In GroundWork! exhibit Barbosa captures life through a fantastical filter

Posted May 17, 2018 at 3:01 AM

“Every dream has a name. And names tell a story. This song is your dream.”

— Talking Heads

“Duende” is the perfect name for the current exhibition of artwork by Tracy Barbosa.

The term refers to a moment of unrepeatable excitement that originated in dance and music, but has come to also define a rush of the soul that manifests itself even in static art.

The Spanish poet Francisco Garcia Lorca once described duende as “a sort of corkscrew that can get into the sensibility of the audience.” It is the dance between the muse and the goblin and Barbosa is the chaperone.

Curated by Jessica Bregoli at Groundwork, “Duende” is an intriguing showcase for Barbosa, who has created complex works that are densely layered, both literally (in her deft application of material) and conceptually (seemingly bouncing from one alternate reality to another.)

She glides seamlessly between glasswork, photography printmaking, painting, gold leafing and sculpture. It is often difficult to ascertain where one ends and the next begins, and that speaks to her mastery of her chosen media.

Thematically, she straddles a place between the mystical and the earthbound, the visceral and the cerebral, the private and the public, the familiar and the queer, and the natural and the manmade.

In the large scale acrylic painting (with brass and copper leaf, patina and toner) “Spring Snow,” Barbosa presents a marvelous fantasy landscape that draws from reality but becomes something entirely new and refreshing.

In the background, Northern California’s Bay Bridge spans a bay somehow connecting Texas to the New York City borough of Queens. Nearer to the viewer is a plump antlered deer in the wood, Canadian geese and starlings flit about, and the sky is both ominous and lovely.

But the most remarkable element is the dozen or so oversized doily-like snowflakes that become both a decorative element and a sign that winter has succumbed. It is clearly “unreal” but it resonates as though it were a bolder and better plane of existence.

“Derrick” is an homage to her cousin of the same name who died of an overdose of opiates in December 2017. There is something reverential in it, almost holy.

Bulbous, cartoon-like gold leaf clouds recall the Momoyama (Peach Hill) Period of the late 16th century in Japan, expressing an opulence that dangerously borders on decadence.

Barbosa zealfully embraces symbolism. A large bird carries a photographic device as if trying to record and understand the unfathomable. In the distance, gulls flock but they are in black silhouette and look like crows. Their number constitutes a murder, perhaps an unconscious reference to the opiate dealers. And in the distance, on a dead-still sea, is a derrick.

“16 Octaves Below Middle C” (which according to Barbosa is “the hum of the Earth”) is a ceramic print on glass, illuminated from behind, which gives it the feel of a church’s stained glass windows. But the iconography is not big-C Catholic. It is little-c catholic … it is universal. Heaven is a multi-hued sky, angels are the ever-present birds, the altar is a barren tree, and the shrine is an off-in-the-distance Chrysler Building.

Another work of note is “Ink and Wine” which features entangled octopuses as a metaphor for family, silver grails with all religious understanding locked in place, and a spattering of red. It is ink, it is wine, it is the blood of Christ and family bond.

Barboza’s work exists in a dreamstate that is both lucid and temporal. She knows the muse and the goblin. She lives with both.

“Duende: An Exhibition by Tracy Barbosa” is on display at Groundwork, 1213 Purchase Street, New Bedford through June 9. An opening reception will be held on Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

Don Wilkinson is a painter and art critic who lives in New Bedford. Contact him at Don.Wilkinson@gmail.com. His columns run each week in Coastin’.

Original article here.

Business Newsmaker: Three New Bedford companies in spotlight at PGA Merchandise Show

Posted Jan 21, 2018 at 3:01 AM

When the PGA 2018 Merchandise Show, the industry’s annual “Major of Golf Business,” kicks off in Florida, three New Bedford companies will be prominently featured.

Titleist, AHEAD and Moby Dick Brewing Co. all are Orlando-bound for the 65th annual gathering, Jan. 23-26, that welcomes more than 40,000 golf industry professionals from all 50 U.S. states and more than 70 countries to the sprawling Orange County Convention Center, which will host more than 1,000 exhibitors.

As for the New Bedford contingent:

— Titleist will be front and center at PGA Show Demo Day, the world’s largest, on Tuesday, Jan. 23, featuring its No. 1 golf ball as well as its popular line of clubs.

— AHEAD – one of the country’s top brands for men and women with headwear, apparel and accessories – will be introducing its hot new selections for Summer and Fall 2018 in the PGA Show’s Fashion Forum.

— Moby Dick Brewing Co., which opened in the New Bedford historic district in spring 2017, will be launching and serving its new private-label Dogleg Ale at various events throughout the PGA Show’s four days.

“We all think it’s a pretty cool story that’s developing at the PGA Merchandise Show with the three New Bedford companies playing key roles,” said David Slutz, president, Moby Dick Brewing Co. “This is our company’s first time at the PGA Show and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to debut our Dogleg Ale, which we’re confident will get positive reviews.”

