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Adaptability, innovation keys to GF League's 100-year success story

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Staying in business for 100 years requires immense skill, foresight and adaptability. Fourth-generation family owned GF League Company of Greenville has demonstrated all three as it has grown from a wholesale lumber brokerage business in 1917 to a flourishing global brand with a stake in a wide variety of consumer markets in 2017.

Founded by G. Frank League Sr. at the site of the old Greenville News building as a wholesale lumber brokerage business, the company soon found a lucrative market manufacturing wooden machine parts for the growing textile industry of the early 20th century. The expanding business moved to its second location on Furman Road as demand for its textile machine parts grew.

As technology advanced into the 1950s, the manufacturing world became infiltrated by plastic technology, a revolutionary advance in machine part durability. League pioneered the plastic movement in the textile machine industry, and continued to develop its manufacturing capabilities into the 1980s when the textile industry fell into decline. With the sinking of textiles came the growth of cutting-edge technology in computerized machining. League invested in computer numerical control (CNC) machinery, which is designed to perform a wide range of two- and three-dimensional manufacturing tasks. With this new technology, League could broaden its focus serving a wide array of industries including marine, signage, architecture and mining, to name a few.

League further expanded its consumer market in 2003 with the addition of Quick-Crate, a division dedicated to manufacturing collapsible, reusable shipping containers primarily for use in automotive, aerospace and defense. The brand has since grown to include export-compliant stock crates, available for immediate shipment, as well as the option to custom design crates based on user-specific criteria. Less than 10 years after Quick-Crate’s introduction, the growth of business into a global brand beckoned another factory relocation and expansion into the former Dan River Wunda Weave plant where League Manufacturing and Quick-Crate share space in the renovated 130,000-square-foot, solar-powered facility.

The company’s deftness in seeking solutions through continuous product development has generated the opportunity to work on an eclectic mix of projects, including a 24-foot replica Fender guitar for the Super Bowl; tram car frames for Disney; signage for the Olympics; copper-clad acoustic components for Recording Architecture in London; 3D-surfaced lifting blocks for 150-foot wind turbine blades and shipping crates for baby zebras.  Its success has long since been based on its ability to partner with customers using a systematic approach to unique applications. 

League continues to seek improvement in product development, machining technologies, financial planning and employee development, areas that have been key to its 100-year success story. Moving forward, the company plans to continue to grow its presence in new markets while exploring the possibility of establishing manufacturing facilities globally.

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