2009-05-21 / Front Page

Essex Manufacturing, Inc. to close distribution center here after 60 years in city

Long a familiar sight on Robert Toombs Avenue, Essex Manufacturing will close its distribution center here in July. Long a familiar sight on Robert Toombs Avenue, Essex Manufacturing will close its distribution center here in July. A Washington factory will be closing the doors on more than 60 years of manufacturing history in July as Essex Manufacturing Company moves out.

The company will close its East Coast distribution center on East Robert Toombs Avenue in Washington on July 17, putting 25 people out of work, said plant manager Thomas Albea.

It is a sad time for everyone, he said.

"It's very sad for me and for all these people," Albea commented. "I've been here 50 years and some of our people even longer, and they're like family to me and vice versa." Albea said that some employees will be retiring, but that most will need to find jobs.

Essex Manufacturing is part of Baum-Essex-Crossroads based in New York City, which manufactures rainwear, umbrellas, and other gear in 100 manufacturing facilities in the Far East, Asia, and Europe. The work done at the Washington facility will be transferred to the company's West Coast distribution center in Riverside, California.

Albea said that it saddened company executives to close the longstanding facility. "It's a sad day for them, too, but they've got to be cost effective. Our taxes here just shot up by $11,000 a year, and those cost increases add up."

The factory started in the 1940s as Al and Margo Moses' ALMAR Manufacturing. At its peak in the 1960s and '70s, Essex Manufacturing in Washington employed more than 200 people in manufacturing the company's products. As manufacturing moved offshore to the Far East, the facility handled distribution for the company's products all over the Eastern U.S.

Over the years, the factory has employed hundreds of Washington- Wilkes workers, Albea said. "I'm really thankful for all the community support we've had over the years - so many people have worked here, and it's been a part of the community for so long."

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