New Era decision speaks well of local plant operations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2004

We would not pretend to understand the inner-workings of the manufacturing sector during these tough economic times. We don’t know what helps a company survive when most others have headed south of the U.S. border.

With that said, we find it gratifying — if not down right relieving — to hear news that New Era Cap Co., founded in Buffalo, N.Y., has decided to maintain operations at its Demopolis plant. Though it’s far too early to tell, news that two New York plants have merged likely will mean an increase in production at the Demopolis facility.

Though our knowledge of the manufacturing industry does not compare to that of a ritzy business publication, we have found two interesting angles to this weekend’s news:

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1. New Era Cap Co. was founded in Buffalo. Now the company has decided to close its Buffalo operation and merge it with the plant in Derby, N.Y.

2. New Era Cap Co. had the option of merging any of its facilities, but chose to leave the Jackson and Demopolis plants in operation.

According to one of New Era’s vice presidents, John DeWaal, the company’s plants in the United States all produce virtually the same product. What they make in Derby, DeWaal said, is what they make in Demopolis.

There surely will be employees at the Buffalo operation who lose their jobs after this merger. In Demopolis, it doesn’t appear that will happen. In fact, DeWaal indicated there could be increased work days and consistent work weeks in Demopolis when all is said and done.

The bottom line, it appears to us, is quite simple: the management and staff members at the Demopolis New Era plant must be doing something right. If a company, with its home and headquarters in New York, decides to close one of its own plants down rather than a plant more than 1,000 miles away, shouldn’t that tell us that we’ve got a sound industry in Demopolis?

We don’t know what the future holds for New Era Cap Co. We know there are thousands and thousands of manufacturing jobs that continue to move to South America, and we hold no nave presumptions that change could come just as quickly for the Alabama facilities of New Era.

On the other hand, we also know that Alvin Williams and his staff at New Era in Demopolis must be a productive group. We applaud you for your perseverance through such tough economic times, and the Demopolis community looks forward to an even longer relationship with you.

And to the officials at New Era, we appreciate your commitment to employees in the United States. As a press release issued by the corporate office so clearly stated, most manufacturing jobs are moving out of this country. We believe your decision to keep your facilities in the United States will prove worthwhile in the end.