Joe Reed, president and CEO of IMPulse NC, which manufactures electrical equipment
for mass transit systems. The company relocated to Wayne County In 1990
and has since grow to 225 employees.
Air Force base lifts the economy
College grows in size and
Wayne preserves its
savors success in the burger business
blends old industries,
new businesses and the muscle
of an air force base to grow its economy
Bill Bryan, president of the Mt. Olive
Pickle Co., leads one of Wayne County's most notable industries and is
one of its most caring citizens.
By Lawrence Bivens
of the myths nagging at North Carolina’s ongoing economic transformation is
that “traditional” industries offer little prospects for the future. Leaders
in Wayne County would dispute that. By working smart and working together,
they’ve woven a vivid industrial tapestry that includes agribusiness,
financial services, education, automotive supplies, distribution and
defense-related services. It is a blend of old and new — and it is working.
“We appear, in many respects, to be a microcosm for Eastern North Carolina,”
says Joanna Thompson, president of the Wayne County Economic Development
Commission. “But when you look closer, you see that we’re actually very
There are, of course, the lush farmlands and timeless barbecue joints common to
the region. But there are natural and manmade assets in Wayne County that are
not found just anywhere. “We’ve got an ideal location, highly competitive
infrastructure, excellent leadership and a workforce that most communities
cannot match,” says Thompson, who has led the county’s development operation
for the past four years.
In many respects a gateway into Eastern North Carolina, Wayne County capitalizes
on its strategic geography. It’s just about an hour’s drive from downtown
Raleigh to downtown Goldsboro, the county seat. Fast-growing Greenville is even
closer. I-40 clips the county’s edge near Mount Olive, and I-95, now only
minutes away, is set to move closer still upon the completion of an expressway
between Goldsboro and Wilson in 2005. The county is also within easy reach of
both North Carolina ports.
“We’re right in the middle of things,” says Mac Sullivan, president and
COO at Pate Dawson Co. Pate Dawson, which traces its roots to 1885, is a leading
supplier of food products and other supplies to institutional buyers across
Virginia and the Carolinas. Its massive distribution center in Goldsboro’s
Park East puts the company in convenient proximity to its customers.
Logistics-related firms have become prominent on the list of Wayne County’s
industrial residents. Another firm with homegrown roots, Southco Distributing,
will soon double the size of its operation to a quarter million square feet. The
firm, which employs 270, supplies convenience stores in four states with coffee,
snack products and prepared foods. In 2001, Southco generated $220 million in
sales, enough to place it on the nation’s list of top-25 distribution firms.
The current expansion is the company’s fifth since its founding in 1981.
Ongoing investments in transportation upgrades and industrial lands should
continue generating returns for Wayne County’s distribution enterprises.
“We’ve made distribution and warehousing one of our target industries,”
Thompson says. Wages paid in the sector beat the county’s overall average by
nearly 15 percent, she says. “We’re very specifically targeting industries
that are going to offer higher paying jobs.”
Modern agribusiness and consumer food enterprises represent another target of
opportunity for the county, which builds on a rich legacy in those sectors. One
symbol of that heritage is Goldsboro Milling, a company that has evolved from a
local feed provider into a national powerhouse for poultry, pork, beef and
catfish. “This has been our historic home base since 1916,” says Tom Yarboro,
the fourth generation manager of the business. The firm, whose holdings include
the well-known Carolina Turkeys brand, now employs 3,500 in Wayne and a dozen
For Goldsboro Milling, agribusiness hardly implies low-tech. It deploys cutting
edge techniques and equipment in all its operations. “We’re a technology
driven company,” Yarboro says. Its quality control, security and safety
systems are among the most sophisticated found in any industry, and it is viewed
as a role model when it comes to bio-terrorism prevention measures. “Down on
the farm isn’t quite as down home as it used to be,” says Yarboro.
Along with its success in growing agribusiness and distribution firms, Wayne
County also has made a name for itself with automotive component manufacturing.
In 1995, Goerlich’s Inc., a maker of aftermarket automotive exhaust systems,
established its 100-acre North American headquarters and distribution center in
Goldsboro, where it had maintained a sprawling manufacturing presence during the
previous two decades. The company makes a wide variety of high-performance
mufflers, pipes, converters and accessories. Cooper-Standard Automotive, a unit
of Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., maintains two locations in
Goldsboro, where it builds rubber, metal and plastic sealing systems. “We’re
still growing,” says Jim Wall, director of human resources at Cooper Standard,
which now employs more than 750 in Wayne County.
