Baltimore County News
By Bryan Dunn, Baltimore County Department of Economic & Workforce Development
Inside the factory, sewing machines line up in rows, sounding like newsroom typewriters clacking in pre-computer days. Workers perform traditional operations, individually marking, cutting and sewing each piece with a master’s touch.
The classic shape of the sewing machines sit naturally on the historic factory floor in Essex. The owner of the Aetna Shirt Company points to a portion of the building that was once a dance hall and men’s club circa 1922. Some of the original floor is still intact.
A century of craftsmanship
Aetna Shirt was founded in Baltimore in 1916. In contrast to its historic setting in eastern Baltimore County, Aetna Shirt combines traditional techniques with digitized marking and cutting technology and computerized machinery to ensure a consistent, yet customized, product. A new 21st century venture, Urban Design, manufactures shirts for retail stores in Japan.
Dr. Daniel Kohn, owner of Aetna Shirt, describes the company’s focus, “Aetna offers diverse types of shirts including oxford buttons downs, Italian style formals, military formals and lab coats for clients ranging from the U.S. Army and Air Force to Johns Hopkins University.”
Watch the video below to get an inside look at a lost manufacturing art, alive and well in Baltimore County.
The next generation of shirt-making
Aetna offers tutorials for aspiring designers and shirt-makers. Participants study the shirt-making process to better understand the challenges and advantages of making shirts domestically. Visit aetnashirt.com to learn more.
Baltimore County is home to 492 manufacturing companies and 13,800 manufacturing jobs that generate $948 million in total annual wages.
By Bryan Dunn, Department of Economic & Workforce Development
Heard of a “stick doctor”? If you’re from Baltimore and LAX country, you know that a “stick doctor” has mastered the art of stringing lacrosse sticks. With US Lacrosse headquarters now in Baltimore County, what better place for a “stick doctor” to launch a business dedicated to improving the sport he loves?
Baltimore County native Greg Kenneally took the art of the stick doctor to a new level by developing and manufacturing a perfected wax mesh material called East Coast Mesh. Today, East Coast Dyes has 25 employees and a range of products sold through major sports retailers around the world.
Take a video tour of East Coast Dyes and learn how the Baltimore County Boost Fund is helping this entrepreneurial company grow in Towson.
A YouTube sensation
Greg started the company by selling his mesh on E-bay. He then became a social media sensation, going viral with lacrosse videos reaching tens of thousands of players, coaches and fans around the world. Greg was completing a graduate degree in accounting at Towson University just as product demand went through the roof. Partnering with twin brother Mike, the duo combined their knowledge of the sport, social media savvy and impeccable work ethic to take the company to the next level.
Boosting out of the basement
A flexible loan from the Baltimore County Boost Fund helped East Coast Dyes get the working capital they needed. They moved out of Greg’s basement into a 9,000 square foot space in Towson. The company now has 25 employees, with plans to add more.
Baltimore County’s stick doctor is now a CEO, leading a company that is adding innovative products to the East Coast Dyes enterprise.
The company motto says it all: Hard Work Pays Off.
The Baltimore County Boost Fund is a flexible financing resource for small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses in the region. For more information or to apply for a loan, visit the Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development at www.BCBoostFund.com or call 410-887-8000.
By Fronda Cohen, Baltimore County Communications
Manufacturing in Baltimore County is taking a giant leap when the Mary Sue Candies Easter bunny moves to a new, state of the art factory in White Marsh. The iconic 32 foot inflatable pink bunny is part of a decades-old tradition at Mary Sue, one of many candy brands Ruxton Chocolates will manufacture in its new 100,000 square foot plant and headquarters at Baltimore Crossroads@95.
Bill Buppert, the 38-year-old CEO of Ruxton Chocolates, is the man behind the move. Much has changed in the 15 years the man lovingly called “Billy Wonka” took over management of the company that makes Mary Sue, Naron, Glauber’s and private label brand candies.
Tastes have moved toward dark chocolate with higher cocoa content. Customers are looking for something new, so Ruxton is always testing to find the next great saltwater taffy flavor, Easter egg filling, pecan log or almond bark treat. [Hungry yet?]
But when one of your brands started production in 1905, much should remain the same. Equipment will move from three Baltimore locations that are bursting to capacity. “Our traditional techniques are who we are. You’ll still find brittles and toffees churned in huge copper kettles and chocolate poured on marble tables,” said Buppert. “Our employees really define who we are. Together, our 43 employees have some 500 years of candy making experience. You can taste the difference in every piece of candy we make.”
When Ruxton Chocolates moves to Baltimore County in the spring of 2017, there will be 43 candy makers, machine operators and packers carefully setting chocolates in their packaging.
With more capacity at the new plant, those candy packers might be moving faster so they don’t become a scene from “I Love Lucy.”
For more information on how Baltimore County can help your factory move faster, go to www.baltimorecountymd.gov/business or call the Department of Economic and Workforce Development at 410-887-8000.