Friday, October 15, 2010

The End of Proximity Mill

Cone continued to purchase companies that fit into its existing operations, adding a cushion manufacturer, the Prelude Company, in 1970. By the following year, however, it had become clear that some divisions of the company were not profitable, and Cone shut down two weak operations, a blanket plant in Houston, and the John Wolf Apparel Fabrics Division.

Throughout the 1970s, Cone struggled against an industry-wide tide of cheap imported fabrics, which worked to keep profits down. The company relied heavily on its two main products, denim and corduroy, which enjoyed continuing fashion popularity. In 1974, Cone opened a new denim factory at its Cliffside plant. In 1975, the company embarked upon a nine-year program of plant modernization that was designed to make operations as efficient as possible, so that costs could be kept low.

In 1983, Cone became a victim of the rage for corporate stock speculation when it was targeted for hostile takeover by Western Pacific Industries. In response, the company engineered a leveraged buyout of all of its outstanding stock, going private once again.

In further efforts to combat the impact of imported fabrics on its market, Cone joined with other American textile manufacturers to promote increased consumption of domestic products. "Crafted with Pride in the U.S.A." became the rallying cry for a public relations campaign designed to offset the impact of lower prices for imported products. Nevertheless, this factor, in combination with a loss in popularity for corduroy, caused Cone to close, convert, or sell ten of its mills in the years between 1977 and 1990. Such founding pillars of the company as the Proximity Cotton Mills and Print Works, the Revolution Mill, and the Minneola Mill shut their doors forever during this time.

Aerial View of Proximity Warehouse from the 1950's
Proximity Warehouse - October 2010

Upper Level of Warehouse Area
Abandoned Water Tower

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