What fate granted Wayne County in the way of location has been complemented by
the emphasis local leaders have placed on good industrial product. The county
now boasts two industrial parks that can take their place with any in the
region. Off U.S. Highway 70, Goldsboro’s Park East, an attractively landscaped
park with 500 available acres, is already home to several of the county’s top
companies. Mount Olive’s equally appealing park now has 125 acres available
for development, with ample adjacent lands under option. Each site has met
exhaustive certification guidelines set by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
“Both parks are capable of accommodating a wide variety of companies ranging
from modern agribusiness enterprises to large-scale manufacturing and
distribution operations,” says Katherine Thomas, Progress Energy’s manager
of economic development for North Carolina. “Both are in great locations and
have strong infrastructure.” Taken together with the county’s aggressive
shell building programs, the parks are formidable economic development assets,
says Thomas, whose company works closely with the county in attracting new
The availability of a shell building was among the criteria that led IMPulse NC
Inc., to Mount Olive. IMPulse designs, manufactures and installs electrical
substations and related power equipment for mass transit systems. In 1990, the
company selected the town’s 40,000-square-foot shell building as the base of
its corporate operations. Since then, it has grown its local presence into two
other sites, and it now occupies over 250,000 square feet of space. “We came
to Wayne County for the business climate,” explains Joe Reed, president and
CEO of the company, which employs 225.
As more attention is devoted to mass transportation and urban redevelopment,
growth prospects for IMPulse are strong. The company, a part of Chicago’s
Marmon Group, controls a 55 percent market share for such products, Reed says.
In recent years, IMPulse NC has landed lucrative contracts with the cities of
Charlotte, Denver, San Jose and Buenos Aires. Its work internationally is helped
by Mount Olive’s convenient access to the Port of Wilmington, another
attraction for the firm.
Beyond a great location and supportive business environment, IMPulse NC’s
executives were impressed with what they saw in the community’s workforce.
“We liked the work ethic of the people here,” Reed says. The company has
benefited from training programs offered by Wayne Community College.
“They’ve been very good to work with,” notes Reed, who says the county’s
attractive quality of life was another asset that appealed to company
executives. “It was a place we felt we could raise our families.”
Few towns have been more successful than Mount Olive at preserving the quaint
vestiges of their past while embracing progress. Established in the mid-19th
century as a railroad village, the town soon grew into a bustling farm
community. Stately homes, churches and downtown storefronts are reminders of
life in a more genteel day. Another remnant is alive and well at the
headquarters of Southern Bank & Trust. North Carolina’s third oldest
state-chartered banking institution traces its roots to 1901. It now manages
almost a billion dollars in assets and serves 44 communities from Red Springs to
Kill Devil Hills.
“We currently have 49 branches across Eastern North Carolina,” says Jerry
Gardner, a vice president at Southern Bank. “Most of these are in communities
with 5,000 or fewer people.” The number includes five branches in Wayne County
itself. Gardner credits Southern Bank’s staying power to its long held focus
on the customer. “We constantly seek feedback from customers about their needs
and concerns,” he says. “And we strive to develop new products and services
in response to that feedback.”
Southern Bank also prides itself on its responsiveness to the overall community.
In recent years, that has translated into assistance for Mount Olive’s new
family medical center, fund-raising for cancer research and financial support
for the local Committee of 100’s shell building program. It is also working
with community groups and local churches in addressing the unique needs of Mount
Olive’s large and growing Hispanic population. “Housing, in particular, is
an issue in this community,” Gardner says.
The Hispanic population is also important to another Mount Olive industrial
legend: its 75-year-old pickle company. “Our Latino employees now constitute
about 20 percent of our workforce,” explains Bill Bryan, president of the Mt.
Olive Pickle Co., a Wayne County mainstay since 1926. The company prints all
employee materials in both Spanish and English, Bryan says, and it deploys
translators across all shifts. It also works closely with Wayne Community
College to bring English as a second language (ESL) classes directly to the
company, whose seasonal workforce can total 800.
The company’s familiar brand — it accounts for a staggering 60 percent
market share in North Carolina — includes the best-selling pickles, peppers
and relishes in the southeastern U.S. Already available in 30 states, Mt. Olive
Pickle Co. brands will soon be available in Chicago, Texas and New England.
“We continue to expand the distribution of our products,” Bryan says.
