130 W. Berkley St., Philadelphia, PA 19144 | waynemills.com
Wayne Mills is located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia right near the Wayne Junction train station. The company has been family owned and operated through 5 generations. Prior to Wayne Mills, the company was New Glen Echos Mill and the complex was built in 1885, as an expansion of Glen Echos Mill which used to be located along the Wissahickon Creek, which was first built in 1812 to make cloth for soldiers’ uniforms. Wayne Mills is still fully functioning with more than 60 employees and 80,000 square feet of space. Martin Heilman, president of Wayne Mills, and an assistant in the office are currently documenting the history of the Mill and are uncovering stories from some of the older employees that still come into work every so often. There aren’t many photographs of the mill, but they have been collecting old historical documents and are looking to put this all together, so that Wayne Mills can be recognized in the future as one of Philadelphia’s greatest examples of its once flourishing textile industry.
Wayne Mills is doing great business and has even grown some since the economic downturn. Many of the Mills and other narrow fabric producers that shut down during the early part of the recession transferred much of their business to Wayne Mills. They are known as having the best quality products in the industry.
Many Asian producers of these materials are losing business, because clients can only order very large quantities which can’t be returned after order. Since they can’t depend on quality, clients would rather spend more money on less quantity, if they know that they can work directly with a company that provides better service and higher quality goods.
Wayne Mills has a mix of state-of-the-art equipment as well as some that are still functioning after decades of use. They weave goods from 1/8” to 6” in width. Cotton items range from very lightweight tape to heavy belting, polyester and nylon goods in light to medium weights only. Items can be made to customers’ specifications. Some of the products they produce are reflective tapes for use in safety gear, uniforms for postal workers and military personnel, as well as piping and lining for the automotive industry, carpet borders, nurses and doctors uniforms, and other gauzes and wraps for the medical industry, as well as various other sorts of custom ribbon.
They recently added a dye house to their operation, after another Philadelphia dye house went out of business a few years ago. They adopted their machines for dyeing, which brought back a part of the business that had once been there as part of “New Glen Echos” but had since disappeared. The actual room which used to house New Glen Echos’ Dye House has now been restored as such.