Aid deal seeks to save jobs at Haas

City offer aims to halt closing of tailoring plant

May 02, 2001|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Baltimore has offered a financial package to the parent of the Haas Tailoring Co. in an attempt to halt the June 18 closing of the 104-year-old company's plant and the loss of 107 jobs.

M. J. "Jay" Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., said that the city's development arm offered the financial package to Individualized Apparel Group (IAG) on Monday and that he is awaiting the New York company's response.

In a filing with the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, IAG said it would halt production and close the plant on Sinclair Lane in East Baltimore on June 18.

Officials from IAG and Haas were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Brodie said he first met with IAG officials in his office April 18 to discuss the closing of the Haas plant, which the parent company acquired a few years ago.

Others at the meeting, he said, were Jeff Pillas, who heads the city development agency's loan functions, and Karen Sitnick, director of the city's Office of Employment Development.

Brodie declined to discuss details of the financial assistance plan. "We have been discussing ways to possibly help the company," he said. "We don't know how things are going to turn out. There is no predicting these things."

During his meeting with IAG officials, Brodie said the company told him the Baltimore plant was not competitive with its other tailoring operations in Westminster and in Shippensburg, Pa.

Brodie said the domestic apparel industry "is a tough business with strong competition from offshore."

He declined to say if foreign competition was a factor in IAG's decision to close the Haas plant.

Jacob Haas, a German merchant, founded the clothing company on Broadway, off Eastern Avenue, in 1897.

The Baltimore clothing industry was so competitive that every manufacturer had to find its own niche. After World War II, Haas specialized in making Sunday clothes for coal miners in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky.

The company then specialized in tailoring custom suits for high-end retailers.

In 1997, a company official said Haas had sales of about $14 million a year. At that time it had 220 workers.

More recently, its clients have included former presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and golfer Tiger Woods.

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