Last updated: July 07. 2014 3:03PM - 3591 Views
By - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

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A German yarn company announced plans Monday to open a distribution facility in Mount Airy later this month.

Südwolle Group is setting up shop in a building at 769 W.Lebanon St. and will employ a small number of people at first.

“I think they’re talking about two or three jobs initially,” Surry County Economic Development Partnership President Todd Tucker said Monday. “It’s just a warehouse/distributing operation.”

But officials hope that other employment opportunities will arise as the Südwolle Group operation progresses.

“We’re glad that they’re here and we look forward to working with them,” Tucker added.

The German company will begin operations at the West Lebanon Street site, which has housed several other entities in the past, around the middle of this month.

Südwolle Group is touted as a worldwide leader in pure wool and wool-blend worsted spun yarns for weaving and circular and flat knitting.

The company is headquartered in Nürnberg, Germany, and has operations in Germany, Poland, Italy, Romania, Australia, and China. The new Mount Airy distribution center, an 18,000-square-foot facility, is Südwolle’s first United States location.

The Südwolle Group reportedly is a supplier to two local sock-manufacturing companies already, Nester Hosiery and Renfro Hosiery, which influenced its decision to open the facility in Mount Airy. That could lead to relationships with other producers, according to an official of Südwolle Group, a family owned enterprise that employs 3,950 people in its global business.

“The U.S. market for wool yarns is critical for us and continues to grow in importance as consumers demand more premium wool products,” Hans von Schuh said in a statement. “Through our new facility in Mount Airy, we can respond even more effectively to our customers here in the U.S.”

The company official added that “legwear and circular knit fabrics for active/outdoor apparel and legwear are two of Südwolle’s key markets and Mount Airy is conveniently located for many of the major manufacturers in those segments as well as for other textile, legwear, and apparel manufacturers along the entire East Coast and throughout the South and the Midwest.”

While the Surry County Economic Development Partnership is the chief industrial recruiter locally, Tucker, its president, credited Neal Willard for efforts that led to Südwolle Group’s decision to locate here.

Willard is the facilities manager for Bray Properties, owner of the building on West Lebanon Street which the German company will occupy. Tucker said Willard “did a lot of work” to seal the deal.

“The city of Mount Airy has been most welcoming,” said von Schuh, the Südwolle Group official. “We look forward to being a part of the vibrant community there for many, many years.”

Tucker said that Südwolle Group is a good addition to the local business landscape. “Obviously, we want to help them out and work with them and hopefully grown their presence (here),” he said of Economic Development Partnership members.

In addition to its production capabilities, Südwolle has a long-standing commitment to sustainability and environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, according to a company news release.

This includes participation in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which provides guidelines for responsible reporting of environmental and sustainability metrics. The company also publishes its Ecobalance annual report detailing Südwolle’s environmental, social responsibility and sustainable manufacturing initiatives around the world.

In addition, Südwolle collaborates with industry groups such as the International Wool Textile Organization (ITWO) and voluntarily submits to third-party, independent testing and certification of its products, practices and facilities.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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