Faribault Woolen Mill Adds Workers, Clients

Production has ramped up at the mill, which resumed production in August, and the owners are aggressively cultivating more business.

About seven months after the Faribault Woolen Mill Company reopened, the historic plant is boosting its work force and adding some prominent clients to its roster, according to a Star Tribune report.

The mill had been closed for about two years when Edina businessmen Chuck and Paul Mooty bought it in June 2011 and resumed production in August.

The facility started out with about 30 workers, many of them former mill employees. But production has ramped up, and the plant now has roughly 50 workers and plans to add about 30 more in the next few weeks, according to the Star Tribune.

Last fall, the mill reportedly began making blankets for the Waldorf Astoria and Hudson hotels in New York and produced woolen throws sold in about 30 Target stores. More recently, the mill added Windstar Cruise Lines as a customer, and it needs the 30 extra workers for a second shift to begin making blankets for J.C. Penney this spring, the Minneapolis newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, the Mootys are continuing to renovate the plant to upgrade its engineering systems and plan to add a company store that's slated to open within the next month, initially just on weekdays, according to the Star Tribune. Since last fall, Faribo brand products have been available to on the Faribault Woolen Mill website, and they were also sold at a temporary store at the Mall of America during the holiday season-which exceeded expectations.

“We were cautious in the fall, wanting to make sure the facility was ready to produce,” Paul Mooty told the Star Tribune. “Now we're out there more aggressively trying to cultivate business.”

The Mootys themselves worked evenings at the temporary Mall of America store after spending their days at the mill, and the experience reportedly armed them with valuable feedback from customers.

“I think we learned the brand was stronger and broader in its reach than we anticipated,” Chuck Mooty told the Star Tribune. “We came away believing there are more opportunities beyond blankets and throws. We can do more with scarves and other items, like cup holders and iPad holders, that are less-expensive fun things.”

The Faribo brand name is known across the country because the products at one time were sold nationwide in department and specialty stores.

In addition to adding retailers to its roster of clients, the Mootys reportedly aim to do more business with the military, hospitality, and health care markets.

The Mootys have upgraded heating, cooling, and plumbing systems at the mill, and invested in a new roof for the building. They acquired equipment when they bought the mill, and most of it turned out to be serviceable, although they've reportedly added four new high-speed looms and two machines that clean and preshrink woven fabrics.

The Faribault City Council is now working with the Mootys to get the mill put on the National Register of Historic Places, which would make the Mootys eligible for tax credits.

To read more in the Star Tribune about the Faribault Woolen Mill and the plans its new owners have for it, click here.