Team USA sports Hickory business' threads

Team USA sports Hickory business' threads

Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 7, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; The delegation from USA participates in the athlete march during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports


by DAVE WAGNER / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @WagnerWCNC

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 8 at 11:34 AM

HICKORY, N.C. -- On a night when the world came to Sochi, Team USA wore the colors of its country and paid homage to a small factory, 6,000 miles away in the town of Longview, N.C.

Inside the simple building, visitors will see steam and spools. It’s where time seems to stand still.

VIDEO: Watch Dave Wagner's full report here

“Business was established in 1954 by my father,” John Perkins of Longview Yarns said. “He started out space dyeing acid tape and we probably haven’t dyed any acid tape here in 40 years.”

The company serves everything to furniture, craft and apparel businesses.

The apparel part grew much bigger after a political firestorm. Two years ago in London, American athletes raised eyebrows when their opening ceremony uniforms, designed by Ralph Lauren, were made in China. This year in Sochi, the outfits, like the athletes, are all American.

The wool comes from sheep in Oregon, the yarn is dyed with pride at Longview Yarns in Hickory.

Perkins says being asked to help with the Olympic uniform was a delightful surprise.

“We weren’t real sure about the scope of the project to begin with, and we know that Polo is a massive corporation. And we’re a small fish,” he said. “It was somewhere over 6,000 pounds in various colors. Red, white and blue, and then we had Kelly, a gold, a royal, and then a black.”

Most employees say they are proud to have their work on display on the international stage. But there’s always one who speaks the unvarnished truth.

“Lord, no,” Florene Early laughs, when asked if she watches the Olympics. “It interferes with my other stuff.”

“What if one of the Olympic athletes gave you a shout out?” – DW

“Oh, boy. That would be great!” she responds emphatically.

Team USA came through, giving Longview the first gold medal of 2014.

“My name’s Jamie Anderson. I compete in snowboard slopestyle, and I want to give a little shout out to Florene. Love the outfits. They’re definitely original, and we’re rocking them.”

Yes. Olympian Jamie Anderson, who placed second in the qualifying round on Thursday, spoke right into the NBC Charlotte camera and gave Florene what she asked for.

So Florene, we hope you’re watching!