By Mondee Tilley | Staff Reporter
Mt. Airy News, The (NC)
February 4, 2012
DOBSON – While most textile companies closed their doors after the passage of the North America Free Trade Act, one local company found a way to not only stay open, but has thrived and employs 500 people in Surry County today. That company is Renfro Corp., and its CEO and President Bud Kilby gave the keynote address at the 17th annual Surry County Economic Development Partnership’s meeting on Friday in the grand hall at Surry Community College.
In the year 2000, Kilby said, when NAFTA was passed, the textile industry was changed forever. “At that time, we had two choices. We could resist the changes to trade laws and cease to exist or we could embrace them, transform the company and have an opportunity to prosper. Renfro is a very different company today than it was even a few years ago and certainly than it was in 2000,” said Kilby.
Renfro manufactures, markets and sells socks, tights and leggings.
Its customers include thousands of retailers around the world include the major retailers in the United States, Canada and Mexico and overseas in Europe, India and China.
“Renfro is a truly multi-national company. We believe that we are a market leader in our industry and that we hold the largest dollar market share of any company in the world,” said Kilby. “We are proud of our company and we are proud of our people. We believe that Surry County is a great place to do business, because in Surry County, we have the right people.” Burke Robertson, who is the new chairman of the Surry County EDP, thanked Kilby for sharing information about Renfro with those in attendance at the meeting.
“Bud brought back home again that we all have a responsibility to the future of Surry County. If we depend on someone else to take care of us, we lose. Since Bud moved here 20 years ago, the world has changed y’all. You can sit there and complain about it or you can react to it. It is a new world. We have the opportunity in Surry County. We’ve got the people. It’s up to us to accept our opportunities and make Surry County what we want it to be,” said Robertson.
Todd Tucker, president of the SCEDP, thanked the investors and partners. He thanked Emily Venable and Lee Ann Stokes, both with the EDP, for their efforts in making the annual meeting possible.
“We have a lot of good strong partners that work with us. We don’t do anything alone,” said Tucker, who pointed out some of those partners including Surry Community College, N.C. Employment Security Commission and the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Last year, Tucker said, Surry County added 400 new jobs. He called 2012, the year of the expansion.
“We are working with a lot of local companies in Surry County that are looking to grow. It’s always good when you can bring in outside companies, new people from out of the county, that’s great, but it’s great when you can grow the companies that you’ve already got. We saw a lot of that last year and I think we will continue to see a lot of that this coming year,” said Tucker.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.