10/10/07 — Five county businesses named top N.C. earners

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Five county businesses named top N.C. earners

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on October 10, 2007 1:45 PM

Five Wayne County companies are being recognized this month by a leading state business magazine for their places among the state's top earners.

For at least the second year in a row, all five businesses were ranked among North Carolina's top 100 private companies in the October 2007 edition of Business North Carolina. The rankings are based on annual revenues and are compiled by accounting firm Grant Thorton LLP.

"I think this is great for Wayne County. When you look at the list, the majority of the companies are in the major metropolitan areas or are just outside. There's not five or six from anywhere else around here," Wayne County Development Alliance President Joanna Thompson said. "And with the exception of Excell Home Fashions, these are all homegrown industries. These are all Wayne County companies and I think that 0makes a huge difference. They're really making an impact on the community."

Leading the list for Wayne County was Goldsboro Milling Co. at No. 11. Last year, the company was ranked No. 12.

"It's a good feeling to be there," chief financial officer Tom Howell said. "It's a chance to let the community know just how far reaching this operation here is."

The company, which recently acquired the Butterball turkey brand, also produces and processes hogs, feed, timber and blueberries.

It has been in Wayne County since 1916.

"We've got a significant number of employees who have been with us for a number of years," Howell said.

Some, he added, are even second or third generation -- much like management, which has remained in the family of board of directors chairman Louis Maxwell since the company's founding.

"That makes it easy to manage because the folks who need to make the decisions are all in one place," Howell continued.

Second on the list for Wayne County is Southco Distributing Co. at No. 34. It fell slightly this year from No. 30 -- to no dismay of company officials, however.

"We've had a good year," CEO Sherwin Herring said.

Specializing mainly in tobacco products, Southco also ships groceries, candy and paper goods.

Herring attributed the company's success to "hard work, our employees and customer service."

"It's an honor. It's an honor to be ranked in the top of the state, and it's an honor for the employees to work for one the largest privately owned businesses in Wayne County."

Southco, which was founded in 1981, also has been recognized as one of the best distributors in the nation by U.S. Distribution Journal. It provides goods to seven states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ohio.

Right behind Southco, steady at No. 39, is Pate-Dawson Co.

Founded in 1885 as a small grocery store on North William Street, Pate-Dawson has grown considerably over its 120 years.

"Business is going great," co-owner and chairman of the board of directors Mike Pate said. "We're very happy to be listed in the top 100. Having been a family business for 120 years, it makes us proud to have grown that much.

"We attribute it mostly to the people who have worked for us and with us over the years."

Today, Pate-Dawson is a major distribution company, shipping frozen and fresh meat and produce, beverages and paper products.

Next in line, jumping 17 spots from 64th to 47th, is general contractor T.A. Loving Co.

Despite the slowdown in recent months in the housing market, president and chief executive officer Sam Hunter explained, the company's areas of focus -- water and sewer infrastructure, bridges, government and industrial contracts and other projects requiring heavy foundations -- are doing fine.

"We do only commercial construction," Hunter said. "And there has been a lot of work. We have a lot of projects here in North Carolina, especially in eastern North Carolina."

The company has been based in Wayne County since 1924.

"We've been here a long time and have always been very proud to be part of the community," Hunter said. "We've always tried to be good corporate citizens."

Locally, the company has built Wayne Memorial Hospital, as well as the courthouse atrium, annex and jail. T.A. Loving is also the contractor for the re-construction of one of Goldsboro's most prominent landmarks.

"We're extremely pleased to be doing the Paramount Theatre right now," Hunter said.

And finally, Excell Home Fashions and Glenoit Universal Ltd. rounds out Wayne County's five, at No. 72 -- up from No. 74 in 2006.

"We're excited about being there," director of operations Carl Mofield said.

Locally, he explained, the Goldsboro facility has made the transition from a manufacturing plant to a distribution center for Glenoit's full range of goods, including bath products and small rugs.

"We do distribution now," he said. "We don't do any manufacturing anymore. But things are going very well."