Maurice Bodenstein

Maurice Bodenstein was an immigrant Polish Jew who survived years in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He spoke several languages and used that skill as an interpreter to gain entry to Canada and eventually to the United States. He ended up in the garment district of New York City working for HBI Industries, a manufacturer of Ban Lon knit shirts. HBI opened a facility in Fairmont in 1961, named it Fairmont Knitting Mill and Bodenstein moved here as plant manager.

He immediately immersed himself in the community, getting to know the townspeople as well as his employees on a first name basis. He joined the high school booster club and the Civitan Club and was active in both. He purchased so many cake raffle tickets from the cheerleaders, never winning one, that they rigged the drawing so he would win. As was his nature, he shared that cake with everyone around him.

The business was growing rapidly. They added an Alpaca sweater line while increasing BanLon production and looked to build another local plant. But Bodenstein was not happy and wanted a plant of his own. He and several local investors made that happen in October, 1966 when they formed South Robeson Knitting Mill.

Operating in the former South Robeson schoolhouse, Bodenstein ran knitting, cutting and sewing right there. In July of 1968, they moved to their new building on White Pond Road. The new building was expanded almost as soon as they moved in, then again two years later. They continued their expansion as they merged with Val d'Or Industries of New York City in 1970. A thermal printing department and a distribution center was added in a separate building. In 1973, Consolidated Foods, a conglomerate, purchased Val d'Or. Bodenstein left the company in 1977.

He died in 1982.


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