Manufacturing Week: Meet Eden, NC’s Top Manufacturers/Industries

Friday, October 4th is “Manufacturing Day” across the U.S. and in Rockingham County.  To celebrate, we will be highlighting some of the major manufacturers/industries in each of our municipalities each day this week.  Today, we start with the City of Eden, North Carolina.

With more than 500 employees, Eden’s largest industrial employer is Gildan.  With global headquarters in Montreal, Canada, The company is the leading supplier of activewear for the screenprint market in the U.S. and Canada.  It has been operating a wholesale distribution facility in Eden since 2000.  The distribution center, located on Meadow Road in Eden, is primarily dedicated to servicing the screen print channel in the United States. The company has expanded four times since opening, and it now encompasses 1.2 million square feet at the Meadow Road facility, plus an additional 900,000 square feet at two satellite locations in Eden. The products distributed from the Eden facility include tee shirts, sport shirts and fleece that are sold in large quantities to wholesale distributors as undecorated “blanks”, which are subsequently decorated by screen printers with designs and logos.   Consumers can support Gildan by looking for the company’s label when purchasing tee shirts and fleece.

Did you know body armor worn by some of our U.S. military personnel is made in Eden?  KDH Defense Systems is a leading manufacturer of American-made, high-performance protective solutions.  Founded in 2003, KDH began with a mission to provide law enforcement, federal agencies, and the United States Department of Homeland Security with the highest quality American-made body armor available in today’s continually evolving protective apparel market.  With around 150 employees, KDH’s Eden facility includes armor cutting, sewing, and ballistic design, as well as product development, sales, and administration. The company chose to locate its production and headquarters in Rockingham County because of the available manufacturing space in a vacant building and access to skilled textile workers due to the region’s rich history in the textile industry.

Eden’s oldest manufacturer is Karastan, a division of Mohawk Industries.  The company has been operating its rug/carpet manufacturing plant here since 1928.  Karastan’s story as an innovator dates back to the 1920s when its “wonder rug” first amazed visitors at two World’s Fairs.  While the company is phasing out production of its iconic machine-made oriental rugs at the Eden plant, it still remains a vital industry to Rockingham County with around 200 full-time employees.  Now a division of Mohawk Industries, Karastan has continued as an innovator, implementing new technology to refine its manufacturing process and investing in equipment in the Eden plant to manufacture high-end commercial, aviation and residential carpet.  To support Karastan, consider purchasing the company’s carpet for your home or office.

AC Furniture has approximately 200 employees in Eden and is one of the country’s largest contract manufacturers of seating for the hospitality, healthcare and food service industry.  Headquartered in Axton, Virginia, the company opened its Eden facility since 1979 where it makes wood and upholstered seating for commercial use such as in restaurants, hotels and medical offices.

Loparex is a leading, global manufacturer of polycoated and silicone-coated papers and films that are used in a wide variety of adhesive applications.  It has had a manufacturing plant on Fieldcrest Road in Eden since 1995 and employs around 120 people.  Often known as the slick paper that is thrown away on numerous adhesives, Loparex’s extensive product line has been designed to meet the varying needs in the medical, hygiene, graphic arts, label and tapes industries and in other special industries and applications.  The company’s products are critical components of many medical supplies and devices, including backings for heart-monitor electrode pads and transdermal patches that deliver medicine through the skin. Loparex products and processes also are used in the automotive industry; for turbine propellers that generate wind power; and precise die-cutting used in mobile phones and digital cameras.  So the next time you peel the backing off of a Band-Aid or double-sided tape, remember that paper you throw away was probably made in Eden, NC.

Weil-McLain, a leading manufacturer of hydronic comfort heating systems for residential, commercial and institutional use, located a manufacturing and distribution plant in Eden in 2005. Weil-McLain’s hydronic boilers are installed in homes, offices, schools, restaurants, hotels and other facilities throughout North America.  Headquartered in Michigan City, IN, the company has more than 150 employees in Eden and its local facility also serves as a showroom and training facility for contractors and distributors.

Rockingham County, NC Celebrates Manufacturing Day 2019

At its September meeting last week, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners issued a proclamation declaring next Friday, October 4, 2019, as “Manufacturing Day in Rockingham County.”  The proclamation was issued in celebration and recognition of the upcoming national Manufacturing Day (MFG Day).

Manufacturing Day is an annual, national event held the first Friday in October to highlight modern manufacturing—a vibrant and growing industry that offers diverse, high-paying career opportunities.  Held in communities across the country, MFG Day is supported by thousands of manufacturers as they host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses, plant tours and presentations designed to change perceptions of manufacturing and highlight the high-tech and innovative companies that are solving tomorrow’s challenges today.

