Michael Smith

Lead projectile technician

Hamrick Mills, Gaffney, S.C.


When did you start in the textile industry?

I started in the textile industry in 1989.

What is your background?

When I began in the industry, I mopped the floors, hauled packages of filling, doffed cloth. While I was doing these jobs, I learned how to weave and then was a weaver for many years. After that I oiled and greased the looms and then became an ‘overhauler.’ Currently, I am the lead projectile weaving machine technician and instructor.


What types of products does your company specifically produce and what types of end products are they used in?

  • Apparel – for shirting, healthcare gowns and scrubs, and career and performance apparel

  • Support apparel – for pocketing, waistband linings and interlinings for shirting

  • Home furnishings – sheetings, comforters, mattress pad backings, upholstery deckings, blackout curtains, drapes, shower curtains and tickings for pillows and duvets

  •      Industrial products – coating substrates such as tapes, book bindings, industrial aprons,  window shades, buffing cloths, industrial wipes, flocking substrates and high pressure laminate fabrics


What does your job mean to you, your family and your community?

This job has been what has provided me and opportunity to put food on my family’s table for years. I was also given the opportunity to put my children in private school and a daughter through college. Hamrick Mills has supplied the community with hundreds of careers every year for the last 120 years, so it is a staple.

What is your role in producing PPE products or inputs for these products for your company?

My role is to keep the projectile weaving machines functioning properly to ensure top quality fabric. I also help problem solve new fabric constructions to ensure our customer gets the best fabric possible.


Please tell us about how it feels to have your company step up to the address the PPE shortage during the pandemic?

Having Hamrick Mills step up during the pandemic makes me feel good to do our part and help keep our fabrics American made.


Do you think it’s important to make textiles in America and, if so, why?

It is important because this is how all of us provide for our families. If my job went overseas, I would not be able to put food in my family’s mouth.


Hamrick Mills’ effort


During the early stages of the pandemic, Hamrick Mills began receiving calls from all quarters about fabrics for use in face masks, Levels 1 and 2 gowns and all manner of PPE. As the company has been a supplier of fabrics into the medical field for many years, primarily in scrubs and hospital patient gowns, it had some level of knowledge about the fabric requirements.


However, like many others, it received a quick crash course in face mask filtration requirements and test protocols for Levels 1, 2 and 3 surgical and isolation gowns. Fortunately for Hamrick Mills, and because its product line is very diverse, it was able to make relatively easy modifications to current styling that created fabric constructions that could be finished successfully to meet the requirements for a variety of PPE.


The company partnered with several finishers nearby in order to address the avalanche of orders that were being received. In making these changes, and with its partners’ assistance, Hamrick Mills was able to redirect its production toward the overwhelming need for PPE and maintain that production throughout the high demand period.


“During this PPE high demand period, our sales and manufacturing groups teamed together to redesign our fabrics so that we could contribute to the national need for PPE products,” said President Cameron Hamrick. “We feel fortunate and are ecstatic that Hamrick Mills was able to contribute to this national endeavor in a significant and meaningful way.”