Vermont-grown sock maker opens new factory in Waterbury – Waterbury Roundabout
Last week, officials at Darn Tough Vermont cut a special sock-lined ribbon to celebrate the company’s expansion as it adds its second manufacturing facility, this one in downtown Waterbury.
About 30 people gathered to hear company executives explain how this is one of the many milestones of the popular Darn Tough brand of Cabot Hosiery Mills. “We wanted to keep growing. Our demand is high. Our customers love what we do, ”said Ric Cabot, President and CEO of Darn Tough.
The Waterbury site at Pilgrim Park is Darn Tough’s newest facility for manufacturing, office and warehouse distribution. In total, the space is 70,000 square feet; 30,000 square feet are used for knitting. The space was previously occupied by Keurig Dr. Pepper, who has downsized its manufacturing operations at Waterbury in recent years and eventually moved out of its remaining offices in the complex in March 2020 when employees switched to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Keurig recently said he would not fire employees at the in-person offices in Waterbury.
The old coffee roasting plant was up for grabs before the pandemic, however. “Everything was dark and open and smelled of coffee beans, now it smells like socks,” Cabot said.
While many companies have seen lower customer demand with the pandemic, Darn Tough has experienced the opposite – sales have been higher than ever, company officials said. Darn Tough was seen as a critical business early in the pandemic to meet demands from one of their military partners, which kept them open to the operation.
“We have had the ability to help people exit for physical and mental health reasons. Being that company is something you can’t put a number on, ”said Courtney Laggner, brand and community manager for Darn Tough.
The company’s main manufacturing operation is still located at its head office in Northfield. With the two sites combined, Darn Tough now has 318 knitting machines, 270 in Northfield and 48 in Waterbury, which will continue to grow as 48 additional machines have been ordered in Italy. The new facility is expected to be complete and operating at its planned capacity by January 2022, according to Lyn Feinson, vice president of design and product development.
Darn Tough occupies the second floor of the now full building. Other tenants in the shopping complex that once housed the café operation include craft beer distributor Vermont Beer Shepherd; Northern Reliability, an energy storage company; and the Central Vermont Gymnastics Academy.