“MFG Day is designed to showcase what modern manufacturing is all about.  With manufacturing jobs accounting for more than 20% of our local workforce, it remains a vital industry to Rockingham County,” said Leigh Cockram, director of the Rockingham County Center for Economic Development, Small Business and Tourism.  “We are proud of the manufacturers operating here and the innovative work they do.”

About Manufacturing Day
First held in 2012 by its founder, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, MFG Day is now organized by The Manufacturing Institute—the education and workforce partner of the National Association of Manufacturers. The kick-off events around the country and month-long initiative gives manufacturers the opportunity to address the skills gaps they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the industry as a whole. Learn more about MFG Day and the significant impact this event has across the nation at


WHEREAS, Recognizing October 4, 2019 as National Manufactur ing Day,  a celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next
generation of manufacturers; and
WHEREAS, The Reset Rockingham Partners, Rockingh am County
Manufacturers Association, Rockingham Community College,
Rockingham County Public Schools, Rock-A-Top Apprenticeship Program
and the Rockingham County Center for Economic Development, supportmanufacturing and manufacturing careers;
WHEREAS , Manufacturing is a cornerstone of our economy with more
than 100 manufacturing companies located in Rockingham County,
representing 20% of the workforce, providing leading-edge
manufacturing jobs for employees and contributing to broad-based
prosperity; and
WHEREAS, Rockingham Community College works with local industries
to maximize success through quality workforce training; and
WHEREAS, one of the keys to America’s greatness is its ability to make
things, to devise and develop new products from the ingenuity and skill
of manufacturers.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Rockingham County
Board of Commissioners does hereby proclaim October 4, 2019 as
“National Manufacturing Day” in Rockingham County in recognition and appreciation to the many manufacturing companies of our community.

This the 16th Day of September 2019.

Small Business Spotlight: Southern Julep Boutique in Eden, NC

Southern Julep is one of the newest retail boutiques located in Eden’s downtown “Leaksville” district.   Operated by the father-daughter duo, Phil and Julie Stanton, Southern Julep specializes in local and American made products, bringing the latest trends in boutique fashions, accessories, southern tee-shirts, home décor, gifts, and more.

A look inside Southern Julep Boutique’s new location at 711 Washington Street in Eden, NC.

As a young teenager, Julie gained retail experience working in local shops and from her high school senior project.  For her senior project, she and her father launched Etcetera 7 in 2015 as an online boutique and retailer at local events and festivals. 

“I loved retail and knew very early on that I wanted to be a store owner one day,” said Julie.

What began as a project, turned into a passion for both Julie and Phil.

“We wanted to use our talents in retail and fashion and felt a calling to do something even bigger than our little pop-up shops,” Julie added.

In May 2019, the father-daughter duo took a huge leap of faith and signed the lease to open up their own storefront at 711 Washington Street in Eden.  And on July 1, their little boutique opened with a new name, Southern Julep, which is a combination of their names:  Julie + Phillip.

“We are super excited to be a part of Eden and it’s a great time to be downtown.  There is a lot of stuff taking off here and we have received tremendous help and support from the other merchants,” said Julie.

Stop by Southern Julep at 711 Washington Street in Eden.  The shop is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The online store is open 24/7 at

Be sure to check their Facebook page for more information and updates.

I-785 Already Yielding Dividends for Reidsville & Rockingham County, NC

Economic development leaders in Reidsville want companies to know the Rockingham County city is open for business. And by the end of the next decade, it’s going to be a lot easier to get there.

The Reidsville Chamber of Commerce on Friday hosted a panel discussion of state and local elected and transportation officials to update business leaders on the status of the $206 million upgrade of U.S. 29 to Interstate 785 between I-840 in northeast Greensboro and U.S. 158 in Reidsville. With multiple bridge and interchange upgrades along the route scheduled to begin as early as 2020, the entire project is scheduled for completion in 2029.

Panelists included state and city leaders.

“Often companies will hire consultants to send requests for information, and I can’t tell how many times I’ve seen if your community is not within 5 or 10 miles of an interstate, you’re not even on the map int their mind,” Reidsville’s Economic Development Director Jeff Garstka an the audience of about 100 at Pennrose Park Country Club.

“As good as U.S. 29 seems, you can jump up and down and scream all you want, but if it doesn’t have the blue shield, you’re not included. This is going to put us in a whole other category in search criteria.”

Other panel members included N.C. Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham County) of Eden; N.C. Board of Transportation Chairman Mike Fox of Greensboro; NCDOT Division 7 Engineer Mike Mills; and Reidsville City Councilman James Festerman.

The I-785 project will provide central Rockingham County with direct interstate access to the Triad, the Research Triangle, the Charlotte metro area and beyond. That, combined with plentiful land, a ready utility infrastructure and 30-minute access to Piedmont Triad International Airport, will make Reidsville an attractive market for industrial growth, the panelists said.