Mt. Olive Pickle has grown its product line, which now includes a variety of
“no sugar added” products aimed at carbohydrate watchers and diabetics. More
and more, the company is offering “fresh packed” pickles, a line of products
that are pasteurized, not fermented the traditional way. For the customer, such
pickles retain the unmistakable taste and crunch of a freshly harvested
cucumber. “For us, it means relying on year-round supplies of cucumbers,”
Bryan explains. While about one-third of Mt. Olive’s cucumbers come from
growers in Eastern North Carolina, the balance comes from as far away as
Florida, Texas and Mexico.
Like Southern Bank, Mt. Olive Pickle supports the surrounding community in
financial and non-financial ways. In addition to the nearly $500,000 in
contributions it makes to community groups each year, the company maintains a
special relationship with nearby Mount Olive College. “The college’s
location adds a lot to the town and the surrounding communities,” Bryan says.
Aside from being an employment engine in its own right, Mount Olive College
brings a sense of creativity and energy into the community, he explains.
“Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be available in a town of 5,000.”
The strong spirit of civic collaboration found in Wayne County is both rare and
refreshing. “I think people here are willing to give of themselves and work
together largely because in a community this size, we have to,” explains
Patricia O’Donoghue, president of the Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce. She
points to countless instances where business leaders and residents have worked
together to make good things happen in education, healthcare, housing and
“I’ve never lived in a place this size where people had such a strong
interest in bettering the community,” says Julie Metz, executive director of
the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and a Pennsylvania native. A long list
of voluntary groups do yeoman’s work in everything from ballet and theatre to
foster-grandparent programs and pet adoption services.
For Tri-County Electric Membership Corp., performing community service well
requires thinking outside the box. The Dudley-based co-op, which provides power
to 18,500 Wayne County residents, applies considerable creativity in helping
elevate the quality of life for those in its service area. In September 2000,
for example, it implemented Operation Roundup, a program that offers members the
option of rounding their monthly bills up to an even dollar, with the change
going into a foundation that supports local fire and rescue departments,
athletic teams, day care centers and more.
“The average member rounds up about 47 cents each month,” says Mike Davis,
Tri-County’s general manager. Though participation is strictly voluntary, more
than 93 percent of Tri-County members are contributing, Davis says. “It’s
one example of how a very minor amount of money — about five dollars a year
— can be used to make a real difference.” The co-op is also a strong
supporter of public schools. Since 1994, its Bright Ideas Grant Program has
given $341,000 to local teachers to drive innovative instructional projects.
In instances when community service ideas don’t stem from Tri-County’s
executive team, the co-op’s employees gladly step in with their own
initiatives. That was the case in 2000 when, amid Tri-County’s 60th
anniversary celebrations, its staff of 53 began collecting recipes for a
commemorative cookbook. To date, they’ve sold 9,000 copies of the $10
cookbook, with proceeds going to a college scholarship fund for local students.
“We’ve given out $31,000 in scholarships to 68 students thus far,” Davis
notes, including 29 for the current academic year.
John Peacock, president of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, believes his
county’s unmatched tradition of service has much to do with the presence of
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The mammoth base is home to nearly 4,200 active
duty officers and enlisted personnel from across America. Built at the start of
World War II and closed shortly after the war’s conclusion, the base was
re-activated in 1956 at the behest of local leaders. “Back then, business
leaders here clearly saw the economic value of the base,” Peacock says.
“What they didn’t realize at that time was the human impact on the
community.” Base personnel and their families, not to mention those who retire
from the Air Force and remain in the area, are active in a wide variety of
civic, community and voluntary agencies, says Peacock, a Goldsboro native who
had led the chamber since 1995. He recently resigned to enter the private
Air Base Boosts
It is difficult to over-estimate the positive influence of Seymour Johnson on
the county’s labor supply. Much of the impact has to do with the nature of the
base itself. Its personnel tend to be well-established in their lives and work.
Unlike a basic training facility, for example, Seymour Johnson is more likely to
be the place service-men and women muster out or retire from the military, not
“These people have great skills and have been all over the world,” explains
Ed Wilson, president of Wayne Community College. The college employs many former
Air Force personnel, as well as trailing spouses of active duty military. Most
bring unique technical skills and experience in foreign language, strategic
planning and grantsmanship, for example. “They really add a lot to our
community,” Wilson says.
In 1992, when Jim Wall was ready to leave the Air Force after 22 years, he began
casually networking with the cadre of former Seymour Johnson personnel who were
working in local industry. The High Point native had lived around the world, but
liked the home he’d just purchased in Goldsboro and saw the town as the ideal
place to continue raising his two young daughters. While in the Air Force, Wall
had collected both bachelors and masters degrees, and was quickly snapped up by
Standard Products as a manufacturing engineer.
