HERE’S OUR STORY
Two young Germans……
…. moved to the United States in the late 1880’s. Ferdinand Thun, born in Barmen in 1866, and Henry Janssen, also born in Barmen in 1866, came to the United States to begin separate careers. A mutual friend, Max Mittendorf, felt the two should know each other. Thun and Janssen met, and learned that they were born within a week of each other, and that they both shared a determination to go into business. They became fast friends. The two decided on an ambitious and daring plan, to make braiding machinery in competition with the better-known German manufacturers.
Thun and Janssen started their business in Reading, at 222 Cedar Street. Rent was $40 a month. On July 5, 1892, the “Textile Machine Works” had opened for business.
Hard time affected all businesses during this timeframe, yet the young partners persevered, investing money into plant improvements, and even making contributions to charity. In its third year of operation the business received a large order for braiding machinery. Thun and Jannsen foresaw the inevitable growth in business, and began to look for an area to construct a larger plant. In 1896, they built a new plant in nearby Wyomissing, and moved their “Textile Machine Works” out of Reading.
The close of the nineteenth century found “Textile Machine Works” in the right position at the right time. The company experienced rapid growth, which necessitated the erection of one building after another, in quick succession. An elaborate tunnel system was installed to carry utilities between the buildings, and ultimately extended to over a mile and a half in length (an entrance to the tunnel can be seen in our main hallway). Ultimately three companies evolved under the name Wyomissing Industries, Textile Machine Works (the largest manufacturer of full-fashioned hosiery machinery), Berkshire Knitting Mills (the largest producer of full-fashioned hosiery), and Narrow Fabric Company.
Decades later, in 1957, profound change came to The Textile Machine Works. Fashion trends brought an end to full fashioned hosiery, leaving the business without a major product and limited business prospects.
Fast forward almost 50 years to early 2002. A family driving through Wyomissing noticed a “For Sale” sign in front of the former Textile Machine Works factory. The building was purchased, and after massive renovations opened as “The Works” in April 2003. Eleven years later, the business has been through a constant process of change and growth, with more growth and change to come. We take pride in our history and are glad that you have chosen to enjoy our unique and special space that we call “The Works” !