New Era Cap may close Derby plant

DERBY — New Era Cap Company may close its plant in the town of Evans.

The company issued a statement today, explaining its decision. The full statement is below:

Today, New Era Cap Co. notified the Communications Workers of America (CWA) that it is considering the discontinuation of operations at its Derby, NY facility, effective March 2019. This contemplated decision is part of the Company’s ongoing effort to more closely align its business model with its competitors in the global sports, lifestyle and apparel industry by moving away from owning and operating manufacturing plants.

“This is extremely difficult for me. I grew up in Derby and worked in the facility, which has had a long, productive history with the Company,” said Chris Koch, CEO of New Era. “Even as other sports apparel brands moved away from running their own manufacturing plants, we continued making caps at our facility in Derby. But I have an obligation to our employees, partners and customers to ensure the long-term success of this company and we need to keep pace with changes in our industry.”

New Era would continue U.S. production of the caps that Major League Baseball players wear on the field of play. Going forward, this would be done at New Era’s existing facility in Florida, where the Company has production for its 5th & Ocean label. Otherwise, the production currently done in Derby would be absorbed by our existing global supply network.

New Era remains committed to Western New York. In 2006, the Company moved its headquarters to Buffalo and was one of the first anchor tenants of the revitalization of downtown Buffalo. Over the last decade, New Era has had impressive job growth at its Delaware Avenue headquarters, where 337 people currently work. The Company’s headquarters is not affected by the contemplated decision, and the Company expects to further grow its HQ footprint as it moves more aggressively into areas like e-commerce and social marketing.

In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement with CWA Local 14177, the Company has informed the union of its contemplated decision and expects to meet with the union to discuss the matter in the coming weeks. New Era is prepared to offer the affected employees benefits and severance at levels beyond what is required in the current agreement.