Boss Manufacturing announces closing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 15, 2000

After more than 40 years as

one of Greenville and Butler County's primary manufacturing employers, officials at Boss Manufacturing announced to employees last week the company would be closing the doors to its operation in the Greenville Industrial Park for good as of June 30.

The announcement, made by corporate President Bruce Lancaster on April 7, created an air of sadness among the near 100 employees although company officials say the news came as no surprise to anyone.

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Greenville Plant Manager David Brown said rumors of the plant's closing have been circulating for some time, but he said the Boss employees seemed to feel like they were losing part of their family when the official announcement finally came.

"We have people who have been working here since the 1950s and everyone has become like a big family," Brown said. "The news of the closing was tough, especially for some of our long-term employees, because it is like losing a member of the family."

The Greenville closing comes at the end of many years of downsizing for Boss. Brown said the work glove manufacturer has faced increased competition from imports from Asia, and that it is no longer financially feasible for the company to continue to manufacture its own products. Brown said Boss will continue to market imported products under the Boss name through its corporate headquarters in Kewanee, Ill.

"The sewing industry has become extremely competitive and it is just too expensive to compete with imports," Brown said. "Over the years, imports have chipped away at the market and Boss has continued to downsize."

Brown said Boss does have one manufacturing facility still in operation in Juarez, Mexico; however, he said the company doesn't expect to keep that facility in operation very much longer.

Brown said the Greenville plant opened in the fall of 1950 as Riegel Manufacturing and was purchased by Boss in 1961. He said for a number of years during the 60s and 70s the Greenville plant was the largest work glove manufacturer in the world with more than 700 employees.

Brown said the company has applied for and received approval for TRA benefits for the near 100 employees who will be left without work. These benefits will provide re-training, re-schooling and extended unemployment benefits for Boss employees as they make the transition into new jobs.

"There will be some small severance packages available to employees who stay with us until June 30," He said. "And the company is doing everything it can to make the transition as painless as possible for everyone."

Brown said Boss has plans to sell its facility in the Greenville Industrial Park. Butler County Commission for Economic Development Director Ricky McLaney said his office has been working to market the property while Boss was still in operation, and has already made contacts with a number of companies that have shown interest in the facility.