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WilmingtonBiz Magazine

The WilmingtonBiz 100: Power Players

By Staff Reports, posted Dec 16, 2019

The Power Players: The businesspeople and officials having the greatest impact on the region’s business and economic landscape.
 



The Cameron Family

The history of the Cameron family in the area harkens back to before the Civil War and extends into the Port City today.
 
Why they’re power players:
In the 1950s, Bruce Cameron Jr. and Dan Cameron began acquiring property that would become Figure Eight Island, developed by the Camerons, their cousin Raiford Graham Trask and investor Richard Wetherill.
 
In addition to numerous civic and philanthropic contributions over the years, Cameron family members continue to be among the largest landholders in New Hanover County and remain a driver on significant projects.
 
Today, Cameron developments are transforming the city’s midtown, among other sites throughout the area, including The Pointe at Barclay. More buildings are underway at the development, which is adjacent to other Cameron projects, The Element apartments and The Offices at Barclay.
 
Additional projects: Another part of the Cameron family is planning a development project on Shipyard Boulevard. Graham Cameron Land LLC has proposed two, three-story buildings that would include medical and professional office space and a restaurant.
 

Paul Cozza

Executive Director, N.C. Ports
 
With longtime experience in the marine logistics industry, Paul Cozza was appointed the N.C. State Ports Authority’s executive director in 2014. Cozza leads more than 200 employees and is responsible for authority activities, including those at the Wilmington and Morehead City ports, and Charlotte Inland Port. He previously held executive roles with major logistics companies and served in the U.S. Army.
 
Why he's a power player:
Since Cozza joined N.C. Ports, the Port of Wilmington has experienced significant growth. Cozza has overseen a more than $221 million capital improvement plan aimed at modernizing the port facilities.
 
At the Port of Wilmington, he also plans to oversee the deepening and widening of the Wilmington Harbor to make it more competitive.
 
Cozza facilitated the reintroduction of the port’s intermodal rail service in 2017, after 30 years. The port also expanded cargo service lines and saw a record in container traffic volume in the 2017-18 fiscal year when it moved more than 322,000 TEUs.
 
Army job: Helicopter pilot
 

John Gizdic

President And CEO, NHRMC
 
In 2016, John Gizdic was appointed to head up New Hanover Regional, succeeding retiring president and CEO Jack Barto. Gizdic started at NHRMC in 2005 as vice president of strategic planning and business development.
 
Why he’s a power player:
Even without the current discussion about the hospital’s future, Gizdic easily would be among this year’s Power Players.

As head of NHRMC, he is in charge of the region's largest employer (more than 7,000 employees) and dominant health care provider that continues to expand its physical footprint. During Gizdic’s time as president and CEO, the health system has seen significant growth in its patient volumes, revenues and services even as industrywide changes are transforming reimbursement models.

Gizdic and New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet this summer announced a process to look at the future of the county-owned hospital, including accepting proposals from outside health systems interested in buying or managing NHRMC. An advisory board was assembled to research those options as well as maintaining the county’s ownership of the hospital. The ultimate decision, however, rests with the county commissioners and hospital’s board of trustees.
 

Michele Holbrook

Global Supply Chain Project Manager, Corning Inc.
 
As Corning’s global supply chain project manager, Michele Holbrook is leading, planning and tracking strategic worldwide supply chain projects for the company’s Optical Fiber and Cable division and works to increase standardization and improve efficiency of business processes.
 
Why she’s a power player:
Holbrook previously oversaw operations at Corning’s Wilmington optical fiber plant, one of the largest in the world. In 2017, the Wilmington facility celebrated a significant corporate milestone, the delivery of Corning’s 1 billionth kilometer of optical fiber. She also provided strong organizational leadership for plant operations before, during and after Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018.
 
Holbrook moved into her new role, and Russ Lopatka started as plant manager, this summer.
 
Even as she has taken on a new broader role with Corning, Holbrook remains in Wilmington and continues to make an impact locally. She is second vice chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board this year.
 

James “Chip” Mahan III

Chairman and CEO, Live Oak Bancshares
 
Prior to founding Live Oak, Chip was the chairman and CEO of S1 Corp. and founder of Security First Network Bank, the world’s first internet bank. Under his leadership, S1 grew to become a $234 million software and services provider in only six years, averaging more than 200% growth year over year. At its peak, S1 had a market capitalization of $7.8 billion.
 
Why he’s a power player:
In 2008, Live Oak Bank, a subsidiary of Live Oak Bancshares, opened in Wilmington, where it has since remained while growing in employee counts, physical footprint – despite having no branches like a traditional retail bank – and activity in other technology-focused financial projects.
 
As head of Live Oak, Mahan heads the only publicly traded company headquartered in Wilmington and the largest SBA 7(a) lender in the nation.
 
