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Clothing maker changes hands after bankruptcy

Few people are aware that Cleveland, Tennessee is the home of one of the oldest men's clothing manufacturers in the United States. Even fewer people are likely aware that the firm has changed hands for the second time in five years. And yet fewer people are aware that the company plans to add 100 new jobs to make uniforms for the United States Army.

The company, Hardwick Clothes, filed a bankruptcy petition in 2014. The company was saved from dissolution when one of Cleveland's most prosperous investors, who is also the owner of a payday lender named Check Into Cash, purchased the company's assets for $1.9 million. The new owner kept the company's 200 workers and continued operations at the company's 174,000 square foot plant in Cleveland. Various changes in men's clothing markets, especially the movement to less formal wear at places such as work and church, reduced Hardwick's ability to operate profitably.

The new owner is the Puerto Rico Industries for the Blind (PRIFB). The company recently signed a contract with the United States Defense Department to manufacture uniforms for the Army starting in 2020. PRIFB intends to hire 100 new workers through Ability One, a federal training program for persons who are blind or suffer from other disabilities. PRIFB wants to take advantage of Hardwick's existing physical plan by adding additional production personnel. The president of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce expressed great excitement about the sale. He said that the sale would create a "good opportunity."

This case shows how bankruptcy need not be the final word on a business' existence. Sometimes, bankruptcy can not only preserve a business, but as the case with Hardwick's, improve its business and create a promising future.

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