Robotic yarn processing at Yadkinville.

It is often said that good is the enemy of great — but not so for fiber firm Unifi. As the company was already in the business of doing good with staunch commitments to sustainability and responsibility, now, in times of need, Unifi’s contributions are perhaps best described as great.

The firm supplies yarns and fibers to more than 100 companies that are producing masks, gowns and PPE needed by first responders, medical personnel and the military, and Unifi’s products have performed a critical role throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Unifi said its fibers are “an essential ingredient in the production of hundreds of critical components and products including masks, gowns, sewing thread for gowns, sterile wipes, drapes and elastics for masks and face shields.”

“We have customers actively engaged in the fight against COVID-19,” said Tom Caudle, president and chief operating officer of Unifi. “We’re proud that our company is playing a part in that fight by providing the fiber they need.”

Caudle added, “We expect to continue to deliver critical products to our customers who are supplying the necessary fabrics and products to those most in need. I also want to recognize and thank our hard-working employees for their efforts, especially during these unsettling times.”

Repreve multifilament polyester yarn.

Unifi’s Repreve multifilament polyester yarn.  Steve Cash Photography

The company said its customer, Contempora Fabrics, based in Lumberton, N.C., normally supplies fabric for baseball uniforms this time of year, but this season’s fabric is shifting to the production of medical masks and gowns. Its Pennsylvania-based factory is owned by Fanatics, a sports gear producer, and the repurposed fabric is 100 percent polyester sourced from Unifi’s operations in Yadkinville, N.C.

Ron Roach, president of Contempora Fabrics, said, “We’re honored that our fabric is able to help the medical staff, first responders and military personnel who are putting their lives on the line every day to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“Only in the American textile industry will you find the ingenuity to solve a mask shortage with baseball uniform fabric. Thanks to Fanatics for their innovative vision, we’re just happy to be a part of the solution.”

And another Unifi customer, South Carolina-based Phenix Engineered Textiles, a company that supplies elastic strapping for face masks, said it has revved up production in response to the crisis. Unifi supplies the fiber to Phenix Engineered Textiles, and the yellow yarn for the “familiar” yellow straps is dyed in Unifi’s dyehouse in Reidsville, N.C., Unifi said.

“We’ve had to ramp up production to keep up with the demand,” said Rod Grandy, chief executive officer of Phenix Engineered Textiles. “Unifi is a vital part of our business, and it would be difficult to keep pace with heightened demand without such a reliable partner. U.S. manufacturers are often overlooked, but this local supply chain is precisely why we haven’t missed a beat.”

For more Business news from WWD, see:

Outdoor Brands Talk Coronavirus Impacts, Offer Wellness Advice

Brick-and-Mortar, Digital Retailers Adjust Strategies in Wake of Coronavirus

Field Notes: How Fabric Is Helping Save the Planet

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