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As Black History Month closes out, we want to recognize Black individuals’ invaluable contributions and enduring legacies throughout history. While the spotlight often shines on prominent national figures, it’s equally important to acknowledge the everyday heroes and trailblazers in different communities of North Carolina who are influencing industries, the next generation of workforce and state economies.
Through first-hand testimonies of Black North Carolina manufacturers, we explore their journeys, challenges, triumphs and aspirations. Join us as we amplify these voices, spotlighting the remarkable individuals who continue to shape history and pave the way for future generations.

Curtis Beatty and Medical Express

Curtis Beatty and Medical Express
Curtis Beatty, founder of Medical Specialties Inc., a surgical tool repair manufacturer based in Durham, North Carolina, is a testament to the American entrepreneurial spirit. Inspired by his grandfather, a skilled mechanic and entrepreneur in his own right, Beatty learned the value of craftsmanship and dedication from a young age. “Repairing ‘hand-held class 1 medical devices is akin to being a carpenter. It’s a craft,” he reflects. “My grandfather’s influence taught me to work with my hands, instilling a deep appreciation for hard work and sacrifice.” With a vision for something greater, Beatty, alongside his wife, embarked on their journey from humble beginnings. One significant hurdle Beatty faced in building his business was securing financial loans, a challenge many small businesses face in accessing capital. “I had to rely on others to vouch for me to banks, despite my strong credit and track record,” Beatty reflects. Drawing upon his experience in upper management at Bristol Myers, Beatty forged key relationships that laid the groundwork for Medical Specialties growth. As the company flourished, Beatty remained steadfast in establishing a dedicated repair facility, driven to build a legacy for his family.
Beatty fully grasps the significance of repairing vital medical instruments. Working on life-saving apparatus like vascular clips and medical clamps imbues him with a profound sense of purpose. Reflecting on his daily routine, Beatty acknowledges that the repetitive nature of his work can sometimes desensitize him. Yet, upon deeper reflection, he recognizes the profound impact of his efforts. “At the end of the day, when you truly contemplate what you’re doing, it’s undeniably rewarding. You’re making a tangible contribution to humanity. Knowing that the devices we meticulously repair and return to service ultimately save lives fills us with a sense of fulfillment. We’re proud to play our part in giving back to society,” stated Beatty.
Regarding his succession plan, Beatty wants to engage his grandson in the family business. He remarks with a hint of humor, “My grandson may only be 14, but I’m already planting seeds in his mind. Whenever I’m with him, I’ll playfully ask, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you learned this? Are you interested in doing that?’ Only time will tell if I’m persuasive enough.” Beatty’s thoughtful approach to mentoring underscores his commitment to passing on his knowledge and craftsmanship to future generations.

Ursula Dudley Oglesby and Quality Plus Manufacturing

Ursula Dudley Oglesby and Quality Plus Manufacturing
Ursula Dudley Oglesby, the president of Quality Plus Manufacturing, a Greensboro-based company specializing in hair care and pet grooming products, has a rich manufacturing industry history. Despite initially pursuing a career in law, manufacturing runs deep in her veins. Her parents, the founders of the renowned Dudley Beauty Corporation, laid the foundation for her involvement in the field. On her family’s journey, Oglesby recounts, “In 1967, my parents were distributors for Fuller products in Chicago, a company founded by Mr. S.B. Fuller, a prominent Black entrepreneur. They met while working for Fuller Products in New York and decided to establish their distributorship in North Carolina, my father’s home state. This marked the beginning of Dudley products.” Oglesby’s narrative illustrates the intergenerational legacy and entrepreneurial spirit that drives her work in manufacturing, honoring her family’s pioneering contributions to the industry.
Oglesby worked at Dudley in asset purchasing when she embarked on her manufacturing journey in 2018, launching Quality Plus Manufacturing. “Reflecting on my journey has been a remarkable learning experience. Growing up, I witnessed my parents crafting products in our kitchen and saw the evolution from basic handmade methods to modern, computerized processes with reduced labor. However, my journey has been a profound learning curve; you don’t realize how much you don’t know until you’re faced with the need to learn. Admittedly, I’ve made costly mistakes, but each misstep has taught me invaluable lessons, revealing my capabilities beyond what I initially perceived.” Oglesby continued, “Fortunately, I’ve had the support of mentors and peers who have guided me through challenges. Belonging to organizations like Vistage, a group of business owners, and the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), which includes fellow manufacturers, has provided invaluable insights and connections. Through these groups, I’ve gained the knowledge and confidence to navigate my journey thus far. Looking ahead, I’m eager to continue growing and expanding my business.”
“Of course, my partners were a great example for me but I also had mentorship from organizations like the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and North Carolina State University Industry Expansion Solutions (IES). Andrew Santulli from SBTDC, Baraba Williams, and Kami Baggett from IES have been my heroes,” said Oglesby.
When asked her opinion on increasing opportunities in manufacturing Oglesby replied, “There’s a need for greater engagement at the Chamber of Commerce level. While specifics may vary, establishing channels within Chambers of Commerce, including Black, Latino and Asian Chambers, could bolster awareness and resource access. It’s crucial to disseminate information effectively to ensure these opportunities are accessible to all. Unfortunately, many programs remain unknown unless you have direct connections.” Oglesby strongly believes that enhancing visibility and communication channels can empower individuals within marginalized communities to navigate and leverage available resources effectively, fostering greater inclusivity and diversity in manufacturing.

