We are honored to be included in a recent article about the rebirth of textile manufacturing in the United States:
Since 1972 this homegrown facility has flourished into a high tech innovative hosiery mill.
American manufacturing in the 1970's was booming. Entrepreneurs in the North Carolina area had two options, start a hosiery mill or go into furniture. In 1972 Ronnie Brittain and his father Lonnie started L&R Knitting on their property in the bucolic farmlands outside of Hickory, NC. Knitting machinery was widely available in the area, but it took a lot more than gears and needles to be competitive. Ronnie and Lonnie had the creativity and tenacity to win the business of larger and larger customers, allowing them to add knitting machines, expand the facility, and hire more workers. In the 1990's knitting machines made the leap to computer controlled designs, and the options for complex patterns changed the face of hosiery. L&R Knitting was on the cutting edge, investing in specialized machines and pushing the limits of what was possible. Here's a wonderful article about Ron and Lonnie in Legwear Trends, a trade publication in 1995.
A time of transition
By the early 2000's however, American manufacturing was in trouble, most hosiery production was being moved overseas to cut costs. Through hard work and perseverance, L&R Knitting stayed in business while most of the other family mills in the area closed their doors. A few solid programs kept them busy during the slim times and as many jobs as possible were retained. By 2014 Ron and his wife Lorie decided it was time for them to retire and spend more time with their daughters and grandchildren. One of their long time customers became interested in buying the mill and continuing the legacy that Lonnie and Ronnie started 42 years earlier.
the next chapter
After careful planning to ensure a smooth transition, the mill was officially purchased by Randy Wakerlin and Lisa Flood in June 2014. They changed the name from L&R Knitting to Sunnyside Textiles and retained all the L&R Knitting employees, many of whom had been working there for decades. There is currently a resurgence in American made manufacturing, and Sunnyside Textiles is proud to be a part of it by continuing to make top quality American-made products. This newfound global interest in supporting American manufacturing is a turning point for us as a business and as a country.
Check out our capabilities to see if we can knit for you!
In June of 2015, Sunnyside Textiles threw a party to celebrate our 1 year anniversary. We invited all our employees, venders, families, and the original owners of L&R Knitting. Ron was presented with a plaque recognizing his contributions to American hosiery, that plaque now hangs in the front entryway of the building for all to see.