Polartec, LLC, manufacturer of fabrics for garment manufacturing companies and best known for inventing fleece materials for companies like Patagonia, North Face and LL Bean is relocating part of its textile operations from Massachusetts to southeastern Tennessee, at its Cleveland factory.
Polartec, which makes specialized fabrics for outdoor wear as well as the military, acquired the United Knitting Mills in Cleveland a year ago and began making its move from Massachusetts.
Polartec President Gary Smith said that the company is investing nearly $10 million into the United Knitting Mills site in Cleveland on plant upgrade and new equipment, which will bring total employment to 200 people by next year.
Smith said that the environment in Lawrence is less friendly to business and the facility is less suited for the type of production that the specialized fleece maker does both for the U.S. military and many outdoor apparel firms.
Smith cited Tennesseeâ€™s business friendly environment including lower energy and tax costs compared with Massachusetts and there is a strong work ethic in Cleveland. They are making a big bet on this facility, but they see a real opportunity for them.
Smith said that he is moving the company to a better mix of business with more efficient production to help the textile company survive and thrive in the United States, rather than move production offshore as most other U.S. textile and apparel companies have done over the past half century.
Polartec is the successor company to the 110-year-old Maldin Mills in New England. The company was renamed Polarte LLC in March 2007.
Merging the two companies will allow Polartec to employ its innovative technology â€” the company has more than 150 patents â€” in a more efficient plant, said Jerry Miller, the former head of United Knitting Mills who will continue as president and general manager of Polartec's Tennessee manufacturing operations.
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