“Goldsboro may be a small town, but it does have a lot to offer,” says Wall,
who now directs human resources for Cooper Standard’s local operation. As
such, he stays plugged into the “transitions” program at Seymour Johnson,
out of which he frequently recruits. “We’ve got quite a few former Air Force
personnel here in supervisory positions,” Wall says. “Their training puts
them a step ahead.”
Other employers say they’ve come to count on the diligence, drive and
dedication of former military personnel. “We’ve found those with military
backgrounds have a great work ethic and fit right in,” says Ray Rouse, CEO of
R.N. Rouse & Co., a Goldsboro-based builder of commercial and industrial
properties in Virginia, Georgia and the Carolinas.
The presence of Seymour Johnson does not alone account for Wayne County’s
strong leadership. The county has produced many a Tar Heel legend, including
Charles Aycock, the father of the state’s public schools, and more recently
Martin Lancaster, the former congressman and current president of the North
Carolina Community College System.
“Wayne County’s excellent leadership is another reason companies move there
— and succeed there,” according to Progress Energy’s Katherine Thomas.
“County and municipal officials, the chambers and local business leaders work
well together. There’s never any doubt about their commitment to moving the
The county’s economic development commission is representative of that
leadership, Thomas and others say. Key to the group’s credibility is a
commitment not just to attracting outside corporations, but in supporting those
already in the community. “I believe economic development should be about
three things: planning, marketing and supporting existing industry,” Joanna
Thompson explains. “Each is equally important.”
More than many developers, Thompson keeps her fingers on the pulse of firms in
the county. Her commission sponsors quarterly networking luncheons for plant
managers and local industry execs. “That gives us the opportunity to find out
what they’re thinking,” explains Donna Phillips, an existing industry
specialist with the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Eastern Regional Office,
which participates in the luncheons. Working so closely with existing companies
also enables the county to tailor its outreach strategy around what development
theorists call “industry clusters,” Phillips says. “It’s something many
local developers find difficult to do, but Wayne County has done especially well
with it,” says Phillips, pointing to an array of strategic partnerships among
But Wayne County’s support for growth-oriented companies exists at more than
an abstract level. “Our EDC really goes to bat for businesses here,” says
Mac Sullivan of Pate Dawson. “They have helped us acquire land at favorable
rates and seen that we have adequate, affordable utilities and the
infrastructure we need in order to expand successfully.”
Sullivan has been with Pate Dawson for the past 13 years and has seen more than
a few changes in Wayne County. Upgrades in transportation and improvements in
local education have been the most welcome developments recently, he says.
Sullivan looks forward to witnessing more progress in the coming years as his
firm continues growing its operations and workforce. “We’re always trying to
raise the bar.”
Force Base Lifts Economy
“North Carolina has really
gone the extra mile in demonstrating that it considers its military community
not just friends and neighbors, but part of an important economic engine.”
-- Gen. Eric
Rosborg (left), who overseas 4,300 uniformed personnel and an annual operating
budget of $240 million at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
1903, air power put the Wright Brothers aloft on an Outer Banks breeze. A
century later it can easily be appreciated in the skies over Goldsboro, where
F-15e Strike Eagles race from one horizon to the other in the span of a few
Since 1957, Goldsboro’s Seymour Johnson Air Force Base has been home to the 4th
Fighter Wing, a rapid-response air expeditionary group. During Operation Iraqi
Freedom, the base deployed about 1,000 personnel, most in forward positions.
“Our two Strike Eagle squadrons were critical in the outcome of that war,”
according to Brig. Gen. Eric Rosborg, commander of the 4th
The Air Force’s 916th Air Refueling
Wing, a reserve unit, also is based at Seymour Johnson, along with its 10
massive KC-135 tanker jets. All told, about $4.2 billion in hard military assets
are found on the base, Rosborg says. But even that number pales in comparison to
the human resources of the base, which employs 542 civilians in addition to its
4,300 uniformed personnel. “We have the skill sets required to maintain a
small city,” continues Rosborg, who oversees the base’s $240 million annual
Seymour Johnson is unlike most military bases. For starters, its personnel
typically is stationed there for longer stints, enabling them to plant roots in
the community. Most are married and bring well-educated spouses to Goldsboro to
work, start businesses and take on volunteer roles. About half those who retire
from the Air Force while serving at Seymour Johnson opt to remain in the area,
Wayne County officials say.
