“What I found when I came here was a great core of people,” new Hardwick CEO Bruce Bellusci said in a one-on-one interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner. “There are 221 employees who have been here through good times and, most recently, some tough times. That’s the dedication [Hardwick president] Allan Jones brought me here for and why I’m here, to rebuild this into a great American company.”
He said the journey has already begun with a great foundation — the people of Hardwick Clothes.
“The building needs to be updated, the product needs to continue to evolve and move along and that’s all going to happen,” Bellusci said. “But the most important thing is the people that we have. We have the best people.”
He said when he speaks of the “best people,” that is not limited to those who practice their craft inside the building.
“It’s people in the community who have come up to me and said, ‘We’re so excited about Hardwick and what’s going on,’” he said.
Bellusci noted there is a “core of great people who are going to lead this company.”
“I’m not going to lead it. I’m just going to help them get there. I’m going to help make this a great American story,” he said.
He pointed out the family atmosphere with the Hardwick employees works in favor of being successful.
“The company I came out of had the same core of people and family attitude,” he said. “Hardwick is part of Cleveland and part of this county. It’s one in the same and it’s truly a family. We have fourth generation people here — great grandparents, parents, children who all know each other. They are all friends. And it truly is a second home coming here and I think that’s going to separate us with our competitive advantage from the rest of the world.”
One of the people Bellusci has brought to Hardwick is Jefferey Diduch, who like Bellusci, worked with Hart Shaffner & Marx clothiers.
He comes to Hardwick as its new chief creative designer and comes with the same boundless confidence and optimism as Bellusci.
“Instead of having a generic American-tailored clothing, there is a definite flavor to Southern dressing — the colors and the fabric,” Diduch said. “We want to be conscious of that and, though it won’t necessarily sell everywhere, it will help us create an identity for the company and reflect the Southern nature.”
Diduch reinforced Bellusci’s comments about upgrading both equipment and techniques.
“We definitely have the potential to be one of the top tailored clothing producers in the country,” he said. “We need to find where the best niche in the market is and then, instead of taking a product that is pigeon-holed already, we can say that’s where we want to be and that’s where we want to take it.”
Diduch joins the chorus praising the staff that is at Hardwick saying that gives him the confidence of success.
“You find a lot of factories where the people come in and it’s just a job and they do what they are supposed to do and they go home,” he said. “You don’t see the sort of dedication and enthusiasm in many factories like I’ve seen here.”
“That’s one of the things that made me sure I wanted to leave the job that I had and come down here — because of these people. They’re the key. It doesn’t matter how good I am, it’s that the people that are making the product are dedicated to what they are doing.”