Anne Broholm, CEO of AHEAD, concurred.

“This is not only wonderful exposure for our individual companies but also for New Bedford,” she said. “This is truly the sport’s global stage where the excitement level is off the charts. I think it’s awesome that Titleist, AHEAD and Moby Dick Brewing Co. all are part of the world’s largest business-to-business golf event.”

Original story here.

30 years later, Joseph Abboud looks back at his brand in New Bedford

Posted Dec 29, 2017 at 4:57 PM
Updated Dec 29, 2017 at 5:38 PM

Joseph Abboud celebrated his 30th anniversary of clothing manufacturing in the city in 2017.

Abboud told stories of many smiles and some tears during the three decades. The clothing designer shared some of those moments as well as his favorite designs recently with the Standard-Times.

How has the industry evolved in the past 30 years?

The industry has really evolved in that there are fewer and fewer great men’s specialty stores and there are fewer and fewer department stores. So as part of Tailored Brands, our opportunity to be vertical is really, really important. So I see the changing landscape where there are so many holes in terms of where great retail is and we’ve tried to fill that gap with our Men’s Wearhouse stores as well as we’ve got our classic store on Madison Avenue. But we are retailers at heart, so we can go direct to the consumer. I can see that as the big play now. When I started, there were so many more people to sell. Now it’s a much different game.

What are some of your favorite memories in New Bedford?

I’ve got a lot of them. I may have said this to you when we’ve spoken before. When I cross the Massachusetts border and I’m driving on 195, you know, it’s really, I’m coming home. I always feel like I’m coming home. And a lot of magic happens in that factory in New Bedford. In a weird way, it’s where I feel my most comfortable in terms of creating the tailored clothing because I’m working closely with (Senior Vice President of Design & Quality) Salvatore Mellace and my team there. I’ve been doing that for so long there’s a comfort level. And every time I go to the factory, I discover something new that we can do there. It is really kind of a magical place.

Tony Sapienza described a moment where you returned to the industry after a brief hiatus and it was specifically in New Bedford that brought some tears. What was that moment like?

It’s so interesting because, I’m a fairly emotional guy. I always try to keep it in check but I am. The day that I walked back into that factory and they were all there to welcome me back in open arms grabbed me by surprise. I was really touched by it. I really did choke up on that because they were there, the same people that I had left were there to welcome me back. It was really like coming home again. You know, I’ll never forget that. I love the people in New Bedford, and the people in our factory. They’re such hard workers. They’re so dedicated. And they go into our stores, and they throw their chests out, and say, ‘I made that lapel’ or ‘I made that sleeve.’ They take such pride in what they do that it means so much to me. I’m so proud of them.

When was that?

I would say, oh, probably in 2013.

How long had you been away?

I would say, it was about, about eight years or so. So it was a while. But the factory continued to uphold the standards and the DNA of the Joseph Abboud brand and what I had created. I feel forever grateful. Because the real strength of our brand and the real anchor of our company is that factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, of the Joseph Abboud business. We have over 750 people there.

Why do you think that is?

Well, we started the business as an American designer with an American factory. And my partners who were Italian back then, they were also involved with Giorgio Armani and Valentino and they always believed that the designer should be making in the country he was from. So with Giorgio Armani making in Italy was important, and as we started and formed our business they really believed and I was 100 percent in agreement that we should make in America. As an American designer, we are the largest tailored clothing company in North America. We are the largest importing manufacturer of the finest Italian goods from Italy. Our custom business has really grown dramatically. We’re so proud of the quality of the fabrics we use but the quality of what we make with our New Bedford folks. To be the largest in North America under a designer name is pretty special.

I have to go back for one second. The 8-year hiatus, why did you step away?

There were some issues that I had with the prior management where I thought the brand was going in the wrong direction. I felt that it was time for me to walk away from it because I couldn’t support it or endorse it. But as Tailored Brands came in and we partnered on the idea of making Joseph Abboud the premier American designer brand and the idea that the factory was at the core of it, was so appealing. It was a wonderful homecoming.

That leads right into my next question, 30 years ago what did you envision from the brand and how does that compare to the reality of today?

The DNA is still very much the same, which is a modern American collection for all Americans. An inclusionary brand that was not a preppy traditional ivy league brand but a more modern worldly brand but still wasn’t some pseudo-European thing. It was truly an American brand. And that’s what it is today and I’m so proud of it. And so proud of the people, everyone who is involved. A lot of it is, obviously the strength of that is through our customers, it’s at the factory and the dedicated workforce that we have in New Bedford.

Something that popped out about your favorite lines was not only the designs but some of the textures. How do you go about picking some of those textures?

I always say that the texture of your clothes is like the texture of your life. That has been for me, to add dimension and personality to every piece I design. I always have believed that we want to give the customer more. We don’t want to give them less. So fabric is very important. The color of fabric is important. The linings that we use. The layering. There’s a richness to it that’s very masculine and very American but very approachable.

