(L-R) Parkdale's Dan Nation, NCTO's Kim Glas, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Parkdale's Davis Warlick (Photo by Devin Steele)

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(L-R) Parkdale's Davis Warlick, Parkdale's Dan Nation, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Parkdale's Tad Rogers (Photo by Devin Steele)

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(L-R) Parkdale's Dan Nation, NCTO's Kim Glas, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and Parkdale's Davis Warlick (Photo by Devin Steele)

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Parkdale hosts U.S. Sen. Kaine at Magnolia facility in Virginia

Importance of U.S. textile industry for PPE, economy highlighted

Posted April 8, 2021


By Devin Steele


HILLSVILLE, Va. – U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) visited Parkdale’s Magnolia Manufacturing facility here Wednesday to meet with company officials, greet its workforce, tour the modern, expansive facility and learn more about the company’s leadership role in addressing the shortage of lifesaving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 crisis.


The four plants – 450-employee-strong – that encompass the 750,000-square-feet facility here are among a number of plants that Gastonia, N.C.-based Parkdale retooled to produce these critical items, including face masks, gowns and COVID testing swabs over the past year.


The plants are a major yarn hub contributing to a major face mask initiative bringing together several U.S. companies and more than 5,000 employees as part of the Biden administration’s pledge to provide 25 million reusable face masks to communities hit hard by the pandemic.


“It's been a very challenging year for so many because of COVID,” Kaine told employees after the tour. “But what I'm finding again and again is that people are getting very creative and doing things they might not have done before and figuring out new strategies. And Parkdale Magnolia is a great example of that.”


When the pandemic was beginning to spread, Kaine said he saw photos of healthcare workers putting N95 masks in plastic bags, pinning them onto bulletin boards at the end of their shifts and using them day after day due to the PPE shortage.


“When that was what we were dealing with at the frontend of this crisis, companies like Parkdale Magnolia sprang into action to start to produce PPE in incredibly creative ways,” he said. “So I want to thank you for that. You have helped us deal with the most significant public health challenge in the last 100 years.”


Combined with its subsidiary, U.S. Cotton, Parkdale produced more than 1 billion pieces of PPE over the last year, according to Dan Nation, the company’s director of Government Affairs, who was on hand for the event along with Executive Vice President Davis Warlick.


“Parkdale Mills thanks Senator Kaine for his leadership on policies that help bolster our company and the entire textile industry,” Warlick said. “We are proud to be part of an initiative that is bringing together American companies to produce 100% American-made masks for community health centers, soup kitchens and food banks across the country. With the support of our government and leaders like Senator Kaine, our industry is demonstrating its ability and capacity to make critical items here for the long term.”


Kim Glas, president and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), also attended the senator’s visit to an NCTO member’s operations.


“We want to sincerely thank Senator Kaine for his leadership in supporting American manufacturers, which have played a vital role in our economy as well as the nationwide effort to produce critical PPE and medical textiles for a nation in crisis,” she said. “We are grateful to the senator and the Biden administration for prioritizing domestic manufacturers and the U.S. workforce. The U.S. textile industry is a vital contributor to the U.S economy and policies that Senator Kaine supports help bolster the onshoring of PPE and critical items, which in turn spurs employment and investment in the American manufacturing base.”


The Magnolia facility, built in the mid-to-late 1990s and consisting of three ring-spun plants and one that is being converted in an open-end spinning facility, also produces all of the yarn for Parkdale’s military uniform contracts – a fact that did not go unnoticed by Kaine.

“My oldest son is a United States Marine who just went from Active to (National) Guard, and you make the yarn that goes into the fatigues he wore when he was deployed twice overseas,” he told employees. “That is really important stuff.”


In addition to co-chairing the Senate’s Career and Technical Education Caucus and serving on its Education Committee, Kaine also is a member of the Armed Services Committee, he added.


“We're exploring whether we need to get more supply chain that was put overseas back to our own shores so that during a pandemic or another emergency, we're not relying on products from elsewhere, but instead we know we have the supply chain here in the United States,” Kaine said.


He added: “I want to thank you for your great creativity to serve, to do a great job, to set a standard as the most sizable textile plant in Virginia, for serving our men and women in uniform and for stepping up big at a challenging time to help our nation deal with the crisis over the last year and point out ways that we can better prepare for future crises.”


In an interview, NCTO’s Glas said that the industry’s quick pivot into making essential PPE products was a “lifesaver” in many ways – for healthcare workers, the general public and the U.S. textile industry.

“It’s a real American success story about what was created literally overnight in order to address the nation’s health and healthcare needs,” she said. “So we need the right policies in place to make sure these supply chains are here long term. That’s our big mission and one of the reasons we were excited to have Sen. Kaine visit, to see this firsthand and understand more fully how this particular facility contributed to addressing some of our healthcare workers’ needs.”


When the White House reached out to Glas last year for help addressing the PPE shortage, she contacted Parkdale, which led the effort to form a coalition of about 50 U.S. companies that would be cobbled together to form a supply chain, from spinners to sewing operations, Nation said.


“We had every sewing machine in the United States running at the time making masks, and within about four months, the industry had produced about 750 million masks,” Nations said. “At the same, Parkdale took an order for 60 million Level 1 isolation gowns, which we had never made before. We put together a supply chain and delivered those in three months. It's a great testament to the American spirit, American ingenuity and the American textile industry, which turned its companies on a dime to make these products. It was like a war-time effort.”


On Kaine’s visit, Nation said it’s always good when a lawmaker can see firsthand the value of the U.S. textile industry.


“I think we can look forward to his support in the future as we try to secure PPE production so that the United States will hold on to this product and not let the supply chain go back to China, which got us in big trouble to start with,” he said. “That's very important to the United States and it's very important to the textile industry.”


He added: “There are a lot of capital expenditures that can be made in the textile business to support the PPE needs of our country, but we need support from the government in the form of the Berry Amendment-style legislation, which requires that military uniforms be American made. We think that PPE should be American made so we can protect our people and protect the quality and integrity of these products.”

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