Six Degrees to Sanford, N.C.

February 26, 2024 | Written by: Campbell Wheby

Machine being built at Mertek.

Whether you’re a newcomer or a lifelong resident of our community, chances are you’ve experienced the “small world” phenomenon of Sanford. It’s a common occurrence in many places, but here in Sanford, it seems particularly prevalent. Many of us can recall instances during our travels or networking experiences when we’ve unexpectedly encountered someone with ties to our town. These chance meetings often spark conversations that leave us marveling at the interconnectedness of our world. In 1994, three college students developed a game called “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” based on the concept of “six degrees of separation” — the idea that any two people can be connected by six acquaintances or fewer. The impact of a successful business can have a similar effect, creating connections that stretch across the globe. Local businesses play a crucial role in global supply chains, supporting processes and enhancing production on an international scale. When SAGA partners with our local businesses, we gain insights into their suppliers and customers, allowing us to better support their needs. It’s fascinating to discover the connections between our local businesses and global powerhouse companies, as well as the wide-reaching impact of their products.

Located in an industrial park off Highway 15/501 is a local manufacturer that could give Kevin Bacon a run for his money in the connections department. A tour of Mertek Solutions, led by the company’s CEO, Jerry Pedley, reveals a fascinating array of connections spanning diverse industries. From automating packaging for a leading chewing gum brand to assembling life-saving medical devices, the company’s engineering capabilities are impressive. Perhaps most remarkable is their creation of a massive, one-of-a-kind testing device for carbon emissions. Designed, built, and programmed by the Mertek team, this unique carbon capture analyzer will soon be shipped to Alabama for use in testing carbon emissions from a natural gas power plant, in collaboration with Durham-based company Cormetech. The data collected from these tests will contribute to the improvement of carbon capture devices, leading to cleaner air for our planet — all thanks to a local manufacturer in Sanford, NC!

Reviewing the products on display that Mertek Solutions helped companies find solutions for is an engaging experience! The team’s knowledge of engineering to increase productivity and improve processes is impressive. Technicians travel the globe to provide support on installations and also assist remotely. Many of the employees at Mertek come from area colleges and universities, including Central Carolina Community College. It is a business with a strong foundation of community involvement and support, making the internal impact as powerful as the external. So the next time you pop open that gum container, slide back that pressed powder makeup compact, or wonder about the quality of our air, know that in six degrees or less, it likely has ties to Sanford, NC.

Crystal Gaddy, Business Retention and Expansion Manager