This is the L.C. King Manufacturing Company in Bristol, Tennessee. It was opened in 1913 as a maker of jeans and overalls. That’s not so unusual, because at one time there were dozens of small jeans factories scattered across the South. What makes L.C. King so unusual is they are still in operation today.
I had no idea there was still a jeans company still making jeans in the US, especially not one a short drive away. But thanks to The American List located at A Continuous Lean, I found out about the company, and proceeded to invite myself over for a look around.
What an experience! Though I write about clothing history, and live deep in textile country, I had never been in a clothing manufacturing plant. I was amazed by so much, especially by the mix of the old and new, by tradition and computer-age technology.
The photo above shows the original building, built in 1913 by Landon Clayton King. The factory was later enlarged to the size they have today.
I was met by the plant manager, Marinda, who took me around and showed me the operation. She explained not only the process of making the products, but also told me about the company.
Things like, why the company’s brand name, Pointer, comes from a dog. Well, Mr. King loved his bird dogs, especially Carolina Jack, who became the model for the company’s logo and advertising posters. The old sign above hangs in the factory. And you still get Carolina Bill’s likeness on every pointer product.
And this is Jack – Jack King, that is, the owner and fourth generation King to run Pointer Brands. He was working, filling orders. One thing I learned, everyone works hard in a clothing manufacturing plant.
This is the original office of the company in the oldest part of the building.. Today, this is the pattern making room, a process Ill show in tomorrow’s post. You can barely see LC King on the wall on the far wall.
Above the pattern room is the cutting room. It runs for most of the depth of the original building. The denim is stretched out on the long tables in an many as 42 layers.
And here is a view of one of the sewing rooms. There is a room for dungarees and overalls, and another room for jackets.
In tomorrow’s post I’ll show a bit of the process of cutting and sewing the garments. In the meantime, you should check out the Pointer Brand website. It’s incredible to see a site where almost everything is made in the US. The only imported product is one ball cap. Also the denim itself is made in South Carolina, with the exception of the Fisher Stripe. Unfortunately, they could no longer source it in the US, and so it has to be imported.
Here’s another look at the handsome Carolina Bill.