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49 workers keep Clover Yarns moving forward

For the past 29 years, Keith Garrett has known no other work than Clover Yarns. It has become a way of life…it is his life.

Garrett, who started out as a part-time janitor to make some extra gas money, has worked his way up the career ladder to become plant manager at the Clover Yarns plant.

“I’ve been with the company my entire working career. It’s been good for me and my family,” Garrett told members of the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority who had invited him to share his success story during their regular monthly meeting at Riverstone Friday morning.

Garrett and his wife, Sandra, have two children.

Garrett moved to Halifax County from Connecticut in 1978. At that time Clover Yarns was booming operating five days a week, 24 hours a day.

Back in the early 70s, the bustling plant employed 163. In the 1980s that number reached 325. 

Today the 49 full-time Clover Yarn employees remain dedicated to taking a scrap product from Invista — formerly Dupont up until 2006 when it was sold  — and turning it into usable yarn that makes insulation for wiring, padding for gloves, roping that is fed into pulp vats at paper mills, and pull cords for Briggs and Stratton, Husqvarna and products.

Over the years as the workforce has decreased due to downturns in the economy, Garrett said he has looked for ways to improve the company.

“Today it is a much different business. We’ve still got lots of things we do. We’re using older equipment that gets the job done, and that’s how we’ve stayed in business over the years,” he said.

The plant manager is looking for additional potential markets to use his company’s products. Some of these avenues include fish nets and high-end hiking ropes.

The average age of Clover Yarn employees is between 48 and 50, and most have a tenure of 29 plus years. Garrett describes the local workers’ skill set as “easy to intermediate.”

Although he could not say specifically what wages the unionized company pays, Garrett said the average hourly wage is “well in line with Presto.”

The last layoff the plant had occurred in March 2009 when all the workers who had less than 24 years and eight months service to the company were let go. 

And today when a product leaves the Clover Yarn plant, Garrett said it will bear only one name — Invista, the company’s sole customer based out of Wichita, Kan.