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HILLSVILLE — Classic Creations Screen Printing will create 55 jobs and invest $1.4 million in a facility in Carroll County Industrial Park, according to a Tuesday announcement by CEO Keith Sanders.
In a crowded board of supervisors room, Sanders noted that he chose Hillsville and Carroll County as the location for his startup business due to the quality workforce that’s available here and the help he’s gotten from local and state representatives over the last 14 months.
When he reached out to communities in Virginia and North Carolina, Sanders quickly could see that Carroll was the place to go.
“The main reasons behind this choice were the high quality of the available workforce, the availability of a facility that ‘fit’ the requirements for Classic Creations of needed square footage and curb appeal, lower startup costs, logistics (excellent accessibility to transportation routes) and lower operation costs,” according to Sanders’ prepared remarks.
Curb appeal is important, because Classic Creations needs an attractive facility for visiting customers to see.
A clean facility will contribute to the comfort that those customers feel, Sanders explained.
“I’m handling a lot of T-shirts, a lot of sweat shirts, a lot of hats...” he said. “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and I go on in to other screen printing facilities and you say, ‘I don’t want my shirts in there,’ because it will come out with ink all over it.”
He also noted the significant contribution in the hard work of several Carroll and state representatives in making this project happen, including County Administrator Gary Larrowe, the county supervisors, the Industrial Development Authority, the Virginia Tobacco Commission, the Small Business Development Center, Virginia aCorridor and the Town of Hillsville.
Classic Creations will provide such services as high tech screen printing, embroidery, art, packaging and warehousing and use state of the art equipment and techniques out of the former Kentucky Derby Hosiery and Gildan facility.
“Classic Creations products will be distributed nationwide and will produce products for NASCAR, NFL, MLB, and NHL, catalog mail order, Cracker Barrel, college and university, corporate, private label apparel brands and major retailers,” Sanders said. “All sales, administration, manufacturing, finishing, shipping and distribution will be performed out of the facility in Carroll County.”
Needing a fiscal partner, Sanders noted that Greg Crowder, owner of a NASCAR wholesale and distribution business and also mayor of Hillsville, provided needed funds and became a partner in the new venture.
The business will benefit from Crowder’s more than 20 years of experience with his own company, Sanders said. That’s doubly true because Crowder will shut NASCAR warehouses in North Carolina, bring that business to Hillsville and create additional jobs beyond the 55 by the screen printer.
“I call him Mr. Hillsville, he’s so invested in this community,” Sanders said about Crowder. “I’m proud to have Greg as a partner.”
Classic Creations will generate about $2 million in sales in its first year, conservatively.
The new screen printer will also strive to remain on the cutting edge in the industry, he added.
“Classic Creations will be the benchmark screen print facility that all other facilities across the nation will be measured,” Sanders said. “And we plan to keep the number one spot in the industry by developing new processes, utilizing the latest equipment and having the best workforce available.”
The new company will also participate in the community.
“We will support the community of Carroll County and Hillsville by becoming involved with you,” according to the remarks. “Greg and I are also committed to developing an atmosphere of wellness for our employees in order that they will enjoy working for Classic Creations for many years into the future.”
Retrofitting of the plant and the equipment installation is expected to be complete with operations beginning in the first week of December, Sanders told The Gazette. The company will start with one shift of 30 at that time, and create the rest of the positions with a second shift that follows.
“It is the combination of place, people, passion and purpose in Carroll County that will allow us to prosper, Sanders said.
Spirits among local and state officials remained buoyant, considering the new jobs to be created by Classic Creations on top of the 75 jobs announced in a major expansion of Virginia Produce in September, as Carroll Supervisor Tom Littrell recalled in his remarks.
“And now we find ourselves together once again in short order,” Littrell said. “To paraphrase an old saying, we must continue to meet like this.”
This economic development announcement became possible because Carroll County earlier this year bought the two shuttered Gildan plants for a good price with the goal of using the facilities as an incentive for prospects, he noted. Classic Creations will buy the 56,000-square-foot plant.
The availability of natural gas, recently installed, was also essential in getting the commercial screen printer.
Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) represented the Virginia Tobacco Commission at the announcement, which provided a $175,000 appropriation to aid Classic Creations.
In addition to the two recent announcements in Carroll, the state senator added the opening of the River North prison in Grayson to the list of good news events that the Twin County region has seen in recent weeks.
That feels good after the mass exodus in furniture and textiles.
“That’s about 480 jobs for this region,” Carrico said. “In 10 years, now 12 years for me, working toward that goal, I can finally see some of these things come to fruition. You know, God’s truly blessed us in this region to be able to do that and to be able to put people back to work and make them productive and make them whole again.”
After the gathering, Crowder told The Gazette he’s had a relationship with Sanders for 15 years as a customer.
Knowing the man and the quality of product that he’s responsible for, Crowder said he feels comfortable getting involved in signing the personal guarantees and putting up the collateral for the project.
Without that, Classic Creations wouldn’t have been able to come to Hillsville with the difficulty private entities have experienced in getting loans since the recession.
“He shopped around and couldn’t get anybody to put up the equity,” Crowder explained. “Knowing Keith and knowing the business plan and knowing how bad we need the jobs, me and my wife put up the collateral and signed personal guarantees — something we’d never done before — to make the deal work.”
About the change in his Pole Night distribution business, Crowder said he’ll be bringing about 6,000-square-feet worth of merchandise and 10 full-time jobs to the Hillsville facility from Monroe, N.C.
“Classic Creations was established to fulfill a niche, and today we celebrate that the company chose Virginia and Carroll County as home to its retail products operation for the sports and motorsports industries,” remarked Gov. Bob McDonnell in a statement from Richmond. “This project is a great fit for the recreation interests of the region, and the capital investment and new job creation is outstanding for Carroll County. We welcome Classic Creations to the Commonwealth and remain ready to do what we can to facilitate the company’s success.”
• Applicants for jobs at Classic Creations should go through the Virginia Employment Commission.