By Michelle T. Bernard, O-N-E Reporter
On a vacant building pad in Maiden that was created when a Carolina Mills factory building was torn down, a new textile manufacturer has opened its doors and is hiring new employees.
Carolina Nonwovens, LLC, then located in Lincolnton, purchased the property, built a new building and moved all of their employees and equipment to the new plant in June.
The plant is located at 1106 J W Abernathy Plant Road. The site consists of 92,000 square feet on 11 acres.
National Spinning Co., Inc, is the parent company of Carolina Nonwovens.
Beginning as a wool spinning company in the State of New York, National Spinning has been in existence since 1921. The company moved to North Carolina in the 1950s, expanded to four facilities in Washington, Whiteville, Beulaville, and Burlington. National Spinning now spins yarn from just about any fiber you can think of, according to National Spinning President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Booterbaugh.
National Spinning decided it would be wise to diversify beyond the yarn spinnig business and they started to look at nonwoven plants, according to Booterbaugh. In 2012, they bought Carolina Nonwovens.
Carolina Nonwovens expanded from 12 employees running one shift, five days a week when it was purchased by National Spinning to 32 people running seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Now in its new location in Maiden, the company plans to at least double their workforce, according to Booterbaugh.
"It wasn't a huge leap to move into that type of business because National Spinning uses fiber, and has used fiber throughout all of their history," said Booterbaugh. "The type of nonwovens that Carolina Nonwovens starts with is a similar type of fiber that National Spinning uses."
Both of the processes still start with fiber. National Spinning turns fiber into yarn. Nonwovens puts the fiber into a big vat which goes into an oven and comes out in sheets.
Booterbaugh explained that typical textiles are knitted and weaved into fabric from yarn - most clothing is made this way. There is a type of technology that is used by Carolina Nonwovens that can do it all in one step. Instead of going from fiber to yearn to fabric, it goes straight from fiber to fabric. There's no weaving or knitting involved.
"Its an efficient way to make textiles," Booterbaugh said. "You can't make a lot of different clothes out of it but there are a lot of industrial products that used to be made out of woven or foam that now can be made out of nonwovens."
Carolina Nonwovens makes products such as"
- Acoustical Insulation which is used in automotive and appliance insulators, ceiling tiles, baffles and general acoustical insulators, fiberglass and acoustical foam replacement, and office partitions.
- Thermal Insulation used in wall cavities, insulation for temperature sensitive packaging, and insulation for floor/ceiling joists.
- Bedding and foam replacement for mattress cores, rails, and toppers, institutional bedding, outdoor furniture cushion inserts, seat cushions, and dog beds.
Most of the products are like pads, according to Booterbaugh.
The majority of the products made by Carolina Nonwovens is from 75% or more locally-sourced post-industrial or post-consumer recycled content.
"Scraps from cutting of textiles, recycled bottles are chopped up into fiber by another company and we convert that into pads," Booterbaugh said.
Carolina Nonwovens needed to expand their business and purchased new equipment which would not fit into their building in Lincolnton.
They started to look elsewhere, according to Booterbaugh, in Lincolnton, and throughout North Carolina and South Carolina but because they had such a good staff, elected to keep their search within a 40 mile radius of their existing facility to that they could retain them.
Once they found the pad in Maiden, they contracted with Matthews Construction Co. in Conover to do the construction.
This plant represents a $13 million investment and was made possible in part by a One NC Fund grant of $70.000, according to a press release.
Catawba County has a rich history of textiles but free trade regulations and competition from other countries prompted relocation of a lot of the textile industry from Catawba County and the rest of the Carolinas to overseas production.
The factory building that was torn down once housed a spinning manufacturing business run by Carolina Mills, according to Booterbaugh.
Most recently, almost 160 textile manufacturing jobs were lost when Delta Apparel closed in Maiden.
"There have been a couple of closures and we are happy to be expanding," Booterbaugh said. "We believe we are helping to bring textiles back to North Carolina -- there are nonwovens plants that are starting up left and right. Nonwovens is a sector of textiles that is consistently growing and it''s surprising because it's fairly lo-key but there a lot of nonwovens plants even in the Hickory area that you wouldn't even think about."