The key to Southern Weaving’s continued strength has been its adaptation to new products on the market. We have allocated resources to the research and development of new and exclusive product offerings.
At Southern Weaving, we’ve developed materials that are chemical resistant, perform in high temperatures/hostile environments, and are 15 times stronger than steel and 40% stronger than Kevlar.
How did we become a market leader in the production of industrial webbing? We’ve been meeting customers’ exacting standards for nearly a century.
Nearly a century ago, Jack Burnett and F.L. Murdock witnessed the rise of “The Textile Center of the South” in Greenville, SC. The two agreed to capitalize on the rich cotton mill environment and cofounded Southern Weaving in 1924. The company produced cotton webbing for brake linings and hood lacings for the Ford Motor Company’s Model T.
By the late 1930s, synthetic fibers were introduced to the textile industry, causing a transition from cotton to its new and improved replacements: nylon and rayon. Southern Weaving adapted to these light-weight, high-tenacity fibers and shifted its production toward the industrial weaving for which it’s known today.
During the 1940s, Southern Weaving expanded its manufacturing to include military webbing and added dyeing, finishing and treatment capabilities for the demands of World War II. The early synthetic lifting material, now known as sling web, evolved from the military market with a slight reduction in the weight of the products. This slight change in products sustained the company’s success.
In 1954, Southern Weaving was one of the first manufacturers to develop seat belts from a two-ply weave of nylon with rayon middle. This increased the strength of the belts to meet new requirements for the automotive market. Southern Weaving was also one of the first companies to manufacture hose sleeves used to bundle automotive cables and parts to protect hydraulic hoses from abrasion, UV rays and the elements.
Southern Weaving purchased Anderson Narrow Fabrics in 1958 to manufacture cotton webbing from 1” to 42” widths. This facility in Anderson, SC is still operational today. As polyester entered the industry in the late 1950s and 1960s, the company’s R&D department found that by using polyester for automotive seat belts, one could get less elongation out of the same amount of yardage as a thicker fabric – another major innovation at the time.
1970s – 2000s
By the ’70s and ’80s, Southern Weaving was a dominant employer for more than 50 years. Industrial Automation and advancements in process increased productivity. From 1969 to 2006, the American Textile Machinery Exhibition – International (ATME-I) was held in Southern Weaving’s hometown of Greenville, SC.
Textile manufacturing in the U.S., however, dropped precipitously in the 1990s and 2000s as cheaper labor drew jobs overseas. Southern Weaving, like so many other American companies, had difficult decisions to make.
The company held steadfast and the team acted as a family as they sacrificed for the greater whole and supported each other through that challenging time. Southern Weaving established a broader supply chain by qualifying and enlisting additional yarn vendors from overseas. With the new sourcing strategy and multiple suppliers in place, Southern Weaving began rationalizing their product line to remove low margin, low volume products.
The company also took the time to prioritize capital expenditures, investing $1.5 million in new equipment such as looms, twisting and warping machinery, and enhancements to the dying process.
In August 2009, Southern Weaving appointed a new Chief Executive Officer, Ron Mohling. Mohling implemented lean manufacturing initiatives, expanded the sales force, and reorganized the management team to better serve Southern Weaving’s customers.
In 2010, a new ownership structure was finalized with OrIX Finance and a new board of directors was formed. ORIX supports and encourages Southern Weaving’s plan for continued investment in new equipment and new product development.
With new ownership, the advancement in fibers, savvy capital management, and exceptional talent, the future of Southern Weaving is brighter than ever. Southern Weaving continues on its journey, possessing timeless innovation and unrelenting strength.