Clothing firm to add 180 jobs

January 14, 1997


Staff Writer

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. - An expansion of manufacturing, warehouse and office space at the Franklin Clothing Co. in northern Franklin County will add 180 jobs over the next three years, increasing the work force at the garment factory to nearly 300, company officials said Monday.

The expansion will cost about $2.7 million, including $940,000 in state jobs training grants and jobs tax credits and $1.9 million being put up by the company.

About 60 percent of the new jobs will be for sewing machine operators.

The expansion comes at the expense of a company plant in Fitchburg, Mass., which will be closed, company spokesman Mark Falcone said at a news conference at the Shippensburg plant Monday. Falcone said the company closed the plant because of "economic reasons. We just couldn't turn that plant around," he said. Falcone also said the company had trouble finding workers at its Massachusetts plant.


Michael Ross, president of the Franklin Area Development Corp., said there is an abundance of experienced garment workers in Franklin County.

Franklin Clothing moved to Shippensburg, which straddles the border of Franklin and Cumberland counies, two years ago into a plant vacated by Grief Clothing, another garment maker. Many Grief workers were hired by Franklin Clothing.

The new jobs are welcome in light of the closing of the J. Schoeneman Inc. garment factory in Chambersburg. Once home to more than 1,000 workers, Schoeneman has cut its work force to about 300, Ross said. He said 125 more will be dismissed in May and the rest will go when the plant closes in August. Falcone said his company will try to hire Schoeneman workers. Five former Schoeneman workers started new jobs at the Shippensburg plant on Monday, said John Valenti, Franklin Clothing's CEO.

Ross called the expansion "a big deal for Shippensburg and for Franklin County and a big deal investment and employment wise. We've had some recent bad economic news and this will help to turn things around," he said.

Franklin Clothing workers belong to the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers union. They average $7.50 an hour on piece work.

Individualized Apparel Group makes upscale custom and ready-made mens suits and clothes, Falcone said. Suit prices range from $400 to $3,200 and sell under such names as Brooks Brothers, Nordstrom and the Group's own Tom James label. It also makes men's clothing for L.L. Bean, he said.

The Group has 2,800 employees in 14 plants, including 800 who work in five Pennsylvania plants, Falcone said. It has a sales force of 500 who call on customers in their places of work.

Franklin Clothing makes pants for the suits and currently produces about 800 pairs a day. Falcone said by summer the number will grow to 1,400 pairs a day.

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