Cotton to Towels and Sheets
By Norris Dearmon
For the Kannapolis Citizen
In order to keep any manufacturing operation going, there are a lot of other segments necessary for production of the product. First and foremost, there have to be sales. Cannon Mills Inc. of New York, under the supervision of Hugh J. Toumey, was responsible for sales for Cannon Mills Co. It was a large organization of well over a hundred salesmen who topped previous sales each year for many years.
At Cannon, the Information System Department, which I wrote about earlier, received all of the orders and did all of the billing. Inventories were maintained and reports were produced to inform the Production Department what to produce.
Towel and Sheet Production Departments were separate departments because the products were so different. Towels were first beginning with the production of huck cloth, which was sold by the yard. The housewives hemmed their own towels at the length they needed. Then there was what was called crash towels, which was similar to huck with a little different weave. Finally after WWI, terry caught on and is what we use today. Of course, many changes in design and colors are what we expect in our current market.
Sheets for years were made in white only, so the Sheet Production Company was small until Cannon started production of fashion items. It was a first for Cannon and the textile industry and production exploded. The department also grew.
Accounts Receivable received all of the money for the products and kept track of the accounts for the company. The department was responsible for the credit limits of the customers. As the years went by, the department had to grow.
The Purchasing Department contracted with companies for all of the items needed, which for Cannon Mills was a lot. All salesmen had to see them first before checking with various departments about their needs. Of course, when it came to purchasing large quantities of such items as looms, spinning frames and other large-ticket items, management was involved.
Accounts Payable always paid the bills for the cost of manufacturing and kept track of where the order should be placed in the ledger for a number of reasons. All of the bills had to meet three things before the bill being paid: First, had the material or item been ordered? Second, had it been received by the plant or department needing it? Third, had the supplier invoiced according to the purchase order? Mr. Cannon always wanted to pay for anything the company purchased in a timely fashion. He wanted no debt, which is different from most companies today. The company was debt free until it was first sold.
Emissions from the smokestacks eventually became an environmental problem. Another section of the Engineering Department, under the direction of Mr. Max Thomason, conquered the problem. They were able to clean the emission from the coal-fired boilers to the point that the air emitted from the stacks was only a clean, white-looking vapor, a non-pollutant. The boilers consumed 15 tons of powered coal per hour and furnished steam for all of Plant 1, Plant 4 and the business section downtown. Much of the time, only one boiler was used because they were so efficient. To be able to burn that much coal and emit only a non-pollutant vapor was quiet a feat for the department.
I am amazed at the organization of Cannon Mills and all they accomplished in the 100 years of operation, especially the Cannon years. The employees were loyal and treated well. That kind of loyalty will not be a part of business today.
This is the last of the articles on Cotton to Towels and Sheets. Each of the above departments could have had a complete article on them, which I may do at a later time. There were a lot of different departments in the company who played a vital part in the operation of the plants. Without all of them, the company would not have been as successful as it was.