Back in April 2013, Sue and I took a little 1 week long 1,000 mile drive through the Carolinas, visiting our members. We made 9 stops. At EVERY one of them, the same thing happened. We'd have a nice talk, a quick tour, some more roundtable then we'd get up to leave and EVERY time, whoever we were visiting, said, "well…….there's one more thing".
The "one more thing" Bryan Ashby had for us at Carolina Cotton Works was a sweatshirt. He walked over to a cabinet, opened it, and pulled out what he called the world's greatest hoodie, made by American Giant. The brand, which proclaimed to be 100% Made in USA, sent fabric to CCW to be finished. The fabric was imported. Bryan called American Giant and, net/net, brought production back to the US.
Thanks to Bryan, we convinced Bayard Winthrop to be the keynote speaker last our 2014 Annual Conference. Thanks to Page Ashby, we had a hence to meet one of the kindest men I will ever know…….GREAT article:
AMERICAN GIANT: Bayard Winthrop remembers pivotal meeting with Carolina Cotton Works founder Page Ashby (facebook.com, April 29)
Who in your life has inspired you to take on challenges, defy the odds, and get it done?
For us, one of those people was Page Ashby. He was exactly why we believed American Giant would be successful. We believed that being close, committed, and connected to the people who make our products would result in better and more meaningful clothes.
When you partner with people like Page, you end up making better things.
This type of personal connection cannot be replicated when you make things in a factory you’ve never visited that is 5,000 miles away with 16 time zones between.
Page was born in 1943 in Newport News, VA. He graduated from NC State in 1966 and joined the textile industry in which he worked for more than 50 years. In 1994, in the teeth of the manufacturing exodus that would decimate the US textile industry, Page defied the “experts” and the trends and started his own dyeing and finishing company, Carolina Cotton Works (CCW), in Gaffney, SC. He worked there with his two sons, Bryan and Hunter, until he passed away last year.
It was CCW that we finally turned to in 2011 when we were trying to make the heavyweight cotton fleece for our original Classic Full Zip and had been told by everyone that it was no longer possible to “do that here.”
That all changed one spring day when we ended up in front of Page in CCW’s non-descript conference room. Page had the knowledge, the passion, and just enough competitiveness to take on the challenge. “We will get this done for you” was all he said, long before we had earned the right to ask of his time or of CCW’s resources.
Page was smart, knowledgeable, competitive, loyal, and witty. He cared deeply for his family, his employees, and for making things in this country. He shared his knowledge readily, hated inefficiency, and was never bashful about telling it exactly like he saw it. He also told great stories.
Thank you, Page Ashby, for being a true American Giant.