200 Years of Apparel Heritage from the Carolina Core
One of the Carolina Core’s newest major employers has long-running ties to the area.
Kontoor Brands, created in 2019 through a corporate spinoff, is the global lifestyle apparel company behind iconic consumer brands Wrangler® and Lee ®. The Wrangler brand’s history runs deep in the Carolina Core having gotten its start in Greensboro in 1947.
“North Carolina has an incredibly rich history in textiles, and, in fact, our hometown of Greensboro played a unique role in transforming the American blue jean into an international icon,” says Scott Baxter, President and CEO, Kontoor Brands. “The Wrangler brand got its start in the 1900s on Elm Street in downtown Greensboro, a short walk from Kontoor’s global corporate headquarters.”
Best-in-Class Talent Fueled by a Diverse Business Landscape
Today, Kontoor Brands employs approximately 15,000 employees globally, with about 1,000 in North Carolina at its Global World Headquarters, offices, retail store and distribution center.
Baxter credits a number of factors in the Carolina Core for keeping Kontoor’s wide-reaching operations well-staffed and acknowledges the region’s large number of community colleges and universities as a great source of up-and-coming talent.
The Carolina Core is home to more than 30 colleges and universities that enroll over 250,000 students. North Carolina A&T State University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and NC State University are a few of the local universities that boast world-renowned design, business and textile programs.
Setting New Standards for Global Corporate Citizenship
Recognizing its global reach and influence, Kontoor Brands has set out to be a leader in sustainability.
The company is now dyeing denim without water, a move that is saving millions of gallons of water and raising the bar on what consumers expect from the apparel industry in terms of environmental performance.
Building on its commitment to embed sustainable business practices throughout its global operations and supply chain, Kontoor recently announced it reached a zero-waste designation for its owned distribution centers in North America, including the Mocksville, North Carolina, location that has been a part of that community for more than 30 years.
“Kontoor is committed to being an engaged corporate citizen and helping drive positive changes for the communities in which we operate,” says Baxter.
On the Verge of a Renaissance
“Kontoor Brands is proud to have more than 1,000 associates working and living in North Carolina,” says Baxter. “As a large employer in the Greensboro area, we are committed to helping fuel the economic future of our city and contributing to new opportunities for long-term, sustainable growth.”
During the last two years, new shops, restaurants and a new performing arts center that will seat 3,000 people have also chosen downtown Greensboro as their home.
Recent transplants to the area also agree that the Carolina Core is an appealing location. Steve Armus, Vice President of Global Partnerships and Licensing at Kontoor Brands, moved to Greensboro in 2019 after commuting three hours a day between Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan.
“Striking a work-life balance was an important factor when I considered the opportunity at Kontoor Brands. Since making the transition from New Jersey to Greensboro, I have been pleasantly surprised by the balance embraced by Kontoor, and have also found an incredible balance outside the four walls of the office. Cutting my commute to just under 10 minutes has given me extra productive time I can spend in the office or at home with my family,” says Armus.
With an abundance of parks, nature trails and other attractions nearby, the Carolina Core’s central location in the state continues to be an attraction for current and prospective residents.
“The accessibility and affordability of the Greensboro area enables a great quality of life. Our central location provides our employees with the ability to easily visit the many natural resources our state offers – from the idyllic North Carolina coast to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. There’s no shortage of activities that you can enjoy with your friends and family,” says Baxter.