Haslam, Hagerty Announce Merchant House International To Open 1st U.S. Facility In Tennessee

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Governor Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, along with officials from the Footwear Division of the Merchant House International Group on Tuesday announced the company will open its first U.S. footwear manufacturing facility in Jefferson County. The company is moving production of a footwear line from its headquarters in Tianjin, China to Jefferson City due to increased demand from domestic retail customers. Merchant House International will invest $5.4 million and create 109 new jobs at its new Jefferson City facility.

“I want to welcome Merchant House International to Tennessee and thank them for their investment in Jefferson County,” Governor Haslam said. “When a global company chooses to move operations to our state, it speaks volumes about the business environment and the workforce here, and it is another step toward our goal to become the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Merchant House International’s decision to move production to Tennessee underscores how more and more global companies are reevaluating the cost effectiveness of manufacturing overseas,” Commissioner Hagerty said. “With the best balance sheet in the country and an advantageous central location, our state is ideally positioned to continue winning international business. I want to thank Merchant House International for bringing high quality manufacturing jobs back to Tennessee.”

"We are excited about expanding our international presence and thrilled that's happening in Tennessee," founder of The Merchant House International Group Loretta Lee said, “Jefferson City is an excellent location for our company because it is centrally positioned in the eastern United States, has excellent logistics infrastructure, and a workforce with skills and experience in the apparel industry."

The Footwear Division of the Merchant House International Group has purchased a 40,000-square-foot building in the Jefferson City Industrial Park where it plans to manufacture its line of men’s leather boots and shoes. The operation, to be known as Footwear Industries of Tennessee, Inc. (FIT), will begin shipping footwear in March 2014.

"Jefferson City is delighted to welcome The Merchant House International Group," Jefferson City Mayor Mark Potts said. "The citizens of Jefferson County have a work ethic without parallel and they will help to make this company a successful business and a great corporate citizen."

"Recruiting The Merchant House International Group to Jefferson County was a team effort," chair of the Jefferson County Economic Development Oversight Committee Max Fultz said. “I want to thank the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and Bob Thornton of Baker Realty, the listing agent on the building. We look forward to working with the company's leadership as they hire employees and begin operations."

The company plans to hire 109 employees beginning its first hiring phase at the end of this year. Experienced sewing machinists and material cutters are encouraged to apply for positions by contacting the Tennessee Career Center at Talbott or by visiting www.jobs4tn.gov. The company will also be looking for operators for a state-of-the-art direct injection-molding machine. FIT is setting up a job-training program to support their business launch.

The Footwear Division of The Merchant House International Group was established in 1980. Initially the company specialized in work boots, but in 2003 diversified into American-style western boots. The Division operates two shoe factories and in recent years has added production lines to increase capacity to over five million pairs of shoes annually. The Group manufactures footwear in the Tianjin, China area and has shipped its footwear to the United States for 30 years. It supplies major retail chains like Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Sears and has received "Supplier of the Year" awards on a number of occasions. In addition, it also makes safety and non-safety outdoor shoes for a variety of nationally recognized brands.


Young Professionals Association Hosts Eighth Annual Awards Program

The Young Professionals Association of Chattanooga (YPAC) hosted its eighth annual YP Awards program today at the Chattanoogan.  This year’s winners in each category are: YP of the Year Tiffanie Robinson, Lamp Post Group YP-Friendly Business of the Year Monen Restaurants YP Entrepreneur of the Year Jorge Parra, Taqueria Jalisco YP Corporate ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Business Calendar For Feb. 28-March 6

March 2015   SA/28 24Hour Generator at Mad, Bad, and Dangerous 3:00 p.m. Girls Preparatory School: 205 Island Ave. 24Hour Generator is a new event designed for enterprising high school girls across the region. Hosted by The Company Lab (CO.LAB) and held as part of GPS’s inaugural  Mad, Bad, and Dangerous  event, 24Hour Generator ... (click for more)

Signal Council, Residents Concerned About Unsafe Driving En Route To Schools

The town council of Signal Mountain is dealing with a traffic problem caused by increased traffic to and from Signal Mountain Middle High School and Nolan Elementary. Mayor Dick Gee said, “This is a tough issue that we wouldn’t have to deal with if everyone would drive responsibly.” The main concern is for safety and in November the council agreed to try to fix the problem by ... (click for more)

88-Year-Old Woman In Bradley County Severely Burned After Going Back In Burning House For Pets

Two people were injured in a house fire in Bradley County on Friday.   Shortly before noon, Bradley County EMS responded to a reported house fire on Hancock Road.   Two ambulances and a shift commander responded. Initial reports were that there were two people injured. When EMS crews arrived, Bradley County firefighters were performing resuscitative ... (click for more)

We Ought To Pay Our Own Way

The government is too big. It has never been bigger - by any measure. It spends more money than any other single actor in our society. From Blue Rhinos to providing telecommunications services, our government knows no bounds. We’ve gone from a free enterprise system to a public enterprise system.  I'm not an artist. I'm not terribly tech savvy. The part of government that ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Garden On March 1

As I try to do at the beginning of each month, I stroll through my garden to see the good and the bad. This morning there is still a solid covering of snow but, as usual, there is still a lot to see. March is historically known for “coming in like a lion and leaving like a lamb” so let’s see who gets what: A LAMB to the fact 90-year-old Floyd Hartwig of Easton, Calif., and his ... (click for more)