In 1935, Ernest A. Mills founded Mills Manufacturing in New York City as a producer of women’s silk undergarments. As WWII began, we shifted to manufacturing military cut and sew items, including parachutes, tents, and mosquito netting, and other products made of lightweight fabrics to support the war effort.
In the early 1950s, after the outbreak of the Korean War, we received a large contract to make military cargo parachutes. Mills Manufacturing relocated to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1952 to take advantage of nearby suppliers, favorable real estate conditions, and a skilled workforce. It was at this time that we turned our attention to producing military parachute systems full time. This focus has continued for decades.
Today, we serve the entire US Military and more than 65 other countries. We’ve expanded our operations to accommodate clients looking for commercial and industrial contract cut and sew products.
Mills remains a family-owned and operated manufacturer located in Asheville, North Carolina. Jim Turner, Ernest’s son-in-law, succeeded him as president of the company for the next 30 years with Ernest’s daughter, Pam Turner, serving as board chair. The company is now in its third generation of family ownership and operations. John Oswald married Robin Turner, Ernest’s granddaughter, and joined the company in 1998. He currently serves as the company president. While lots of things have changed since 1935, so much has stayed the same. All decisions are made locally, and within the family that comprises the company’s top management. Mills continues to give back to a community that has given it so much. Read more about our community involvement.