Family owned since 1843, the yarn spinners at Kent Wool are an integral part of creating Farm to Feet socks. Learn the story behind one of the companies that helps take the world’s best wool and turn it into the world’s best sock
With nearly two centuries of work behind them, Kent Wool’s long history of manufacturing has seen the country through multiple wars, the Great Depression and the turbulent 1960s. Through the decades of change, though, one thing has stayed the same — a commitment to American manufacturing.
Mark Kent - 5th Generation CEO
“We had an opportunity when NAFTA came around to pick up everything and move to Mexico to cheapen operations,” said Mark Kent, CEO. “I said, ‘You know, we have to make a decision — are we going to be focused on returning as much money as we can for shareholders or are we going to be a company that cares about American workers?’ And we made the decision not to go.”
Thanks to that decision, what started as a small operation on the banks of Darby Creek, Pennsylvania, is now an innovative textile leader that employs dozens of people in South Carolina.
From poetry to knitting, the interests of those employees are varied, but there’s one thing they can all agree on: The best thing about their jobs is each other.
“I’ve been working here for 8 months, but I’ve already met so many great people — they took me in like I’ve been here for 20 years,” says Joseph, the floor man. “I wish I’d been here 20 years.”
Peggy in quality control agrees: “I’ve worked here for 40 years and the people are by far my favorite thing. It makes a world of difference working with good people.”
Peggy Hollbrook - 40-year Employee
After 17 years with the company, James in maintenance has a plethora of memories that illustrate the tightknit community at the company. “I remember one day, a big crack of lighting hit and the lady who worked for one of the bosses was so alarmed, she jumped right in his arms, and he was just caught looking around, wondering what had happened.”
While it may feel like one big happy family today, the company’s long history is a bit more storied.
From 1843 to 1965, the company had various divisions — spinning wool, dying wool, making uniforms for troops from the Civil War to World War II — then in the 1960s, a proxy fight within the family disrupted the organization and it morphed into a specialty yarn spinner for the trade.
Warren Kent - Mark's Father
“When my dad was CEO and the business had just gone through all this change, he said at one point that he wasn’t sure if we would make it.” Kent says. “My father talked with the owners of Pendleton wools, one of the bellwether brands in our industry, and told him about the tough times, explaining that we would need $100,000 in business to keep things going. The next day there was an order waiting on his desk for $200,000. I’ve never forgotten that. If we can help people and make a difference in this country, we’re going to do it.”
Learn more about our commitment to American manufacturing here.
Watch Kent Wool employee - Joesph Benson recite the title poem from his book of poetry: "Sky Blue (A Collection of Whispers from God)"