PRIME PLAYERS: SAS stays atop the annual ranking as contractors show the strongest gains.

Author:Thornton, Grant

Prospects that Amazon and Apple will expand their strong N.C. presences with major new investments dominated the state's business news coverage this year. But it's the locally based, middle-market operators included in this year's list of the state's 100 largest private companies that drive North Carolina's impressive growth. They collectively employ more than 107,000 people in a wide variety of industries.

An example is National Coatings & Supplies Inc., which distributes paint to more than 15,000 body shops, aircraft-maintenance companies, boat manufacturers and others. The under-the-radar Raleigh-based firm is controlled by O. Temple Sloan Jr.'s investment group. Sloan's General Parts Co. appeared on the NC100 list for many years until its $2 billion sale to Advance Auto Parts in 2014, National Coatings, which has more than 200 offices in 38 states, nearly doubled its revenue in the last two years after acquiring a competitor, Roswell, Ga.-based Single Source Inc.

"Companies on the North Carolina 100 list are the backbone of our local economy," says Dave Wedding, Charlotte-based managing partner for the Southeast region at Grant Thornton LLP, which compiles the list. "They are North Carolina's top builders, innovators and creators." Ownership ranges from families that have operated the companies for generations to private equity-controlled enterprises. Participation is voluntary.

The state's boom in apartment complexes, distribution centers and university buildings is also evident, with general contractors including James R. Vannoy & Sons Construction Inc., Samet Corp., T.A. Loving Co. and Edifice Inc. moving up sharply. Charlotte-based Edifice has nearly doubled its payroll in the last three years and ranked No. 41 this year, compared with 54th in 2017 and 69th in 2016. Jefferson-based Vannoy & Sons has jumped from 28th to 18th in that period, posting more than $550 million in revenue.

SAS Institute topped the list, reporting 2017 revenue of $3.2 billion, a 1.25% increase from 2016, according to company reports. SAS employs about 7,500 people at its Cary headquarters. No. 2 Transportation Insight LLC, a Hickory-based logistics company, reported 2017 revenue of about $1.9 billion, a company spokeswoman confirmed. It has boosted its staff by 20% to 510.



1 SAS Institute Inc., Cary

Software developer

2017 Rank: 1

CEO: Jim Goodnight

Employees: 14, 116

2 Transportation Insight LLC, Hickory

Logistics consultant

2017 Rank: 2

CEO: Chris Baltz

Employees: 51 0

3 NATIONAL GYPSUM CO. (1), Charlotte Manufacturer of wallboard products

2017 Rank: 3

CEO: Thomas C. Nelson

Employees: 2,200

The strong housing market is prompting the company to reopen its Wilmington plant, which had closed during the 2009 housing recession. CEO Tom Nelson says the plant will reopen later this year, joining about 40 facilities operated by the second-largest U.S. gypsum board manufacturer. Nelson's father-in-law, C.D. Spangler Jr., who bought the company for $1.2 billion in 1995, died in July.

4 Pike Corp., Mount Airy Construction and engineering services for electric utilities

2017 Rank: 4

CEO: J. Eric Pike

Employees: 7,500


5 AmWINS Croup Inc., Charlotte

Wholesale insurance distributor

2017 Rank: 5

CEO: Scott Purviance

Employees: 4,200

6 Form Technologies Inc. (2), Charlotte

Manufacturer of metal components

2017 Rank: 8

CEO: Simon James Newman

Employees: 9, 300

7 LORD Corp., Cary

Manufacturer of adhesives, coatings and motion controls

2017 Rank: 6

CEO: Edward L. Auslander

Employees: 3,000

8 Market America Inc., Greensboro Product brokerage and internet marketer

2017 Rank: 26

CEO: JR Ridinger

Employees: 1,188

9 Carolina Tractor & Equipment Co., Charlotte

Dealer of construction and industrial equipment

2017 Rank: 7

CEO: Ed Weisiger Jr.

Employees: 1,552


Provider of waste-collection and recycling services

2017 Rank: 10

CEO: Lonnie C. Poole III

Employees: 2,400

The 48-year-old company bought Denver-based Alpine Waste & Recycling in May, making Colorado the eighth state in which it operates and marking its first expansion west of Tennessee. The founding Poole family joined with two large private-equity groups to buy the business in 2017 from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners Inc., which had helped the company go private in 2008.

11 Barnhill Contracting Co., Rocky Mount

General contractor

2017 Rank: 13

CEO: Robert E. Barnhill Jr.

Employees: 1,099

12 Steel Fab Inc., Charlotte Steel fabricator

2017 Rank: 12

CEO: Glenn Sherrill

Employees: 1,077

13 Ennis-Flint Inc., Greensboro

Manufacturer of pavement markings and traffic products

2017 Rank: 14

CEO: Matt Soule

Employees: 1,500

14 Concord Hospitality Enterprises Co., Raleigh

Hotel management and development

2017 Rank: 15

CEO: Mark G. Laport

Employees: 4,232

15 Gregory Poole Equipment, Raleigh

Dealer of construction and other equipment

2017 Rank: 9

CEO: 1 Gregory Poole III

Employees: 1,285

16 Southco Distributing Co., Goldsboro

Convenience-store supplier

2017 Rank: 11

CEO: Sherwin Herring

Employees: 205

17 National Coatings & Supplies Inc., Raleigh Paint distributor for collision-repair shops

2017 Rank: 21

CEO: Dean Worley

Employees: 1,640

18 James R. Vannoy & Sons Construction Co., Jefferson

General contractor

2017 Rank: 23

CEO: Eddie Vannoy

Employees: 311

19 Clancy &Theys Construction Co., Raleigh

General contractor

2017 Rank: 19

CEO: Tim Clancy

Employees: 344

20 Atlantic Packaging (3), Wilmington

Distributor of industrial packaging materials; paper converter

2017 Rank: 16

CEO: Russell "Rusty" Carter

Employees: 1.040

21 Sampson-Bladen Oil Co., Clinton

Wholesaler, retailer and distributor of petroleum products

2017 Rank: 20

CEO: Haddon M. Clark III

Employees: 797

22 Renfro Corp., Mount Airy Sock manufacturer

2017 Rank: 17

CEO: Stan Jewell

Employees: 4,500


23 Crescent Communities LLC (4), Charlotte

Real-estate developer

2017 Rank: 24

CEO: Todd Mansfield

Employees: 176


Manufacturer of kitchen-ventilation equipment


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