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23rd October 2013, US

Wisconsin textile manufacturer plans to revive sliver knitting in US

Wisconsin textile manufacturer Monterey Mills has acquired Glenoit Fabrics, a leader in high pile knit  fabrics for apparel, accessories, footwear and specialty products, which operates a mill in Tarboro, NC. Monterey, formerly a competitor of Glenoit’s, plans to modernise the Tarboro plant in an effort to turn around its sagging fortunes. The acquisition includes the machines inside the plant but not the building itself, which Monterey will lease from the local ownership group.

 Silver knitting, or high-pile knitting, is a process that locks individual fibres into a lightweight knit backing. © Phil Roeder

The company acquired Glenoit from a local ownership group that had bought the business from Haixin, a Chinese company that acquired Glenoit in 2002.

Sliver knitting

The Tarboro plant is one of only a handful of sliver knitting mills that remain in the US - sliver knitting, or high-pile knitting, is a process that locks individual fibres into a lightweight knit backing.

Such fabric are used in a number of different products, from fleeces and saddle pads to the fabric for mascots and stuffed animals.

Monterey operates a sliver knitting mill in Janesville, WI and its President Dan Sinykin said one of attractions of the Glenoit acquisition is that the Tarboro mill has a large number of Jacquard knitting machines, which are able to knit patterns. “They have more Jacquard hard knitting machines than I have in Janesville,” he said.

Industrial applications

Glenoit’s plant in Tarboro once employed 1,100 people in the late 1990s, but the company has struggled to stay afloat in the face of cheaper competition overseas.

Although Monterey Mills has also been hurt by overseas competition, Sinykin said the company has found success by focusing on industrial applications. One of the company’s core markets is making the fabric on the end of paint rollers.

“Industrial applications have not gone overseas as significantly,” Sinykan said. “We’re just looking for growth opportunities. We want to make sure that high-pile knitting is available to domestic manufacturers for many years to come.”

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  • Display Name 29th October 2013 21:17PM

    Monterey Mills was a valuable supply partner to me at Shell's auto accessory division, formerly in Moorpark California. They have agile engineering abilities that helped us pioneer and create NAFTA qualified materials for automotive interiorsaccessories that utilized mod-acrylic in sparing amounts from Japan to give texture to a snow leopard fabrication that was destined to be sold in Canada, US and Mexico auto retailers. Their precise ability to blend fibers consistently, engineer jacquards and create variable pile height with their machinery is a terrific advantage. Monterey were one of the key domestic fabric manufacturers that helped us reinvent and grow the automotive accessory industry at the time (2000-2003) from the down trending and merely replacement part industry (black, grey, charcoal and tan) to one of self expression, fashion, fun and tactile fabrications.

    As happened with a lot of the other domestic suppliers we were using at the time, once competitors bid for the same shelf space, the Asian knock off fabrics that tried emulate the creativity we built with Monterey as a supplier, looked the same from a distance, but did not perform the same, shed terribly in vehicles, faded, and were such a disappointment that many retail stores that squeezed us and our competitors for 'price roll backs' stopped carrying the items regardless of the cheaper prices.

    This slip in quality happened even with textile engineering benchmarks clearly defined, as Asian manufacturers tried to reduce their own costs. The flood of lower quality Asian substituted fabrics stunted the auto aftermarket industry as quality benchmarks fell with many other low priced products across the board.

    Lesson to the US consumer - you get what you pay for. Lesson to US importers, and private equity firms, the cost of QA and QC in Asia when factored into the cost of goods and fabrics, coupled with the shipping, long lead times, and returns, puts many domestic textile mills even or better as supply partners with far less head aches.

    I am very happy to see Monterey back to speed manufacturing in the US and hope that domestic (NAFTA) cut and sew operations will consider them as valuable a supply partner as I did.


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