Dr. Terri Carson, Kay Jacobs and Alberdingk Boley USA

Dr. Terri Carson
Kay Jacobs

Dr. Terri Carson’s journey to becoming the Technical Director at Alberdingk Boley USA in Greensboro, North Carolina, took an unexpected turn from her initial medical career aspirations. Instead, she found her passion in the realm of plastics and polymers. Armed with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, with a specialization in polymer chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carson never imagined herself in the manufacturing sector. Reflecting on her trajectory, she explains, “When I left school, I never envisioned working in manufacturing. It just happened that way.” Her journey began with research at Dow Chemical in Freeport, Texas, focusing on epoxies and polyurethanes. However, her involvement with manufacturing materialized when she joined Alberdingk Boley in 2006. Carson’s expertise in polymer chemistry proved invaluable when assisting production on the scale of over 50 products within a tight timeframe. Her role encompassed raw material qualifications and addressed various challenges within the production process, highlighting her adaptability and expertise in manufacturing.
Recognizing Dr. Terri Carson’s exceptional performance and impressive qualifications, the leadership team at Alberdingk Boley USA quickly acknowledged her potential, leading to her ascent through the ranks to her current role as the Technical Director. The company realized the breadth of her capabilities, exclaiming, “Oh, hey! You have a PhD in polymer chemistry. You can do that. You can do that. It’s been almost 20 years and I’m still having fun.” This acknowledgment underscored Carson’s value to the company and paved the way for her continued advancement.
Carson’s passion for science has been ingrained in her since childhood. She recalls her fascination with science ignited during middle school. She attributes much of her enthusiasm to her mother, who steadfastly encouraged her pursuit of scientific interests. This encouragement led her to the North Carolina School of Science and Math during her junior year of high school. Reflecting on her journey, Carson emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and mastering fundamentals. She extends this wisdom to her children, urging them to capitalize on available resources and cultivate a firm foundation to build future successes.
Kay Jacobs serves as the Director of Manufacturing at Alberdingk Boley USA. He always knew manufacturing was something he wanted to do. “I spent eight years as a Naval Aviator and working as a Systems Engineer in manufacturing was my first civilian job out of the military,” Jacobs recalled.
Having graduated from Florida A&M University with an undergraduate degree and later obtaining an MBA from UNC Greensboro, Jacobs underscored the importance of education in his journey. As a Black professional in manufacturing, he emphasized the significance of leadership and representation, inspiring others and mentoring young engineers as they ascend the ranks. “I had a lot of guidance coming into the manufacturing sector. My mentors from my first job told me it would benefit my career trajectory if I returned to school to learn the business side of manufacturing. They were right,” stated Jacobs.
Jacobs’ path didn’t come without challenges. Despite some hurdles, he stressed the importance of pushing oneself and investing in continuous learning and skill development.
Jacobs proposed evaluating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) curricula to address diversity and inclusion in manufacturing to ensure alignment with real-world industry needs. “The importance of internships and apprenticeship programs can not be understated. These opportunities provide avenues for underrepresented individuals and drive innovation in the sector,” expressed Jacobs.

