SEAGROVE, by: Amy McCrary Lail – Some 240 people attended a Saturday, April 1, 2023 reception and dinner celebrating Randolph County businessman, entrepreneur and community leader Jack C. Lail’s 90th birthday. Jack is founder and Chairman of Sapona Plastics, LLC.
The afternoon event was held at the Luck Comer Lail Center, part of the historic Luck’s Beans Cannery on Highway 705 in Seagrove. It was fitting location. The longtime business leader bought the former cannery in 2017 and began to renovate the vacant, vandalized building and revitalize its use.
Lail invested more than $500,000 to help upgrade Luck’s upper building, replacing its roof, heating and air conditioning, sprinklers and lighting. That building is leased to Seagrove-based Sapona Plastics for manufacturing and distribution. Lail was Sapona Plastics’ CEO from 2004 to 2022.
Lail donated Lucks’ lower building to the Town of Seagrove. In addition to a large room designed for community events, that building includes town and police department offices. The project is the latest example of a business and civic acumen that earned Lail the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 1980 NC Small Business Person of the Year and the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce’s 1989 Citizen of the Year.
This party was also a community event emphasizing leadership, inclusiveness, teamwork and gratitude. Lail recognized former employees of Mid-State Plastics, the firm he began on a shoestring in 1971. One of those employees, Elizabeth Cox of Asheboro, was given a special recognition. Cox began working at Mid-State as office clerk, eventually becoming vice president of sales. Lail presented her with a silver bowl whose engraving proclaimed her “a grand champion” in faith, character, and courage.
Lail asked administrators from Randolph County Community College and Wingate University to speak on advances at their institutions. Lail served on each school’s trustee board. “The people you meet with those institutions will raise you up,” he said.
While retired RCC President Bob Shackleford and current Wingate President Rhett Brown talked about their schools’ core values and physical growth, they incorporated Lail’s influence in those advancements.
Lail supported Shackleford in his efforts to include the practice of radical hospitality as an RCC core value and so help change the school’s culture. “You have been a wonderful mentor to me. You have helped me be a better man and a better president,” Shackleford told Lail.
Brown and Wingate Vice President of Capital Investments Scott Hunsucker classified Lail as the “E.F. Hutton” of Randolph County. They recalled when Lail spoke at Wingate board meetings, other trustees listened – and agreed. Brown said he learned to “never underestimate Jack Lail.”
Noting Lail’s community influence and civic support in many different areas, Brown said Lail also reminded him of the fictional hero George Bailey from the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “Tonight so many people would not be where they are without Jack Lail,” he said.
Lail was surprised at the event’s conclusion with a certificate from the N.C. Senate honoring his milestone birthday. Sen. David Craven presented Lail the certificate, calling him a good corporate and community citizen who “treats everyone like family.”
Born in Alexander County, Lail was raised on a dairy farm. He and his wife, Betty, moved to Randolph County in 1959 and he worked for the former General Electric plant in Asheboro. The U.S. Navy veteran earned an economics degree from Guilford College in 1967, driving to and from classes in Greensboro three nights a week for seven years.
In 1971, Lail began Mid-States Plastics in Seagrove with little more than a business plan, some investments from friends and a determination to succeed.
“I went to see my friends in Asheboro and asked if they wanted to invest. When they asked ‘Who is going to control this business,’ I said, ‘I am.’ “ But some potential investors wanted company control. Lail politely turned down their investment.
“Here I was, with a family, starting a business with no money, payrolls to meet,” he recalled. “But I thought it was fun. It all worked out I guess.”
In 23 years, the full-service injection molder Mid-State grew to supply plastic components for the medical, computer and automotive industries. Its customers included 3-M and IBM. Lail sold the company in 1994 to Anchor Advanced Plastics and retired from there in 1997.
But he continued to help support and develop the area’s economic, educational and civic opportunities. His work ranged from helping establish the Seagrove branch of the Randolph County library to serving as president of the United Way of Randolph County. He has been a director and president of the Asheboro-Randolph Chamber of Commerce. He helped form the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation and served as its chair in 1987 and 1988.
Scrapbooks about Mid-State and awards received by Lail were displayed during the party. In addition to the small business person and citizen of the year honors, Lail received a Guilford College 1991 alumni excellence award. In 2005 he received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, issued by the governor’s office and North Carolina’s highest civilian award. Wingate presented him a doctor of humane letters in 2012.
Lail and his wife, the former Betty Edwards of Hickory, have been married 68 years and live in southern Randolph County. They have three sons and four grandchildren, all who attended the birthday celebration
Photos: HM Film Company/Justin Hutton
Plant 2 adds presses
welcome and congratulations
Sapona Plastics would like to welcome Chris Jackson as Sales Manager. Chris is also the CEO of Smart Technology, LLC and Smart Technology Plastics, LLC.
Sapona Plastics would like to welcome Greg Varner as Purchasing Manager.
Sapona Plastics would like to welcome Kim Davis as Customer Service Manager with the added role of Payroll Practitioner.
Sapona Plastics would like to announce the promotion of Kathryn Baker to Chief Financial Officer.
Sapona Plastics is closed as of 8AM this morning due to snow and ice event in order to protect the safety of workers. Dean Lail,
Seagrove, NC, 11/1/2021:
Sapona Plastics has completed a buyout of its founding partner’s interest and is now 100% owned by JBDJ, LLC. The management team of Sapona Plastics will remain essentially unchanged except for president Dean Lail assuming the CEO role from his father Jack C. Lail who will continue as chairman and Kathryn Baker promoting to chief financial officer. The acquisition was facilitated by the company’s long time primary lender, First Horizon Bank, NA.
Sapona Plastics plans to expand operations by adding injection molding operations at plant 2 in Seagrove and more than 20 jobs in the coming year. “The workers of Sapona Plastics, along with our suppliers and community, are growing together to provide an essential service to a diverse base of manufacturing customers across the United States” according to Dean Lail. Sapona Plastics produces plastic items and assemblies for various markets including telecom, housewares, HVAC, industrial and consumer packaging. The company has 23 injection molding machines, 120 employees and two plants.
Sapona Manufacturing and JBDJ, LLC established Sapona Plastics as a joint venture in 2004. Over the last few years Sapona Manufacturing Co. Inc. has been divesting assets including its yarn manufacturing operation in Cedar Falls, NC which is now owned by Universal Fiber Systems and is continuing there as Sapona Yarns. Sapona Manufacturing is expected to only continue to exist long enough to finalize final liquidation. JBDJ, LLC is a family real estate holding company founded by Jack C. Lail and will continue to lease facilities to Sapona Plastics.
Sapona Manufacturing has had a 105-year history in Randolph County under the current owners and was originally founded in 1836. “We are extremely thankful for the guidance and financing Sapona Manufacturing has provided to help Sapona Plastics get started and grow” said Dean Lail. “Now that the investment has been fulfilled Sapona Plastics is positioned to continue its path of investment and growth into the future. In part, the legacy of Sapona Manufacturing will continue on through Sapona Plastics.”
More info can be found at the website: https://www.saponaplastics.com/
This is the official news blog for Sapona Plastics, LLC.