A derby is a hat.
A derby is a race.
And the Western New York community of Derby Wednesday won the race to keep making hats. Or caps.
But when I suggested the above headline might appear in The Buffalo News today, New Era Cap boss Christopher Koch didn't think it -- or anything else -- was the least bit funny. Either way his decision went, he said softly, it was going to hurt somebody.
- New Era to keep factory in Derby - George Pyle/The Buffalo News
The decision to maintain the company’s factory in the Western New York community of Derby — along with its 330 jobs — was nothing personal, strictly business, said New Era Cap Co. CEO Christopher Koch.
The region has been home base to the iconic baseball brand since its beginning. Its headquarters remain in Buffalo, and the company has been led by members of his family since Ehrhardt Koch borrowed $5,000 from an aunt to open a factory on Buffalo’s Genesee Street in 1920.
But, Koch said Wednesday, the choice of whether to retain the Derby facility or close it in favor of another plant in Demopolis, Ala., came down to a matter of dollars and cents.
“I did not weigh in at all in any way with the people who were looking at the matter,” said Koch, a Derby-area resident. “I kept my mouth shut and let the numbers speak for themselves.”
Those numbers include a tentative cost-saving deal with the Communication Workers of America, which represents the plant’s work force, and a package of government assistance that includes $3 million from the state’s Empire State Development program.
The rest of the story was basically an Oscar acceptance speech, with everybody thanking everyone else, but no music to play them off.
Of course, in Alabama, the mood was different:
- New Era closes Demopolis plant; 351 jobs cut - Patrick Rupinski/Tuscaloosa News
The economy in West Alabama took a major hit Wednesday when New Era Cap Co. announced plans to permanently close its Demopolis plant in the spring, putting 351 people out of work.
The plant closing, however, will affect more than just New Era's workers and their families. It will affect businesses, hospitals, social services and local governments throughout the area.
- We mourn loss of New Era and move on - Jason Cannon/The Demopolis Times
“We need to employ Nick Saban's 24 hour rule,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re going to take 24 hours to mourn this loss and we’re going to get up in the morning and work on Plan B. The textile industry seems to be one that’s going away – or going overseas – and it doesn’t look like they’re coming back,” he added. “That’s not sour grapes, it’s just a national trend. What we’ve got to do is find an industry that wants to be in the City of Demopolis and one that can be suited by that facility. We’re going to be aggressive. Make no mistake about that.”
- Demopolis Resolved to Pull Through Plant Closure - WVUA-TV, Tuscaloosa
-- George Pyle/The Buffalo News
I'm gonna try and find some humor in this. For some folks, it hurts too much not to laugh.
taggedCurrent Affairs | Horse racing | The Economy