And specifically, their gaze should fall upon one of our hometown’s oldest and most respected employers.
We refer to Hardwick Clothes, a longtime friend, neighbor and corporate citizen who — as of late — has fallen upon hard times. Serving as America’s oldest privately held clothing manufacturer — since 1880 — comes with great challenge, especially in a competitive corner like the garment industry which is being influenced heavily by our global economy.
Struggling to emerge from financial hardship, which landed the historic manufacturer in bankruptcy court, Hardwick Clothes received its first boost earlier this month with a favorable ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Shelley D. Rucker that salvaged the company’s partnership with its most trusted — and integral — vendor, Burlington Worldwide.
The court decision fueled a spark of hope among strategists who believe a new business model can return the company to solvency.
But such change takes time. And it needs a lighted path.
That path grew a little brighter, and a lot straighter, with an action taken last week. Cleveland businessman Allan Jones, CEO of Jones CapitalCorp LLC, signed an agreement with Hardwick Clothes Inc. to acquire the clothing manufacturer and all its assets for $2 million.
The asset purchase agreement was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last Wednesday afternoon. At the end of business on the same day, Jones — along with Tommy Hopper, chairman and president of Hardwick Clothes — met with the company’s 225-strong workforce to announce their actions.
In keeping with Hardwick’s valued tradition of operating in a “family” setting, it was appropriate for the most important members of that family — the employees — to be the first to know of the exciting developments.
Before the acquisition can become final, U.S. Bankruptcy Court must conduct an open hearing on April 10 to allow any who oppose the motion to voice their concerns. Once all interested parties have had their say, the court will set a final hearing date for the judge’s decision.
Although we will not claim any level of expertise in bankruptcy proceedings, we do recognize what appears to be a good thing when we see it. As we mentioned earlier, good things happen to good people.
The employees at Hardwick Clothes, and the company itself, constitute good people. They have worked — and lived — under a veil of uncertainty for long enough.
We like the Jones CapitalCorp LLC proposal because we believe Jones — who is a dedicated hometown philanthropist and successful entrepreneur — is making the offer for all the right reasons.
One, he’s “buying local.” His own company is well-recognized as one of Cleveland’s most successful and Hardwick Clothes is one of Cleveland’s oldest. It’s a good match.
Two, he’s acting from the heart. Among Hardwick’s large workforce, the average employee tenure is more than 13 years. Such numbers show dedication and a belief in the company.
Three, while most U.S. clothing manufacturers have fled offshore, Hardwick Clothes has stayed the course. It hasn’t been easy. It isn’t now. Jones’ business offer is the company’s reward for faith in community and belief in the future of American manufacturing.
Four, innovation is hoped to serve as the light for Hardwick Clothes’ path into the future. Any successful businessman embraces product quality, timely delivery, cost efficiencies and employee safety. Jones is no exception. His preliminary business model already foresees ratcheting up expectations, starting with quality of raw materials.
Five, a risk worth taking is worth jumping in feet first. To quote Jones during an interview with our staff writer Brian Graves, “Most industries are revolutionized by people that don’t understand them. Hardwick has great potential and will regain its competitive posture in the near future.”
Six, his faith in Hardwick Clothes goes far beyond the power of positive thinking. Jones truly believes this ship is setting a course for smoother sailing. That doesn’t mean it might not occasionally get blown off course by the uncertain winds of change and the fluctuating tides of momentum. But it does mean he’s in it for the long haul.
Hardwick Clothes is more than just a beloved friend.
Hardwick Clothes is greater than just a piece of fabric from our America of old.
Hardwick Clothes is us. Hardwick Clothes is who we are. Hardwick Clothes is why hometown Cleveland is still called home by so many.
This is a bold move by Allan Jones. But it is the right move. And we thank him for taking this leap of faith.
We encourage Hardwick Clothes workers, and their families and loved ones, to stay strong and to fight the good fight.
Winning is not today’s goal.
And with survival will come the road to recovery, and then to victory, one promising day at a time.