01/16/19 – Local innovators, leaders honored

Posted on: January 16th, 2019 by admin


January 16, 2019


By Guy Lucas



Two companies involved with innovative manufacturing technology received top awards at the annual Caldwell Economic Development Celebration on Tuesday, and two longtime business and community leaders also were honored for their work improving Caldwell County.



Automated Solutions, which is based in Sawmills and also has a plant in Lenoir, received the Industry of the Year Award.


Originally focused on producing custom-built machines for the furniture industry, the company increasingly has focused more on direct-to-market products, such as vacuum conveyor belts for fabric-cutting machines, and a machine that can roll sheets of foam into retail-sized rolls without requiring a cardboard core at the center of the roll.


Guest speaker Christopher Chung of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina cited the comments of others who attributed much of the company’s success to its managing partner, Bob Campbell. Richard Boyd, the company’s engineering manager, calls Campbell “a true visionary,” Chung said.


Aiken Controls, which is based in downtown Lenoir, received the Economic Development Celebration’s first-ever Industry Innovation Award.


Since 2012 Aiken has provided manufacturers with a variety of automation products and controls, particularly for wood-products businesses, but has expanded into products involving artificial intelligence, vision systems and robotics. A product introduced in 2018 analyzes individual pieces of wood to recognize each one’s qualities in order to reduce waste during cutting.


Owner Chris Aiken said he’s lucky to have workers who are constantly innovating.



“It’s something that’s in our blood,” he said. “We’ve got a group brave enough to do things that maybe other people wouldn’t try.”


Laura Easton, president and CEO of Caldwell UNC Health Care, received the Herman Anderson Award for her work to expand health services and facilities in Caldwell County, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, which organizes the annual celebration.



Easton’s work over the past 20 years has led to “many millions of dollars in new investment” while she has “boldly expanded and grown” health services for local residents, Murray said.


Alvin Daughtridge, a vice president of Fairfield Chair, received the Legacy Award for over 50 years of contributions in business and educational endeavors and public service. Randy Church, chairman of the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners, read a long list of Daughtridge’s accomplishments, appointments to business and community boards, and awards, including in 1991 receiving a Points of Light Award from President George H.W. Bush related to his role as founding chairman of Communities in Schools of Caldwell County.


“When it comes to Alvin, he has been a point of light in Caldwell County, and he has been in 1,000 places doing it,” Church said.


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