Who is Mount Vernon?

MT. VERNON MILLS – A GREAT AMERICAN TEXTILE COMPANY

Like Riegel, Mt. Vernon was originally a separate company, but now it’s the name that encompasses our six divisions, including Riegel, as well as our Apparel Fabrics Division.  Most of you reading this are already familiar with our Apparel division, either directly or indirectly, as they produce millions of yards of fabric that ultimately makes its way into your plants, including flame resistant (FR) fabrics, bottom weight fabrics and denim. Our other four divisions—Chemicals, Transportation, La France and Brentex—are covered in detail at www.mvmills.com.

OUR LINEAGE

The first mill in our family began operating in 1838 in South Carolina. It was known as the Pendelton Manufacturing Co. It would later be known as it is today as the LaFrance plant. LaFrance produces home furnishings and products for the automotive industry in the same location (but a newer facility). La France would eventually fall under the Riegel Textile Corp. and later Mt. Vernon Mills Inc. leadership. It now stands as one of the six divisions in the Mount Vernon family.

In 1845, the Allgood family founded what is now the largest vertical denim operation in the world in Trion, Georgia.  This mill, then and now known as the Trion Mill, was actually in the path of General William T. Sherman during his march to the sea. But it was spared the torch after General Sherman spent the night in the Allgood family’s home. Evidently the topic of the mill manufacturing products for the Confederacy did not come up over dinner (see more by clicking the “history” tab at www.mvmdenim.com). Benjamin D. Riegel would acquire this operation in 1912, and it would change hands once again when the R. B. Pamplin Corp. acquired the company in 1985.  This mill produces a wide variety of denim, including washed, over-dyed, and stretch fabrics. Other products in the group include twills, duck and plain-weave fabrics. These are piece-dyed for career apparel, work clothing and sportswear—most of which is considered "bottom weight" for pants, slacks and trousers. The mill—which is now a part of the Apparel Fabrics Division—is also an important supplier of FR fabrics and military uniform fabrics.

The company namesake, Mt. Vernon Mills, traces its origin to the Jones Falls area in what is now Baltimore.  Several flour or grist mills were built there around 1810, and by the 1830s, many of the mills were being converted into cotton duck manufacturing operations.  One such mill, when it was converted in 1847, was named “Mount Vernon Mill No. 1.” This mill, together with several others in the area, soon would become the Mount Vernon Co., a leading maker of quality cotton duck cloth for sails for clipper ships and canvas for tents. In case you were curious, duck cloth is another term for the canvas material that was then in huge demand for these products.

The early years of Mount Vernon provided at least one interesting historical footnote.  Fabrics made by the company’s mill in Baltimore were sewn into tents used by the Union Army in the Civil War.  In addition to Trion’s contribution to the Confederacy noted above—at the same time the Tallassee, AL, facility, which became part of Mount Vernon in 1900, produced cloth for uniforms and carbine rifles for the Confederate Army. Talk about hedging your bets!

 21st CENTURY STRATEGY

Coupled with the acquisitions is Mount Vernon’s quest for “world class” manufacturing equipment and facilities. While the bricks and mortar at several facilities date back to the Civil War and before, on the inside, Mount Vernon facilities are as modern and state-of-the-art as any textile operation in the world. From 1988 through 2012, the company spent over $900 million on capital projects. These investments have enabled Mount Vernon to constantly improve the quality of its products, to deal with changing market conditions, to produce goods at lower costs and better serve our customers. 

Mount Vernon continues its push toward niche, value-added products that make use of our technology and expertise. For example, the company is providing state-of-the-art fabrics for military apparel, plus making FR fabrics for industrial apparel. And, to help diversify beyond traditional textile markets, the company has made several acquisitions in its chemical-processing businesses. In September 2008, Mount Vernon bought key assets of CPC Chemical Holdings, adding significant wet chemical processing capabilities with plants in North Carolina and Alabama. This acquisition also included the FCI chemical wholesale and distribution operation. In December 2009, the company bought the textile-related chemical manufacturing operations of Burlington Chemical in North Carolina. Separately, the company doubled the size of its truck fleet with the purchase of Avondale Trucking, the transportation arm of Avondale Mills. Avondale Trucking is now a division of Smith & Waters, the company’s transportation subsidiary, and operates out of Sylacauga, AL. This addition has allowed Smith & Waters to significantly expand its external hauling operations in the Southeastern U.S. and adjacent areas.