Inside Jagger Brothers worsted mill in Springvale, employee Ansie Stuart tends the machine that spins a hank of yarn onto a cone in this 2016 file photo. Owner David Jagger on Friday said the manufacturing division will cease operations, likely by the end of March. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SRINGVALE — Jagger Brothers, Inc. which has been producing yarn in Springvale for 121 years, will close the manufacturing division of the company, likely by the end of March, owner David Jagger said on Friday.

Jagger said the company’s 40 employees were informed of the decision on Tuesday afternoon.

A separate division of the company, Jagger Spun, which provides yarn for small production facilities and yarn shops from Maine to Africa,  will continue on  at the Water Street location with a small workforce.

“We’ve been struggling with low volume of business for a few years, and trying to make it work in terms of the numbers,” said Jagger of the manufacturing facility. He said the company’s largest customer has informed him they would be importing yarn from offshore, rather than buying from Jagger Brothers. And while the company’s second largest customer planned to continue buying from Jagger, that customer itself is losing business to imports, he said.

“We were faced with an untenable situation,” said Jagger. “I chose to end operations.”

Jagger Brothers, Inc. which has been making yarn for 121 years, will cease manufacturing, likely by the end of March. A smaller division called Jagger Spun will continue. The company is located on Water Street in Springvale. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Jagger said the decision to close the manufacturing division after 121 years was a difficult one.

“I feel badly for my employees,” he said.

Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council Director James Nimon said overseas competition and consumers looking for lower prices, rather than quality, makes manufacturing difficult these days.

“Anything we can do to keep Maine-based manufacturing is a victory ” said Nimon. “With the struggles of overseas competition, it’s upsetting.”

Samuel and Fred Jagger — the Jagger brothers — founded the company on the banks of the Mousam River, just below what is now Bridge Street, in Springvale in 1898. Their father, Uriah, a yarn spinner from Bradford, England, had been offered a job with the Goodall textile mills and moved here with his wife Martha and four children in 1884. In 1904, Jagger Brothers moved to south Sanford where they built a mill on what is now called Jagger Mill Road. The company moved to its present location in Springvale, in a former Goodall mill, in 1956.

Wool, silk, mohair and synthetics are all spun here, producing yarn for industry’s large manufacturers, small production facilities,  and more recently, yarn shops across the country.

Jagger, a descendant of Samuel, said Jagger Spun will continue providing yarn for the wholesale and retail niche market the company carved out some years ago, but acknowledged the yarn will have to be sourced elsewhere.

He said he has had conversations with an unnamed party about acquiring or renting some equipment to make yarn, but he said if that happens, it will be on a much smaller scale, with fewer workers.

Jagger said the company will be in touch with the Maine Department of Labor, and there will be meetings with the company’s benefit consultants on health insurance options and how employees can roll over their pensions. Tutoring classes for employees for whom English is their second language will continue through the end of the manufacturing period.

Most of the company’s employees have worked at Jagger Brothers for many years.

Sanford Springvale Chamber of Commerce President Richard Stanley said Jagger Brothers has been a member of the chamber for decades and that David Jagger has been active in the community.

Jagger Brothers employees looking for new jobs,  and others, can attend the York County Job Fair on April 11 at Nasson Community Center in Springvale, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Maine CareerCenter. Currently, there are 60 businesses signed up, and Stanley said he expects there will be close to 100 on the day. The fair is set up to be job-seeker friendly, Stanley said, and advised anyone looking for work to stop by.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]m.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: