Thursday, April 30, 2015

Worldwide Protective Products success touted as Burr visits

 U.S. Sen. Richard Burr toured the Worldwide Protective Products manufacturing plant in Wilkesboro Thursday as he traveled through the area visiting with other employers and local leaders.

 Worldwide Protective Products officials gave Burr an overview of the company's knitting, sewing, packaging and distribution operations. Worldwide, formerly Manzella Knitting & Co., produces cut-resistant gloves and sleeves and other high performance protective products for various industries and professions.

Kerry Dyer, the company's managing partner, demonstrated the knitting operations and emphasized how Worldwide's highly customized products support customers in food processing, automotive, glass and industrial markets.

Greg Plemmons, vice president of sales and marketing for Worldwide Protective Products, said the company has worked to develop products in specific value added performance niches rather than producing commodity based items.

Senator Richard Burr visiting Worldwide Protective Products - April 9, 2015
"Additionally, we have developed a customized product business model that allows us to make small run orders with rapid turn-around. This model significantly differentiates us from import-based competitors," said Plemmons.

He said Worldwide also has "tremendous inherent support from our U.S. customer base for U.S.-produced items."

While leading a discussion about U.S. manufacturing after the tour, Burr said, "Many people don't realize the textile industry is still alive in the U.S. It just doesn't look like it did when we were growing up."

He said Worldwide Protective Products is a good example of this transition. Within a little over 10 years, it has grown to become one of the leading glove manufacturers in the nation. The operation in Wilkesboro continues to grow and currently employs over 250 people.

Plemmons said Worldwide has taken advantage of new fiber technology and new ways of creating yarns to develop numerous new products that help it provide customers with higher levels of performance at lower costs, compared to 15 or so years ago.

"Our sales continue to grow, which is allowing us to bring in additional knitting equipment to increase our production capacity," Plemmons added.

Also participating in the tour and the discussion afterwards were Linda Cheek, president of Wilkes Chamber of Commerce; Mike Fenley, Burr's field representative in north-western North Carolina, Wilkes County Manager John Yates, Wilkesboro Town Manager Ken Noland and Wilkes County commissioners, Eddie Settle, Greg Minton, Gary D. Blevins and Keith Elmore. Settle is chairman.

Burr also went to West Jefferson and Boone Thursday. He planned to tour the Samaritan's Purse facilities in Boone on Friday. Burr is a Republican from Winston-Salem and has been a senator since 2005. He is seeking re-election in 2016.

Worldwide Protective Products occupies a former Golden Needles plant off N.C. 268 West in Wilkesboro. It received financial assistance through an economic incentive agreement with the governments of Wilkes County and Wilkesboro and the Wilkes Economic Development Corp. It also received a building renovation grant from the N.C. Rural Center.

In return, the company spent $3.2 million on capital expenditures and added jobs.