By Marlana Ward
Since 1916, Parkdale Industries has worked to become a leader in the textile industry. In addition to celebrating 101 years as a company, on Friday, October 6, company executives, retail partners, and government officials gathered in Mountain City to celebrate the relationships which help not only Parkdale to continue to be an industry leader, but help Tennessee be a leader in American manufacturing.
“I thank Parkdale Mills for the magnitude of this project in Johnson County,” said Johnson County Mayor Larry Potter. “It means a lot to the county for them to make a long-term capitol investment of approximately $142 million in our community. We now have one of the largest facilities of this kind in the world. We now have a world-class facility with world class employees.”
Parkdale cemented its place in Johnson County economics and history with its recent 300,000 square foot expansion of Plant Number 16 in Mountain City. This $145 million investment not only meant increased production capacities for the company, but also showed Parkdale’s confidence in Johnson County’s commitment to its future with the textile plant.
“This is an example of what working together can produce,” said Andy Warlick, CEO of Parkdale, as he addressed the crowd gathered in front of the plant to celebrate the completed expansion. “We would like to thank the county mayor and council, the TVA, our vendors, and the associates of Parkdale.”
Warlick went on to express his excitement that the company’s manufacturing remains in the United States and proves that it can be done domestically. “Being a private company, we can put 100 percent back into technologies,” stated Warlick. He went on to explain that the increase in technology has meant that the production quantities that previously took 2,000 employees to produce could now be completed with the 401 employees at the Mountain City plant. “We are the best in the world at what we do,” expressed Warlick. “That is what excites our Parkdale team when we come in every day.”
Also in town to celebrate this accomplishment in business and community partnerships, Governor Bill Haslam took to the microphone to share his appreciation for the work done by all parties and what it means to Tennessee as a whole. “We want to be a state that makes stuff,” said Haslam. The governor shared how over the past 24 hours he had visited two other sites within the state where manufacturing was increasing. “There are a lot of world-class producers in Tennessee,” he shared. Haslam credited the companies which work within the state for helping Tennessee be a leader in manufacturing. “As a state, we understand that we do not create jobs,” he explained. “Folks put capital at risk and that creates jobs. Private enterprises and entrepreneurs make these jobs.”
Haslam also acknowledged the necessity of a willing and capable workforce to accommodate such an expansion and investment in Tennessee’s economy. He described how the state is dedicated to training a strong workforce through its educational programs. “We are committed whether through K through 12 or giving two years of college for free,” expressed Haslam. “Our workforce is ready.”
Governor Haslam thanked Parkdale for its continued relationship with the state and shared how he sees the plant’s decision to invest in Tennessee as positive for all involved: “You (Parkdale) have a brand you are proud of and Tennessee has a brand. We are a state that makes great products. We have a saying, Made in Tennessee, Part of America,” Haslam added.
Also on hand to share in the day’s celebration was State Representative Timothy Hill. “This investment means they will be here for years,” Hill shared. “We are excited about the partnership between their business and our community.”
Parkdale additionally showed its appreciation for County Mayor Larry Potter’s tireless efforts in helping facilitate the expansion project by naming the main driveway used by shipping and receiving “Mayor Potter Boulevard.”
Currently Parkdale employees over 450 people that equates to over two percent of the local population in Johnson County. With 1.3 million pounds of yarn leaving Mountain City for use in textile companies across the country, Parkdale and Johnson County are working together to make a difference not only in manufacturing but also the community.