Worldwide Protective Products Expands Specialty Glove Operations in Wilkes County, NC
A new name and more employees.
Worldwide Protective Products made news in early 2012 by changing its long-time name from Manzella Worldwide, then made more news by announcing plans that will lead to the addition of 93 full-time jobs to its protective glove and arm sleeve manufacturing operation in Wilkes County.
Worldwide Protective began sewing gloves and arm protection products in Wilkesboro eight years ago, and its owners admit that they never planned for their business to get so big – but it did.
“We surprised ourselves and eventually ran out of space at our three separate facilities,” says Kerry Dyer, one of three partners who own Worldwide Protective Products. “It became important for us to consolidate into a single location for efficiency and productivity, but no building had been available. That is, until now.”
Dyer says the company has acquired a 90,000-square-foot former glove manufacturing facility that had closed on Golden Needles Street in Wilkesboro, so manufacturing for Worldwide in that building is tentatively scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2012.
“Wilkesboro has been a hub for glove manufacturing and knitting know-how for an incredibly long time, and this latest facility allows us to continue our sales growth in the industrial marketplace,” he says. “Besides protective gloves and arm sleeves, we are also manufacturing full-body garments for the glass and steel industries. Workers in those fields not only need protection for hands and arms, but for their necks, legs and torsos.”
Military and Sports
Dyer says Worldwide products are cut resistant as well as heat and cold resistant. Besides glass and steel manufacturing, other industries that use the gloves and arm sleeves include food processing, automotive, the military, law enforcement, construction, metal fabrication, pulp and paper, utilities, appliance manufacturing, aerospace, and sports.
The company, which is headquartered in the Buffalo, N.Y., area currently has 75 employees and will add 93 employees over the next few years. Wilkes Economic Development Corp. President Jeff Garstka says the building consolidation and employee expansion initiative took about 14 months to iron out with negotiations taking place between Worldwide (Manzella), Wilkes EDC, Wilkes County officials and Wilkesboro officials.
“Their business has been doing very well, which is kind of unique for a textile manufacturer here in the U.S.,” Garstka says. “They are succeeding in a niche market and came to the Wilkes EDC in mid-2009 to talk about expansion. The company looked at buildings in several counties in North Carolina and Virginia, and ultimately we reached a deal to keep them here in Wilkes County.”
Garstka says Worldwide has purchased many new sewing machines and other equipment for their new location venture.
“Already having 75 employees is great for Wilkes County, and eventually adding another 90-plus workers will be a pretty big boost to our local economy,” he says. “It's good to see Worldwide continuing this region's strong textile heritage.”