Asheville Companies Enjoy Success
Julie Jensen grew up on a farm in Wisconsin before professional life took her to Washington, D.C., for 25 years.
When she wanted another change, she returned to her farming roots by moving to the Asheville area where several of her friends resided. Jensen ultimately purchased Echoview Farm in Weaverville and established Echoview Fiber Mill in early 2012.
“I enjoy Asheville’s art and music scene, plus there is a strong local food movement, so it was easy to piggyback onto it with a local fiber idea I wanted to pursue,” Jensen says. “I enrolled in milling classes, and today Asheville area farmers sheer their sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas and rabbits, then bring the fleece to Echoview where eight full-time employees turn the fleece into yarn, felt and anything in between.”
All production at Echoview occurs in a LEED-certified mill, with the processed fiber eventually sold to clothing manufacturers.
“We utilize solar energy, geo-thermal wells and sustainable materials to produce our fiber,” Jensen says. “We run a good business and leave a light footprint on the Asheville environment.”
Echoview Fiber Mill is one of the newest companies experiencing success in the Asheville area, while numerous other businesses have long histories of achievement. One such company is Plasticard-Locktech International, which has been part of the community for more than 20 years.
“We are the largest hotel key card manufacturer in the world, contracting with virtually every major corporate hotel chain,” says Mark Goldberg, PLI president/CEO. “Another one of our growing markets is gift cards. We produce cards for major corporations like Target, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shops and Kroger.”
PLI is currently undergoing a 30,000-square-foot expansion to its Asheville headquarters that will bring the size of its production facility to 100,000 square feet.
“Asheville has the arts, nature, mountains and access to anything you need, plus is close in proximity to large cities such as Atlanta and Charlotte,” Goldberg says. “It was an easy decision for us to expand in Asheville, where we will add 40-50 positions over the next couple of years to bring our total workforce to 250 employees.”
Raise Your Glass
Another established business that has decided to expand into Asheville is Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing, which will construct a 150,000-square-foot brewery that will open in 2015 in the River Arts District.
“We chose Asheville because it is ideally situated for distribution along the East Coast, and our company's philosophy reflects the Asheville scene,” says Bryan Simpson, New Belgium Brewing media relations director. “The brewery will initially create 50 new jobs. New Belgium produces nine beers, including our popular Fat Tire Amber Ale, Sunshine Wheat and Ranger IPA."
Quite an Outfit
An additional Asheville success story is Eagles Nest Outfitters, which has specialized in distributing hammocks from its Asheville headquarters since 2001. Today it conducts sales through retailers nationwide as well as online.
“We sell six different styles of hammocks and accompanying products such as pillows, underquilts and rain tarps,” says Bobby Jackson, ENO sales manager. “Asheville is ideal for us because residents here enjoy the outdoors, which is what our products are all about.”
Check out a list of Asheville's top employers.