Latest textile plant closing hits heart of Henderson
Posted July 11, 2003 7:21 a.m. EDT
Updated October 2, 2008 5:15 p.m. EDT
HENDERSON, N.C. — Tuesday, 125 textile workers will be out of a job in Henderson.
Harriet & Henderson Yarns announced it will close its last plant in the Vance County town next week. It is more bad news for a county that already has the highest unemployment rate in the state.
Workers at the textile plant said news of its closing did not come as a surprise.
"Everybody saw it coming for awhile, but we were hoping that this plant would stay up," employee Shawn Haskins said.
Company president Dale Fite said lenders denied the yarn manufacturer additional credit unless it closed the Henderson plant.
Fite said it is the only way to save jobs at the company's operations in Bladen County and Cedartown, Ga. The company cannot even afford to provide the Henderson employees with severance pay.
"Well I hate it, I been here 18 years. But business is business, I guess," Haskins said.
Business is bad for American textile companies, which have trouble competing with cheaper imports. It has meant 550 lost jobs in Henderson since 2001.
For many people, the plant closing means more than just a loss of jobs. There have been other layoffs before, but this is the end of a 108-year tradition that strikes at the very heart of Henderson.
"It's a landmark. That's the most important thing," former employee George King said.
The company laid off King and his wife over the last few years. The view from his front porch is a painful reminder of how good the good times were.
"The main thing is it kept us paying our bills and things. So they was a great plant to work for," King said.
The plant has also been a symbol of Henderson's textile heritage.
"I guess Monday morning when I wake up and don't go to work it will really hit me," Haskins said.
The state Employment Security Commission and community college leaders are helping the 125 workers find new jobs and get training for jobs that require other skills.