“The main benefit is the quality of the people in the Air Force today,” says
Jimmie Edmundson, an area executive with BB&T Bank who chairs the Wayne
County chamber’s Military Affairs Committee. He considers it a top priority
for the county to keep the base open and vibrant.
County leaders routinely communicate with base officials to see they are getting
the support they need. “I meet with Jimmie (Edmundson) either socially or in a
business environment at least once a week,” says Rosborg, who also commanded a
unit at Pope Air Force Base during the mid-1990s. “North Carolina has really
gone the extra mile in demonstrating that it considers its military community
not just friends and neighbors, but part of an important economic engine.”
Taken together, the military represents a $6.5 billion industry for North
Carolina, and positioning the state’s five major bases for continued survival
is an economic development imperative. A new round of Base Realignment
Commission (BRAC) closings is set to begin after 2005. “Early actions taken
now will be so important,” explains Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue. It was while she
was a state senator from Craven County that Perdue became familiar with the work
of the previous BRAC, which had eyed the Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) at
Havelock for possible shuttering.
Encroachment — the gradual constriction of residential and commercial
development around bases — is a concern for Seymour Johnson and other
facilities, and state and local officials are working to contain the issue,
which left unchecked hinders a base’s capacity to keep its training and other
functions current with changing national security needs.
“Encroachment can be solved in North Carolina,” says Perdue, who is working
closely with the Governor’s Military Affairs Commission on securing
undeveloped lands adjacent the state’s bases. Continuing to improve public
schools and expanding job opportunities for trailing spouses are other
objectives Perdue says will help address the needs of the state’s military
in Size and Service
-- William Byrd, president of Mount Olive College, where the Garden
House (left) serves as a campus landmark.
its founding in 1951, Mount Olive College has excelled at offering higher
education in a manner convenient for learners, especially non-traditional
students who must juggle career, family and academic obligations. “We’re a
geographically distributed college with campuses in Mount Olive, Goldsboro, New
Bern, Wilmington and Research Triangle Park,” explains William Byrd, Mount
Olive’s president. The college is growing at a brisk clip thanks to new
programs for adult learners. “We’re somewhat entrepreneurial when it comes
to education,” Byrd says.
These days, the private liberal arts college, which will enroll 3,000 students
in the coming academic year, is also branching into virtual education. One
example: its virtual farmers market now being built as part of its new
Agribusiness Center. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to serve our
community,” says Byrd. “This will be a resource for all of Eastern North
Leveraging financial and technical support from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the
Rural Internet Access Authority and N.C. State University’s Cooperative
Extension Service, the information-rich site (www.vitualfarmersmarket.com)
is ample evidence that agribusiness and information technology are not
The site provides a wealth of information for farmers about markets, growing
conditions, environmental regulations and business partnership opportunities.
Farmers can also register themselves in the site’s database and connect with
An entire section explores how farms can expand into organic products. “We
want to be the source of information
on organics,” says Don Scott, director of the Agribusiness Center at Mount
“North Carolina is really ramping up in that area.” The site is the only one
of its kind in the state, Scott says, and among only a handful nationally.
The Agribusiness Center offers face-to-face programs as well. Founded in January
2002, the center has developed a four-year agribusiness curriculum that it hopes
will ultimately enroll 25 to 30 students per year. Its initial class contained
community college transfer students, a transfer from N.C. State and an existing
student from Mount Olive College.
The center is also offering adult education workshops on such topics as farm
safety, agricultural taxation, e-Commerce and agri-tourism. “This is very
unique for a private college,” Scott says. — Lawrence
County Preserves Its Stately Past
If this were 70 million B.C., we’d be enjoying the beach this summer in
Wayne County. Though the forces of geology did away with the county’s
shoreline long ago, there is still much for visitors to see and do.
One of North Carolina’s most popular state parks, Cliffs of the Neuse, offers
a unique vista over the county from towering bluffs. The densely foliated park
is ideal for hiking, camping and picnicking, and even offers swimming. An indoor
interpretive center provides an overview of the terrain’s unique evolution,
horticulture and wildlife. Not far away, the tiny town of Seven Springs affords
a peek at the remnants of a Victorian-era resort spa. The town’s spring waters
were said to having healing qualities, though Seven Springs had earlier been the
site of a bloody Civil War battle and a Confederate shipyard.
