Avondale Mills sells trucking division, plant

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Avondale Mills today, Aug. 3, has announced agreements to sell its trucking division and its Woodhead division, a primary coating plant for specialty fabrics, moves that the company says will save 200 jobs in Alabama and South Carolina.

The Trucking division is based in Sylacauga, Ala., and has been sold to Mount Vernon Mills, a textile company headquartered in Greenville, S.C. The division, because of its trailers brightly labeled with the Avondale logo, has been believed to be the most visible part of the Avondale Mills network of plants and companies and employs more than 100 workers. The sale has been finalized and includes about 60 trucks and more than 350 trailers; terms were not disclosed.

The Woodhead Division in Graniteville, S.C., will be sold to a group of investors led by Aiken, S.C., businessman Weldon Wyatt. The division, expected to be renamed Graniteville Specialty Fabrics, is said to employ more than 100 workers and is a supplier of specialty coated fabrics for boat tops, tents, tarps and other durable coated fabrics, including a product used in the assembly of commercial jets. The sale is expected to finalize next month; financial details were not announced.

Avondale Mills announced in May that it would shutter its entire operations of textile manufacturing plants and divisions by July 25 across Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama, impacting some 4,000 jobs. The closures came 18 months after a fatal train derailment and chlorine spill in Graniteville in January 2005 and believed to have caused irrevocable damage to Avondale’s core finishing facilities. Avondale is said to have spent $140 million to clean, test and reclean equipment and systems, but it could not recover from equipment damage, market and production losses caused by the derailment.

In June, Avondale sold three manufacturing facilities in Alabama and South Carolina to Parkdale Mills. The facilities include Alexander City and Coosa located in Alabama, and the Townsend plant in Graniteville. These manufacturing centers employ about 700 workers.