His influence on growing a fintech cluster from the ground up in Wilmington, however, hasn’t stopped there.
 
He’s also co-founder of nCino, a cloud-based banking software built on the Salesforce platform. Mahan serves on the board of directors for Wilmington-based Apiture, a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data that focuses on creating next-gen technology for financial institutions. He is also a director of Payrailz, a digital payments company.
 
First bank position: Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. in Winston- Salem, 1973
 
Number of employees: 550+
 

Brett Martin

Founder and CEO, CastleBranch
 
Brett Martin graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a bachelor’s in economics and then received a master’s degree in theater from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1997, Martin founded CastleBranch, a background screening and compliance management company, which relocated to Wilmington in 2002. Martin was named Tech Exec of the year by N.C. Technology Association in 2014 and he also founded the nonprofit HeartsApart.org.
 
Why he’s a power player:
By deciding to establish CastleBranch’s headquarters in Wilmington, Martin has created a workforce of over 400 people in the area.
 
CastleBranch started out as a background check company but has expanded to manage various aspects of students’ clinical rotation compliance requirements, particularly those needed for nursing and allied health programs.
 
Through its online platforms, it also helps students manage their clinical rotation experiences digitally in areas such as scheduling and evaluations.
 
The company serves clients in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, reviews 4.5 million records annually and represents 80% of all nursing students nationwide, according to the company’s website.
 
Besides growing his three-person startup to hundreds of employees, Martin has led efforts to provide an accelerator program for startups. As the founder and CEO of tekMountain, an incubator, Martin has provided coworking space and resources to Wilmington startups, many of which have grown and “graduated” out of the space.
 
CastleBranch and tekMountain occupy two buildings on Sir Tyler Drive.
 
Birthplace: Montreal
 
Previous jobs: Professional stage actor and voice coach
 

Tim Milam

President, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
 
Tim Milam bought Coldwell Banker Sea Coast in 1997, growing the firm into a residential real estate giant that in 2018 had 7,100 sales and $1.7 billion in sales volume in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Carteret counties. Milam was inducted into the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association’s Hall of Fame this year.
 
Why he’s a power player:
For two decades, his company has been the No. 1 market leader in Southeastern North Carolina and a member of the Coldwell Banker International Chairman’s Circle. It’s one of the top three performing companies in North America in the Coldwell Banker system.
 
Sea Coast Advantage is staffed by more than 640 real estate agents across 21 offices in Southeastern North Carolina. The company also has an ownership interest in 27 additional offices: Coldwell Banker Advantage in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Southern Pines, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the Triad; Coldwell Banker Willis-Smith in New Bern; and Coldwell Banker Chicora Advantage offices in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
 
Giving shelter: Milam’s firm has built six homes for Habitat for Humanity, and he is a current member of the Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity’s advisory council.
 

Jim Morton

President, CFCC
 
Jim Morton has more than 20 years of leadership experience in industry and economic development sectors. He joined Cape Fear Community College in 2015 as vice president of business and financial services and later became executive vice president. Morton was named the college’s president in 2018.
 
Why he’s a power player:
As CFCC’s president, Morton directs and manages all administrative and academic operations as well as facilities and budget.
 
CFCC grew its student enrollment by 5% from last year. The college has developed several new programs and short-term training to fill workforce gaps, helped with business recruitment efforts through its customized training program.
 
Last year, it launched an electrical lineworker training program and has developed a Construction Institute, a training program on skills such as masonry, plumbing and carpentry for entry-level jobs to help address labor shortages being seen in the construction industry.
 
The community college also has built stronger relationships with high schools in New Hanover and Pender counties.
 
It has worked to streamline the transition into undergraduate programs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington with SEA-Path, a new dual admission pathway for students created through an agreement with the university that was signed in October.
 
CFCC recently relocated its barber school to its campus in downtown Wilmington and is expanding its Burgaw campus.
 
College employees: 1,200
 

Pierre Naudé

CEO, nCino
 
Pierre Naudé was named CEO to guide nCino’s spinoff from Live Oak Bank in 2012 as a separate tech entity. Naudé crossed paths with Live Oak founder Chip Mahan from Atlanta-based S1 Corp., where Mahan was previously chairman and CEO. Naudé had been in global senior management at Unisys Corp. before that. He came to nCino with years of experience in retail banking software.
 
Why he’s a power player:
Watching nCino grow from five people in a corner office at Live Oak Bank into its own entity as a worldwide leader in cloud banking with offices in five countries and over 800 employees has been the ultimate career highlight for Naudé.
 
In Wilmington, he said nCino has found the infrastructure, talent and resources to propel it from a small startup to an industry leader.
 
