Born in 1862, as the son of a farmer, Belk overcame obstacles in life to later build a retail empire.
Born in Kinston, J.C. Scarborough was a grocer before becoming a mortician. His business success allowed him to start various charities in the Durham area.
During the early twentieth century, many Tar Heels moved to towns and urban areas to find work in mills and on railroads, while local pharmacists also began creating patent medicines. One such medicine, headache relief powders, became popular among mill and railroad workers who referred to them as “production powders.” Pharmacists often compounded their own headache relief medicine in an easier-made powder form rather than in the more complex pill form.
Alfred Johnson Fletcher, the seventh of fourteen children, was born in 1887 in the mountains of North Carolina. After studying law at Wake Forest College, he opened a practice in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. His greatest achievement was the Capitol Broadcasting Company, which he created when he applied for a 250 watt AM station in 1937. When he went on the air in 1939, he was only the second radio station in Raleigh.
As the eleventh child of Washington and Sallie Webster Finley, Albert Earle Finley truly understood America was the land of opportunity from a young age.
During the late 1800s, North Carolina dominated the national tobacco market, and in 1913 R. J. Reynolds Company (RJR) introduced a product that revolutionized tobacco advertising and processing: Camel cigarettes.
Charles Albert Cannon, the son of a textile mill owner, was born in 1892. After attending Fishburne Military Academy and Davidson College, Cannon entered the textile industry himself, achieving success as a manager, treasurer and secretary. When his father died in 1921, Cannon assumed the leadership of the Cannon manufacturing plants and consolidated them to one entity, The Cannon Mills Company.
A business owner, Quaker, abolitionist, and an organizer of the Underground Railroad, Levi Coffin was born in New Garden, North Carolina. According to Coffin, “The Underground Railroad business increased as time advanced, and it was attended with heavy expenses, which I could not have borne had not my affairs been prosperous.”
Necessity breeds invention, and the Great Depression contributed to the creation and sale of Texas Pete hot sauce. Since 1942, Texas Pete has been located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Although a couple nationwide competitors outsell Texas Pete, the product is popular in the Southeast, and the Garner Food Company’s business philosophy includes a refusal to take on debt that might ultimately lead to its failure.
Vernon Rudolph and his Krispy Kreme doughnuts are excellent examples of the entrepreneurial spirit that flourished in North Carolina despite the Great Depression.