Near the northern Wayne County town of Fremont is the Aycock Birthplace, a state
historic site that features a mid-19th
Century farmstead with authentic period furnishings. The spot was home to
Charles Aycock, the state’s first “Education Governor,” elected in 1900.
Visitors can spin yarn from freshly shorn wool, churn butter or make candles.
Goldsboro has more than enough to keep visitors engaged. Old Waynesborough
Historic Village, on the site of the original county seat, showcases a 19th
Century home, doctor’s office, schoolhouse and Quaker Meeting House. The
town’s roots can be traced to 1787, when it was a stopping point for freight
moving up the Neuse River. Waynesborough would later grow into a junction for
stagecoaches and a well-traveled rail link between Wilmington and Weldon.
Goldsboro’s historic district includes stately homes, shops, churches and
buildings such as Odd Fellows Lodge and the Paramount Theater, which still shows
first-run films. There is also the Wayne County Museum, which displays a wide
variety of objects illustrating the county’s social and political history. Its
permanent War Between the States exhibit is a must-see for Civil War buffs. In
recent years, Downtown Goldsboro — an official Main Street Community — has
undergone improvements both cosmetically and otherwise. Dining options include a
unique English tea room operating out of a stately Victorian mansion. “People
who just travel the main highway around Goldsboro don’t see all the good
things happening downtown,” says Jimmie Edmundson, area executive at BB&T
and past president of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. The group is
working vigorously to re-ignite commercial and residential development downtown,
sponsoring a long list of festivals and special events.
“Both Mount Olive and Goldsboro offer self-guided walking tours,” explains
Marlise Taylor, executive director of the Greater Goldsboro Travel and Tourism
Department. The organization leverages a 5 percent occupancy tax in developing
new tourism product and promotional materials. Atop its wish list is a
convention center that leaders would like to build on a site off Memorial Drive.
“It will happen; we just have to raise the money first,” Taylor says. The
county’s attractions were recently featured on the Travel Channel’s
“Discover America” series, which should give Taylor’s program a boost.
Is Kenny Moore the Ray Kroc of
Eastern North Carolina?
Mount Olive entrepreneur winces at the thought, although his chain of Andy’s
Cheesesteaks and Cheeseburgers franchises is well on its way to becoming as
ubiquitous in the region as the Golden Arches. Sixty-five of his restaurants are
now spread from Elizabethtown to Elizabeth City, with more in the works.
But Moore, who opened his first Andy’s in 1991 at Goldsboro’s Berkeley Mall,
views the business as a cut above other burger franchises. “We see ourselves
between the casual dining chains and the fast-food establishments,” says
Moore, who named the business after his then-18-month-old son. The chain offers
table service, for example, and each beef patty is shaped by human hands, not a
machine. Conceptually, the food, service and atmosphere at Andy’s hark back to
the 1950s. Smiling faces greet diners at the door, along with vintage automobile
In management terms, Andy’s is also a breed apart. Franchisees are carefully
selected by Moore himself, and most are drawn from the ranks of employees who
started off at minimum wage. Instead of coughing up cash to buy in, Moore
requires his franchisees to first gain hands-on experience in the business —
from flipping burgers to closing out the register. “I get 10 to 20 calls a
week asking about franchising,” Moore says. Most are immediately turned away.
“It means you grow a little slower, but by doing it this way, we do it
And there’s an additional twist: vertical integration. Andy’s is partnering
with Goldsboro’s Pate Dawson Co. on a distribution enterprise that will supply
all Andy’s units, a move that leverages economies of scale for franchisees and
assures quality and consistency for Moore’s carefully crafted brand. The
company also is venturing into the restaurant equipment business, which will
further reduce start-up costs for franchisees. “Andy’s is a really good
entrepreneurial story,” says Jerry Gardner, vice president of Southern Bank
& Trust in Mount Olive. In addition to his own success, Moore is helping
dozens of others in rural North Carolina succeed with their own businesses,
Earlier this year, the company moved its corporate headquarters and distribution
operation in a 45,000-square-foot space at Mount Olive Industrial Park. The $3.2
million building employs about 30. While other communities were eager to host
Andy’s headquarters, assertiveness on the part of Wayne County leaders helped
bring the company to Mount Olive.
Moore would like to see 200 Andy’s locations by 2008. “A lot of companies
stumble over their own success,” says Donna Phillips, an existing industry
specialist with the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Greenville office and an
avid Andy’s regular. “But Andy’s is being very smart about how it chooses
to grow.” -- Lawrence Bivins
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