“In today’s economy, the ability to move people and product is extremely important, as are the travel times from one place to another,” said Berger. “This upgrade is very important.”

The project is called an “upgrade” because it will convert the already four-lane U.S. 29 into an interstate highway. Long-range plans are for the project to extend to the Virginia line, but no funding for that phase is identified on the state’s 10-year transportation plan.

Merely the promise of I-785 from Reidsville to Greensboro has already netted results. Love’s Travel Stop opened less than a year ago on Barnes Street at U.S. 29, where a bridge replacement and interchange are scheduled for construction in 2022.

“They saw the future of projects like I-785 coming and the kind of growth that will it will create on the corridor,” Garstka told Triad Business Journal. “The opportunity for them to be on a major interchange along that corridor absolutely encouraged them to pick that spot.”

As did recent economic development coups such as Japan-based Sanritsu Logistics, which invested $9 million in Reidsville – in part because of the promise of being within 30 minutes of a key client in High Point.

Additionally, Pella Corp. is building out a $20 million vinyl window manufacturing operation expected to create 124 jobs there.

As development nearly always follows new highways in populated markets, the panelists predicted more will come to the I-785 corridor.

“Folks who are looking to locate their will look at this and see you have an interstate there, and that will make it easier to pull employees from the region,” said Fox. “Reidsville is already well connected to the Triad, but this will improve it.”

New Interstates Fuel Resurgence in Rockingham County, North Carolina

There’s a lot of momentum in Rockingham County right now for growth in residential, industrial and small business/commercial development. Much of this momentum is concentrated near two of our key infrastructure assets: future Interstates I-785 in Reidsville and I-73 in western Rockingham.

Here’s a brief story that highlights some of the activity taking place in the Madison area. We’re excited to see this type of growth happening in all areas of Rockingham County and look forward to sharing more stories like this.

From Fox 8 News

MADISON, N.C. — Five years ago, the people of Rockingham County watched helplessly as 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River from the Duke Energy plant in Eden.

Less than 20 miles southwest, the people of Madison were introduced to a future which now looked unsettled, with the spill rivaling the town’s well-known clocktower as its claim to fame.

“What does that mean for our town?” resident Bobbie Webster, who co-owns M&M Pawn Shop alongside her 29-year-old son, recalls asking. “Are we just gonna be a slush town where nobody wants to come anymore?”

But five years later, Madison residents say what’s to come for the town is as clear as ever.

“I think there’s been a resurgence here lately of a lot of young people that have taken over businesses,” Webster said.

Daniel Joyce was born and raised in Madison but moved away because we thought “there was nothing to do.” When he came back, he found himself saying the same thing. But, this time, he realized he could change that.

“I left the job I had taken when I moved back here and put all my eggs into one basket with this coffee shop idea,” he said.

Joyce opened The Mad Bean, which is now in its second location on East Murphy Street. The Mad Bean started with drinks, but as the community support behind it became evident, Joyce expanded the experimentation.

“You’re not gonna show up and not be welcomed like you would in your house,” he said.

Today, the establishment offers food and recently opened an upstairs, where they have adult beverages and a space for on-stage performances.

“There are a lot of people from Florida, or Seattle, or neighboring states, that patronize our place because it reminds them of where they came from,” he said.

Next door to The Mad Bean, there’s another idea brewing.

“It was a hobby, brewed on the back porch with a bunch of friends, and did it for a while, and we started making pretty good beer,” said David Peters, owner of Hell on Horsecreek Brewing.

With fractal burning accents abound, Peters is creating a brewhouse complete with a bar as he moves closer to an opening date.

“I’ll be back there making beer, I’ll have somebody up here serving beer and folks like you will be sitting here drinking my beer,” he demonstrated.

Although Madison jumped out at Peters as a place to house his creations, he says he wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for one critical artery.

“If it wasn’t for 73 and the highway we wouldn’t have moved up here to start with,” he detailed.

Peters is referring to future Interstate 73, currently U.S. 220, which passes through Madison. Where it used to take people about an hour to get to Madison from Greensboro, they can now make the trip in half the time.

“It’s a great feeder for this town,” he said.

“If they’re coming north then they tend to stop through here which is really good,” Joyce echoed.

With other businesses in their planning stages and young entrepreneurs setting up shops in town, Madison is a microcosm of the economic resurgence happening in Rockingham County.

“We love it. These are young people that’s gonna take over,” Webster said. “They’re gonna take the reigns and go forward.”

According to Visit Rockingham County NC, “domestic visitors to and within Rockingham County spent a record $75.28 million in the county in 2018,” an increase of 5.13% from 2017.

“If you just wanna come and do anything, we got it,” Webster added. “Just come on out.”