May 18, 2007
May 18, 2007 - After more than 50 years as one of Laurens County, Georgia's largest employers, the doors to Forstmann have permanently closed and the property is up for sale.
The company, once famous for weaving the fabric of the Master's Tournament's green jackets, the wool for Major League baseball caps and the dress uniforms of the U.S. military, no longer exists in Laurens County.
Forstmann first opened its doors here in 1947 as the J.P. Stevens Company, a maker of fine worsted fabrics. At one time, Forstmann employed as many as 1,400 employees at the facility in Dublin, Ga.
Although Forstmann fought hard to stay afloat after the North American Free Trade Agreement began to take a toll on most textile companies in America as cheap labor in underdeveloped countries drove them out of business, the first blows to the company seemed to hit in 1998 when it announced it was closing its Louisville plant and its Milledgeville facility and moving all of the finishing operations to the Dublin complex. The 1998 'realignment' left a total of about 1,350 employees at the Dublin facility.
Then in 1999, after several layoffs, the company was down to 550 employees and reopened for business after Victor Woolen Products, Ltd. purchased Forstmann following Forstmanns filing a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. New life for the company seemed to be coming when in 2000, the facility was back up to 800 employees because of orders.
The company seemed to hold its own through a series of ups and downs until 2005, when it announced it was down to 270 employees and 159 of those were being laid off.
The company has chosen to sell the equipment because it does not believe there will be any textile industries interested in the facility that will need the equipment. Some of the equipment will be sold as scrap iron and some of it will be shipped overseas. Reprinted in part from The Courier Herald, Georgia