Founded in 1929, Charlotte, N.C.-based Barnhardt is a global supplier of cotton for medical, health and beauty aids, and nonwoven fabrics. It currently supplies processed fiber to companies that demand similar standards to those of NAT's global brand partners, and this third-party manufacturing agreement gives NAT the ability to scale to demand from existing and future partners. Barnhardt will commence production for NAT in the second quarter.
"The advances we have made in the CRAiLAR enzymatic process over the past year, which opened the option of third-party manufacturing, means we can significantly expand our production capacity going forward without the infrastructure costs of building fully executed company-owned facilities," says Ken Barker, CEO of NAT. "With more than 80 years in the business Barnhardt emerged as an ideal partner to continue our capacity expansion as we expect demand to rapidly increase through the balance of 2012.”
In March, NAT announced it would embark on a yearlong evaluation and optimization of its CRAiLAR technology, which led to a 40% reduction in its enzymatic process time. The immediate benefit was increased production capacity at its own facility. The advancements also allowed NAT to evaluate third-party manufacturing partners for that process, further increasing overall production volume and accelerating the growth of its flagship product, CRAiLAR Flax fiber. Its initial third-party manufacturing agreement was announced earlier this month with Tintoria Piana, which has U.S. operations in Cartersville, GA.
NAT will establish its first full-scale facility in Pamplico, S.C., where flax is grown nearby as a winter crop. The company today supplies its CRAiLAR Flax to HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific, and Brilliant Global Knitwear for commercial use and to Levi Strauss & Co., Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, Westex, and Target for evaluation and development.