Business briefs (4-9-17)

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 9, 2017

Klear Optix Launches at the NC Research Campus

KANNAPOLIS  Phones are smart. Homes are getting smarter. Clothes are gaining intelligence, too. So why not smarter contact lenses that can monitor health, help with healing or even dispense medicine?

For contact lenses to become more than substitutes for eyeglasses requires companies like Klear Optix, the latest startup to lease laboratory and office space in the David H. Murdock Core Laboratory Building on the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Launched in February, co-founder Ramazan Benrashid, PhD, an expert in polymer chemistry who lives in Concord, brings years of experience in developing materials for opto-electronic, coating biocompatible polymers and contact lenses. He has worked for the largest companies in the contact lens industry and smaller startups tackling the challenges of “smart lens” technologies.

“Right now, we are working on two projects for a company,” Benrashid said. “They have a material that needs to be scaled up to pass all of the FDA requirements and then transferred from research and development to manufacturing. We are also developing a new material with higher oxygen permeability for them that will be their future generation of rigid contact lenses.”

As research and development for these contracts continues, Benrashid and his partner Ali Dahi expect that the 500 square-foot laboratory and office space that Klear Optix occupies won’t be enough. They anticipate expanding into adjacent laboratory space in the next year to accommodate additional testing and development. Dahi also co-founded the California-based company Synergeyes that develops and manufactures hybrid contact lens for stigmatism, presbyopia and irregular cornea conditions.

For Klear Optix, Benrashid and Dahi are looking ahead to projects where they can research new materials and designs for soft lenses, bandage lenses for healing and intraocular lenses used in cataract surgery. For the N.C. Research Campus, Klear Optix is the third startup company in the past six months to lease space in the Core Laboratory Building, reflecting the NCRC’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in the region.

Founder of Highland Brewing in Asheville to deliver Catawba’s CEO lecture

Oscar Wong, the founder of Highland Brewing in Asheville, will offer remarks at the annual CEO Lecture presented by the Ketner School of Business at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 11. The event, which is free and open to the campus and Rowan-Salisbury communities, is scheduled in the Tom Smith Auditorium of Ketner Hall on the Catawba College campus with a reception following in the Ketner Hall Atrium.

The Jamaican-born Wong left his home at age 18 to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he completed his master’s degree in civil/structural engineering. When he retired early from a successful engineering career that carried him all over the country, he landed in Asheville in the early 1990s. Highland Brewing began as his hobby in the 3,500-square-foot basement of Barley’s Taproom in downtown Asheville. Today, Wong’s company is Asheville’s oldest brewery.

Vulcan and the environment

WINSTON-SALEM — Vulcan Materials Company demonstrated its commitment to environmental stewardship by achieving Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Conservation Certification for its wildlife habitat at the Gold Hill Quarry.

The quarry site encompasses 400 acres in Gold Hill. The quarry produces construction aggregates for use in the local market for commercial and public construction projects.

The habitat includes many native plant species, including habitat for native bird species. It also features a wetland area with plentiful wildlife. The site is home to native osprey, wood ducks and eastern bluebirds that use the habitat and provided nesting areas as migratory stopovers and annual breeding grounds.

“The Gold Hill Quarry is one of 177 programs recognized this year as meeting the strict requirements of WHC Conservation Certification,” said Margaret O’Gorman, president, WHC. “Companies achieving WHC Conservation Certification, like Vulcan Materials Company, are environmental leaders, voluntarily managing their lands to support sustainable ecosystems and the communities that surround them.”

“We are proud of our employees’ efforts to demonstrate our company’s commitment to environmental stewardship in the communities in which we operate,” says Martin Thorpe, president of Vulcan’s Mideast Division. “Well-managed environmental stewardship programs and partnerships such as those at our Gold Hill Quarry benefit us all.”

Wildlife Habitat Council promotes and certifies habitat conservation and management on corporate lands through partnerships and education. WHC-assisted wildlife habitat and conservation education programs are found in 45 states, the District of Columbia and 13 countries.

