Apparel company brings manufacturing to NC, mulls HQ move

Apparel company brings manufacturing to NC, mulls HQ move

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Petaluma, California-based premium apparel maker Kitsbow is moving most of its operations to a rural community outside of Asheville, citing the San Francisco Bay Area’s tight labor market and high housing costs.

The company has more than 20 employees in Petaluma, with some being offered transfers to the company’s new manufacturing operation in Old Fort, North Carolina. Kitsbow makes apparel for mountain bikers.

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The company’s headquarters and two key employees will remain in Petaluma — for now, Kitsbow CEO David Billstrom told the San Francisco Business Times from North Carolina, where he’s now based. Asked whether the headquarters will move, he said that’s an “open-ended question.”

“I have a labor problem, not a headquarters problem, at the moment,” said Billstrom, who is ramping up production to meet demand.

In North Carolina, the fast-growing company has big ambitions. It’s on track to eventually bring back all of its manufacturing from Asia, a move Billstrom said was in the works before the trade war with China began.

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