When you think about the American man, who are your designing for? Is the business class? Is it the working class? Is the guy going on the airplane? When you envision a suit, who is it for?

I think I believe in, it’s an overused word, but lifestyle. You know, I don’t think of one particular guy. I think of how a guy lives his life. How does the American man live his life? He has needs for tuxedos. He has a need for a dark business suit. He has a need for a softly constructed jacket. So I design for his lifestyle. I always used to say, if I think I need it, I think a lot of other guys need it. So I kind of use my needs and requirements as a guideline to what I think guys might want to have from a color point of view, from a silhouette point of view, from dressy to casual, from tuxedos to T-shirts. I’ve always looked at, my job is to make American men look and feel better about themselves. And that’s what designers are supposed to do. It’s not an ode to me by any means. My job is to really kind of honor my customer and really give him stuff that works in his life. That’s why I think we’ve had such a long run is because we’ve been very dedicated to our customer and their needs. That’s why I don’t use a lot logos on my clothes because I think labels belong on the inside of clothing not on the outside.

One thing we learned about the favorite designs is the women’s line. How did that come about?

Oh, that was really a special moment. My partners were Italian back then. They had wonderful factories in Italy. Unfortunately when they went through their financial crisis, they closed those factories down. We had that women’s business for about 10 years. It was a really beautiful collection but the quality was impeccable. And to this day, I’ve never been able to find the level of quality and craftsmanship in our women’s wear. So I haven’t done it. It doesn’t mean we won’t.

And also when you’re designing women’s wear, it also keeps you sharper for men’s wear. It’s a different mindset when you’re designing for women. It does. It keeps you on a much more heightened plane when you’re being creative. I sort of miss that part of it.

How does the inspiration alter from designing something for a man and designing something for a woman?

The thing that drives my brand has always been the textures and the fabrics. So when we did our women’s wear, it was basically with rich sumptuous fabrics but of course (in) the appropriate women shapes. So it differs more in shape. And women are much more experimental and will try things quickly. They’re newer to products. So it really was an exciting time for me. Yeah, that part of it, I miss. And so many women come up to us and say, ‘When are you going to do your women’s line?’ Because they love our fabrics. Never say never.

When was the decade of women’s clothing?

That was probably from 1992 to about 2003, 2004 in that area. Like I said, it does keep you very sharp. It really does.

In keeping in the designs you sent us, one that really stuck out with us was in 2016, the model with the black suit, the black American flag over his shoulder and the finger-less gloves. Where did the inspiration from that come from?

That was all about being proud to make in America. That was a runway look. So when you have a chance to do theatrics — and that’s what shows are about. Shows do have to have some theater. They have to have some drama. But that was one of my favorite looks because that flag was made in New Bedford, Massachusetts. That flag was sewn from all of my tailored sewing fabrics, and we now currently sell those as limited edition in my Joseph Abboud store here in (New York City).

Why did you want to tell that story at that particular show?

That was one of the first shows that we had done in a long time. And I wanted everybody to know that New Bedford could be as creative as Milan. And that what we do out of the tailoring and the custom details, I mean that was a beautiful show in terms of the energy of what we created and just showing a range of what we do in our factory in New Bedford and the Joseph Abboud Factory.

In the future, what do you see from the brand moving forward?

We talk about this corporately and Doug (Ewert), our CEO who has been an enormous supporter of the brand, has said our goal is to make it a billion dollar brand. So that’s our goal and move forward every day and we continue to see growth. Listen, there’s no straight lines to success. There’s always challenges. It’s climbing Mount Everest really. It’s kind of the quest is always (difficult). I love the journey. To get there is great but the journey is also very exciting. What’s at the next horizon? That’s what it is for me. I’m still challenged by it. I feel at the top of my game because my experience really does help me in terms of the confidence in the creativity. And that’s a very important thing. Having the confidence to know that you’ve done this, you’ve been through cycles. So it allows you to have more confidence in what you believe in.

US’ most valuable fishing port seeks $15m grant, wants to get bigger

By  Oct. 16, 2017 16:52 BST

Ed Anthes-Washburn wants to make what is already the United States’ most valuable commercial fishing port even larger.

For the second consecutive year the director of the Port of New Bedford, Massachusetts, has submitted an application for a grant from the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to add 600-feet of bulkhead and dredge areas that are now unusable at only three- to four-feet deep.

The changes, which would increase depths in those areas to 18- to 30-feet, would grow the number of berthing areas, allowing the port to expand from about 300 fishing vessels to more than 360. It would invite fishing companies that currently operate outside of New Bedford to make it their new base of operation or to simply offload there, and harvesters already using the port could overcome some frustrations and even grow their fleets, Anthes-Washburn told Undercurrent News.

