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Pivoting in the Pandemic Part II: From Socks to Masks in Kansas City
June 09, 2020 Elizabeth Thomas, Business Development Specialist

For over 90 years Knit-Rite, of Kansas City, Kansas, has been manufacturing innovative textiles for medical and consumer markets. Responding to the COVID-19 crisis, Knit-Rite moved quickly and converted their manufacturing facility to producing face masks that are so desperately needed to protect people in the U.S.

Founded in 1923 by a WWI veteran and amputee, Knit-Rite’s innovative solutions promote mobility, protection and comfort, helping to improve the lives of people around the world. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Knit-Rite team worked tirelessly to convert its Kansas City and Hamlet, North Carolina, manufacturing operations to making face masks for the general public in the U.S. For every mask that is sold, the company donates a mask to people in vulnerable populations or with critical needs. Currently manufacturing 60 to 80 thousand masks a week, the company hopes to keep increasing their output to meet demand. Check out this two-minute video to see what they’ve accomplished.

Prior to pivoting in the pandemic, Knit-Rite found extensive demand for their compression and prosthetic products worldwide. With the combination of high quality fabrics, ISO international medical certification, and demand for made-in-the-U.S. medical devices, the company expanded into exporting and started generating revenue from international sales.

With the support of its EXIM registered insurance broker Meridian Finance, Knit-Rite offers foreign buyers open account credit terms, which helps them be more competitive in international markets, reduces paperwork and streamlines the transaction for both the buyer and the seller, and results in a better customer experience. An export credit insurance policy protects the U.S. company. It covers the foreign receivables generated by open account sales up to 95 percent of the gross invoice amount, mitigating the risk of nonpayment by international buyers.

Knit-Rite has manufacturing facilities in two states and in 2017 was named North Carolina’s “Rural Exporter of the Year.” When asked what advice he would give other small businesses, Knit-Rite President Chris Vering says,

“Look to as many resources as possible, including your state Commerce department, the U.S. Commercial Service and EXIM.  There are lots of services out there to help businesses get started.” 

EXIM is honored to support companies like Knit-Rite and we thank everyone who is working to help us get through this time.  Want to learn more? Click on the link below for a consultation with an EXIM trade specialist.

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EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.