Business

New twist on textile business

SDL Atlas recently moved its North American headquarters to Airport Industrial Park in Rock Hill from its previous home in Charlotte.
SDL Atlas recently moved its North American headquarters to Airport Industrial Park in Rock Hill from its previous home in Charlotte.

A textile-testing equipment company recently moved to Rock Hill, bringing its stable of innovative products to York County.

SDL Atlas recently moved its North American headquarters to Airport Industrial Park from its previous home in Charlotte. The company makes and distributes a plethora of materials used to test textiles and home appliances. It also supplies equipment for airport security. A distribution warehouse and light manufacturing space is located at the new site.

'Weird' niche

While many textile companies shift operations overseas, Al Simpson, manager of U.S. operations, said SDL Atlas has found a niche in the domestic market.

"What makes us effective is people use our equipment to test the products coming in from overseas," he said. "Our business is still pretty good."

Many of the products sold by Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike, Jones New York and Oakley are tested for durability, colorfastness and federal standard compliance by machines in the company's Textile Innovator product line, Simpson said.

The equipment is packaged and distributed from the Rock Hill facility, he said, and set up in labs at textile plants around the country.

Another area of textile innovation that SDL Atlas is tapping into is airport security. The company packages cloths used by airport authorities in security procedures.

In addition to textiles, Simpson said, SDL Atlas distributes equipment used to test household items. Devices to check the temperature of washing machines, flammability of upholstery and dirt to test vacuum cleaners is packaged and shipped from the Rock Hill operation.

"Everything we do is weird," Simpson said. "But everything has a federal or international testing standard attached to it. It's a neat business. It's kind of fun."

Rock Hill Economic Development Director Stephen Turner said SDL Atlas' experience in textiles paired with the other diverse industries they serve makes it an attractive company.

"SDL Atlas is a great company for Rock Hill," Turner said. "They are related to textiles, and people here have textiles in their backgrounds, so its a good fit. ... Hopefully, it's a company that can grow, add jobs and have a bright future."

Simpson said the company hopes to expand its Rock Hill operation to include more light manufacturing thanks to a strong labor force and potential for local and state incentives.

"Rock Hill definitely has a good, pro-business attitude," he said. "We're hoping to grow here."

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