Greenwood textile company switches from making apparel to making masks


GREENWOOD, S.C. (WSPA)– A textile company is Greenwood has switched gears to make masks, and they’ve landed major contracts.

Sam Simchon, who owns Bay Island Sportswear and Retro Brand, has weathered ups and downs in the textile industry for three decades. Both companies make knit products such as t-shirts. They produce the t-shirts the ACC and SEC teams wear on the field after they’ve won the championship, Simchon said. But when the coronavirus hit, things changed.

We never could imagine that something like this would happen,” he said. “Literally, you come to a halt.”

Simchon said they went from shipping hundreds of thousands of shirts a week to shipping none.

“It was probably one of the most scary experiences of my life,” he said.

But about a month ago, they were able to re-start production by switching to making masks.

“In a very short period of time, we built a capacity of approximately 3 million masks a week,” Simchon said.

He said they’ve also been able to pick up contracts with big players like Clemson University and Disney, which has a history with the company.

“We put together a program. It was an online presentation as well as some product that are going to parks, and the biggest part as well is that they’re donating a million masks that we’re producing that are going to be going to charity as well,” Simchon said.

The production has allowed them to bring back hundreds of employees at plants in Central America and most of their approximately 150 employees in the U.S., including at their Greenwood headquarters.

“People are really the backbone of your business and now you’re trying to figure out, ‘how do I give them a paycheck? how do they eat?'” Simchon said.

He said they now have orders stretching about three to four months into the future, and they’re looking to make this part of their business for some time to come.

Simchon said they are also making gowns to be used in hospitals.

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