4045 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127 | www.littlewooddyers.com
G. J. Littlewood & Sons is located on Main Street in Manayunk and has been in existence for five generations, more than 130 years. They are a commission raw stock dyeing facility, equipped with 28 dyeing vessels and 5 large capacity drying lines in two Pennsylvania plants. Their machines can handle dyeing orders up to 2,000 lbs. down to as little as a one lb. sample. Littlewood also houses a gigantic baling machine which takes up its own two-story room. Littlewood uses a unique “opening system” in its dyeing, which makes the fabric fluffier and softer, allowing it to accept certain special treatments more efficiently.
Littlewood also specializes in precise color matching and custom colors, and some specialty finishing treatments such as fire retardant materials and anti-microbial fabrics, infused with silver. The facilities are equipped with two labs, including a lab for color matching, where they use a Spectrophotometer that displays different kinds of indoor and outdoor light for exact color formulating.
The facilities themselves aren’t the most ideal working conditions. It’s a dirty job indeed, as the facility can get up to a consistent 120 degrees throughout the summer months. However, a spring feeds into the property near the back of their facility and there is a nice little private space in the back where their water storage tanks are, and employees can sit by this natural pond and eat their lunch or take a break from the work day. As opposed to other manufacturers, it seems every machine in Littlewood Dyes is constantly running and manned, one person per machine. That person is responsible for cleaning the machine thoroughly every time they change batches, so that there is absolutely no contamination.
In the midst of the demise of the textile industry, Littlewood has tailored its services to have more direct marketing, customer service and commission-based work. The owners felt they needed to maximize the benefits of their facilities to their valued customers. They spoke about instances of working back and forth between customers and traveling to each others’ facilities and workplaces in order to come up with the exact desired end product. Even at times, they’ve had to take the client by the hand and teach them about the dyeing process in order for them to understand how the end product is developed.
Today Littlewood allows customers to order large volumes of custom dyed material as well as smaller “spot” ordering quantities, which allows their customers to meet their own changing market demands. Littlewood has realized the value of forming long term relationships based on trust in quality products. They are proud to say they are one of the most dependable dyers in the US, with clients in the carpet industry, the apparel trade (wool military coats & Fox River socks), the household furnishings trade, industrial non-woven application media, and various non-textile related goods.