Local plant figures into Spinrite’s expansion plans

Published 12:30 am Friday, January 20, 2012

Spinrite President Ryan Newell displays some of the products the company will manufacture in Washington as a result of a grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce and matching local funds. (WDN Photo/Betty Mitchell Gray)

The Canadian yarn manufacturer that received a jobs-creation grant will use its new Washington location as the base for its expanded operations in future years, the company’s president said Thursday.

The grant that Spinrite Services LLC received from the state will be used to upgrade its operations at the plant, previously used by Caron International to manufacture craft yarn, according to Ryan Newell, president of Spinrite.

Although splitting the manufacturing and distribution operations into two locations will initially be more expensive for the company, there will be long-term advantages with the two sites, he said.

“We realized that if we were going to continue to grow, we were going to be in a position where we were going to need a secondary site,” Newell said. “We just did it a little sooner than we had to.”

On Wednesday, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced that Spinrite had received a $180,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund to help it expand its operations in North Carolina, a move that would create 90 jobs in Beaufort County over the next three years and lead to a $9.1 million investment over that same time period in the local plant.

Spinrite will locate some of its operations in Washington and invest $9.1 million over the next three years in the local plant as the result of an $180,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, according to the press release.

Late last year, the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners voted to allocate $90,000 in county funds to match a Commerce Department grant for the project.

Those incentives were a key part of Spinrite’s decision to choose Washington over other alternatives, Newell said

The funds from the grant will enable Spinrite to make needed upgrades to the Washington plant.

With headquarters listed in Listowel, Ontario, Spinrite was established in 1952, primarily as a commercial and craft yarn manufacturing business, according to information provided by the company. Its brands include Bernat Yarns, Lily Sugar’N Cream craft yarns and Patons yarns and patterns.

In December, officials with National Spinning announced the company had sold certain assets of Caron International to Spinrite. The sale included yarns for hand-knitting and crocheting, latch-hook kits and the Ultimate Sweater Machine.

Before the sale, Spinrite, the second-largest yarn manufacturer in North America, had focused on the manufacture of higher-end yarns and baby yarns, but it had been looking for ways to expand its products to more basic yarns, Newell said.

The sale of Caron International, the fourth-largest yarn manufacturer, gave the company access to that segment of the business and will allow it to sell products in a variety of price ranges, Newell said.

The combined business is now North America’s largest yarn manufacturer that employs about 600 workers, he said.

Salaries at Spinrite’s new operations will vary by function, but the total payroll for the new jobs will be more than $2 million annually, according to a recent company announcement.

National Spinning President James W. Chesnutt said he initially feared that some 90 Caron International employees would lose their jobs as Spinrite moved those manufacturing operations to Canada.

He credited the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission and state and city and county officials with putting together the grant package that persuaded Spinrite to keep the operations and jobs in Beaufort County.

“Without the City of Washington, without the county commissioners and without One North Carolina, these jobs would have been gone,” he said.

Newell said the opportunity to operate with a work force that was already trained for their jobs was attractive to the company as it decided to stay in Washington.

“Wherever you are, having access to trained people is important,” he said. “Because the costs of training new workers would have been significant.”

Caron International operations will continue over the next four months as they had before the sale, with Chesnutt overseeing the transition.

In early June, Spinrite will hire the employees it needs for its manufacturing and distribution operations, Newell said.

“It really is business as usual for the next four months,” he said. “When we take over, the associates here will see very few changes.”

Meanwhile, Chesnutt said the sale would allow National Spinning to focus on growth in its Hampton Art division, which will employ about 40 workers.

Hampton Art manufactures products such as stamps, stickers and papers used in scrapbooks that are sold to retailers including Wal-Mart, Joann Fabrics, Michaels and A.C. Moore.