An old slogan states that nothing beats a great pair of legs, and no company attested to that more than Kayser-Roth Corporation of Dayton! According to the Charter of Incorporation, dated July 24, 1913, A. P. Haggard, A. B. Andrews, T. W. Caudle, J. F. Morgan, and W. C. Godsey constituted a corporation for the purpose of manufacturing and dealing in yarns, hosiery, and other knitted fabrics. Three Dayton investors also helped to found the facility. They were: Elmer Kelly, Glenn Woodlee and Dr. G.V. Taylor. Elmer Kelley worked in the hosiery business at that time, earning 50 cents a week. Glenn Woodlee was a local attorney then, and Dr. Taylor was a dentist. Also, this company was known as Dayton Hosiery Mills, and the authorized capital stock was shown to be $60,000. The first product manufactured at the plant was men’s socks.

In 1946, Chester H. Roth Company of New York purchased the plant, and the operation was converted to the manufacture of children’s and misses’ anklets. Also, the sales office was located in New York, and the home office was based in Burlington, North Carolina. At that time the mill became the Dayton Division of Standard Hosiery Mills, Inc.

In 1955, Chester H. Roth Company purchased the Graysville Hosiery Mills, located on Main Street in Dayton, and all knitting operations were moved to that site. The Chester H. Roth Company merged with the Julius Kayser Company in 1958, forming Kayser-Roth Hosiery, Inc. In 1964, expansion started with the knitting and finishing operations being combined, and the knitting was moved back to the present location on Broadway Street. This expansion was completed in 1968, with the addition of the greige goods building being completed in 1965. The present warehouse/distribution area, with floor space of approximately 200,000 square feet was finished in 1968. And in 1975, Gulf and Western acquired controlling ownership of Kayser-Roth, relocating and modernizing the knitting operations.

During 1984, the Dayton plant began production on Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne premium brand hosiery, and Wickes Lumber bought Kayser-Roth from Gulf and Western in 1985. Then Wickes Lumber sold Kayser-Roth to Narrangansett Capital, Inc. in 1988. Next, in 1994, Grupo Synkro, in Mexico, acquired Kayser-Roth; and Kayser-Roth obtained the license for the HUE trademark for production of U. S. hosiery production during that same year. Kayser-Roth was purchased from Grupo Synkro by Golden Lady, spa a Mantobian, Italy based leg ware during 1999. And finally, Kayser-Roth/Golden Lady bought the HUE brand/name from the Leslie Faye brands in 2001.

Kayser-Roth is headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, and operates four plants and two distribution centers in North Carolina and Tennessee. The Dayton mill has had as many as five hundred employees at one time during its heyday. However, after more than one hundred years, the doors are closed and the machinery shut down and shipped back to the headquarters in Greensboro. According to Bob Wisener, the current plant manager, the building will be completely empty by the end of February. This business certainly has a long history with Rhea County; one that we will not be likely to forget soon. Remember, it is important to remember the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.