Business Profile

Flemish Master Weavers

In February, Sanford's City Councilors, the Mayor, the City Manager, and the Executive Director of the Sanford RegionalEconomic Growth Council were treated to a tour of the Flemish Master Weavers facility in South Sanford. The tour gave all of the attendees the chance to be wowed by the complex and intricate work that is done day in and day out, three shifts per day, by the giant looms at FMW.  FMW's state-of-the-art looms produce high quality machine-woven rugs - rugs so attractive that even the City Manager's office boasts two of them!

Flemish Master Weavers has been quietly thriving and growing in South Sanford for over two decades, and today it is one of Sanford's most successful manufacturing companies as well as one of its biggest employers.  The company began as Rainbow Rugs in 1988, acting as a selling agent and warehousing facility for its sister companies in Europe.  In 1991, it underwent its first expansion and began finishing production on-site in Sanford.  Five years later, it became a full-scale weaving manufacturer with the installation of four state-of-the-art looms.  Each of these looms produces tens of thousands of rugs per year.  Yet within three years, demand for rugs had grown so much that the company undertook a second expansion and installed two additional looms - an incredible rate of growth.

In 2001, the company changed its name to become Flemish Master Weavers and in 2002, a majority interest in the company was purchased by Natco Home Fashions, a family-owned New England business.  Natco took full ownership of the company in 2004 and continued to invest in the plant, updating and modernizing equipment and machinery and leading to increased efficiency and output.  In 2008, a third expansion to the plant was completed to provide much-needed warehousing space, and in 2009, FMW became the districution facility for all woven rugs - manufactured as well as imported - for the Natco group.  In 2010, Central Oriental, a manufacturer and importer of high-quality, reasonably-priced oriental rugs, became a division of FMW.  And the following year, despite a challenging economy and global competition, FMW purchased a seventh specialty loom from Belgium-based Van De Wiele and brought it on-line at their Sanford facility.

In 2012, FMW continued its unprecedented growth and expanded its facility again - to 210,000 square feet - and added yet another loom, its eighth.  FMW also achieved another impressive milestone last year by crossing the 100 employee threshold.  Flemish Master Weavers' momentum continues in 2013, as a ninth top-of-the-line loom is on order.  It will be the only Van De Wiele loom to be shipped to the U.S. this year, marking Flemish Master Weavers as a significant rug manufacturer able to expand production with this quality equipment, despite a sluggish global economy.  And it is able to expand, invest, create jobs, produce quality products, and prosper right here in Sanford, Maine.