(L to R) Michael Banks Jr., Michael Banks Sr. and Nate Banks
A family-owned Hickory-based hosiery company is experiencing significant growth, thanks to 2lst century manufacturing and marketing strategies.
Michael Banks Jr. and his brother, Nate, are third-generation executives at The Socks Factory and NuSox Finishing Inc. Their father, Michael Banks Sr. ran the operations for 40 years as a contract finishing company and his father, Alvin Banks, was employed with large manufacturers in the last half of the 20th century.
But things have changed.
Today The Socks Factory is a vertical manufacturer with 50 people employed in knitting, dyeing and finishing operations under the direction of Michael Banks Jr., president. Nate is vice president of sales, marketing and product development. He is responsible for the rapidly-growing online business for the private label William Tucker line of high-end men’s dress socks. Also, the Crazy Compression sock for the medical market is sold online and in hospital gift shops throughout North America. According to Nate Banks, the compression socks line has 60,000 followers on social media.
The 21st century addition of knitting capabilities was prompted by the decision of the Banks brothers to “switch the business model” for the company. The Socks Factory operates machines from 84-needle to 168-needle production. The products range men’s dress and leisure socks to athletic and medical footwear.
Dan St. Louis, director of the Manufacturing Solutions Center, says the innovations at The Socks Factory reflect the renaissance in North Carolina’s hosiery industry. “We are working with entrepreneurs who see opportunities in new high-performance footwear for specialty markets,” St. Louis observes. Nate Banks uses the center’s hosiery technology services for testing and prototyping.
While contract work for marketers of global brands remains a significant segment of the company’s volume, the online and private label segment is fueling growth as well.
“There is still a demand for specialized products made in the U.S.,” Nate Banks asserts. “Success depends on a relentless focus and continuous improvement,” he insists.