Griffin’s 1888 Mills, founded in 1995 at a time when all textile mills were going overseas, is the only towel mill in the U.S., said co-founder Doug Tingle. He spoke about the company before the Rotary Club of Griffin last Thursday.
Tingle, along with other former Springs, Dundee and Thomaston mangers founded the company and named it to pay homage to Griffin’s textile heritage. “Towels were first made in Griffin in 1888,” he said.
The company is international with plants in Pakistan, Ghana and Bangladesh, but towels are made here and marketing and management is based in Griffin. Other products include scrubs and hospital gowns, sheets for hospitals and hotels as well as towels for kitchen and hospitality markets both domestic and international.
Tingle explained how manufacturing has been effected and why so many mills closed here. He said management was extremely good and the companies were well financed and profitable.
Tingle said 55 percent of the cost is cotton or yarn, which is a world commodity, as are chemicals and energy, so the cost is the same everywhere. So why? he asked, “we just couldn’t compete with the cost of labor, benefits and taxes.”
He said here the cost of labor and benefits was 27 percent of the cost, compared to 7 percent in China, India and Pakistan, and 5 percent in Bangladesh. “And the tax structure is not that favorable in the U.S.,” he said, “it makes it disadvantageous here.”
He said the main reason for the huge shift of manufacturing overseas, was the “elimination of quotas, the limits on textiles coming in from offshore.”
“So why does it work for 1888 Mills?” he asked. “We use our U.S. manufacturing making high end products, towels, primarily for hotels and beach towels. All R&D is done here, manufacturing quality control is done here.”
Tingle said there is also increased demand for made in the USA products, both here and overseas. Next year 1888 Mills will roll out will products in Wal-Mart, Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond, he said.