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Solid Stone to invest $1 million, create 16 jobs
Martinsville company Solid Stone Fabrics will invest $1 million and create 16 jobs during the next three years, officials announced Tuesday. Seen with a ceremonial check for the project from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission are David Stone (from left), Solid Stone president and CEO; Del. Danny Marshall; and Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Solid Stone Fabrics in Martinsville announced Tuesday that it plans to expand, adding 16 jobs and investing $1 million in equipment over three years.
The company will continue operations at its current Fayette Street location and will expand into the lower level of the former American of Martinsville headquarters building on Church Street, President and CEO David Stone announced following a city council meeting.
The new facility will offer the company an additional 23,000 square feet of space, Stone said. The facility is scheduled to be fully operating by Sunday.
Solid Stone possibly could expand into the upper, Church Street level of the building if needed in the future, Stone said. The building is owned by the Fred Martin family.
The expansion project qualifies for local Enterprise Zone Grants offered by the city. Additionally, the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $100,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the project, according to a news release.
“Under David (Stone’s) leadership, the growth and expansion of Solid Stone Fabrics continues to embody the entrepreneurial spirit that has been a hallmark of this community for decades,” Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins said during the announcement at the city municipal building. “Starting a United States-based textile manufacturer in these recent economic times is not without great challenge, but our hometown business has continually risen to the occasion and now has 24 employees and international sales.”
Luke Harris, vice president of manufacturing at Solid Stone, said the company digitally prints different fabrics, focusing largely on swim wear, dance wear and clothing for the performing arts.
Solid Stone uses modern fabric technology instead of the laborious older techniques that are not environmentally sound, he said.
The 16 new positions that will become available over the next three years, Harris said, will include accountants, graphic artists, fabric technicians to operate the equipment, sewing machine operators and fabric cutters. The average pay is expected to be roughly $32,000 per year plus benefits, he said.
Stone said he finds himself overwhelmed by the expansion of his company.
“To try and start a business in the last five to 10 years, it’s been about as tough as it possibly could be” in light of the economy, he said. “There were a lot of sleepless nights back when all that was going on, wondering if all my customers were going to be OK, and knock on wood, we came through that period just fine. To be heading toward 40 employees now, it’s very rewarding for me and makes me feel a lot better about our area. Hopefully we’re going to see better times ahead.”
The advantage of Solid Stone, Stone said, is that the company is able to offer greater flexibility and quicker lead times than many of the larger fabric printing facilities in Asia.
“Solid Stone is not always the cheapest alternative,” he said, “but we offer the best quality, consistency and on-time delivery. We emphasize with our team that we keep promises to our customers. I think that differentiates us from our competitors a little bit. We want our customers to know that they can rely on us, that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do, and we’re going to deliver a quality product.”
Martinsville is an advantageous location for the company, Stone said, because in two days, the company can ship goods to two-thirds of the United States.
The company also ships worldwide, Stone said. Often, he said, buyers come to Solid Stone because a company in Asia that they had ordered product from is experiencing problems and isn’t able to deliver on time.
“If we can use our equipment and take care of that problem for them, it’s a sell for us, it’s a sell for them, and there’s a happy customer somewhere out there,” Stone said. “That strengthens our relationship with those customers.”
Added Harris, “It changes the mindset of those clients, actually (giving them) confidence in being able to manufacture in this country again. … Rather than missing the delivery and the whole cycle of the order, they can do it here.”
City Manager Leon Towarnicki said Stone’s company is a modern example of the kind of business that put Martinsville on the map.
“David (Stone) started this (company) in his basement at a time when textile manufacturing and printing and those kinds of operations were all headed overseas,” Towarnicki said. “He’s grown the business to where it is now. He’s from the community, he’s hiring local talent, he continues to grow and expand in the middle of uptown Martinsville… it doesn’t get any better than this.”