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Last chapter: Bruck Mills becomes Consoltex

Sale to Consolidated Textiles Mills, a second wind
Negotiations for the sale of Bruck Mills to Consolidated Textiles Mills are completed on February 19, 1979. The former Bruck is then incorporated into the Canadian division of this large British-owned company, which already has plants in Joliette, Saint-Hyacinthe, and Montmagny as well as in Alexandria, Ontario. The group changes its name two years later to Consoltex.

Color photo of rows of weaving machines

Consoltex modernizes its operations at the Premier Mill, 1979

The activities carried out by Bruck, which until then had maintained a separate identity, are merged with those of Consoltex. However, most employees still say they work “à la Bruck”, perpetuating their sense of belonging to now shuttered company.

A worker monitors a roll of fabrics in front of a large machine.

Operator in front of a finishing machine, 1979

Renewal and brief prosperity
Consoltex begins to streamline production at the Cowansville plant by computerizing and modernizing the equipment, but also by reducing its workforce. The personnel, industrial engineering, and quality control departments are simply eliminated. These drastic measures, along with mechanization, allow the factory to become profitable again. By gradually abandoning the fashion market for upholstery fabrics, the factory manages to work at full speed for several years. The number of employees, on the other hand,  steadily decreases, from 884 in the years under Japanese ownership to 600 in 1978 and 475 in 1997.

Montage of three color images showing a sign with the word Consoltex, a warehouse and a building being demolished

Remnants of the plant and demolition, 2018

Permanent closure
Foreign competition in the textile industry becomes increasingly fierce. From the 1980s to the 2000s, the sector experiences numerous layoffs and plant closures, particularly in the Eastern Townships. Shaken by several labour disputes and recurring financial difficulties, the Consoltex plant in Cowansville is threatened. The municipality tries to save this major employer by providing tax relief in 2007 and direct grant assistance in 2008. Despite these efforts, the factory, now employing only 94 workers, closes its doors for good on December 17, 2010.