Business

Mohican Mills’ closing to have big impact on Lincolnton

Mohican Mills in Lincolnton said this week it will close its doors after more than 60 years in business.
Mohican Mills in Lincolnton said this week it will close its doors after more than 60 years in business. jkomer@charlotteobserver.com

Lincolnton textile manufacturer Mohican Mills will close after more than 60 years in business, ending more than 150 jobs and costing the city its biggest water customer.

Mohican, a subsidiary of New York-based Fab Industries, notified employees about the closure Wednesday. The plant is expected to shutter sometime before June 8.

The plant’s closure means 157 workers, including those in management roles and those in New York-based sales positions, will lose their jobs, according to a notice the company filed with the N.C. Department of Commerce. The job cuts include 102 manufacturing positions.

“We are truly sad that this action has to be taken but with all options exhausted to continue in business we are left with no alternative but to close,” CEO Steven Myers said in a statement.

The company’s operations, Myers said, will be wound down “in an orderly fashion” as the company wraps up its current customer orders and prepares its facilities for sale.

Mohican Mills is consistently the city’s largest utility customer, said Jeff Emory, Lincolnton’s city manager. Its closure, he added, could have ripple effects – including higher utility bills.

“It’ll be difficult, if not impossible, to find another customer that will make up the difference, particularly in a short period of time,” Emory said. “This impacts our citizens. I do not see any way a utility rate increase can be avoided.”

Emory estimates Lincolnton residents could see their water bills go up by 10 to 15 percent.

Located about 20 miles northwest of Charlotte, Mohican Mills operated all of its manufacturing activities from its 750,000-square-foot plant, including knitting, dyeing, packing and shipping. The company has supplied customers such as Nike, Alleson of Rochester and Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands.

The Carolinas were a hotbed for the U.S. textile industry until the 1990s, when foreign competitors started entering the market with cheaper materials and labor. Local textile companies have shuttered and laid off thousands of workers since – Mohican was one of the remaining strongholds.

“Mohican Mills is one of our original industries that helped pave the way for Lincoln County to be such a strong player in manufacturing,” said Cliff Brumfield executive director of the Lincolnton Economic Development Association. “In fact, almost 25 percent of our workforce is employed in manufacturing.”

According to a recent report from the state’s commerce department, Lincoln County’s unemployment rate in January was 5.5 percent, the same as Mecklenburg’s. Brumfield said he’s confident growth in the area’s advanced manufacturing sector will provide opportunities for the Mohican employees who will soon need to look for new work.

Mohican Mills was named the Industry of the Year in Lincoln County by the Lincoln Economic Development Association in 2012. At the time, the company employed more than 300 people.

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Twitter: @katieperalta

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