Tower Hosiery Mills, Inc

Burlington, NC

Tower Hosiery Mills, Inc., Incorporated December 16, 1929.  Manufactured ladies full fashion sheer hosiery, seamless hosiery, panty hose, knee hi’s, and tights, full-fashion ladies’ sweaters and ff infant tights.

Founding Board of Directors:

Reid A. Maynard – President
J.E. Moore – father-in-law ( see Grace Hosiery )
John Shoffner – friend and owner of Standard Hosiery Mills, Alamance
Edwin H. Moore – son of J. E. Moore – manager Standard Grocery Co.
E.H. Scott – superintendent of Grace Hosiery Mills, Inc – knitting plant

James W. Maynard, son of the founder, worked his entire business career at Tower (1954-2004).  The following is copied from the 2009 Newsletter of the Textile Heritage Museum, Glencoe.

1927 decision changed industry in Alamance by Jim Maynard and Don Bolden

“In 1927, Reid A. Maynard had five years experience and a promising career in banking.  After graduating from UNC and spending time in World War I with the coast artillery in Virginia, he joined the National Bank in Burlington.  The Caswell County native moved to the Bank of Commerce as assistant cashier a year later.  In 1922, another employee of the Bank of Commerce, Grace Moore, became Maynard’s wife.  As he moved along in his banking career, Maynard met a number of businessmen in the community, some of them in the hosiery business.  He found a deep interest in hosiery, so much so that in 1927 he resigned his position with the bank and organized Grace Hosiery Mills, Inc. (named after his wife) to produce men’s hosiery.  It was a move that would prove to be one of the most significant in the history of hosiery in the South.  Grace would be but the first of several mills of which he would be a part in the years ahead, adding dramatically to the economy of Alamance County.”

Grace Hosiery was incorporated on April 7, 1927, with Maynard as president.   Other incorporators of that first mill included his father-in-law, J.E. Moore, mayor of Burlington from 1912 to 1919 and president of Standard Grocery and owner of a livery stable in Burlington.  Others were Moore’s brothers, Grover D. Moore and Sam G. Moore, son of J.E. Moore.  W.H. Scott who was superintendent of the plant, J.I. Somers, an insurance agent in Burlington, and Maynard’s wife, Grace were the other incorporators.  Grace manufactured children’s’ and men’s fancy and dress socks.  They sold to wholesalers and to national chain stores through an agency in New York.   That was just the beginning.  Later that same year, on Oct. 1, Wilson Finishing Mills would be incorporated, with Rufus Wilson as president.  In 1938 the name of that mill would be changed to Long Finishing Mills with E.M. Long as president.  It would later come under the Maynard blanket of operations.”

Reid A. Maynard
Grace Hosiery Mills, Inc.

 

On December 16, 1929, Maynard headed the formation of a second hosiery mill, Tower Hosiery Mills, Inc.  His father-in-law, J.E. Moore again was an incorporator along with his son, Edwin, who was manager of the Standard Grocery Co. That mill was located on Broad Street in Burlington, and the selection of its name was rather unique.  Maynard and his architect were looking at the site and discussing a name.  The architect noted a city water tower in the background and suggested naming the mill for that tower.  Thus was born Tower Hosiery Mills.

 

Tower Hosiery Full Fashion Knitting Machines: 51 gauge, 30 section – automatic welt turning

Textile Machine Works, Reading, PA    One fixer for two machines; one knitter to each machine

 

 

 

It was in 1970 that Tower bought Long Finishing Mills and renamed it Tower Hosiery Mills Inc. – Finishing Division.  Maynard’s son, James W. Maynard became its president. Tower Hosiery Mills produced ladies’ full- fashioned hosiery, and it began operations with 30 employees.  That company grew to employ more than 1,000 before it ended operations.

 

Looping the toe closed before seaming up the back of theleg.  Satco looping machine

 

 

 

 

 

While Maynard was enjoying success in Tower, his longtime friend from his native Caswell County, William Leath, was having a bit of success as well.  Leath, at Chadbourn Hosiery, led the development of stretch yarn for ladies’ hosiery.  That revolutionized ladies’ hosiery.  Until that time, hosiery was sold by sizes, and stores had to keep an inventory of every size – i.e., 8, 8 ½, 9, 9 ½ etc.  There were as many as 15 different sizes stores had to warehouse.  But with stretch yarn, they needed only small, medium and large.  That yarn also opened the way for seamless hosiery as well as panty hose.”

In 1959, Leath and Maynard joined with a third friend, Charlie McCarthy and formed Leath, McCarthy and Maynard, a hosiery sales company.

Reid Maynard helped start another company in 1955.  Along with Webb Durham, a classmate at UNC, Maynard organized Webco Mills, Inc., a tricot cloth manufacturing company.  That operation, on South Mebane Street in Burlington, was sold in 1972 to Dan River Mills, Inc.

Jim Maynard followed his father in the business and was associated with him in a number of business operations, including Long Finishing Mill; Carolina Paper Box Co.; and Lemco Mills.  Jim was with Tower Hosiery his entire career, beginning in 1954 and was CEO upon his retirement in 2004.  The company was liquidated in that year.  In the years that Reid and Jim Maynard directed the operations of Grace and Tower Hosiery, Burlington was known as The Hosiery Center of the South, one of the major hosiery producing locations in the entire nation.  That indeed was one of the major economic eras in Alamance County’s history.”  Jim Maynard with Don Bolden

 

Sources:

  1. Bolden, Don, “1927 decision changed industry in Alamance,” Annual Report 2008, Textile Heritage Museum, Glencoe, North Carolina.
  2. James W. Maynard, Personal Interview, April 2009