Glen Raven, Inc

Glen Raven Mills, Glen Raven, NC



By 1900, John Q. Gant had more than twenty years of cotton mill experience, first with Edwin M. Holt, and then with his sons, Lawrence and Banks Holt, with whom he had partnered since 1884. Gant bought land west of Burlington and planned a new mill near the railroad. In June1899, Gant’s first son, Joe, graduated from the University of North Carolina and continued his training at Lowell Technical Institute, Lowell. MA. Lowell was one of the premier textile schools in the US. Joe was the first Gant to receive a college education. He supervised the construction of the new mill. Construction began in 1900 and continued into 1902. The new mill was first named variously “John Q. Gant Manufacturing Co.”, “new mill” and “Gant’s Mill”. 1

In 1902, John Gant sketched out a raven with a banner clutched in its right foot, which read “John Q. Gant Manufacturing Co., cotton fabrics” and another banner in its left claw was inscribed “Glen Raven Cotton Mills” and sent to a printer in Richmond. When the sample was returned to the printer, the words “rough rock” replaced his name. From that time the firm was known as Glen Raven Cotton Mills.” Why the name was chosen remained a mystery in 1977 when The Raven’s Story was written. 1 p64­65

1904 Glen Raven Cotton Mills Company was incorporated on January 26, 1904 with principles John Q. Gant, Joseph E. Gant and Kenneth Gant. Capital stock set at $150,000 divided into 15,000 shares. 1 p67

1906 John Jr., the third son joined the company and was put in charge of shipping. The company produced duck, osnaberg, filter cloth, ticking and harness denims.

1908 First dyed awning – a black and white striped fabric called Zebra Stripes – a name registered July 14, 1908








1913 Roger Gant, the fourth son, graduated VMI in 1909 and began working for Oxford Cotton Mills, Oxford, NC then later Erwin Cotton Mills, Durham before joining Glen Raven 1913

1913 Glen Raven Company changed to a proprietorship

1913 Son Kenneth moved to Raleigh and joined Falls of the Neuse plant of Neuse Manufacturing and later became president.

1912 Began using German vat dyes for awnings “Zebra Stripes” discontinued due to name conflict with JP Stevens & Co. The product became Glen Raven Sunfast Woven Army Stripes

1918 Joe left Holt, Gant & Holt.

1920 Allen Erwin Gant graduated UNC and joined Glen Raven.

1928 Glen Raven began producing blends of cotton and man­made fiber (rayon and acetate) for outerwear with the “worsted look.”

1930 Family patriarch John Q. Gant died October 29, 1930. Sons Roger and Allen take over with Roger as President.

1932 Mother Corinna Gant died November 27, 1932­ the mother of eight grown sons and two grown daughters.

Mid­1920s. Holt, Gant & Holt terminated. Mill taken over by the Holt family and failed within six years. The Holt interest was given to St. Mary’s School, Raleigh.

1933 Modernize and reopen Altamahaw plant as Glen Raven Silk Mills. Family partnership formed. “Canton Crepe” a silk­like rayon dress fabric developed.


Glen Raven Knitting Mills at Altamahaw, NC original plant dated to 1880s as Holt, Gant & Holt.





1936 Full­fashioned hosiery equipment installed at Altamahaw. Glen Raven Knitting Mills formed. Roger,

Allen, Russell, and Cecil Gant owners.

1937 Building expanded, office expanded at Altamahaw.

1938 Wide box looms for Cotton Mill – in operation until 1972. Long chain dyeing (mineral and vat) of warp yarns began.

1939 Acquired Kinston Textile Mills, Kinston, NC for yarn capacity.

1939 US government began buying duck for tenting 70,000 yards per week mostly olive drab in color Knitting grew into the Silk Mill space and a new addition was added on the river side.

The supply of silk for domestic use was frozen by the US government. Rayon became the source for ladies’ hosiery.

A supply of nylon flooded in a warehouse in PA enabled the company to have some nylon.

1946 After the war, the demand for nylon hosiery was phenomenal. A series of “Cordelia Shops” named for Mr. Gant’s daughter were opened in several cities

1946 Newland, NC knitting plant began and opened in fall 1947.

1952 Seamless hosiery machines purchased.

1952 Patent for seamless hosiery developed in­house.

Knitting outgrew space at Altamahaw. Silk production moved to new plant in Burnsville, NC

1952 Tricot knitting plant built in Glen Raven. Bed sheets of nylon proved too durable and sales dwindled.

1951 Ad agent Bernie Waldman develops Glen Raven logo of two red ravens flying a green banner bearing company name.

Package dyeing introduced to expand color line for awnings.