Geoff Foster, Jeremiah Foster, Brandon Frederick and Core Technology

Geoff Foster
Jeremiah Foster
Brandon Frederick
Feeling wronged can prove to be the best kind of motivation. Geoff Foster, the CEO and founder of Core Technology Molding Corporation, knows this better than anyone. “I used to work as a product engineer at AMP, which has since become Tyco Electronics. During that time, I frequently traveled to Detroit to collaborate with Ford Motor Company on connector projects. One particular challenge arose concerning a leaking connector. I developed a new design solution and secured a US patent. While I received a modest $99 plaque, Ford compensated my employer $31 million for the idea. This experience ignited a strong sense of determination within me. I promised myself that any future innovative ideas would benefit my own company, my own business,” explained Foster.
Foster met Brandon Frederick, Core Technology Molding engineering manager when he was a college student at A&T State University and was impressed with his engineering knowledge and leadership qualities. “Brandon stood out. I had a thousand students over the last 18 years and he was the most focused student. He wasn’t shy about asking for advice, whether it’s manufacturing or anything else on the personal side and he was able to communicate well,” said Foster. “It’s been pretty amazing having Geoff as a mentor,” Frederick stated. “He’s someone who I share a lot in common with. He’s led and guided with examples like, ‘Hey, I saw this play out before, so you might want to do this or you might want to do that.’ We’ve gone from the classroom to the boardroom together. “
Jeremiah Foster, Core Technology Molding business development manager, didn’t initially see involvement in his dad’s business in his career path. “I thought I wanted to enter the medical field, but then I interned at Core Technology during the summer. The manufacturing side of the business wasn’t my passion but during the internship, I found I liked the business side. I’m finishing my MBA now,” stated Jeremiah Foster.
Frederick and Jeremiah Foster take pride in being the administrators of Core Technology’s non-profit organization, Molding Kids for Success, which strives to educate kids in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program offers plant tours and hosts week-long summer camps, providing immersive experiences in manufacturing processes like injection molding, robotics, 3D printing, and cleanroom operations. What sets this initiative apart is the emphasis on showcasing diversity in STEM fields. They aim to broaden perspectives and dispel misconceptions about who can pursue careers in manufacturing. “I look forward to teaching the kids in this program and mentoring them, it’s one of the best parts of my job,” said Jeremiah.
The impact extends beyond the students; even parents, upon witnessing the advanced technologies and career opportunities firsthand, gain a newfound appreciation for the industry. Ultimately, the goal is to ignite interest and curiosity among middle school students, inspiring them to explore and consider future paths in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and STEM careers. “I consider myself a mentor to the kids who come through. Early on, I learned that we connect based on shared experiences or commonalities. Recognizing this, we saw an opportunity to promote diversity by engaging with students on a relatable level. Over the past two years, it’s been an incredible journey, especially seeing students who had never considered manufacturing become intrigued. Changing the narrative around manufacturing is crucial; even parents often have outdated perceptions. We challenge stereotypes by showing them the modern, high-tech side of the industry,” stated Federick.
Geoff Foster says companies have to be intentional with their workforce diversity. “Diversity doesn’t happen by chance; it requires deliberate action. You can say ‘I want more Black engineers in our workforce’ but if you aren’t being intentional, it’s just lip service. Diversity brings an entirely new element to your organization. Qualified people from different races, ages and cultural backgrounds enhance your company’s ability to be innovative.”


Black History Month provided NC State University Industry Expansion Solutions an opportunity to highlight several client stories and share how North Carolina entrepreneurs and innovators offer inspiration and insight into the resilience, creativity and determination that define the Black experience in America’s industrial landscape. These voices illuminate the richness and diversity of achievement and success in the manufacturing sector.

In memoriam of Joe Louis Dudley (May 9, 1937 – Feb 8. 2024)


Joe Louis Dudley, Pioneering Hair Care Entrepreneur, Dies at 86

Joe Louis Dudley Pioneering Hair Care Entrepreneur