The company the Beasons have built is helping revive textile manufacturing in the United States.
The domestic industry was hammered in the 1990s when other countries began offering cheaper materials and labor. The Carolinas were hit especially hard, forcing some mills to close and leaving struggling communities in their wake. While many mills remained open, reduced employment turned them into shadows of their former selves.
Companies like B&W are breathing new life into the industry by sharpening their focus on advanced materials.
B&W’s operations in Shelby, North Carolina, and Manchester, England, make many variations of yarn, some of which is sent to the Slater Mill, where it is woven into a substrate and receives various technical coatings.
The final products include a woven grid that assists in affixing stucco exteriors to buildings. They also include fabrics used as filtration media/systems in coal-fired power plants, cement production facilities and carbon black manufacturing.
Some of the company’s other products find their way into circuit boards, aircraft, roofing substrates, various construction materials, reinforced tape, automobiles, boats, protective apparel and architectural membranes, to name a few end applications.
It’s always been possible for the United States to compete with other countries, Brent said, but it requires an investment in technology.
“You are competing against government-subsidized foreign companies that can afford to throw 100 people who make a dollar an hour at it, and they can beat you that way,” he said. “However, they can’t beat automation, and they can’t beat a room full of very, very smart, intellectual people who can figure out a better way to skin the cat. We invest in the mind in order to take the business to the next level.”
Bill said that while he talks daily with his son about what is going on at work, he likes to keep his mind off business and stay busy boating, fishing, exercising and spending time with Pam, his wife of over 35 years. One of his favorite activities is landscaping his yard at his Florida home. He also enjoys hanging out with his Clemson buddies and following Clemson athletics and events.
“I put my two cents worth in, and Brent makes the final decisions,” Bill said of his involvement in the company. “I love the business, technology and people. I am an ol’ athlete at heart. Business is like an athletic event. You have rules you follow, you keep score and either win or lose. I do not like to lose!”