Auction at American Fiber & Yarns

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By Kathy Johnson

The sign out front says “Auction, March 10.” That sign, along with “Foreclosure,” “For Sale,” “Not Hiring,” and “Closed” are all signs of the times.

American Fiber & Yarns, located in Afton on Route 151, officially closed last October 30, but on March 10, at 9 a.m., everything on the grounds and in the building will go on the auctioneer’s block.

American Fiber’s headquarters was located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and started in 1965 as Phillips Fibers Corporation, a subsidiary of Phillips Petroleum. In 1993, Amoco Fabrics and Fibers, a subsidiary of Amoco Oil, purchased Phillips Fibers. Amoco operated the plant in Afton until 1999, when it became American Fibers & Yarns.

Plant manager Robert Henson said he has been at the plant for the past 25 years and “the people here were some of the finest I’ve ever been associated with.” Henson tried to sound upbeat as he spoke fondly of the people that lost their jobs and the work they did. Many of the plant’s 40 employees have found other employment, but “some are still looking and with the economy the way it is, there just aren’t a lot of jobs out there,” said Henson.

American Fibers & Yarns Company was a manufacturer and premier supplier of synthetic filament yarn. The yarn was then sold to manufacturers who used the fiber on sofas, chairs and other upholstered products.
Henson said the closing of the plant was a result of both the economy and changes in technology. “Foreign imports and the current domestic situation,” he explained. The yarn produced by American Fiber was a petroleum-based product. “When oil prices spiked and the price of oil doubled, our raw material cost tripled.” He said that some of American Fiber’s customers chose to use a different type of fiber and some chose to import their supplies from foreign countries. Henson sounded surprisingly upbeat and seemed more concerned about the employees that have already left the plant than for his personal outlook.

While the grounds (7.78 acres) and the building (55,000 square feet, including a 30,000-square-foot warehouse) are for sale, they are not included in the March auction. “If you’re interested in buying a building,” Henson laughed, “Come on over.” There was a somewhat cheerful que sera sera sound to his voice.

Items in the March 10 sale are represented by pages of “lots” at two online links provided by The Branford Group at http://www.thebrandfordgroup.com. The Branford Group is the auctioneering firm handling the auction, and for those who can’t be there in person, online bidding will be accepted.

A sampling of auction items includes: continuous filament extrusion lines; seven forklifts; four 100-ton carrier chillers; two 400-HP Sullair air compressors; a 2000 Ford F-150 pickup truck; a 1989 Fruehauf bulk tanker trailer; Sartorius Digital scale, 115V; one Werner 12′ step ladder; one Louisville 8′ step ladder; a box of assorted hand tools, hammers, adjustable wrench and hack-saw; a box of screw drivers; a box of torque wrenches; and a Campbell-Hausfeld Elect pressure washer, 1950 PSA, 1.6 gpm. There are several hundred “lots” and they vary from boxes of small hand tools to larger pieces of manufacturing equipment. Henson said it is possible that some things may end up being sold for metal scrap.

A preview day is planned for Monday, March 9, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the plant located on Route 151 just south of 250. Items purchased at the auction must be removed by April 1.