By:  Marlana Ward

Freelance Writer

Textiles have been an important industry in Johnson County for decades.  Though changes in manufacturing and trade have led to many companies leaving domestic homes for international shores, Parkdale Mills has recognized what a great asset the people of Johnson County are and have chosen to invest in their future with the community.

The property on Highway 421 was first purchased and developed for textile manufacturing by Burlington in 1968.  Though corporate hands have changed over the years, the people of Mountain City have maintained a high appreciation for the textile industry and the jobs it provides.

Parkdale began its operations in Mountain City in 2009.  Their acquisition of the property was a great boon to the community’s job market and gave hope to an area that had seen so many companies depart and leave their employees behind.

Parkdale was begun by a visionary group of investors in Gastonia, North Carolina in 1916.  Since its humble start at that one location, it has expanded to include multiple plants throughout the southeast. Parkdale is known for their high standards when it comes to the yarn they produce and their customers recognize the company’s dedication to quality.  The cotton industry is extremely competitive.  Parkdale not only competes with other domestic companies but must also contend with international companies vying for market share in the high-grossing textile business. Unwavering commitment to providing the best product through high-grade cotton selection and testing throughout the manufacturing process guarantees Parkdale customers are receiving the highest quality goods available.

The process at Parkdale begins with raw cotton, which is carded and spun into yarn destined to be used in high quality outer wear.  Upon entering the Parkdale plant, visitors are immediately taken aback by the sheer size of the operation and technologically advanced machinery involved in the manufacturing process.  The powerful hum of motors and constant movement of automated components makes the plant a fascinating example of what the powerful combination of top of the line equipment and dedicated workers can achieve.  Amidst the Swiss engineered machines, focused employees are constantly monitoring and adding components needed in the process.  Other employees transport the cotton in various states of manufacturing to the different areas of the plant for further processing.

The corporate leaders of Parkdale recently showed their faith in the people of Johnson County by beginning a 300,000 square foot addition to the plant.  This $145 million dollar investment into the industrial future of the community is a testament to the company’s loyalty to their employees and their belief that Mountain City is an important piece in their textile operations.

With multiple locations available to Parkdale for expansion, it speaks highly of the company’s respect and enthusiasm for Johnson County that this area was chosen.  County Mayor Larry Potter, the Johnson County Commissioners, and the Planning Commission were all instrumental in showcasing the community’s excitement and dedication to manufacturing in the area.  The county leadership’s willingness to offer incentives and work with the company helped ensure that one of the major employers in Mountain City would not only remain but add to the local economy by increasing its workforce.

Previously, the plant could produce 600,000 pounds of yarn per week.  With the additions to the plant, an impressive 1.3 million pounds of yarn will now leave Mountain City for use in textiles around the country.  This increase also means that an additional 100 employees will be added to the floor to meet the demand.  Currently, applications are being accepted to fill the positions being created.  These positions include operators and technicians for carding, roving, and spinning.  No previous textile experience is required and job training is provided on site for new team members.

Parkdale recognizes the work ethic of the local community and values every person that comes to work for the company.  Numerous safety measures are taken by the factory to ensure a safe workplace as well as an efficient one.  The company operates under a set of guiding principles that display its integrity and commitment to providing a safe, respectful workplace where employees feel encouraged and appreciated.

As Parkdale celebrates 100 years of operation, the company continues to seek out new ways to stay on top of the spun yarn industry.  What began as a one building production in Gastonia, North Carolina now flourishes throughout the southeast.  The plant in Mountain City, Tennessee is an important part of Parkdale’s future and the company’s investment in the community ensures that the company will continue to be a large part of Johnson County’s future for many years to come.