Uptown Greenville, NC


Carolina Medical Products Co. Named Industry of the Year

By K.J. Williams
The Daily Reflector

March 1, 2011 - Henry Smith's 25-year commitment to his Farmville business and his community earned him business accolades Tuesday from the Pitt County Development Commission.

Smith, 65, co-founded Carolina Medical Products Co. in the early 1980s with partner James Olsen, who has since retired. During a presentation at his business, Smith, who serves as company president, was given a plaque recognizing its selection as Pitt County's Industry of the Year.

Smith said he has been working with the commission since he moved his pharmaceutical manufacturing company to Farmville from Chapel Hill 25 years ago.

The company has 30 employees, and its small size suits Smith, who noted that the pharmaceutical industry recently has had numerous mergers.

“We're in a niche market, and we've pretty much stayed there,” he said of his company. “The more you grow, the more headaches you get.”

The company makes products used in hospitals and nursing homes like the nonprescription skin cream, Absorbase, and a product that removes excess potassium from the body called Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate. Carolina Medical Products was the first company to receive Food and Drug Administration approval to manufacture a liquid version of the product.

“That's our biggest item,” Smith said. “It still carries us the most.”

Smith said he was honored by being named the county's Industry of the Year.

The formula for success is simple, he said.

“A lot of luck — good employees,” he said. “I think the company is pretty much a family atmosphere.”

His wife, Tracey, works at the company, as does her sister, Kelly Whitley.

Todd Edwards, chairman of the development commission's board, congratulated Smith.

“They have provided quality pharmaceuticals, even throughout the world, on military installations,” he said.

Among the nominees who exceeded corporate standards Carolina Medical Products, was a standout. The award's criteria focuses on four areas: human, social, economic and environmental sustainability, Edwards said.

“It's your participation in the community and your training efforts and safety efforts with your employees,” he said during the award presentation. “It's the fact that you have a good business model. Just in general, being a good corporate citizen.”

Edwards, who owns Todd D. Edwards Construction in Farmville, has known Smith for two decades and attends the same church, Farmville United Methodist Church.

“He's a very humble man, but any worthwhile cause going on in the community, he's usually somewhere behind it,” Edwards said.

Wanda Yuhas, executive director of the development commission, said Smith's treatment of employees and support of volunteerism were factors in his selection.

She noted that Carolina Medical Products was a forerunner of the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry in Pitt County.

Smith said the development commission assisted him when he expanded his business in the early 1990s.

“We doubled the size of this building,” he said, adding another addition followed.

Yuhas said winners of the Industry of the Year award have ranged from small to large companies. “Regardless of company size, they've always competed head-to-head to be Industry of the Year.”

Smith's selection was lauded by his most senior employee, John Dilda, production director, who started working there after it relocated to Farmville. “It's a great job,” he said. “I just enjoy doing what I'm doing.”

Brenda Elks joined the company three years after Dilda. “I love it here,” she said. “We're well taken care of.”

For Smith, his devotion to his company and Farmville is lifelong. “I live a mile from where I grew up,” he said. After earning two bachelor's of science degrees, one in chemistry from Campbell University and one in pharmacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he worked for UNC-Chapel Hill before eventually returning home. He's been here ever since.

His involvement with the community has ranged from providing college scholarships to supporting several county organizations, including ones in Farmville and Greenville.

Smith also was honored at a reception of the development commission and Greenville Utilities Commission that celebrated Pitt County industries on Tuesday night at Rock Springs Center.

Contact K.J. Williams at kwilliams@reflector.com or (252) 329-9588.