Garment maker zips up tight


Waterbury Garment LLC, a company that was founded in the Brass City in 1921, has shut down its local operation following its sale to a New York City-based clothing maker.

The company, which was headquartered at 1669 Thomaston Ave., has ceased operations, leaving between 30 and 40 people out of work Joseph Kordorsky, the company's comptroller, confirmed Monday.

Waterbury Garment, which designed, manufactured and distributed children's sleepwear for large retailers such as Sears and JCPenney, was sold in late October to Charles Komar & Sons Inc., which makes women's and children's underwear and lingerie, Kordorsky said.

A small group of workers, including Kordorsky, remains at the company's Waterbury headquarters to tie up loose ends, he said. The company is expected to close for good by the end of the year.

The workers who lost their jobs were provided with severance packages, Kordorsky said.

Repeated attempts to contact Lawrence Brownstein, the company's president and the grandson of its founder, Harry Brownstein, were not successful. Attempts to reach Jack Brownstein, Harry's son and the company's chairman, were also unsuccessful.

The sale of Waterbury Garment has also forced the closing of the Magnolia Garment distribution center in Tylertown, Miss., according to a report published Sunday in the McComb Enterprise-Journal. The Tylertown facility will close Dec. 31, leaving about 28 local employees out of work, the report said.

Waterbury Garment also operated a design center and showroom in New York City known as "Jackie's Girls," and had remote offices in Chicago and Cambodia, according to its Web site. The sale's effect on the showroom and remote offices was not clear.

The company was founded as Waterbury Apron Co. in a store on Baldwin Street in 1921. It relocated to a 50,000-square-foot facility at 215 Cherry St. several years later, and purchased its present headquarters in the Waterville section of Waterbury from Burlington Industries in 1962.

The four-story, 240,000-square-foot Thomaston Avenue plant was once owned by Scovill Manufacturing Co. and is the former home of Princeton Knitting Mills.

"It's just one of those unfortunate things that can happen in a tough economy," said Kordorsky, who indicated the announcement of the sale and subsequent closing of the company caught many of its workers by surprise.