GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Two of the coolest things made in North Carolina are in fact products from Greensboro that both took off in 2015.
One of them may not surprise you: The HondaJet, that popular personal jet, finished second in competition among Medium-to-Large Businesses. But the city has the winner among Small Businesses: the beachBUB umbrella system.
First, you need to know that these products were chosen by the public in a contest that the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has made into an annual event since 2020. The twist this year is the differentiation between products manufactured by large businesses (with 100-plus employees) from the small (fewer than 100).
The public nominates products – there were 80 – and then uses the web to allow consumers to vote. In its release announcing the winners, the chamber said that there were 46,000 votes.
BeachBUB is an all-in-one beach umbrella system created in 2009 by Greensboro resident Bill Schermerhorn and first sold in 2015.
That umbrella garnered 5,436 votes, the chamber said, and beat out the CrabPot Christmas Trees made in Smyrna, George’s BBQ Sauce from Nashville, SOLOCART from Holly Springs and Artisan Leaf Tables and Bartops from Wilson.
HondaJet, which launched its first jet in Greensboro in 2015 from its headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport, lost out to Caterpillar Cat’s Compact Loader, which is made in Sanford. Caterpillar received 6,397 votes.
A product made in Winston-Salem – the Cook Medical Hemospray – finished fourth among large businesses, just behind Wolfspeed Silicon Carbide in Durham and ahead of Wieland Copper Products from Pine Hall.
Schermerhorn said he created his umbrella after watching a conventional beach umbrella blow away in a high wind and injure a young girl, the company says. Hundreds are injured every year by flying beach umbrellas, and recently a woman was impaled and killed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Schermerhorn’s umbrella – he sold his first in 2015 – includes a system for creating an anchor that is not too heavy to carry. Because of his innovation, he is leading the national discussion about setting a beach umbrella safety standard, which he says is his “legacy.”
The company’s manufacturing facility is 16,000 square feet on Pegg Road in Greensboro, and the product is sold at various retail outlets internationally as well as through the web for $156 and up.
“We have arguably one of the highest-rated products in the entire Amazon platform,” Schermerhorn told WGHP.
HondaJet brags that it is the world’s most delivered jet and has more than 200 in the air. These jets cost in the neighborhood of $5 million and up. The company was founded by Michimasa Fujino, who said he got the idea while in bed and drew up his plan on a sheet of a calendar he found handy.
“I want this company to be the best aircraft company in the world in the future,” he said when he opened his plant in 2013.
HondaJet, which employs about 1,500 in Greensboro, expanded its operation with 82,000 additional square feet in 2021. HondaJet also finished second to Western Star of Cleveland in the 2021 competition.
Cook Medical Hemospray may have nothing to do with a day at the beach or luxury travel, but it serves an important medical function: It is used in endoscopic procedures. Cook Medical is based in Indiana and employs about 12,000 worldwide to build a variety of medical devices.
“Congratulations to Caterpillar and beachBUB for winning the 2022 ‘Coolest Thing Made in NC’ title,” NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido said in a release. “Tomorrow [Friday] is National Manufacturing Day, and we would like to thank our entire manufacturing community for developing important and also lifesaving products for our state, country, and world. Our manufacturers are vital to both the health of our people and our economy.”
The chamber said that in addition to receiving a trophy, beachBUB and HondaJet would be featured in the chamber’s publications, podcasts, in social and digital media and among additional statewide publicity efforts.