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Kent Manufacturing Becomes Kentwool

Greenville-based wool spinner Kent Manufacturing Co. has launched a new brand, Kentwool, and changed its name to reflect that brand and signal a new global vision and marketing strategy.

Kent Manufacturing was established in 1843 in Philadelphia by Thomas Kent and has remained a family-owned operation through five generations. It moved to South Carolina in 1954 and set up manufacturing operations in Pickens, S.C., where it maintains a 100,000-square-foot plant that currently employs more than 100 workers spinning yarn for knits and woven fabrics for high-end fashion markets; as well as for industrial and other products ranging from buffing pads to burn blankets for medical applications to upholstery fabrics for rail and air transportation.

According to Kentwool, it is the first US wool spinner — and one of only a few worldwide — to produce high-quality, super-fine wool yarn such as the 1/96 yarn it supplies to Loro Piana S.p.A., an Italy-based maker of fabrics; tailor-made apparel; and its own exclusive lines of apparel, accessories and interior textiles. The company also has a long-standing relationship with Irvine, Calif.-based St. John Knits Inc., a manufacturer of women’s apparel.

“There is no question that producing this super-fine yarn puts us into a very exclusive club worldwide,” said Mark Kent, president and CEO, Kentwool. “Our vision to be the most innovative wool company in the world comes one step closer to reality as we announce our arrival on this unique global industry stage.”

One aspect of Kentwool’s new vision is a research partnership beginning this fall with Clemson University, Clemson, S.C., and its Advanced Materials group. “We hope to help produce one of the most environmentally sensitive wool products ever made,” Kent said of the project. Applications would include primarily consumer-oriented products, but also would encompass industrial products, he added.

Initiatives under development include not only the Clemson project, but also some programs and projects in the knitting field. “We’re looking into some unique technologies and doing in-depth research with strategic partners, including St. John Knits and Loro Piana,” Kent said. “It is our hope going forward that the Kentwool brand will be something people instantly recognize.”

May 29, 2007