He also cited trade agreements set in place January 1 that lifted quotas limiting the number of imports that could be brought to the U.S., virtually killing all small manufacturers in the U.S.
According to Long, his business is like playing basketball. He scores 2 points, while opponents overseas score 40 points for each basket. His reference is in regard to a pay scale in which his employees receive an average of $8 per hour while workers overseas receive a 40-cent wage per hour. Long cited this as another leading cause for the loss of business to overseas competition.
"Layoffs will begin May 13," Long said at a press conference Monday.
In addition to the production facility in Cadiz, a finishing plant will also be shut down in Hopkinsville. A distribution plant owned by the company will remain in operation, Long said.
The closing will affect all 89 employees at the production plant as well as the finishing plant. However, Long said all would be compensated as much as possible. He said employees will receive a severance payment as well as assistance with insurance and job placement assistance. The company does not offer retirement packages.
For some employees, the plant’s closing is heartbreaking. Many of the workers, including Ann Burnam, 52, of Cadiz, has been there her whole career.
Burnam said she graduated in May of 1971 and became employed with Elk Brand in July. She has worked at the plant ever since.
Burnam and the rest of the workers at the longest standing factory in Cadiz were notified Friday afternoon of the plant’s closing, and in her words it was not the best of days.
"It was really rough," Burnam said. "It was like a funeral."
Fortunately for Burnam, her children are grown and she only has to support her husband and herself. She is paid based on her production of zippers, a job she has done since day one on the Elk Brand payroll.
Factory made investment ten years ago in equipment
It was just over ten years ago the company had announced a $700,500 expansion of its facility with state-of-the-art machines and equipment. "Our goal is to get this state of the art equipment for the plant and continue productivity while giving our employees a clean comfortable place to work," Long said at that time.
In an article published in the June 15, 1994 The Cadiz Record, Long noted the Nashville based company had just spent $500,000 on the Cadiz facility just 18 months prior, bringing the company’s investment to $1.5 million.
The renovation took place at the Lafayette Street facility that had been constructed in the late 1940s.
"We’ve completely remodeled the lunchroom to include new tables and chairs, new walls, ceilings and all the rest rooms have been remodeled," Long said in the article.
In 1994, Elk Brand employed 180 persons and produced 550 dozen pair of jeans per day. The additional equipment was expected to increase production with the same number of employees.
At one time Elk Brand also had a cutting room in the former gymnasium in the former Mac Upton School on Jefferson Street. The company purchased that building in 1984.
Scott Brown contributed to this story.