GREENVILLE — Monday is Labor Day, a day set aside by the federal government in 1894 to honor the American worker. Thankfully, over the past few years, strong economic recovery nationwide and here at home means a lot more American workers are getting to take the day off for a barbecue with the family and have a job to go back to on Tuesday.
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez has spent the weeks leading up to Labor Day traveling the country to talk with American workers and business owners, as well as state and local leaders, about how to work together to grow that prosperity even more.
Closer to home, Sen. Sherrod Brown has been visiting companies throughout the region talking to business leaders and asking what he can do to help them.
On Thursday, Brown rolled into Darke County, first making an informal stop in Greenville to recognize workers, then traveling out to the outskirts of Arcanum to visit a company that supports the American worker in the strongest way possible — by insisting that its products are 100-percent American made.
From the cotton grown in American fields to the American textile mills weaving high-quality denim to the buttons and snaps and zippers, All American Clothing works with companies in 20 states, insisting on a supply line that is fully American made. Those components then are put together to All-American’s specifications by domestic manufacturing facilities to produce the brand that is distributed directly from the Arcanum facility.
Owners of All American, father and son Lawson and B.J. Nickol spent some time talking with Brown about the history of the company and its philosophy.
Lawson told Brown that he had previously worked for an company that was 100-percent U.S. made, but then he learned that a location in the production was not in the United States. He went to the CEO of the company about his concern. Two days later, Lawson was out of a job.
Undeterred, Lawson teamed up with his son to start a new company that adhered to the All-American philosophy without exception. Today, his wife, daughter and daughter-in-law are part of the family business that employs about 12 people most of the year and grows up to about 20 employees during the busy holiday season.
Brown showed great admiration for the business story, himself a champion of the “made in the U.S.A.” philosophy.
“The U.S. has a rich history of apperal manufacturing,” Brown said. “All-American Clothing returns to those roots by producing quality products and keeping jobs here in Ohio. But we need to make it easier for companies like All-American Clothing to create jobs and grow operations here. That’s why I’m working to ensure American manufacturers can stay competitive and out-innovate the rest of the world.”
Brown is a strong supporter of American manufacturing. Last year, he introduced the “Wear American Act,” legislation that would require all textile products purchased by federal agencies to be made in the U.S. Current law only requires federal agencies to purchase textile products that are 51 percent American made.
The “Buy American” philosophy is a further boost to the economic recovery that has seen Darke County unemployment fall from double digits just a few years ago to its current level of less than 5 percent.
Darke County’s top 10 employers are Whirlpool Corp., 1,100 employees; Greenville Technology Inc., 894 employees; Midmark Corp., 727 employees; Wayne Healthcare, 477 employees; FRAM Group, 377 employees; Brethren Retirement Community, 372 employees; Dick Lavy Trucking, 235 employees; Beauty Systems Group, 167 employees; Norcold Inc., 154 employees; and PolyOne Designed Structure & Solutions LLC, 150 employees.
Of those top employers, five are manufacturing facilities. Local manufacturing continues to grow and expand, with company hiring events in the works ready to hire the employees who have prepared for the labor force under recent workforce development initiatives, including appropriate training, education and opportunity awareness.
Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA.