MADE Winners - Manufacturing Category

By Staff Reports, posted Feb 26, 2016

Acme Smoked Fish of North Carolina

Year established: 2014

Number of employees: 140

Top local official: Richard J. Nordt, vice president of engineering and manufacturing

Company description: Processor of specialty seafood products; primary product is cold-smoked salmon

Target market: Domestic and global (export) markets

Company growth: “[Brooklyn-based] Acme Smoked Fish is one of the most widely recognized and respected smoked fish providers in North America, and with good reason. Acme has been family owned and operated for four generations, so in addition to having unmatched experience, our family’s reputation rests on every piece of smoked fish that leaves our processing facilities.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? "Our products are rooted in tradition that date back to the early 1900s when our founder Harry Brownstein emigrated from Russia. Upon his arrival, he got started in Brooklyn, where he distributed smoked and cured fish to appetizing stores throughout the city. Throughout the years cold smoked salmon or traditionally referred as nova has catered mostly to 'classic smoked fish consumers,' people of Jewish and Eastern European heritage. Today, cold smoked salmon is consumed not only by a select group of people, but also by those looking for a healthier and a more sophisticated eating experience."

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “Acme’s new location here in Wilmington has introduced an infusion of economic development with the local investment in Wilmington and Pender County. Additionally we have created 140 new employment opportunities to the area.” 

What are your future goals for the product? “An important goal is that our products become synonymous with quality. We intend that our focus in quality and R&D will help our product lines expand their share in domestic and international markets.”

Marpac LLC

Year established: 1962

Number of employees: 40+ 

Top local official: Jimmy Sloan and Gordon Wallace, co-owners

Company description: Marpac creates high-quality sound machines, manufactured in the USA. “Marpac created the ‘original’ sound machine in 1962 and has been manufacturing them here in Wilmington, N.C. since 1972. Our sound machines are a simple, inexpensive and non-invasive solution for improving sleep.”

Target market: “Our products are universally useful – everybody sleeps, and most people could sleep better than they do – but they are especially helpful for light sleepers; families with infants and small children; people with bed partners who snore; travelers in loud and unfamiliar environments; and individuals living in apartments, dorm rooms, cities or other often noisy places.”

Company growth: “Since buying the company in 2010, Marpac has more than doubled in sales and is positioned to continue this growth in the years ahead.”

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? "We wish we, ourselves, could take credit, but we can't. Credit goes to Jim Buckwalter. It all began in 1962 with a metal dog dish, a case of insomnia and a man who really loved to tinker. Mr. Buckwalter's ingenious invention masked sounds that kept him awake at night. It was quite simple: a turntable motor and a small fan blade inside a dog bowl encased in a disc of foam-covered wood. Jim's device created a deeply soothing sound from rushing air. It also helped people sleep like never before. Word got out, and soon Jim's friends and family were asking for his sleep machines. A little company was born. And it soon turned into a bigger company. That's how the original Marpac SleepMate eventually became the current Dohm.  While the Dohm is somewhat more sophisticated than its dog-dish ancestor, its guts are fundamentally the same."

How has your product helped impact the region's economic development? "With our growth since 2010 and the fact that we perform the majority of our manufacturing in our Wilmington facility, we have more than doubled the size of our team. Given our strategic plans, we will continue to hire in support of our growth initiatives. Additionally, we source many of our raw materials and business services from other local NC businesses and support CFCC and UNCW students though our growing internship/analyst program."

What are your future goals for the product? “We have a great product line of legacy sound machines that we are continually improving to provide real solutions and help people get a better night’s sleep. We continue to expand the retail distribution of our products domestically and have developed strong relationships with consumer products distributors in certain key international markets.”

Progressive Farms

Year established: 2014 (Progressive Gardens started in 2002)

Number of employees: 8

Top local official: Evan Folds, president

Company description: Progressive Farms maintains a product development division that creates stage-of-growth, variety and strain-specific fertility formulations that are used, branded, sold and distributed to all sectors of the gardening, growing and farming spaces. Makes a Microbe Maker Compost Tea system, Compost Tea in a Box and Compost Tea in a Bucket; products in development: Earth Harmony, Earth Castings, Earth Avian and Earth Elixir

Target market: Home gardeners, retail and wholesale nurseries, independent and specialty garden centers, tree farms, lawn care, farmers, commercial growers, golf courses, composting, etc. 

Company growth: "The project started 14 years ago and has developed into a serious opportunity to influence and change the food system for the better. For example, we are selling compost tea to conventional farmers and golf courses, not just as a means of maximizing yields and mitigating the use of pesticides and fungicides, but as a means of saving water and making fertilizer more efficient."

How did you originally come up with the concept for your product? "I started Progressive Gardens in October of 2002 with the idea that we needed better food closer to people. Through approaching and researching this insight I was introduced to concepts and methods of agriculture that inspired me to investigate and experience abilities of living systems beyond what I learned or was asked to consider in school. I started Progressive Farms in January of 2014 in the capacity that this information is being presented with the objective to facilitate this experience for as many people as possible."

How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “We are a small company poised for responsible and rapid growth. We are hiring a national sales team but remain focused on the development of local growing and farming economies. We do this through our product development and distribution abilities and the development of our Food Lawn and Food Farm projects.”

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