Company aided by IES named NC Small Business of the Year

A beekeeping equipment company that received assistance from the Industrial Extension Service at North Carolina State University has been named the 2009 Small Business of the Year by Business North Carolina magazine.

The Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, located in Moravian Falls, N.C., doubled its sales and workforce over the course of two years, thanks in part to lean manufacturing principles taught by IES specialists. In June, the company received the IES 1B4NC Award, which is part of a program that seeks to create $1 billion in economic benefit for North Carolina by 2010.

According to IES, Brushy Mountain founder and president Steve Forrest met an IES specialist at a presentation sponsored by Forrest’s local Chamber of Commerce; Forrest then applied for a workforce incumbent grant. With the grant funds, IES brought in its lean-manufacturing specialist who led the company through several months of lean basics, which involves removing all wasteful actions from a process. The company’s employees found ways to do their work more efficiently and with better quality.

With the IES assistance, the company reported more than $2 million in increased sales and doubled its workforce to 50 employees. Sales are 81 percent higher than in 2007, and more than 24,000 customers have shopped at the company in-person, through mail order, or online over the past two years, according to Business North Carolina.

IES, which is part of the College of Engineering at NC State, was a first-of-its-kind organization in the United States when was established in 1955. The service helps companies stay abreast of the latest technologies and best practices in both engineering and business management to increase productivity, efficiency, quality and, as a result, profits.