CommScope, Culver’s are some of 2023’s top business stories


It was a year of change and challenge for several businesses in Catawba County.

CommScope, a fiber optic cable and networking technology company that was founded in Hickory in 1976, entered into multimillion-dollar incentive agreements for an expansion while also making cuts amid a difficult economic period marked by declining sales.

Another area legacy company, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, abruptly shut down and was revived within a four-month period. And after nearly six years of ownership, the Texas Rangers sold the Hickory Crawdads to a private company.

Several new restaurants and a new performance venue also opened their doors in 2023.

Here is a look at some of the top business stories this year.

CommScope, Crawdads and Mitchell Gold

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Fiber optic cable maker CommScope sold its headquarters building in Hickory to Soma Church and relocated its main base to a production facility in Claremont. On Thursday, workers switched out the signs on the sides of the building.

In March, CommScope CEO Chuck Treadway announced the company would be making a new brand of cable as part of an expansion that would include 250 new jobs.

He was joined during the announcement by Gov. Roy Cooper and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who touted the company’s role in helping to achieve government goals of expanding broadband access.

The company entered into incentive deals with Catawba County and the state of North Carolina worth more than $3 million for the expansion in the coming years.

The company has also faced challenges throughout the year. In March, the company suffered a ransomware attack. The company said they were not aware of any customer information stolen during the breach. Technology media outlet TechCrunch reported the hackers obtained “thousands of employees’ Social Security numbers and bank account details” on the dark web.

The company officially moved its headquarters from a large building off Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard in Hickory to one of its manufacturing buildings in Claremont. CommScope spokesperson Kris Belisle said the company was looking to downsize since many of its employees there were working remotely during and after the pandemic.

The company’s third quarter report revealed sales had dropped by a third from the same period in the previous year.

The company has cut at least $150 million in costs and is looking to make additional cuts into the new year.

At the same time, CEO Treadway said he was optimistic about the company’s future, pointing to government investments in broadband technology.

Treadway also reiterated the company’s commitment to Catawba County.

Soma Church, which is presently based in Hollar Mill, bought the former CommScope headquarters. The property had a listed tax value of $7.5 million.

A notice taped to the employee entrance at the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture plant in Taylorsville in August announces the closure of the company. About three months after the closure, Georgia-based company Surya announced they had acquired the company with plans to bring back production early next year. 

Sarah Johnson

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a 34-year-old furniture manufacturer in Alexander County, also faced ups and downs in 2023.

Stephen Childers, a leather cutter, says he loved his job at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. He said the unexpected shut down hurt the feelings of many employees. Video by: Sarah C. Johnson, Record

The company, which was owned at the time by Arkansas-based private equity firm The Stevens Group, abruptly announced it would be shutting down operations in late August after failing to secure financing.

The closing meant roughly 630 employees lost their jobs at the company’s Taylorsville, Hiddenite and Statesville plants. In September, the company filed for bankruptcy and a judge approved liquidation of assets in October.

In November, Georgia-based furniture and apparel maker Surya announced it had acquired the business and is aiming to restart manufacturing in Alexander County early next year.

Surya President Satya Tiwari said he is focusing on creating a sustainable business as they work to revamp the company.

Not all major business news in 2023 was quite as disruptive, however. In May, the Texas Rangers finalized the sale of the Hickory Crawdads to Diamond Baseball Holdings, which owns more than 20 minor league teams across the country.

Crawdads General Manager Douglas Locasio said fans would not see a change to their experience. The team remains an affiliate of the Rangers while the team’s lease with the city of Hickory for L.P. Frans Stadium runs through 2032.

“People saw the second half of the season and we were under the new ownership the whole second half of the season,” Locasio said.

He added, “I just think there’s a lot of innovative ideas that will be coming and just a lot of collaboration amongst the other teams that Diamond owns.”

New restaurants, concert venue

The growth of new businesses in and around downtown Hickory continued in 2023. Cowa-Sake, a sushi and burger restaurant, and Frothy Rooster, a breakfast and lunch spot, both opened in the One North Center complex.

Less than a mile to the east, City Walk Brewing and its accompanying restaurant Cranford Brothers Barbecue also debuted this year.

Hugh’s Q owner Brian Rogers and manager Chris Sipes check the meat in a smoker placed outside the restaurant in the patio area. Roger said the smoker is a repurposed propane tank the restaurant acquired from South Carolina.

Another barbecue restaurant, Hugh’s Q, opened on U.S. Highway 70 in the former location of Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar. The owners decided to trade in seafood in favor of smoking meat in a repurposed propane tank brought up from South Carolina.

American Legion Post 544 Commander Phil Leonard and member Wilton Carter raise the American flag at Checkers in Viewmont. The restaurant reopened in August under new ownership after being closed for more than two years. 

Then there’s the chain restaurants, old and new. The Checkers fast-food restaurant in Hickory reopened two years after a kitchen fire closed the store.

An honor guard from American Legion Post 544 played reveille and raised the flag by the restaurant as part of its opening event in August.

In December, Hickory’s first Culver’s opened its doors, serving up some items which are unusual for the Hickory area, namely cheese curds and frozen custard.

Tee Lee, left, and Pedetch Lee set up signs at the Side Street Stop Food Truck Park.

Outside of traditional restaurants, Hickory also got its first permanent food truck park known as Side Street Stop. Located on 10th Avenue Drive next to the Quail Ridge Apartments, the park consists of a small parking lot and a gravel seating area.

JB’s Rolling Bistro, Munchies Paradise, Craft Taco and Lost Highway Pizza are the flagship food trucks at the park.

The city also gained a new performance and event venue, Premiere, which opened on 11th Street NW.

Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.


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