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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Burlington Mills Corp. - Lehman Brothers Collection

Burlington Mills Corp.

List of Deals

Burlington Mills was created in 1923 by founder J. Spencer Love, a twenty-seven year old returning home from World War I. Love received strong financial support from the Burlington, North Carolina, Chamber of Commerce, where the company was founded. The first small plant was completed in 1924.

The first plant employed 200 people, weaving cotton fabrics for flags, curtains, dresses, and diapers. The company faced adversity immediately, as the market for its cotton goods fell into depression. After only a year, Love, eager for his company to stand out in the marketplace, decided to switch to the new experimental synthetic fiber, rayon. His rayon bedspreads were an instant hit, and Burlington went on to become the nation's largest producer of rayon fabrics within a few years. This earned the company a lasting reputation for progressive ideas and innovation.

A second plant was built in 1926, and the company opened its own New York sales office in 1929. Many competitors' mills that closed during the Depression were later bought by Love and reopened under the Burlington banner. The company became known as Burlington Mills Company, Incorporated in 1934, and by the end of 1936 Burlington had twenty-two plants and sales of $25 million.

Burlington Mills came of age with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange in 1937.

Burlington produced more than fifty items for the armed forces during World War II and was a leader in wartime projects, such as the development of parachute cloth made with the new synthetic fiber, nylon. The company continued to grow and diversify after the war, as Love bought more than a dozen companies that had been leaders in specific product niches.

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