Chadbourn A Modern, New, Expanding Hosiery Producer 1953 (1)
“Chadbourn Hosiery Mills, Inc., with general offices in Charlotte and seven plants in three states, began operation 17 years ago in rented quarters and with a few knitting machines. The organization has now developed into one of the larger producers of fine hosiery in North Carolina and sells its “Larkwood” and “Larkette” nationally advertised brands in the finer stores and specialty shops throughout the nation. The company also produces a fine line of men’s and boy’s hose which have a wide distribution.”
Chadbourn had its beginning in 1936 in Burlington as Rufus D. Wilson, Inc, with nine 42 gauge legging machines and three footers. The greige hosiery was finished by commercial finishers and sold to chain stores and jobbers. In 1938 J. Chadbourn Bolles, assistant trust officer of the American Trust Co. in Charlotte, became president and in 1944 the company name was changed to Chadbourn Hosiery Mills, Inc.
During the next three years, dyeing and finishing facilities were added and additional knitting machines installed to triple the productive capacity of the organization.” The success of this enterprise led to a program of enlargement and expansion which is still in progress. In 1943 a knitting plant at Shenandoah, Va., was purchased and in 1944 the company acquired a building at Siler City which was entirely renovated and became a beautiful and modern knitting plant. In the same year, a sales organization was created with headquarters in New York City to handle the promotion and sale of the company’s production.”
Larkwood Hosiery Mills, Inc. was purchased in 1945 and the Chadbourn offices were then moved from Burlington to his Charlotte plant. Later in 1945 Chadbourn entered the men’s hosiery field through the purchase of Full Knit Hosiery Mills, Inc., in Burlington. In the year that followed, Chadbourn acquired the assets of Best Manufacturing Co., in Gainesville, Ga. Since acquisition of this plant, productive capacity has been doubled and this plant is one of the most attractive and modern in the South.”
Through the Chadbourn Sales Corp., located at 4219 Empire State Building, New York City, Chadbourn’s “Larkwood” and “Larkette” branded hosiery and also the men’s hosiery line are distributed to leading stores throughout the United States. Frank T. Hayes, vice-president of Chadbourn, is president of the Chadbourn Sales Corp. and has charge of the distribution of the firm’s products. New sales in 1951 amounted to $11,571,000 and the 1952 sales grew to $11,906,000.”
Chadbourn has 1,025 employees in its North Carolina plants with an annual payroll of approximately $3,650,000. Floor space in the North Carolina plants adds up to about 200,000 square feet. Total employment, including plants in Georgia and Virginia, is approximately 1,685.”
Garland E. Bennett is plant manager of the Burlington full fashion plant, which employs about 140 people. The Siler City plant also employs about 140 workers and E. V. Wood is plant manager. The half hose plant, located in Burlington, is the only one of the Chadbourn group knitting and finishing men’s and boy’s half hose and anklets. This plant employs about 225 people with I. B. Grainger, Jr., as plant manager. All full fashion dyeing and finishing operations of the company are performed at the Charlotte plant. A. T. Glenn is plant manager of this plant which has approximately 355 employees. The modern and spacious general offices of the company are also at Charlotte.”
The management of Chadbourn takes much pride in the friendly relations that have always existed with its employees. Along with the physical growth of the company, an employee relations program has been developed which has never lost sight of the company’s human resources. For several years the company has paid an annual bonus of 2% of individual gross earnings to its employees and has provided paid vacations annually. Group hospital and life insurance policies are provided for all employees with premiums paid entirely by the company. At the Charlotte plant and general offices, Chadbourn operates a modern cafeteria serving all employees with meals at cost. Throughout the organization, employees enjoy the privilege of purchasing the company’s products at reduced prices through an internal distribution system.
Officers and executive staff of the organization are J. Chadbourn Bolles, president and treasurer; William J. Leath, vice-president, in charge of manufacturing; Frank T. Hayes, president of Chadbourn Sales Corp.; Guy E. Tysor, vice-president and assistant treasurer; S. L. Black, vice-president and purchasing agent; E. M. hatch, secretary; E. M. Hicks, assistant secretary and assistant treasurer; F. J. Boynton, manger, Full Fashion Division; Rufus K. Smith, manager, Finishing Division; and Harry S. Willis, director of Industrial Relations.”
Mr. Bolles is a splendid example of a man who interrupted a successful career, entered an entirely new industry and made a notable success in that industry. A native of Southport, he graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1925 and received his B. S. degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1929. Mr. Bolles was assistant trust officer of the North Carolina Bank and Trust Co., Greensboro, 1930-31, and from 1932 to 1938 was associate trust officer of the American Trust Co. in Charlotte. He entered the hosiery industry in 1938 as president of Rufus D. Wilson, Inc., Burlington, and has since been president and chairman of its successor, Chadbourn Hosiery Mills, Inc. The name of his organization comes from his name and his mother’s family name.” (1)
Many thanks to Clifford Leath, son of William J. (Bill) Leath for providing this copy of the E.S.C. Quarterly.
- The E.S.C. Quarterly, The Hosiery Edition, Winter-Spring, 1953, Employment Security Commission of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C..