“There are a minimum of three boats [rafted next to each other] at every dock, and in some cases there are five,” Michael Quinn, operations manager for Quinn Fisheries, said of the crowded situation in New Bedford. “When you have to climb across five boats, it takes all day to get [a boat] out.”

Quinn believes his family’s scallop fishing operation, which keeps six vessels at the port, would benefit by as much as $160,000 per year by the reduced costs and added efficiencies and revenue that could be created.

Having expanded dock space would allow Quinn Fisheries and others to bring in mobile cranes to load and unload, he said. Excess dock space also could be rented to a number of other vessel owners who are clamoring to get in.

Additionally, the changes – which also would include the expansion of roadways and connections to rail lines — would eliminate congestion and allow for direct vessel to truck and rail transfers of fresh seafood, Anthes-Washburn said.

‘It’s like getting into Harvard’

The Port of New Bedford is seeking $15 million from TIGER, which it is prepared to match with funds from the state. The deadline for applications was Monday, and Anthes-Washburn knows DOT has a pile of them.

Last year DOT chose only 40 of the 585 TIGER grant applications it received.

“It’s a very competitive process,” Anthes-Washburn said of the TIGER grant contest, comparing the chances to a graduating high school student being accepted by an elite university known to all Massachusetts residents.

“It’s like getting into Harvard,” he said.

The TIGER program has awarded $5.1 billion for capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure since it was created in 2009 by one of several anti-recession stimulus packages, according to DOT. Congress has made $500m available for such grants in the 2017 fiscal budget, on par with last year’s awards and close to the amount typically set aside.

The US Senate included the money in the $1 trillion omnibus funding bill it approved by a 79-18 vote back in May. The US House earlier had passed the bill by a 309-118 vote.

President Donald Trump has made a point of calling for spending more on infrastructure and, upon passage, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (New York) praised the funding continuation, saying TIGER was a “vital” program “that has done so much for infrastructure, road building, and highways throughout my state and throughout America.”

“[T]he dearest place to live”

To say New Bedford is a storied fishing port is an understatement.

The city now populated by 95,000 souls registered on the US fishing map way back in 1767 when it launched the colonies’ first whaling vessel, the Dartmouth. By 1847 New Bedford was the United States’ preeminent whaling port and, not longer after, it helped inspire Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. The boulevard that trucks use to haul fish from the port bears the author’s name.

“The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England,” wrote Melville in his famous tale.

But today sea scallops are the name of the game in New Bedford, not whales, accounting for roughly 80% of the $322m worth of seafood (140m pounds) that came into the port in 2015, according to the most recently available data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). At the height of the season, 500,000 lbs of scallop meat will cross the docks in a single day, the city brags.

By contrast, the nation’s second-most valuable fishing port is Dutch Harbor, in Alaska, according to NOAA data. It accounted for 514m lbs of landings in 2015 — more than New Bedford – but its haul was worth far less, $218m.

Groundfish, which include cod and haddock among 19 different species, traditionally have been big, too, in New Bedford. But thanks to restrictions intended to preserve cod, in particular, these species now account for only 7% of the landings value. The port also brings in its share of lobster, Jonah crab and surf clams, Anthes-Washburn is quick to note.

And none of that counts the estimated 250mlbs of imported seafood handled by the roughly 39 processors and wholesalers in the city, including scallop giants Eastern Fisheries, which employs 250 there and keeps about 25 vessels at the port.

The other big fleet owners, according to Anthes Washburn: Oceans Fleet Fisheries berths about 22 vessels in New Bedford, including both scalloping and lobster boats; Atlantic Red Crab has six boats; Sea Watch International has five clammers; and Blue Harvest Fisheries has 15 scallopers and other boats.

Combined, the port is credited for creating 36,578 jobs in the area, including 6,225 directly employed at the port. The port itself, which maintains a budget of $2.3m, employs just 23, including 10 seasonal workers, according to Anthes-Washburn.

Though another 60 vessels would add 7m lbs of additional landings every year and 898 new and permanent jobs to that overall picture, according to an economic impact study performed for the city in 2016. It would generate $65.1m in annual wages and local consumption, spurring private investment and economic development.

The selection criteria remain fundamentally the same as previous rounds of the TIGER grants program, DOT has advised. Also, as before, each grant must be at least $5m and no greater than $25m, but available through September 2020. No state can receive more than $50m of TIGER money in any given year.

But the description of each criterion has been updated by the administration. The agency said this year that “special consideration” is to be given to projects that, among other things “promote regional connectivity, or facilitate economic growth or competitiveness.”

It’s something New Bedford’s application promises to deliver in spades.

 ‘[G]oing about their business’

New Bedford could use a lift following the recent scandal surrounding its biggest fishing operation.

Carlos Rafael, the so-called Codfather of New England fishing, pleaded guilty in March to deliberating misreporting more than 815,000 lbs of fish over a four-year period.

He was sentenced in late September to serve 46 months in prison and is in the midst of trying to sell his business, which includes a combined fleet of 42 vessels, to the owners of a local fishing auction for $93m.

