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

Just like most rural, southern towns, Madison, NC’s manufacturing heritage is rooted in tobacco and textiles.  In fact, Madison was home to upwards of 40 tobacco plants in the late 1800s making it the largest tobacco manufacturing center in the world at that time.  Today, the quaint town of about 2,100 residents boasts a diverse mix of large industries, small businesses, and homegrown retail shops and eateries.

Madison’s largest manufacturer and Rockingham County’s largest manufacturing employer is Unifi.  The company’s Madison plant was established in 1970 by two local businessmen as Macfield Texturing Company.   Unifi purchased that company in 1991 and currently has about 500 employees in Madison and 225 at a second plant in Reidsville.  A world leading producer and processor of multi-filament polyester and nylon textured yarns, Unifi’s facility in Madison produces textured and covered yarn used in premier product lines for customers like Ford, The North Face and more.  Totaling 946,586 square-feet, the Madison plant houses Nylon Drawn Textured Yarn, Single, Double and Air Covered product lines. This plant also features an innovative Sock and Hosiery Lab. 

The nation’s largest supplier of brick pavers, Pine Hall Brick, operates two manufacturing facilities in Madison.  The company has been a leading manufacturer of face-brick, pavers and specially shaped brick since 1922.  Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, Pine Hall Brick maintains about 160 employees in Madison.  It opened the brick plant in Madison in 1970.  The company expanded in Madison in 1996 when it opened the paver plant.  At that time, the fully-automated, state-of-the-art paver plant was the only plant in the country dedicated entirely to the production of clay pavers.  Pine Hall Brick has since opened a second paver plant in Georgia to meet consumer demand.  Consider using Pine Hall Brick pavers in your next backyard project.

Remington Arms Company, LLC moved its corporate headquarters to the Madison area in 1996.  America’s oldest gun maker, Remington designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as military, government and law enforcement markets. While Remington does not manufacture any products in Madison, its corporate office provides about 150 jobs in the community making it a major employer.   

Synergy Electronics Recycling is a cutting-edge electronics recycling firm located in Madison.   With approximately 80 employees, the company provides shredding and mechanical separating of used electronic equipment into commodity grade components. Synergy opened in Madison in 2000 and also provides other services such as demanufacturingasset recoverycertified data destruction of sensitive media, and transportation services for the materials it handles.   The company works with various industries such as healthcare, finance, education and manufacturing as well as county and municipal collection programs.

Located in downtown Madison, Gem-Dandy is a wholesale distributor of belts and accessories servicing retailers across the globe.  The Penn Family started Gem-Dandy in 1921 as a successor to the Penn Suspender Company. Green Penn, the first company president, invented and patented the GEMCO Adjustable Garter – the world’s first fully adjustable garter for men, women and children.

Gem-Dandy entered the belt business during World War II. The Danbury name was registered as a brand name in the 1970’s and sales expanded across the country into thousands of men’s specialty shops. Today, Gem-Dandy employs more than 40 people in Madison and distributes a wide variety of belts, wallets, suspenders and other accessories in dress, casual, work wear and western styles. The company is the licensor of several popular brands such as PGA Tour®, John Deere®, Roper®, Officially Licensed Collegiate Products®, Mossy Oak®, REALTREE® and Colours by Alexander Julian®. Gem Dandy also has its proprietary brands including Danbury Golf, Danbury Workwear, Lady Danbury, G-Bar-D Western Outfitters and Cowgirls Rock. The company’s products can be found in major department stores as well as smaller venues.  Look for these licensed products in retail stores to support Gem Dandy.

It’s no secret that bootleggers once ran the backroads of this area, but today, two legal distilleries have found a home for manufacturing their spirits in Madison.  When it opened in Madison in 2005, Piedmont Distillers Inc.became NC’s first legal distillery since prohibition.  It has spent the last decade innovating a family of spirits that includes Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine, Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moonshine and Method and Standard vodka. The company currently has about 20 employees in Madison.

Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine is a spicy yet sweet old-fashioned spirit blended in a small batch process.  Piedmont’s line of NASCAR legend Junior Johnson’s (a.k.a. “the midnight runner”) brand of ‘shine is available in original recipe, 100 proof and in seven, handcrafted, real fruit infusions.  The Midnight Moon brand also includes an American whiskey.  Method + Standard is an NC distilled vodka that is available in original, strawberry, apple spice and raspberry flavors.   The company’s spirits can be found in ABC stores throughout the United States and is sold worldwide.

Midnight Moon Family

Also in Madison, Italian-themed GIA Distillery produces its handcrafted solera style American whiskey and grappa in the old train depot (circa 1895) that houses its distillery and tasting room.  GIA is a small boutique distillery and one of the owners grew up in Sicily while the other hails from Asheville, NC.  Both have been making wine and beer for at least 40 years and have parlayed that experience now into distilling where they’re able to add that hand-crafted touch.  GIA currently makes FJW Solera Style American Whiskey crafted using a technique that originates in Spain, consisting of stacking barrels and only drawing a portion from the bottom barrels for bottling.  This is a fairly new technique for aging in the U.S. and because of the labor involved, is not seen by the larger producers.

GIA also makes a grappa (an Italian style brandy) called Francesca, named after the wife of one of the owners.  The grappa is made the old fashioned Italian way that utilizes the entire grape for production.  The grappa is then rested in French Oak, which combined with the juice of the grape, provides a smoothness not found in most Italian grappas.  Visit their website for information about tastings and tours: www.giadistillery.com