NC textile plant that was once largest in the world will close after 112 years

Cone Denim plant in Greensboro (WFMY)

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WFMY/AP) – After more than 110 years of continuous production, the Cone Denim Plant will close its doors.

The International Textile Group, Inc. (ITG) announced on Wednesday it will shut down operations at the Cone Denim White Oak Plant on Dec. 31, impacting 200 workers.

The Associated Press reported that Cone Denim was once the largest textile plant in the world and opened in Greensboro in 1905.

The company said changes in market demand have significantly reduced volume over the years at the facility. It also said it can’t sustain itself with higher manufacturing costs.

Kenneth Kunberger, president & CEO of International Textile Group said, “We truly regret having to take this action to close operations, and we deeply appreciate the loyalty and dedication of all current and former employees of the White Oak Plant. Their talent, effort, innovation, dedication, and customer focus all combined to create a White Oak brand, heritage, and legacy that will forever be the heart of the Cone Denim business.”

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Kunberger also thanked the City of Greensboro for its support.

“We would also like to thank the City of Greensboro for its strong support over the years for both our White Oak facility as well as our ITG corporate headquarters. We are proud to call Greensboro our home.”

Greensboro’s Mayor, Nancy Vaughan released the following statement:

“We are saddened by today’s announcement. The City of Greensboro is committed to helping these employees and their families plan for their futures with the resources available at Guilford County Workforce Development. This loss is regrettable, as Cone Denim has long been an important part of our City’s history and heritage. That will not change, especially as International Textile Group will retain its headquarters, community involvement, product development and other corporate and division activities in Greensboro. We remain optimistic about Greensboro’s employment prospects, as we chart an aggressive path toward new economic development with our regional partners.”

ITG will work with employees to provide transition services and other support. They’ll also help employees in finding employment with both ITG and other local companies.

The Guilford County Workforce Development offers to help job seekers. ITG employees can learn more at Guilford Works or by calling Greg Barnett at 336-373-3025 or Vashti Pennix at 336-373-8041.

WFMY News 2 caught up with Cathie Faulkner, a Greensboro woman who used to work at the plant for 13 years.

“Maybe we didn’t make that much but what we did make, it took care of our family,” Faulkner said. “And we just took care of each other in the Cone family. That’s how it was.”

Faulkner said her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother also all worked at White Oak.

Cone Denim was founded in 1891 by brothers Moses and Ceasar Cone. The product was part of the jacket and jeans outfits Ralph Lauren designed for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, according to the Associated Press.

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