Smithfield, NC Food Producers and Manufacturers
PHOTO CREDIT: Martin B. Cherry
Quality goods made right here impact lives far beyond the borders of Johnston County thanks to companies that thrive by relying on a skilled local workforce to create nationally known food, medical, home, construction and automotive products.
Stevens Sausage has been producing pork sausage, souse, chitterlings, smoked sausage, hot dogs, hot dog chili and country hams in Smithfield since 1946, and Carolina Packers has been preparing its own line of sausages, bologna, chili and red hots in Smithfield since 1941.
"We have a loyal and skilled group of employees. In fact, some of our employees have worked nowhere else but at our facility during their entire professional lives," says Jimmy Butler, sales and marketing manager at Carolina Packers. "Johnston County's economic roots are in agriculture, and our company continues to be part of that long-standing agricultural tradition."
Another local success story is Johnston County Hams, which began in Smithfield in 1946 and continues to dry-cure country hams at its original location.
“We like the small town environment of doing business in Johnston County, and the people we employ are all hard workers,” says Rufus Brown, manager and cure master at Johnston County Hams. “That hard work ethic, which is found throughout Johnston County, allows our company to cure about 60,000 hams a year that we ship all over the United States.”
Brown says Johnston County Hams are known as a higher-quality product, so the company has an elite customer base.
“We don’t sell to supermarkets or delis – just places like high-end restaurants and country clubs,” Brown says. “It takes at least three months for our hams to cure, and we have some that cure for six months to a year. Several of our hams sell for $300 apiece.”
Men’s Journal magazine even proclaimed Johnston County Hams among their “100 Best Foods to Eat in America.”
“Our company of 10 employees also makes prosciutto as well as dry-cured bacon, smoked turkey and country sausage,” Brown says. “We’ve been doing business in Johnston County for a long time and enjoy what we do.”
Dating Back to 1757
Also doing business in Johnston County are a couple of long-standing gristmill operations. House-Autry Mills in Four Oaks is a food company that began in North Carolina in 1812, while the origins of Selma-based Atkinson-Milling date back to 1757. Sysco Raleigh is also a long-time company in Selma that distributes food products to restaurants, hospitals, schools and hotels all along the East Coast.
In the medical/pharmaceutical field, successful companies in Johnston County include Novo Nordisk in Clayton (insulin pens), and Becton, Dickinson and Company in Four Oaks that is a medical technology researcher. In addition, Grifols Inc. is a global health-care researcher in Clayton, while Natvar in Clayton supplies medical tubing for hospitals and physician offices.
Heavy-duty equipment and component companies also conduct successful operations in Johnston County including Caterpillar Inc. that is investing $33 million and will create 200 jobs over the next five years at its Clayton manufacturing facility. Also doing well in Johnston County is Sona BLW Precision Forge, whose Selma plant manufactures precision-forged gear and axle components for heavy-duty vehicles.
$80 Million in Annual Product
At Precisionaire of Smithfield, the company manufactures air filtration products and has more than 600 employees along with an annual payroll of $15 million.
“Smithfield is an ideal location for us because we are close to Interstate 95, so we can logistically handle a lot of our air filtration products from that facility,” says Brenda Davis, senior vice president of human resources for Flanders Corp., parent company to Precisionaire. “The Smithfield site even stayed busy during the economic downturn, and more than $80 million in product moves out of Smithfield each year.”
Precisionaire of Smithfield's air filters can be purchased at stores such as Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Tru Value and Walmart.
“We recently upgraded the Smithfield facility and now have 1 million square feet of space for manufacturing,” Davis says. “Yes, our company truly enjoys doing business in Johnston County."
Find more on the business world in Smithfield, NC.