On Monday, July 28, Hardwick Clothes will celebrate its 134th birthday with a new owner, a new CEO, a new look and a new spirit.
That will be the day Cleveland businessman and Hardwick owner Allan Jones, along with the more than 200 employees, will raise the same American flag Hardwick founder C.L. Hardwick raised over the company on its first day more than a century ago.
Jones has incorporated that flag into the new look of Hardwick Clothes and has said almost from the beginning that flag will fly again and the spirit of American workmanship it symbolizes will again regain the prominence it once held.
The Old Glory of 1880 that will again fly over the Hardwick plant had only 38 stars, but Jones sees a sky full of possibilities as the new era at Hardwick officially begins.
“Since that first day, the company has survived two major fires, two World Wars, the Great Depression, leisure suits, NAFTA and — worst of all — making us watch China manufacture our Olympic team’s blazers,” Jones said in announcing the celebration.
Hardwick also survived a near-demise by bankruptcy after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation forced the company into acquiring protection mode after it demanded a more than $4 million payment with only a few days notice.
That is when Jones stepped up to buy the company with a $1.9 million agreement through Jones CaptitalCorp. LLC noting the company’s Cleveland-steeped tradition and the employees who have been so dedicated to their craft in making the Hardwick brand renowned.
He is also willing to “show ‘em the money” when it comes to being serious about being a competitive company once again.
Jones said he will spend $10 million in advertising alone this year to promote the Hardwick brand and the new company website, Hardwick.com.
His first priority as new owner was to find “the best leader possible to guide the 134-year-old company into the future” and that leader will be formally introduced next Monday.
Bruce Bellusci, formerly the executive vice president of sales at Hart Shaffner & Marx, has been selected as Hardwick’s ninth CEO/president after a nationwide search to fill the position.
Bellusci has worked at Hart Shaffner & Marx for 34 years and served in his vice presidential position since 2006 where he was responsible for sales, merchandising, advertising, marketing and distribution.
He is regarded as an expert in the tailored menswear business.
“Hardwick Clothes will soon be known as the company with the best blazer in the world and we wanted the best CEO to help us get there,” said Jones. “With Bruce on our team, there is no limit to what we can achieve. The whole world is watching.”
Bellusci said he and Jones share a common commitment to excellence and success.
“Hardwick is the oldest business of its kind in America and Allan and I will work together to make the brand famous again worldwide,” Bellusci said. “Allan believes the pendulum is swinging back to ‘Made in America’ and I agree — the future looks good for Hardwick and other American-made brands.”
He said he has already been impressed with what he has seen from the Hardwick team and Jones CapitolCorp.
“The employees at Hardwick are enthusiastic and excited about the challenge ahead,” Bellusci said. “The journey starts now to regaining our national prominence. Working together, we will revitalize the Hardwick brand and reach new levels of success. The best is yet to come.”