Rafael is a major scallop harvester and his boats are estimated to account for 75% of the area’s groundfish by value.

The case has been a bothersome distraction for the port but, for the most part, New Bedford’s fishermen “are going about their business,” Anthes-Washburn said.

“There are still big questions that have to be answered,” he said. “There are people who didn’t do anything wrong and we want to make sure they don’t get wrapped up into this. It remains to be seen what happens with the permits, including the ones that weren’t implicated in anything. So, it’s a wait and see.”

It’s not the first time the Port of New Bedford has dealt with adversity.

In late August 1954, Hurricane Carol hit the city with waves of more than 14 feet, destroying more than 4,000 homes, 3,500 automobiles and 3,000 boats across Southern New England, according to the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. It was the costliest natural disaster in US history before Hurricane Diane hit North Carolina the following year.

During a trip with Undercurrent around the New Bedford Harbor in his patrol boat, a Boston Whaler, Anthes-Washburn pointed to the large hurricane protection barrier built in 1966 at a cost of nearly $19m, it was a response to the damage caused by Carol and continues to offer much comfort to the community.

Another problem the harbor has had to contend with in recent times is the tons of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were dumped in the water by local manufacturers between the 1930s and 1970s. In 1998, the harbor was designated a Superfund Site by the Environmental Protection Agency, giving it the ability to dredge to remove contaminated material.

Much of the cleanup work is done. But winning the TIGER grant would allow the port to finish a final phase of this job, removing an estimated 250,000 cubic yards of PCB and heavy-metal impacted sediment that are outside EPA’s purview, Washburn said.

Once completed, private waterfront businesses would be able to “complete routine maintenance dredging of clean material on their own in a simple and affordable way,” he said.

A different political climate

It’s not unusual for ports to win DOT TIGER grants. In 2015, the US ports of Baltimore (Maryland), Newport (Virginia), Indiana (Indiana), Hueneme (California) and San Diego (California) received a combined $44.3m to boost infrastructure, roughly 9% of the total funding that year.

Four of last year’s winners also received money to fix up ports, including the Port of Everett, in Washington state, which was granted $10m to help it strengthen more than 500 feet of dock and create “a modern berth area,” according to a DOT recap of the awards.

A $5m TIGER grant given to the International Maine Terminal, in Portland, in 2009, allowed it to attract the North American headquarters of Eimskip, an Icelandic shipping company, and was the tipping point needed to attract another $45m in funds, as chronicled in a video by the American State Highways and Transportation Officials.

As for its TIGER grant application, New Bedford hopes to get a good word in Washington this time from several top lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Rep. Bill Keating, who presides over the 9th district that includes New Bedford.

Keating has confirmed his support of the program, telling Undercurrent in an email:  “The great economic advantages that would come from this new infrastructure will translate into jobs, community revitalization, local economic benefits, and a larger, reinvigorated fishing industry.”

Mark Montigny, the Democratic lawmaker who represents New Bedford in the Massachusetts Senate, wrote Transportation secretary Elaine Chao last week to ask for her support. He’s worked to secure more than $60m in state funding authorizations to help with the project, much of which is contingent on federal assistance, he noted.

Jon Mitchell, New Bedford’s mayor since 2012, can also be expected to fight for the grant. Born into a fishing family, his grandfather, Alexander Mitchell, is among the names of fishermen lost at sea inscribed at the Seaman’s Bethel, the church used as a model in Melville’s book.

“To this city, seafood is the biggest industry. This is the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast,” Mitchell told Undercurrent during a visit to his office.

The political climate on Capitol Hill is a bit different than it was a year ago, as purse strings continue to tighten and the Trump administration seeks to differentiate itself from its predecessor, Anthes-Washburn observed. His new application, as a result, puts more emphasis on public private partnerships, he said.

TIGER grants have historically achieved an average co-investment of 3.6 dollars for every federal dollar spent, DOT observes on its website.

Quinn, for one, is hopeful.

“We’re the number one fishing port in the country,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to worry about dock space.”

Contact the author jason.huffman@undercurrentnews.com

Original here:

New Bedford’s Joseph Abboud perfectly suited for NBA sidelines

When the NBA regular season kicks off Tuesday night, Kyrie Irving will sit in the visitor’s locker room in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena and lace up his personalized Nike sneakers for his debut with the Celtics. In the home locker room, LeBron James will have an array of footwear options within his signature shoe line.

Later that night, across the country in San Francisco, the Warriors’ Steph Curry will tie the laces of his signature shoe with Under Armor. Houston’s James Harden will feature his shoe with Adidas. All will don jerseys with their named emblazoned across the shoulders.

The coaches in each contest, meanwhile, from Brad Stevens to Steve Kerr, have their own uniform for the game —a dapper suit, custom made and tailored for them in a style of their choosing. Their names are elegantly embroidered inside the lapels.

All those suits share a common thread: New Bedford.