Left: Full­fashioned hose ­1950
Right: Glen Raven logo 1950s

1952 New plant on Park Avenue began production of Nylon tricot fitted sheets.

1953 Developed panty hose. Panti­Tights and Panti­Legs introduced 1959. Panty hose a generic term.

1955 Allen Gant Sr., company president..

1960 Sunbrella the first 100% acrylic awning fabric launched.

Roger Gant dies. Known as “The Major”, he was a business partner of Allen’s for 40 years.

Allen becomes President. Russell Gant named Chairman of the Board.

Developed and supplied awnings, umbrella fabric and decorative fabrics for Disney World, Orlando.

1964 New circular office “The Round House” built in Glen Raven. (3)

1967 All businesses merged into Glen Raven Mills, Inc.

1969 Fabric by Glen Raven likely used for flag planted on the moon’s surface.

1971 Allen Gant, Jr. begins career with company in the New York marketing dept.

1972 Allen E. Gant dies July 25, 1972, Roger Gant, Jr. named President.

1976 Pioneer air­jet textured yarn and forms Glen Touch Division.

1989 Edmund Gant becomes Chairman; Allen Gant, Jr. president.

1991 Modernized spinning and opened UltraSpun Plant.

1992 Introduces Glen­Ready 2000 vision and L.E.A.D program

1996 Allen Gant, Jr. CEO

1998 Acquires Dickson SA, a leading European producer of solution­dyed acrylic fabrics.

1999 New automated dye house opens ­ most automated in the US.

2000 New logo SA raven’s profile in red ribbon between green words “Glen Raven” Name changed to Glen Raven Inc. Divisions become wholly owned businesses.

Selected by Textile World magazine as the Model Mill of the Year in June



Sunbrella Sample Book and Signature Series samples 2002-­2004
Photo: Gary Mock

2005 Glen Raven Mills celebrates 125th anniversary.

Glen Raven Custom Fabrics’ plans to expand in Anderson will mean the end of a similar plant in Elberton, GA. Under a three­year plan, the company is investing about $20 million in its Anderson plant, but will be phasing out operations in Elberton. Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, a subsidiary of Glen Raven Inc., makes Sunbrella and other performance fabrics. The two plants have similar operations, but the Anderson facility at 4665 Liberty Highway was designed for continuing expansion when it opened in 1995.The Elberton facility dates back to the 1920s, so modernizing and expanding there is not economically feasible, according to a statement in the Anderson Mail 2006.

Glen Raven has signed letters of intent in January 2007 to purchase The Astrup Company and John Boyle & Company, subject to due diligence and approval by the boards of directors of the privately held companies.

2008 Glen Guard FR fabric is designed to result in protective garments that exceed safety standards and are more comfortable, more durable, and more colorfast than any other protective apparel available in the market. Kermel aramid fiber, combined with naturally FR modacrylic are blended and woven into a 4.5 ounce plain weave and a 6.5 ounce twill for the racing market.

2008 Allen E. Gant, Jr., President and CEO.

2010 Roger Gant, Jr., former president, CEO and chairman of the board dies July 26. He was the motivating force behind the development of a solution­dyed acrylic fabric which was named Sunbrella. That fabric is the world standard for outdoor fabrics an one of the most­recognized names in the textile industry.



  1. Gant, Margaret Elizabeth. 1979. The Raven’s Story, Glen Raven Mills, Glen Raven, NC.
  2. Bolden, Don. 2006, Remembering Alamance County, The History Press, Charleston, SC.
  3. “New Office Design ­Image of a Company on the Move,” Textile World, Feb 1965, p56­61.
  4.­raven­to­expand­in­anderson­close­georgia/ Anderson plant to expand while closing the Elberton, GA              facility. Accessed January 20, 2008.
  5. Acquisition of The Astrup Company and John Boyle & Co. Accessed January 20, 2008.
  6. Glen Guard Kermel aramid fiber flame resistant fabric Accessed January 21, 2008.
  7. Isaacs, Mac, et al., “Glen Raven: Textiles’ Visionary Global Merchant,” Textile World, 150, June 2000, 29­55.
  8. Rodie, Janet B., “Crossover FR,” Textile World, 158, No. 1, January/February 2008, 58.