During nCino’s first seven years, the firm focused on transforming financial services by building a single, cloudbased Bank Operating System that could be leveraged by financial institutions. nCino is also investing time, funds and research and development into making the platform more intuitive through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.
 
More than 250 financial institutions in multiple countries are now using nCino.
 
Other 2019 lists: American Banker named nCino the “Best Fintech to Work For” in the country; Forbes ranked it No. 20 on its “Cloud 100” list of private cloud companies in the world
 

Jose V. Sartarelli

Chancellor, UNCW
 
With a corporate background in the international pharmaceutical industry and higher ed administration, Jose Sartarelli became UNCW’s sixth chancellor (its ninth leader) in mid-2015. Before taking the position, he was West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics dean and chief global officer.
 
Why he’s a power player:
During Sartarelli’s time as chancellor, UNCW has seen significant growth both inside the classroom and on campus grounds.
 
The school has set records for annual student enrollment numbers – nearly 17,500 this fall – as well as for graduation figures and philanthropic giving.
 
Last year, the university received a commitment for a $10 million gift, the largest in the school’s history, and held an endowment worth $98 million at the end of the last fiscal year.
 
New academic degrees, including doctoral offerings in psychology and nursing practice, were added, and its Carnegie Classification level went up to “Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity.”
 
As student and degree numbers have grown, so has construction activity, with $400 million in campus improvements and new buildings such as Veterans Hall as well as hurricane-related repairs, including extensive renovations at Dobo Hall.
 
As chancellor, Sartarelli is responsible for more than 2,300 employees, making UNCW one of the largest employers in the region.
 
Extra credit: Sartarelli attended Michigan State University as a Fulbright scholar.
 

David Simmons

Chairman and CEO, PPD
 
David Simmons was named PPD’s chairman and CEO in 2012. He joined PPD after 15 years with Pfizer Inc., where he served as president of the emerging markets and established products business units. More than 30 years after Fred Eshelman started the contract research organization, its headquarters remains in Wilmington.
 
Why he’s a power player:
Under Simmons’ leadership, PPD’s total enterprise value has tripled, and the number of company employees has doubled.
 
It announced last month that its parent company, PPD Inc., filed notice with the SEC stating interest in an initial public offering. The company previously went public in 1996 and was later sold to affiliates of investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman in 2011 for $3.9 billion, returning then to operate as a private company.
 
During Simmons’ time as head of PPD, it recapitalized in 2017 in a deal that valued the company at $9 billion.
 
PPD was named best CRO provider at the World ADC Awards this year. In 2017, Simmons was named the recipient of the Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Excellence Award by The Carlyle Group for leading a Carlyle portfolio company.
 
Simmons serves on the board of directors for Albany Molecular Research Inc. and the board for Edelman Financial Engines.
 
In his philanthropic efforts, he serves on multiple advisory boards and is on the board of directors for The First Tee of Greater Wilmington.
 
Current projects: Over 950 clinical studies across 92 countries
 
Company employees: More than 22,000 in 46 countries; 1,500 locally
 

David Swain

Owner, Swain & Associates
 
David Swain founded his firm nearly four decades ago. Since that time, he’s been active in the development of a multitude of income-producing properties, including shopping centers, office buildings, warehouses, free-standing financial institutions and national restaurant chains. The son of a schoolteacher, Swain and his wife in 2009 donated $1 million to UNCW to found the Swain Center for Business and Economic Services.
 
Why he’s a power player:
Swain’s development vision can be seen throughout the Wilmington area and beyond, in existing developments in North Carolina and South Carolina and a $250 million project coming to Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads in Wilmington called CenterPoint.
 
Planned as a retail, hospitality, office and residential center, CenterPoint is expected to include a seven-story full-service hotel, and Swain’s son, Jason, is a partner in the development. In addition to the hotel, CenterPoint is also expected to include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments above retail space; retail shops and restaurants that combine national chains and local boutiques; first-class office space; and two multi-level, structured parking decks.
 
Included in David Swain’s extensive development portfolio is The Forum, a shopping center on Military Cutoff Road that was one of the heralds of high-dollar, high-profile construction that came in subsequent years to the corridor.
 
During the early phase of his career, David Swain developed and constructed in excess of 45 apartment complexes. He currently owns 27 of those properties.
 
Since 1979, a division of Swain & Associates has specialized in the development of retail shopping centers and has developed, constructed or redeveloped about 80 properties.
 
Swain Management LLC continues the management and leasing of the shopping centers within the Swain & Associates portfolio.
 

The Trask Family 

The Trask family can trace its roots in the Cape Fear region back to the 18th century, later making a name for themselves as successful lettuce farmers and then landowners and prominent developers.
 
Why they’re power players:
The Trasks purchased land in the 1950s that would one day become a master-planned, mixed-use development on Eastwood Road called Autumn Hall, now considered a soughtafter address in the region that’s set to grow with plans for more retail, residential and office space. The development helped set the tone for an area that has drawn wealthy residents and high-paying employers to what is considered one of Wilmington’s major financial districts.
 
