The adventures of a pair of socks that employ an entire town | wherever you are | The USA Print

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The headline comes from the storytelling. You know, the technique of telling a much more complex reality through a simple and close narration.

The story of those socks is enough to talk about how the local economy works, integrated into the global economy. It opens the debate on the depopulation of the countryside and the most efficient ways to stop it. He talks about changes in consumption habits and social emergencies, such as sustainability. And it suggests how to compete based on tradition, innovation, design and brand against the competition from outside our borders.

It is a hook to talk about people. Of the millions who wear them anywhere in the world, and above all, of those who manufacture them in a small part of the world, the town of socksas it is known: Pradoluengo.

References in the national market

The adventures of that pair do not begin the day they are knitted. They date back to 1914, when one of the many textile firms in the area was founded, the direct predecessor of mingo socks who today is run by the fourth generation of the family, José Manuel Mingo: “I don’t remember my life if it isn’t playing among sacks of socks in my father’s old factory.” Moreover, lovers of industrial archeology would have a vein of 500 years, until the first documents on the production of Pradoluenguinos cloths.

José Manuel Mingo, General Manager of Calcetines Mingo, represents the fourth generation of a family business whose origins date back to 1917.
José Manuel Mingo, General Manager of Calcetines Mingo, represents the fourth generation of a family business whose origins date back to 1917.SERGIO GONZALEZ

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.

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Socks are survivors. Cloths, blankets, sweaters, berets and other products succumbed to fashion or accelerated globalization after 2005, but they continued to become the unique product of Mingo and the town. This stretched valley between mountains, with a sloping river that allowed the first mechanization of looms, today covers 25% of the consumption of socks in Spain. Mingo signs more or less a million a year and allocates about 400,000 to export.

We could speak of a “success story” in corporate language. From the three technological revolutions that have experienced this millennium to the electronic machinery that sews seamlessly. Of the continuous training of the workers that makes them experts in their sector and is “a plus for this factory or any other and for their quality of life”, José Manuel points out. From the customization of a design that beats the big Asian manufacturers and ensures demand in the Chueca or Borne stores.

I don’t remember my life if it isn’t playing among sacks of socks in my father’s old factory

José Manuel Mingo, CEO of Socks Mingo

We could talk about R&D that combines natural fibers —wool, organic cotton, viscose…— with synthetic ones such as lobed polyester. Of antibacterial, antistatic, hydrophilic, water-repellent, thermo-dynamic treatments. From design to a variety of high-performance sports uses—these days they deliver a run to a professional cycling team. Of its quality and sustainability certifications. Or the SME of the Year award from the province of Burgos 2021 awarded by Banco Santander and the Chamber of Commerce for their business vision. It is an award that reflects the financial institution’s commitment to four million small and medium-sized businesses that it supports, helps and encourages in their day-to-day activities.

Complete sustainability: environmental, social and economic

We could talk about all that, but let’s go back to the storytelling: the story of two socks that came from the sea. They are part of the FreeWaves by Funstep collection, and their polyester content is made with plastics extracted from the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean. It is a complex industrial technique because these residues are harvested in very different states of degradation —some can take weeks in the water, others six decades— and, “although it is only a small grain of sand, it is a grain of sand in the right direction, such as the purchase of zero kilometer products or the reduction of emissions. What sense does it make to import thousands and thousands of containers of very low quality products”, comments José Manuel. Each pair of FreeWaves by Funstep is equivalent to removing a plastic bag from seawater.

We should get used to understanding that sustainability in its full version: not only environmental, but also social and economic. It is the other great story that reflects this garment because mingo socks it is a lifesaver for a town of barely 1,200 inhabitants when it counted double the year the company was born. The question is what would happen in the Pradoluengos on the map if companies like Mingo also emigrate, with a local workforce and linked to the sector for generations. 90% live with their families in the village.

The company is a lifesaver for Pradoluengos.  Of its 25 workers, 90% reside with their families in the town.
The company is a lifesaver for Pradoluengos. Of its 25 workers, 90% reside with their families in the town.SERGIO GONZALEZ

For example, Amaya Pereda decided to return to her origins to raise her son in a healthy environment, and she was able to do so because she found work in the factory. Her brother is also a partner in the company. Ángel Martín, recently retired after 47 years dedicated to textiles, is clear about the formula “so that young people can stay in rural areas: let companies come or at least take care of the ones that exist.”

This is one of the objectives of Banco Santander, which with initiatives focused on advice, promoting digitization, accelerating internationalization or access to financing, supports a group that generates 99% of employment in Spain, and with this the development of regions especially in need of investment, through specific financial products and services, advice and support.

José Manuel is grateful for the SME of the Year award from the province of Burgos because it not only recognizes a company “close to the land”, but the whole of Pradoluengo and a sector “that has disappeared by 80% precisely because of imports at low costs”. negligible”. He also values ​​the visibility of an SME that cannot afford large marketing campaigns.

Socks Mingo was recognized as SME of the Year in the province of Burgos by Banco Santander and the Chamber of Commerce. It is one of the 4 million small and medium-sized companies that the entity supports every day

“The bank was supporting us from the beginning and it helped us a lot that it had an office here in the town, with people we have known all our lives, who support us and have known us for many years,” he adds. Both the award and the daily support from Santander “strengthen our project for the future.”

Discover more initiatives for boost your business hand in hand with Banco Santander.

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