Vulcan Materials Company, a member of the S&P 500 index, is the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates and a major producer of other construction materials. In 1990, Vulcan’s Sanders Quarry (Va.) was the first industrial site as well as the first quarry in the nation to be certified as a wildlife habitat by WHC.  For additional information about Vulcan, see

Pink Moon event at sweetFrog

A Full Pink Moon will rise on April 11 and sweetFrog frozen yogurt shop is inviting students to bring their families out for an educational viewing party complete with sweet pink treats.

Local teachers will show kids how to channel their inner Galileo, tracking the full moon as it rises, and help them create their own frozen yogurt galaxy complete with strawberry yogurt and  toppings.

The viewing parties will be from 8-10 p.m.  All elementary-aged children (14 or younger) who walk in the door will receive a small free sample of pink yogurt. Additionally, all guests are encouraged to create their own galaxy at the toppings bar with stars (sprinkles) and planets (orange and mango poppers).

While all guests are encouraged to bring their own, local teachers will bring telescopes, binoculars and other viewing devices to help each kid get a closer look at the full moon and learn how to track favorite constellations, such as the Big Dipper, Orion’s Belt and Cassiopeia. The teachers will also give a quick lesson on the Full Pink Moon using space-themed coloring sheets and a full moon workbook provided by sweetFrog.

“These Full Pink Moon viewing parties are an extension of the Leap Forward educational programs we offer nationwide,” says sweetFrog’s Chief Marketing Officer Matt Smith.

Carolina Color CEO meets Trump
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Patricia Miller, CEO and president, Matrix 4 Inc. and Joseph Eddy, president, Eagle Manufacturing Company, and Carolina Color Corporation Chairman and CEO Matt Barr traveled to Washington, D.C., on March 31 to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House to discuss the ways excessive, unbalanced regulations are harming small manufacturers and their ability to create jobs.
“We are grateful for the chance to meet with the president today and share with the White House directly which regulations remain obstacles to manufacturers’ success. We are optimistic about the future; however, we know there is much work to be done, not only on regulatory reform but also on infrastructure investment, workforce development and comprehensive tax reform.”
The meeting comes as the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released its first Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey since President Trump took office, showing more than 93 percent of manufacturers are feeling positive about their economic outlook. This is the highest reading in the survey’s 20-year history, up from 56.6 percent one year ago and 77.8 percent in December.

Food Lion get EPA honor

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are honoring four businesses/organizations in North Carolina for their commitment to saving energy, saving money and protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency achievements.

2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awardees in North Carolina are:

  • Food Lion, LLC (Salisbury), Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence in Energy Management
  • Hanesbrands Inc. (Winston-Salem), Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence in Energy Management
  • Nationwide Marketing Group (Winston-Salem), Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence for Retail
  • Pentair Aquatic Systems (Cary), Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence for Product Brand Owner

Across the country, EPA and DOE are honoring 143 businesses and organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia for their superior energy efficiency achievements. In 2015 alone, ENERGY STAR and all of its partners saved American families and businesses $34 billion on energy bills, while helping states achieve their air quality goals.

The awards will be presented in Washington on April 26. Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, will give the partner keynote presentation.

Read more about each award winner’s achievements:

Partner of the Year — Sustained Excellence: The 97 Sustained Excellence winners have demonstrated continued leadership over several years in the ENERGY STAR program and in achieving environmental protection through superior energy efficiency.

Partner of the Year: Thirty-seven organizations have received the Partner of the Year Award for comprehensively managing their energy use, promoting ENERGY STAR products and practices in their own operations, and providing energy-efficient products and services to their customers.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year: Two of the Partner of the Year awardees are winning at least in part for their superior efforts in promoting the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy with support from EPA.

Excellence: Nine winners are receiving recognition for demonstrating outstanding promotion of energy-efficient products, homes, or buildings.