Springs' longtime spokesman leaving

FORT MILL -- Ted Matthews, the longtime spokesman for Springs Global, is parting ways with the company this week.

During his 20-year career with the textile giant, Matthews worked his way to the top of the public relations department as vice president of corporate communications. He was known to many as the voice of Springs, helping to explain company earnings, policies and changes to customers, investors, members of the media and the public. In recent years, he had the thankless task of announcing layoffs in York, Chester and Lancaster counties as thousands of textiles jobs moved overseas.

Springs announced Tuesday that Matthews' position had been eliminated.

Merger shifted operations

In 2005, Springs Industries became Springs Global when the company merged with Brazil-based textile maker Coteminas, and the bulk of the company's operations shifted to South America. Matthews said the company no longer needed someone in his position in the United States.

"It's been a great ride," he said. "I had what I feel is the ideal job with the ideal boss. I learned a lot and will leave here with fond feelings for the company and the people here."

The elimination of his position was no shock, Matthews said. He's been expecting it since the merger. He actually expected the layoff to come earlier. Matthews said he assumed that when former CEO Crandall Bowles, his boss, stepped down in August, he would follow her out the door. It just happened a little farther down the line than he anticipated.

Bowles' retirement came on the heels of the June announcement that Springs would cease textile manufacturing at its Grace and Close plants in Fort Lawn and Lancaster. Matthews informed the area that 700 people would lose their jobs, and Springs, founded in Fort Mill five generations prior, would no longer make its sheets, towels or any other items in South Carolina.

Because Springs Global is now publicly traded in Brazil, Matthews said, more news and information pertinent to investors will be originating in South America. The company no longer will need a spokesperson in the U.S.

"Ted has been a vital part of the Springs corporate communications department and our plant communities for 20 years," said Springs vice president of human resources Roland Myers, who will be taking over Matthews' remaining responsibilities. "His involvement in community and civic initiatives have impacted many people, and his professionalism, integrity and leadership will be missed."

Although Matthews is leaving, he said the announcement does not affect the nearly 400 workers Springs still employs locally in design and sales jobs at the Springs Executive Complex and Close Development Center.