MADE Winners: Food & Beverage Category

By Staff Reports, posted Sep 16, 2022

Acme Smoked Fish of North Carolina
Year founded: 2015
Number of employees: 276
Top official: Felipe Espinosa, director of manufacturing
Company description: “Fourth-generation, family-owned company recognized as the country’s leading smoked fish purveyor. We produce cold smoked salmon products sold throughout the country.”
How has your company grown since inception? “We started 2015 working one shift with three slicing and packaging lines. The weekly output used to be 90,000 pounds of finished goods. Nowadays, we have grown production by 170%, the number of jobs increased 120%, and we work a first shift with six lines and a second one with two lines.”
How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “Currently we employee 276 people who reside in the greater Wilmington area. We were an original tenant in Pender Commerce Park, helping to catalyze the development of the area.”
What are your future goals for the product? “Continue to grow, while embodying our company’s core values, making every relationship meaningful, delivering the highest quality outcome across everything we do, passing our passion, improving every day and striving to do right by our people, our communities and our environment”

Kind Cultures

Year founded: 2019
Number of employees: 3
Top official: Ashley John, CEO and owner
Company description: Artisanal food operation producing plant-based cheeses and dairy alternatives
How has your company grown since its inception? “Kind Cultures began by producing products for one restaurant in a shared commissary kitchen space, and now has its own production kitchen and serves several area retailers and restaurants. Our offerings have expanded in variety, and with our brand new production space (August 2022), we are going to be able to target a greater regional and nationwide audience.”
What are your future goals for the product? “I would like to grow our manufacturing to a scale that can serve regional and national wholesale customers and have a manufacturing facility locally. This would provide jobs in Wilmington and a greater opportunity to serve and grow a product sector that I am passionate about and believe in: plant based products! Having our products carried by Whole Foods Market is a main goal of mine.”

N. SEA. Oyster Co.
Year founded: 2017

Number of employees: 4
Top official: Conor MacNair, CEO and founding farmer
Company description: N. SEA. Oyster Co. is a shellfish farm located in Topsail that is “dedicated to raising craft, sustainable shellfish that embody the taste of North Carolina while maintaining a positive impact on the environment.”
How has your company grown since its inception? “We had very humble beginnings in 2017. We operated out of a rental house on a half-acre of subleased oyster bottom to farm. No motors, one kayak we used to transport the gear needed to work every day. Now we own over 20 acres of farm area, 7 acres of land on the ICWW, a large building for processing, mechanical graders, three boats, one nursery dock and four employees.”
How has your product helped impact the region's economic development? “We employ four full-time oyster farmers and work with a fish distributor to transport our shellfish to local restaurants where there is a chef dedicated to running an oyster program with kitchen employees meticulously opening shellfish. But most importantly, our farm has a positive impact on the environment.”

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