NCGrowth Visits Businesses in Sanford
NCGrowth traveled with a group of their graduate student analysts to Sanford, NC in early July. The purpose of the trip was to expose the students to new partners and the exciting things happening in the community.
In the morning, NCGrowth toured Wind Solutions, a manufacturer that builds aftermarket components and services for industrial wind turbines. Looking to move to North Carolina in 2012 because of family, former GE engineer CJ Winslow started the company. He recruited his wife, Heather Winslow and Matt King, both GE engineers to help him run the business. Bob Joyce, economic development executive director for the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, encouraged Winslow to open shop in Sanford and immediately began to introduce him to a strong network of manufacturers in the community. Joyce introduced Winslow to Jerry Pedley, President of Mertek Solutions, who would become a customer and mentor to CJ as he got started. Wind Solutions has done well, and recently expanded into a larger manufacturing facility. They employ a team of skilled machinists and craftsmen to help in the repair, fabrication and remanufacture of wind turbine components. Joyce introduced NCGrowth to Wind Solutions, and analyst Satvik Kompella, a masters industrial engineering student at NCSU has been providing technical assistance to the company over the summer. After the NCGrowth team heard the inspiring story of these young GE engineers taking big risks to start their own enterprise, everyone met for lunch at local favorite Café 121. Over lunch, Joyce gave an overview of the manufacturing industry in Sanford. Pedley, followed up with a tour of Mertek, which builds customized automation machines. These automation machines are basically robots that put products for other companies together faster. Mertek was recently awarded Small Business of the Year by Business North Carolina magazine. Mertek has about 50 employees and is spearheading the launch of an apprenticeship program with the support of NCGrowth and many other local and statewide partners.
Jerry Pedley, President of Mertek, shows off a robotic machine that makes cooler tops
Matt King, Engineering and Production Manager at Wind Solutions, explains how they manufacturer parts for wind turbines