Hat Company Hopes to Revitalize American Manufacturing

Adamstown, Pa.(WTXF) After nearly 150 years, America's oldest hat company is still in business but it's facing some stiff competition.  While we've seen a lot of people take to Kickstarter for many different reasons. This company is doing it to protect jobs and they're getting help from a very big name.

FOX 29 Photojournalist Bill Rohrer has the story.

The Bollman Hat Company in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, is America's oldest hat maker.

“During the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and early 50s you didn't leave your house without having a hat on your head whether you are a man or a woman. It was part of your everyday wardrobe,"  Don Rongione President and CEO of Bollman Hat Company told FOX 29. 

For nearly 150 years, Bollman has been producing wool felt hats for men and women.

“I think we went through a period of time where a generation did not want to look like their parents and there was a stigma around wearing a hat that it was no longer cool,” Don explained.

Stiff competition from China forced Bollman to downsize-laying off over 100 workers.

“That was a very, very painful process and we are hopeful we will be able to hire many of those people here with this new project,” said Don.

Kangol is the most famous headwear brand in the world and is worn buy some of the most famous celebrities.

The Bollman Hat Company took to Kickstarter hoping to raise $100,000 with help from Celebrity Samuel L Jackson. The money raised will support the purchase of knitting machines specific to Kangol.

 "The equipment was custom built for Kangol in the 1930s and 1940s. It has been moved to China and not only do we have to buy it, but transport it across the world, bring it here, make sure it is in good running order," said Don. 

Creating 41 new manufacturing jobs.

"This is a big deal. Manufacturing creates 3-5 additional jobs for every 1 manufacturing job. So it is a historic time for a great brand and really Americas oldest hat maker," Don explained.

To help please visit their Kickstarter page, here.

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