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New Chapter for Polartec

Many in New England will remember December 11, 1995. That was the day that Malden Mills, the maker of PolarFleece® and the employer of thousands, burned to the ground.

The company made headlines again June 12 when Industry Week reported that Polartec – the name adopted after several reorganizations that followed the Malden Mills fire - was being acquired by Milliken & Company. According to the story, “Milliken, with over a century and a half of textile expertise, will benefit from Polartec’s textiles for outdoor, workwear and military apparel.”

There’s an interesting story behind this newest development.

Malden Mills owner Aaron Feuerstein after the fire pledged to rebuild the century old company, creating a state-of-the-art fabric manufacturing factory. He even pledged to keep the 3,000 employees on the payroll throughout the process. It made him a hero.

But he also was bucking prevailing business wisdom at the time, resisting suggestions the company move production overseas and downsize into a primarily sales company.

Then, after being slammed by recession, the company in November of 2001 declared bankruptcy.

It has been through several reorganizations since, including being renamed Polartec. In 2015, its owner – Versa Capital – made news by closing down its manufacturing plant in Lawrence, Mass. and shifting production to plants in New Hampshire and Tennessee.

And now it enters a new chapter.

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