Tifton Gazette

Local News

April 26, 2011

New factory opens up

TIFTON — TIFTON — American Textile Company celebrated the opening of its new Tifton pillow manufacturing facility on Magnolia Industrial Boulevard Tuesday morning with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and a tour of the plant for those attending the event. The 218,000-square-foot facility is now state-of-the art. Officials with the company didn’t see the building’s potential when they first saw it in October. Known by local economic developers as the “four walls building,” it originally had dirt floors and the offices weren’t finished. They chose Tifton’s site among 11 they toured over a three-day period.

“If you didn’t see it before, it’s hard to appreciate what it is right now,” said Rick Johnson, the plant’s manager.

Johnson led numerous dignitaries, members of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce, representatives of local educational agencies and other members of the community through the building. American Textile Company employees and the machines there worked to prepare the “virgin polyester fiber” for stuffing into the cases to produce the pillows.

Johnson led people to various sections of the production process, including the blow fill area where the fluffed polyester filling that has been machine brushed and combed is blown into a case through a hole by an employee operating a foot pedal. The hole is then later closed by another employee with sewing machine stitches. Then it was off to the maintenance area, where repairs to machinery are made “during break times.”

“Time is the money in production,” Johnson said.

Rollers for some of the processing machines can be made on site, he said, with the use of a huge lathe.

“It saves the company $1,500 in shipping each time we make our own roller,” he said.

Johnson said the company produced 35,000 pillows this week — 240 pillows per hour at 71 percent efficiency. Trucks will begin shipping the pillows out next week and production will increase as employees pick up speed.

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