By Harry Minium

Gov. Ralph Northam appointed Murry Pitts, a Norfolk native, Old Dominion University graduate and successful business entrepreneur, to Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors.

Pitts fills the seat recently vacated by Pam Kirk, who resigned. His term, which began Friday, expires June 30, 2022.

Pitts is CEO of Burlington Medical & BarRay Products, companies that before the coronavirus pandemic made surgical radiation protective gear for nurses and surgeons. After the pandemic began to spread, elective surgeries virtually stopped, as did demand for his products.

With Burlington and BarRay and facing the prospect of laying off 300 employees in Newport News, Littlestown, Pa., and London, Pitts retooled his three plants and began making protective gear for doctors and nurses treating COVID-19. His business has prospered.

Gov. Northam asked him to meet the needs of Virginia hospitals first, and Pitts agreed.

Although Pitts graduated from ODU in 1980 with a degree in criminal justice, he chose to enter the business world. He worked for United States Lines, a shipping company for seven years before entering the paperboard carton business.

In 1988, he acquired Pell Paper Box in Elizabeth City, N.C. Eight years later, he bought another company, merged the two and christened it Carded Graphics.

He built Carded Graphics from a company with 34 employees in a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Staunton into one with 200 employees in a 120,000-square-foot facility.

After selling that company in 2015 to Graphic Packing, he stayed with the company as VP of sales and operations for the east region for a year. He then became CEO of a Swiss converting-machine manufacturer.

After briefly retiring, Pitts went to work for private equity firms, including one that owns Burlington Medical and BarRay Products.

Pitts lives in Charlottesville but works five days a week at Burlington's Newport News facility.

Pitts has been generous to ODU in many ways, especially to the University's athletic department.

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