News of closing brings sad response

Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2007

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Many are saddened by the news of Simplicity Pattern closing its doors in Niles by the end of September.
The company has operated in Niles since 1931 and employed thousands of area residents, making it hard for some to believe it's coming to an end.
It was announced Monday that the company, headquartered in New York, will end all production and distribution operations at its Niles facility, outsourcing the work to a company in Wisconsin.
This move leaves many questions about job losses here, particularly when combined with the closing of United Fixtures, as well as what will become of the Simplicity building.
"It's sad to see, but this is the product of changing times," Bob Tracey, a 15-year employee of Simplicity Pattern said Monday afternoon. "I left in 1984 and it was going downhill at that time."
Tracey continued, saying when he left there were around 400 to 450 employees. Simplicity employs less than 150 at its Niles plant today. Ninety are expected to lose their jobs.
"It's also sad for the community. It was such a big part of Niles. Now we will have another big, empty building. What is Niles going to do with a building that size? Especially if the bigger businesses aren't coming around," Tracey said.
Barbara Gaedtke was employed with the company for 22 years. She started out as a hand folder. When the company purchased folding machines, she ran those.
"It was really a nice place to work. I enjoyed it and really liked the people I worked with. There were always rumors going around, though. We heard the business was going to close, we heard it was moving south. It was always one rumor after the other. Now that they really are closing, it's sad to see," Gaedtke said.
She explained the lack in business having to do with the fact that no one sews anymore.
"When I was employed, there were a lot of jobs, but it wasn't doing the best then, so I can't imagine how it's been just in the last few years."
Gaedtke also made mention that this is not good for the community.
"Niles wants all these new things, like schools and other businesses, but we are losing jobs everywhere. They just can't keep business and that's not real positive for the town," Gaedtke added.
Dolpha Reed was a 30-year employee of the company and her job included folding patterns, which kept her very busy.
"I worked there during a good time. They employed a lot of people. I really enjoyed the job. It was nice seeing all of the wedding and ballroom-type dresses. It was a good place to work for," Reed said.
Simplicity was founded in New York City in 1927 and began manufacturing its patterns in Niles shortly after.
Today, the company's production, distribution, administration, customer service and customer relations, accounting, billing, credit and information systems all operate out of its 740,000-square-foot facility in Niles.
Simplicity is headquartered in New York, where it houses its executive management team, sales and marketing and product design employees in 42,000 square feet of leased office space.
Simplicity has retained CB Richard Ellis to market its Niles property for sale.