Beach appeal galore on Hwy 33: Sew American lands in Luverne
By: Shayla Terry
In October, Wayne Benton met a Ben Kaufman in what seemed like a simple business transaction. Now, the pair has opened Sew American, an embroidery and outlet facility, in the City of Luverne.
“I own a company called Sew Tech,” Benton said. “It’s a 20 year old company, and we repair embroidery machines. I have learned embroidery from top to bottom.”
Ben Kaufman, of Kaufman Towels based in Miami, Florida, commissioned Benton to sell him a commercial embroidery machine. After delivering the machine to the company, Benton also did some fine-tuning within the company.
“While I was there, he wanted me to take a look at his operation,” Benton said. “I spent five days retraining his embroidery operators.”
Benton’s improvements resulted in a 30 percent increase in production for Kaufman’s towels, and started a budding friendship.
“It kind of blew his mind,” Benton said. “Until then, he just thought the only way to increase production was by buying more equipment, and I showed him a better way.”
Benton and his wife, Vicki, own the Country Spool, an embroidery and screen-printing shop in Highland Home. This past winter, the County Spool was looking relocated to a bigger facility.
Benton mentioned to Kaufman his desire to move to another city with his company. When Kaufman was told of the opportunity of beach traffic on Crenshaw County’s Highway 331, his interest was piqued.
“When I said beach traffic his eyes lit up,” Benton said. “Because beach towels are his number one client, that’s what he sells the most product to.”
Benton and Kaufman then discussed getting a property together, and having a beach outlet. The idea is now Sew American, located in the old Douglas Pharmaceuticals Building at 72 Jane Drive in Luverne.
The 135,000 square feet building was purchased from the City of Luverne.
“We worked with them to get them to come here,” said Crenshaw County Director of Economic Development Robyn Snellgrove. “We had the workforce available. This used to be a sewing county. Our factories have since shutdown, but we still have those people that worked in those sewing factories.”
Snellgrove worked with the Luverne City Council and the Crenshaw County Commission to secure Sew American.
“The commission helped with the buildings renovations,” Snellgrove said. “The council owns the building, and is now leasing to them with an option to purchase in the future. We were lucky we had a building that was available, ready to move in, suitable for their needs, and in a logistic place.”
Kaufman Towels is in the process of moving most of their production from Miami to Luverne. Sew American has already begun production. In addition to embroidery, the facilities’ beach outlet is also now open for business.
“The outlet is primary aimed at beach goers, but that’s not the only thing we offer,” Benton said. “We have high quality bed sheets, robes, and clothing. We have all kinds of things.”
The facility also houses a trophy business that Benton will be getting off the ground in the coming weeks.
Sew American currently has 16 employees, but will require more employees once all of production has migrated from Luverne. Applications can be put in at the facility.