Adamstown, PA—A founding member of American Made Matters—a community of US makers with a focus on bringing attention to the importance of making and buying American products—is once again putting its money where its Made in USA mouth is.
Its Kangol headwear brand—worn by some of the world’s top celebrities including Brad Pitt, Bill Murray, Gwen Stefani, Samuel L. Jackson, and Miley Cyrus—will see its manufacturing of the iconic 504 style move stateside with the Bollman Hat Company.
One of the results? Kangol and Bollman Hat Company will create 41 new, full-time American jobs and retain 176 currently held positions over the next three years. Bollman is America’s oldest hat maker, and its Pennsylvania factory has continuously made hats since 1868.
In 2001, Bollman Hat Company acquired the global license to design, produce, and distribute Kangol headwear. Prior to the acquisition, the decision by previous ownership had already been put in motion to move all manufacturing to China in order to stay competitive. The factory in China was purchased in 2006 by a Chinese hat maker who has now decided to close its doors, opening the door for Kangol to bring even more of its production to the United States.
“Our employee-owners are very excited about moving this production here to America’s oldest hat factory. A successful Kickstarter campaign will make this a reality sooner. This is a historic time for a historic brand and a historic company. We have a chance to influence and be a part of this history,” said Bollman President and CEO, Don Rongione.
The knitting machinery used to make the wool 504 was built exclusively for Kangol in the 1930s and 1940s. There are currently 80 machines in China that need to be transported to the US. Bollman has already moved ten of the machines over and made necessary electrical conversions of the equipment—to the tune of a total cost exceed $600,000.
Bollman has already committed more than $350,000 and will receive an incentive from the PA DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development), who awarded Bollman a $60,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant.
To counterbalance the remaining costs, Bollman is calling on the public through a Kickstarter campaign slated to go live on American Made Matters Day, today November 19. The campaign will offer rewards ranging from naming rights to the factory and this special machinery to limited edition product in return for donations. Funding from this campaign will enable Bollman to make Kangol products in the US, create jobs, and redeploy an idle part of the Bollman factory, Rongione added.
“This ambitious and essential undertaking will allow Bollman Hat Company to show its commitment to US manufacturing, embracing the belief: If it can be made here, it should be made here,” he noted.