hanges in Technology, Attitudes and Costs Spark Revival of Manufacturing in U.S.
Eleven years ago, Michael Penner shut down Richelieu Group’s three hosiery plants in Canada after concluding they couldn’t compete with Asian imports. Richelieu became a designer and marketer of socks made by contractors in China and other countries.
“I had sworn off manufacturing,” said Mr. Penner, 45 years old, a native of Montreal who is president and owner of the company, recently renamed Peds Legwear. “I didn’t think it could be brought back.”
Earlier this month, at a long-idle plant it acquired here in Hildebran, Peds began production of socks that are to be sold at Walmart stores, starting in March. So far, Peds has invested about $8.5 million in the plant, including the purchase of 90 blue-and-gray machines from Lonati SpA of Italy that resemble a bank of blinking computers lined up in six rows on a shiny wooden floor. Mr. Penner expects to invest another $15 million to expand capacity at the plant if other retailers join Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in buying the socks.
Changes in technology, attitudes and costs reversed Mr. Penner’s course.
The Lonati machines knit yarn into tubes and then add a toe seam, combining what were separate processes and helping Peds halve the number of production workers needed.
Read more: The Wall Street Journal