A New Beginning
The company knew that in order to succeed the workers, who had little or no industrial experience, would need to be trained to work the textile machinery before and after the plant was up and running. Six looms were shipped in and installed in a dairy barn. Walter Anderson oversaw the training program which began on August 18, 1947. Within a matter of seven weeks, the first twelve pieces of woven cloth were shipped from the training room. Production continued on a small scale until the plant became fully operational.
Baum wrote of his new employees " The attributes they have that outweigh their knowledge of textile manufacturing are their desire to learn, their educational background, their natural ability and their interest in the community and the organization that will mean so much to the economy of this community." Many workers yearned to learn more about their new job and volunteered to pay half the cost of correspondence courses while the company picked up the other half of the bill. Every applicant was carefully screened and given a physical examination before being considered for employment by the department supervisors.
The highest salary paid to the most productive workers was a whopping $1.05 per hour. Six people, five men and one woman, made more than $70.00 a week.
Safety was a big concern in the mill. Each employee had it drilled into his mind the necessity of safety in the workplace. In the first year of operation no time was lost due to the sixteen minor accidents on the job.
At the end of the construction phase late in 1948, Col. Baum reported to the company that there were numerous problems that would need to be addressed in the coming months. The most critical of these was the transportation of materials into the plant and finished goods out. With utmost confidence in his employees and people of Laurens County, Baum concluded that after a careful study, a satisfactory solution would be found.
In January 1949 an open house was held and thousands came to see where thousands wanted to work and where only one in two were lucky enough to get a job. A second plant, named "The Nathaniel Plant," was opened in 1956. Named after the founder of the company, Captain Nat Stevens, the Nathaniel Plant manufactured yarn-dyed or patterned, woolen fabrics. By 1960, the Dublin Woolen Mills were ranked as the third most productive mills in the textile industry.
One of the unique features of the Dublin plant is the cornerstone. Fashioned from a piece of granite from Capt. Nat Stevens' mill in North Andover, Massachusetts, the corner stone bears the date of 1813-1947. The Dublin-Laurens Museum is now the repository of many items of Stevens and its predecessor, Forstmann and Company.
For decades men, women and children across the country and throughout the world wore coats, sport jackets, blazers, dresses, pants and hats made from cloth made right here in Laurens County. The champions of the Master's Golf Tournament donned green jackets made from Stevens' green cloth. Major league baseball players played in hats made in the mill. But J.P. Stevens and its Forstmann descendants was more than just a mill. It was a family - a family of dedicated and hard working employees who were a part of all of our lives. They were our families, friends and neighbors.
1952 FAMILY DAY
1954 FAMILY DAY
1956 FAMILY DAY
RIGHT: Uncle Ned Stripling