For the last eight years, every suit worn by an NBA coach in a game, whether played in Boston or Los Angeles, San Antonio or Minneapolis, was tailored at Joseph Abboud on Belleville Avenue.

When coach Doc Rivers walked off the court in 2010 after his Celtics lost in the NBA Finals, he wore a suit tailored in New Bedford. When Brad Stevens took over as head coach in 2013, fabric from Belleville Avenue traveled with him to every NBA city. As he ushers in a new era with Irving and Gordon Hayward, he’ll do so with ties to the Whaling City.

This year also marks the first season the company will tailor NHL coaches. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy visited the facility recently to be measured. It’s the latest extension into the sports world for Joseph Abboud Manufacturing, which also designs and produces suits for NESN, the official broadcasters of the Boston Red Sox and Bruins.

“From the very beginning of my brand, I’ve always been affiliated with sports and the Olympics because I was able to speak to American men,” Joseph Abboud said. “It didn’t matter the color of your skin, the political preference, your religion, it was always about a great American enterprise like the NBA. Yeah, I’m very proud of it.”

“I always thinks we have a responsibility to make them the best suits we can,” said Abboud, who serves as chief creative director of Tailored Brands Inc., parent company of the firm which bears his name. “When they wear our suits, we want them to feel good. But we also want to be proud.”

Three maps hang in the corporate office of Joseph Abboud in New York City at Madison Avenue and 49th Street. Most of the foot traffic breeze by the outlines of New York City and Milan, Italy. However, the map of New Bedford that hangs alongside draws the most comments.

“We took two world capitals and we also said, for us, New Bedford is just as important,” Abboud said.

That office’s proximity to the NBA store led to its current relationship with the league.

Tony Sapienza, CEO of Joseph Abboud Manufacturing and lifelong Celtics fan, frequented the store quite often, and it was there he bumped into Michael Goldberg, the former executive director for the NBA Coaches Association.

“He had worn the Joseph Abboud brand and he introduced himself,” Sapienza said. “He said we ought to do something together.”

A lunch sparked the deal for the 2009-10 season.

The coaches receive 10 suits a season, 15 if they’re a first-time coach. Joseph Abboud officials travel to Chicago each fall for the NBA coaches summit, meeting with their clients — some familiar faces and always some first-timers — for the fitting sessions. There they meet one of Joseph Abboud’s secret weapons.

‘Best of the best’

Amidst a jungle of hanging suits and the perpetual pounding of industrial sewing machines, Salvatore Mellace reaches into his pocket, fishing out a thimble.

“I was 10-years-old when my father gave me a thimble,” he said with a thick Italian accent. “My father tied this around (my fingers) with a rope for a couple of years — day and night so that this is automatic. So when you sew, the nail will go through this and you don’t poke your skin.”

Now 72-years-old, Mellace possesses more than six decades of tailoring experience and still owns the original thimble his father gave him.

When the NBA coaches flock to Chicago each fall for their coaching summit, Mellace meets each one with tape measure.

The Senior Vice President of Design and Quality needs only about 15 minutes to dictate precise measurements for the perfect fitting suit.

“He is the best of the best. Let me tell you,” Custom Manager Jenny Barroquiero said.

Mellace studied the artform under his father Dominic in Northern Italy. As a young boy in the rebuilding efforts after World War II, Dominic would send his son to the concrete construction sites. Mellace would search for the thick paper bags that once held the concrete and bring them back to his father.

“I used to put the cement bag in this bag, bring it to the factory, clean it, and then we would make the pattern from the cement bag,” Mellace said.

Within the Joseph Abboud Manufacturing facility today, computers efficiently plot the pattern on paper utilizing every inch of the fabric. Machines then precisely cut the fabric. But even with that industrial precision, Mellace keeps his eye on the details.

“I follow through all the garments to make sure that everything is on spec,” he said.

Movable waist-high shelves scatter throughout Joseph Abboud Manufacturing. The small metal racks include a stick with a white piece of paper attached at the top that reads, “NBA Coaches for Salvatore.”

What lies on the racks varies. There could be a portion of a suit, a jacket or pants. Regardless of the point in time of the suit’s life, Mellace examines them.

“I check to make sure that the chest piece is nice and straight, that the pocket is good,” Mellace said. “I check the waist, make sure that … it matches according to my number. Otherwise it’s going to be big or small. It’s no good.”

There are at least six checkpoints a suit has to clear under Mellace’s watch. For efficiency and organizational purposes, an entire order reaches each checkpoint at the same time.

Any issue regardless of its minuscule nature is repaired by hand. It takes about three or four weeks for the process to be fully completed.

“It’s very important that when (Barroquiero) ships the personal suits for them, they’ve got to be perfect,” Mellace said.

“To make a custom suit is an art.”

‘She’s the boss’

After Mellace takes a coach’s measurements, Barroqueiro helps them narrow more than 300 swatches down to 10 suit selections. Additional modifications are possible within each suit, like lapels, buttons, pockets and more.

