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REGIONALREPORT Triad

Winston-Salem's tale of two factoriesclientuploads/Archive_Images/2014/01/triad-region.jpg
 
During the heyday of American-made apparel, Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands Inc.’s hometown manufacturing was done at two huge factories: Weeks hosiery plant on the north side and the Stratford Road plant, where underwear and T-shirts were made. Both were representative of the city’s stature as a manufacturing center — Weeks, for example, was the largest plant in North Carolina when it was built for $30 million in 1960 — but also are emblematic of the demise of that industry. Hanesbrands stopped making clothes at Stratford Road in 2007, sending 610 jobs overseas, and production at Weeks ended three years later. Statewide, employment in apparel manufacturing has fallen from more than 90,000 in 1990 to 8,200 in October, according to the N.C. Division of Employment Security.

 
Winston-Salem’s apparel production will most likely never return to its 20th-century peak, but the former plants have a new role in the city’s economy. In 2009, Dobson-based The Crown Companies LLC bought the 27-acre Stratford Road site for $2.6 million and intends to turn it into Hanes Square on Stratford — a collection of stores, restaurants and offices — by 2015. It will take a big step toward that early this year, when demolition of the factory is complete.

 
Michael Bay, owner of Fort Lawn, S.C.-based Merinos Furniture and Carpet Inc., paid $3.2 million for the Weeks plant in March 2013. He wanted to turn the 850,000-square-foot factory into a high-end furniture showroom similar to ones his company owns and operates in Mooresville, Fort Lawn and Jefferson, Ga., but manufacturers wouldn’t commit to supplying product. He told Furniture Today that Jamestown-based Furnitureland South Inc., which at more than a million square feet bills itself as the world’s largest furniture store, pressured manufacturers not to sell goods to him, a claim Furnitureland South denies. He will try to lease the space for light manufacturing and distribution.

 
Hanesbrands’ old plants aren’t alone in getting a makeover. Many of Winston-Salem-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s have been or are being renovated as part of Wake Forest University’s Innovation Quarter, which hopes to attract biomedical and information-technology companies to its campus. As the Winston-Salem Journal’s editorial board opined, “Bruce Springsteen sings it best in ‘Atlantic City’: ‘Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact/But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.’”



Briefs
 
WINSTON-SALEM — Sweden-based ASSA ABLOY agreed to acquire Amarr, a manufacturer and distributor of residential and commercial garage doors since 1951, for an undisclosed amount. The local company, which employs more than 1,200 in North America including 135 here, will operate as a subsidiary of ASSA ABLOY. The deal was expected to close by the end of 2013.

WINSTON-SALEM — Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
opened a $125 million, 530,000-square-foot Comprehensive Cancer Center Dec. 9, which makes it the largest cancer hospital in the state. The six-story addition increases the number of oncology inpatient beds from 113 to 148.

GREENSBORO — Prospect Brands
acquired Duck Head clothing and shoe company for an undisclosed amount. Prospect will move its operations here from Richmond, Va., and relaunch the brand this spring.

WINSTON-SALEM — Novant Health
hired former state Sen. Pete Brunstetter as the health-care system’s executive vice president and chief legal counsel. The Lewisville Republican, who replaces recently retired Larry McGee, left the General Assembly Dec. 15.

LEXINGTON — Cunningham Brick, a 104-year-old brick manufacturer based here, is closing its headquarters and Thomasville plant, idling 15 workers, and sold its Cleveland County plant, which employs 60, to Johnson City, Tenn.-based General Shale for an undisclosed amount.