Sage adds Abbeville plant

Four months after spinning off from Milliken & Co., Spartanburg-based Sage Automotive Interiors has acquired an additional manufacturing facility in Abbeville.

The Sharon plant, owned by Milliken, was to be closed this year. It has now become the fifth North American manufacturing facility for Sage, with the saving of between 70 and 80 jobs, said Dirk Pieper, its chief executive officer.

"It was a strategic fit for us," he said, and significantly increases internal weaving capability for future growth.

With this weaving facility and a dyeing and finishing plant that was part of the original acquisition, Sage is the second-largest employer in Abbeville County, he said.

The acquisition "is another step in demonstrating Sage's commitment to manufacturing in the Upstate," said Brian McSharry, chief operating officer.

"That's an outcome of viability of a plant in a highly competitive industry," said Bruce Yandle, dean emeritus of Clemson University's College of Business and Behavioral Science.

When Sage was spun off, it came from a strong background, he said, and has remained "a competitive supplier in an international marketplace."

Retaining jobs and keeping facilities open and productive is a major help to the Upstate's economy, he said.

Milliken's sale of its automotive cloth division to Sage Automotive was completed in September. Former Milliken division executives founded the new company, which is based in the Upstate. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sage makes automotive body fabric for seating, door panel surfaces and headliners under the Yes Essentials and FXC brands, as well as other branded products.

Global offices and manufacturing locations include the U.S., Japan, China, Brazil, Korea and Europe. About 1,000 former Milliken employees worldwide now work for Sage Automotive.