Aiken businessman saves jobs in Graniteville

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

September 6, 2006

The Woodhead Plant in Graniteville has been open since 1947.

But this past spring, we learned it, along with all the other of Avondale company mills, were shutting down.

Then somebody stepped in to save lots of jobs.

Now, a place that holds so much history is being given a second chance.

After last year's train wreck and chemical spill, the plant was set to close along with 17 others in the town.

Aiken businessman Weldon Wyatt and others put in a bid for the Woodhead plant the same day it was set to close.

"You know, we take risks, and we think it's worth the risk," Wyatt said. "It's just a great day I think for Graniteville.

Bennie Mathis has worked at the plant for 30 years.

"Well, I saw a lot of scared people not knowing," he told News 12. "I guess the word I would use is fear."

Those fears were put to rest as the Woodhead plant officially re-opened, now named Graniteville Specialty Fabrics. It's a restored facility with familiar faces.

"And it's been a great experience, to be able to see the benefits of saving 100 jobs," Wyatt said.

82 people have already been re-hired. The rest will be within the next couple of months.

And many of them believe they got a blessing.

"Behind the dark cloud of the train wreck, behind the dark cloud of Avondale closing, we got a rainbow," Mathis said.

"The real motivation is to try and let this be the start of things to recreate Graniteville," said Wyatt.

Graniteville Specialty Fabrics is a textile coating company. Workers put paints and plastics on fabrics.

In July, another mill, the Townsend plant, was also sold, saving 250 jobs.

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