BRENHAM, Texas — Hanger manufacturer Navisa Inc. abruptly closed its Brenham, Texas, plant last week, according to local news reports, leaving 71 employees out of work.
Navisa acquired the 150,000-sq.-ft. facility in December 2003 after former owner Cleaners Hanger Co. (CHC) filed for bankruptcy and liquidated its assets. The largest hanger plant in the country, it manufactured up to 25,000 struts and 10,000 shirt hangers weekly, supplying customers in drycleaning and uniform-rental businesses nationwide with a full line of hangers, poly packaging and other supplies.
Employees returning to work April 2 found the factory doors locked and a note saying that the plant had closed, according to a report in the Bryan-College Station Eagle. About 20 of the newly unemployed attended a job fair held by a state employment agency, Texas Workforce Solutions, later in the week.
Domestic hanger manufacturers have been struggling to compete with foreign competitors for much of the decade. CHC, M&B Hangers and United Wire Hanger joined early in 2003 to seek trade protections from Chinese manufacturers through the International Trade Commission (ITC), but a recommended tariff on hanger imports was rejected by the Bush administration.
Page Michel, president and CEO of the Brenham Economic Development Foundation, says that the competition proved too strong for Navisa. “Most of our other plants are expanding,” she told the Eagle. “This particular one just fell to the pressure of the overseas competition.”
Michel says that Navisa’s former employees have since gained access to the facility to retrieve their personal effects, and some have been contacted by the company with severance details. Calls and e-mails to Navisa’s Houston headquarters requesting comment have produced no response so far.