New life for antenna plant

american factories smithfield
Channel Master's old plant becomes Raven's new plant in Smithfield, N.C.
  • Location: Smithfield, N.C.

Smithfield, N.C., prides itself on being a diverse manufacturing community. But that's made the last decade turbulent.

"We lost several textile companies and other product manufacturers to Mexico and China," said Chris Johnson, director of economic development with Johnston County, N.C. "This killed over 4,000 factory jobs in Smithfield and Johnston County in the 1990s."

TV antenna maker Channel Master, which had been in the area since 1982, was bought out three times before it finally exited its Smithfield factory in the mid-2000s. "This could have been another blow for the community," said Johnson.

Fortunately, Raven Antenna Systems, a maker of satellite antennas, moved in and took over 300,000 square feet of the 750,000-square-foot plant in 2009.

Johnson said it saved about 300 jobs and kept the facility from being yet another dead factory.

First published April 22, 2014: 11:20 AM ET

Partner Offers

Most Popular