Trask Land also developed Earth Fare grocery storeanchored Renaissance Market shopping center on Military Cutoff Road. The center also includes West Marine, Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Verizon and a nail salon.
 
Members of the Trask family started out as farmers. Over the years, they used their farm land to enter the development industry, with Raiford Graham Trask Sr. creating major subdivisions throughout Wilmington.
 
He also developed Duck Haven Golf Club, which is now Autumn Hall, among other numerous contributions, including donating or selling land for what is now the campus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. UNCW’s 5,200-seat Trask Coliseum, where some of the school’s most popular sports games are played, bears his name.
 
Raiford Graham Trask Sr.’s son and grandson, Raiford Trask Jr. and Raiford Trask III, respectively, have developed Autumn Hall and other current and forthcoming projects in the Cape Fear region.
 
Number of note: Trask Land has developed over 500 residential lots since 2010. 
 

Jim Wallace

CEO, Intracoastal Realty Corp.
 
Jim Wallace founded Intracoastal Realty as a boutique firm in 1976, and since then, the independent real estate agency has grown to hundreds of agents and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. It’s one of the largest and most successful independent real estate companies in Eastern North Carolina, Wallace said.
 
Why he’s a power player:
The company and its agents have been instrumental in the development of the region over the years, including landmark real estate projects such as Station One at Wrightsville Beach, Lumina Station, the Parkside at Mayfaire and Seagrove communities and the Spartina Townhomes.
 
Most recently, Intracoastal Realty Corp.’s agents were selected as the brokers for the River Place development in downtown Wilmington.
 
Last year, the agency had nearly 3,000 in closed sales and almost $1 billion in sales volume in the tri-county area.
 
What he's most proud of: Intracoastal Realty’s Teachers Fund, established in 2005 to help public and private kindergarten through fifthgrade school teachers buy the supplies and books they need. To date, the Teachers Fund has awarded over 1,500 grants totaling more than $300,000.
 
Company employees: 376 sales associates, 70 staff members
 

Jay Wileman

President And CEO, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
 
Jay Wilman began his career with GE as a nuclear fuel engineer in Wilmington. He held various roles in GE businesses during his career before returning to Wilmington in 2012 to serve as COO and senior vice president of nuclear plant projects at GE Hitachi. Wileman was named GE Hitachi’s leader in 2015.
 
Why he’s a power player:
Wileman has been leading nuclear technology advancements and solidifying contracts at GE Hitachi, during an overall period of restructuring and changes at the corporate level to keep General Electric afloat.
 
GE Hitachi, an advanced nuclear reactor technology and services firm, part of GE’s power business, has two agreements in Europe that could bring its latest small modular reactor technology to commercialization.
 
The company has acquired a decommissioning firm and gained a new contract this year.
 
Its nuclear fuel business, Global Nuclear Fuel, is also making headway with test assemblies of its newest fuel products, among other fuel contracts. The company, which shares its site in Wilmington with GE Aviation, reports around 2,800 employees across the campus.
 
Years with GE: 25
 
Community outreach: Chairman of the 2019 Cape Fear Heart Walk next year’s chairman of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area’s annual campaign.
 

Julie Wilsey

Airport Director, Wilmington International Airport
 
Julie Wilsey has served ILM for 20 years. She landed the role as the airport’s leader in 2013 after serving as deputy director. Previously an Army engineer officer, Wilsey first joined the airport in 1999 as director of facilities. She earned an airport executive certification from the American Association of Airport Executives in 2008 and an MBA in 2015 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
 
Why she’s a power player:
Under Wilsey’s leadership, ILM set an annual record of more than 934,000 passengers in 2018, up 12% from the previous year.
 
In September the airport was tracking at 16% growth, as ILM officials watch for the 1 million passengers mark this year.
 
The airport’s recent progress is attributed to the addition of United Airlines last year and several new nonstop flights Wilsey and her team helped rein in for business travel. United, the airport’s third and newest carrier, came after four years of conversations.
 
The airport is now working with the area’s tourism industry to find an inbound destination to try and go after a low-fare carrier that could bring more visitors to the area.
 
On top of new flights, Wilsey is overseeing the $60 million airport terminal expansion and renovation project, now in its second phase. Once complete, the multiyear project is expected to grow the airport’s terminal by 75%.
 
Outside the terminal, ILM is recruiting developers for an airport hotel, gas station and warehouse/ distribution facility. Wilsey is responsible for the airport’s 50 employees. ILM reports an economic impact of nearly $1.8 billion a year on the local economy.
 

Read more about the WilmingtonBiz 100 honorees by clicking here.

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