“When Brad (Stevens) was the new Celtics coach, he was so overwhelmed. He was like, ‘I really don’t need 15 suits. This is a lot,’” Barroquiero said. “You could tell it was too much for him to handle. He was so sweet, though. He was like, ‘I don’t know what else to get.’”

Veteran coaches understand the process. Some waste little time in selecting suits. Others flip through hundreds of swatches, snap pictures on their phones and asked for suggestions from their wives.

Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers fell into the category of coaches who thoroughly enjoyed the process.

“He loves the swatches,” Barroquiero said. “He’ll sit and he loves looking and feeling.”

Other coaches took notice.

Tom Thibodeau, who served as Rivers’ associate head coach in Boston, asked Barroquiero one year to match his order with everything Rivers placed.

″‘He has good taste. I’m just going to do everything he did,’” Barroquiero remembers Thibodeau saying. She said she hoped he and Rivers would text one another to ensure they didn’t wear the same suit to game.

Barroquiero’s role differs depending on the coach.

“They trust Jenny. No question about that,” Mellace said. “They don’t trust me, but they trust her. They trust me for one thing. But when it comes to lining, fabric and style, she’s the boss.”

Barroquiero stacks the swatches categorically in an attempt to make the decision-making process easier.

Coaches flock toward navy. But color only accounts for a portion of the process.

“They’ll pick out a linen. I tell them that’s going to wrinkle,” she said. “You probably don’t want that. If you’re going to Florida and you want to wear it on vacation, that’s fine but not to a game because it’s going to be really wrinkly. So you just guide them.”

‘You don’t believe it’

Tens of thousands of yards of fabric, stacked in spools, rise more than a dozen feet off the ground in the southern end of Joseph Abboud Manufacturing.

They account for most of the swatches presented for the coaches. At times Barroquiero will walk through the tree-trunk sized spools. A specific fabric links her to a coach or NESN client.

“I know Brad Stevens wants just subtle fabrics, so you help him pick those subtle fabrics,” she said. “Whereas you know that Jim Rice, you show him something boring he’s going to say, ‘eh uh, that’s not for me.’”

Some of the spools will only contain 5 to 10 yards of material, but they’re exclusive to Joseph Abboud shows. They’re often referred to as “sample patterns” and right up the alley of the former Hall of Fame left fielder for the Boston Red Sox.

“Jim Rice comes to the factory to pick out his swatches,” Barroquiero said, “because he knows there’s always sample pieces here. He wants something different. He loves to walk through and pick out what he wants.”

At any given time, the unassuming two-story brick building could host Boston sports royalty. Rivers, Rice and newly ordained Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy have all walked through the congestion of sewing machines and hanging fabric.

“You do (have to pinch yourself). You almost do,” Sapienza said “It’s like you don’t believe it. You’re talking to (Hall of Famer Dennis) Eckersley. He’s talking to you about throwing fastballs. Or you’re talking to Jim Rice on how he hits home runs.”

The feelings extend beyond the date when the suits ship out of the New Bedford facility.

There are more than 1,200 NBA games a season. Playoffs can jump the number by more than 100.

Regardless of the contests, Barroquireo’s reaction is the same.

“Every time there’s a game on,” she said. “You’re like ’Ahhh! He’s wearing our suit.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT

Original here:

Chronicle WCVB5 abc: New Bedford Renewal

On Thursday, September 7th, 2017 the Chronicle aired a program called New Bedford Renewal. We hope you take a few moments to enjoy the clips. City leaders and their partners have been hard at work on all fronts: Public Safety, Education, Economic Development, Community Development, Alternative Energy, and Quality of Life. We hope you enjoy the show!

New Bedford Renewal: A New Vitality

New Bedford Renewal: Port Prosperity

New Bedford Renewal: Beyond the Port

New Bedford Renewal: An Epicenter for Clean Energy

Joseph Abboud goes 70 percent solar

By

Joseph Abboud has gone solar.

The suit maker’s only manufacturing facility, a 272,000 square-foot mill once powered with coal and then with oil, is now using rooftop solar to generate about 70 percent of its electricity.

Built in 1909, the building has a sawtooth roof with 43 rows of north-facing skylights that let natural light into the mill.

Because the roofing is tilted at 22 degrees and faces south, it was perfect for capturing sunlight, said Phil Cavallo, CEO of Beaumont Solar Co., which installed the solar panels.

Drive down Belleville Avenue in New Bedford, and you can see the panels from the street.

“It’s pretty neat. It’s very photogenic,” he said.

The 1.3-megawatt system can generate 1.62 million kilowatt hours of energy each year.

Joseph Abboud president Anthony Sapienza said the company is a big user of electricity and has been conversant in renewable energy for years. With state tax credits and availability of local solar expertise, the project made sense, he said.

He expects the facility to cut its power costs by 80 percent.

