The Biz

Asheville architects Michael DeVere and Crawford Murphy plan to revolutionize the construction industry, help save the planet and — if all goes according to plan in the next year or so — provide several hundred local manufacturing jobs here in the process. How do they plan to accomplish all this? By using a simple idea that's been wildly popular in Europe for over a decade: something called cross-laminated timber, or CLT.

The superman of wood products: Cross-laminated timber may be stronger than steel — and lots cheaper for construction; two Asheville architects are bringing its manufacture to WNC. photo by Michael Muller

The technology uses relatively inexpensive cuts of wood that are glued together at 90-degree angles in multiple layers to form pre-fabricated wood panels. The resulting product is about as strong as steel but much more economical and far more environmentally responsible. The material can be used to construct everything from small, single-family homes to high-rise office buildings — and in less than half the time of traditional structures that use concrete and steel. The buildings are strong enough to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes; they're airtight and fire-resistant; and they provide superior thermal and acoustic insulation.

More than 3,000 buildings have been built with cross-laminated timber so far, mostly in Europe.

Devere and Murphy are part of a collaborative effort called the Sustainable Cross Laminated Technologies Group, which includes the National Center for Sustainability and A-B Tech's Global Institute for Sustainable Technologies. The latter group will provide workforce training in the CLT design and construction. The group will open their first plant later this year in Montana, followed with a second plant here in Western North Carolina sometime next year. "CLT systems outperform conventional construction methods in virtually every measurable category," says Murphy. "And this unique collaboration will foster the development of the world's largest market for the planet's most environmentally responsible business systems."
For more information on how cross-laminated timber works, visit

More good news on the manufacturing front

PolyLINKS, an Arden company that produces precision parts, plastic tools and materials for the pharmaceutical, medical and biotech industries, has announced the expansion of its local operations: The company has purchased the old Asheville Citizen-Times print facility on Sardis Road. PolyLINKS managers expect to add up to 10 jobs over the next two years.

"This move and expansion will provide us the space and equipment we need to exceed our customers' expectations for years to come," says Joe Malasky, president of PolyLINKS. He has worked in molding and tooling since 1980, spending much of his time on advanced manufacturing teams for industry leading companies such as Motorola and Kodak.

"For almost 15 years now, PolyLINKS has called Buncombe County home. The company's reputation for state-of-the-art engineering, high-quality products and customer service make them an outstanding member of our manufacturing community," says David Gantt, chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.

"We are so pleased that PolyLINKS had the confidence to expand in the city of Asheville and thank them for their commitment and continuing contributions to our diverse economy and workforce," says Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy.

The company will begin making improvements to the facility immediately and plans to move its operations into its new home by late summer of this year.
For more information, visit

Asheville Attorney to be honored for pro-bono work

On Friday, June 25, Asheville attorney Cynthia Alleman will receive the William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of her legal-assistance work with low-income citizens in North Carolina. Alleman has been practicing law in Asheville since 1994, focusing primarily on guardianships for disabled adults, wills, probate and powers of attorney. She has been a volunteer for Pisgah Legal Services for the last 16 years, contributing her time and money to help the city's indigent citizens. The award will be presented at the President's Luncheon of the N.C. Bar Association in Wilmington.

Grove Park Inn hiring for more than 70 positions

The historic Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa has announced that it is looking to fill more than 70 open hourly, salaried and management positions — including laundry and room attendants, van drivers, spa concierges, supervisors, and managers. "With summer vacation time upon us, we expect the resort to be busy, so we are hoping to fill as many positions as possible, as quickly as possible," says Rachel Monroe, human resources director at the inn. "Grove Park is a wonderful place to work, and we offer excellent benefits, so we are actively recruiting qualified individuals to fill these open positions and become part of the Grove Park Inn family."
Applications are available online. To learn more about specific jobs and to apply, please visit

Land-of-the-Sky awards grants

The Land-of-Sky Regional Council has announced that it will provide more than $250,000 in grants to three local businesses to provide jobs and stimulate the area's economy. The selected businesses, funded through the WNC Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project, include Appalachian Designs, Bark House Supply Company and the Boggs Collective. These companies will use the funds to expand and diversify their businesses while providing an estimated total of 15 jobs to unemployed or under-employed forest producers. These are the first round of 10 to 15 contracts that Land-of-Sky expects to award to stimulate the region's economy in the near future.

Through the project, Appalachian Designs will use its $64,900 grant to develop a dry kiln, concentration yard and certification program for small-diameter wood products. Bark House Supply Company will use its $90,700 to market and sell home accessories made from sustainably managed, locally sourced and locally manufactured forest materials. And Boggs Collective will receive $98,000 to create a cooperative workshop, woodshed, woodworking school and virtual gallery to support area craftspeople and forest producers.

The marketing project helps businesses to be more profitable as demand for forest products returns and the economy recovers. The goal is for forest products companies to expand their businesses — positively affecting the entire production chain, from producers to the consumer. The project hopes to eventually employ close to 100 forest producers.
The Land-of-Sky Regional Council is a nonprofit, voluntary association of local governments that manages regional projects and provides services to its members in the areas of planning, economic and community development since 1966. For more information about its work, visit

444 Gallery Café grand opening

A few weeks back, a new eatery and gallery opened its doors in the old Ace Hardware Appliance building on Haywood Road in West Asheville. It's just up from the B&B Pharmacy and right before the exit onto 240 — and on Saturday, June 12, they're having a grand opening party from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Gallery Café features crafts, graphics, pottery, jewelry, glass and other work by local artists in a wide range of styles, as well as a variety of food and beverages selections from local vendors including the West Asheville Bakery, Short Street Cakes and Dynamite Roasting Company of Black Mountain.

"Food and art bring people together for good times — and if it's priced right, it works," says David Helterbridle, who co-owns and operates the new business with Scott Pacheco, who serves as 444's chef.

For more information, please visit


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