BALTIMORE (WJZ)—In the decades around 1900, Baltimore clothing manufacturers employed more workers than any other industry. Those jobs are long gone, most going overseas.
But Mike Schuh reports one survivor is still going strong.
If you look at the labels on your own clothes, you will likely find that nearly all of it is made somewhere else.
Yet this factory isn’t in China. It’s not in Indonesia or South America. The label tells the story.
“Actually, we create a lot of our own equipment,” said Gus Piccinini Jr., Maryland Clothing Manufacturing Inc.
Piccinini is a third generation tailor.
In 1921, his grandfather, Cesar, brought 150 Italian families to Baltimore to sew.
“I just feel like we’ll always do what it takes to win,” Piccinini said.
And win they have. Every officer in the United States Air Force is issued a jacket made in his East Baltimore factory.
At one time there were 400 clothing manufacturers in Maryland; now there are just two.
Three times fabric cutter Rick Ranker saw his job evaporate.
“Izod, Hart Schaftner Marx, Gleneagles,” Ranker said as he ran down names of once local clothing manufactures.
But Ranker has been at Maryland Clothing Manufacturing 22 years because Piccinini keeps winning military contracts.
“Thank God for the government. Whenever you manufacture for the government, everything is made U.S.,” Ranker said.
Even so, investments in automation mean jackets are made in half the time and sold for $62 apiece.
But why did this place survive? It takes Piccinini only four seconds to sum it up.
“I can take pride in this product, and I can make it the best that it can be,” Piccinini said.
And that’s something Angie Fine, with 28 years on the job, appreciates.
“I guess my boss, he trying to keep it up; the good work and everything,” Fine said.
The fourth generation, Piccinini’s son is now learning the business.
“It will be here when I’m dead and gone probably,” Ranker said.
The company makes 90,000 jackets a year and has two years left on its contract with the Air Force.
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