The company has also converted its heating system from oil to natural gas and switched from fluorescent to LED lighting where possible, he said.

Joseph Abboud makes 1,300 suits per day in the facility. It has 800 employees, all of them local and overwhelmingly from New Bedford, Sapienza said.

Its parent company is Tailored Brands, which also owns Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank, and other menswear names.

Sapienza said the solar installation cost about $2.5 million and represents the company’s commitment to American-made products and to the city of New Bedford.

The city has become a leader in solar power, and “we’re proud to be a part of that story,” he said.

Sapienza, Cavallo, and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell gathered on the manufacturing floor Tuesday to announce the project. Mitchell said New Bedford has installed more solar capacity per capita than any other city in the continental United States.

A century ago, when the Abboud building was part of the Nashawena Mills textile complex, coal was trucked in and burned to make steam and generate electricity, according to Cavallo. A tunnel beneath Belleville Avenue still connects the boiler house, on the east side of the street, with the main building to the west, he said.

New Bedford-based Beaumont Solar is the former Beaumont Sign Co., which Cavallo bought in 2006. An electrical engineer with ties to Cape Cod, he previously worked in Silicon Valley but wanted to return to the East Coast, he said.

Original Story Here:

New Bedford firm applauded for contributions to SouthCoast economy

By

Tucked away in a wooded corner of the New Bedford Industrial Park is the gleaming three-story headquarters of HTP Inc., maker of advanced heating and hot water systems.

With two manufacturing plants on Braley Road in East Freetown, HTP has 235 employees and counting. For its contribution to the economy of SouthCoast and the state as a whole, HTP is one of 18 finalists in an awards competition sponsored by MassEcon, the results of which will be announced in October. MassEcon, a nonprofit, private organization, is the state’s partner in economic development.

The Standard-Times sat down recently with HTP President David R. Martin:

How old is this business?

HTP was formed in 1974, so it’s relatively new.

What do you produce?

We produce high-efficiency boilers and water heaters and solar thermal equipment.

Is it a hot market right now?

Yeah, it’s pretty good. What we see is that the market continues to shift to more and more high efficiency. The other part that goes with it is high-efficiency products are also very good for the environment from the standpoint of very low greenhouse gas emissions.

So they use very little fuel and the fuel that they use they burn very efficiently.

How many employees do you have here?

We have about 235.

At some point you made a commitment to buy this building and expand the workforce in different stages. That represents quite a commitment to SouthCoast Massachusetts, doesn’t it?

Very much so.

Can you tell me what went into that decision?

Well we’re a second-generation family-owned company and this area of the country is really kind of known for hydronics. Hydronics means heating with water, and that’s a big part of what we do with the boilers. And we wanted to stay close to our manufacturing facilities in East Freetown. As we were looking for a place to expand because we needed to, we were very fortunate that this building in the New Bedford Industrial Park was for sale and was actually the closest large building that was available so it worked out very nice for us.

In this competition you’re a finalist and now you’re waiting for the results next month, I take it.

That’s correct.

They asked you to make a one-minute presentation. Can I hear it?

(Laughs) Unfortunately, I wasn’t the one who made the presentation. I was out of town and the person who made the presentation is on vacation in Mexico.

The citation here says ‘heating and hot water manufacturer that invested more than $4 million in a 77,000-square-foot expansion in New Bedford and added 16 jobs.’

This is the facility they’re talking about and in addition to that we added a total of 60 jobs. Out of that 60, 14 were here.

So what is next? Where is this company headed?

Onward and upward! Were having a record year this year and were continuing to grow. And the nice thing about the headquarters here is that we have room to grow from customer service, technical service, engineering, sales and marketing staff. We’ve added a second shift to our operations in our plants and we continue to add significant capital investments to make that facility more efficient and effective, so we’ve increased our capacity to produce to meet growing demand.

Do you get asked by other prospective companies that are thinking about moving to Greater New Bedford what is the story here, how will I be treated, what is the business atmosphere in this part of the world?

Yeah, a little bit. People generally, if they’re not from here, they’re kind of amazed that there’s manufacturing still in Massachusetts. We tell them that ‘yes, it is.’ We’ve been wonderfully treated by the City of New Bedford the Economic Development Council. I just came from a meeting among the Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board. So it’s a really good, really great, business climate, very encouraging and attuned to the needs of manufacturers to provide good jobs for the citizens.

Are there any plans to expand the product line in some way?

We are. We continue to look to kind of grow our range from boilers for example to go into larger and larger sizes, commercial and industrial sizes.

Is this a crowded field that you’re in or do you have the playing field mostly to yourself?

(Laughs) It is crowded. We have no shortage of competitors. It’s kind of interesting. On the hydronic heat side, there’s probably 30-plus competitors. On the water heating side, there’s fewer. And so were an interesting company that really serves both markets well. Usually a company might do one or the other, but not do both. Water heating has been a big area for growth for us.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.