Payday Pioneer Rescues Legendary Cleveland Clothing Company

Friday, June 20, 2014
Allan Jones, the new owner of Hardwick Clothes.
Allan Jones, the new owner of Hardwick Clothes.
America’s oldest tailor-made clothing maker now has a new lease on life thanks to the man who has been called the pioneer of payday lending.

Cleveland, Tn., entrepreneur Allan Jones acquired the 134-year-old Hardwick Clothes earlier this week and vowed to pump new energy into the once famous company that had fallen into bankruptcy.

Cleveland businessman C.L. Hardwick founded two companies - Hardwick Stove in the 1870s and Hardwick Clothes in 1880. He put his two sons in control of the businesses. Son George L. Hardwick ran the clothing company, while son Joseph H. Hardwick ran Hardwick Stove.

Maytag acquired Hardwick Stove in 1981, although Hardwick Clothes was owned by approximately 70 family members until the Jones acquisition.

Hardwick once had 900 employees at the height of its national prominence, although the current number is around 225.

Mr. Jones was attracted to Hardwick, he said, because it was the oldest business of its kind in America.

“I am convinced the pendulum is swinging back to ‘Made in America,’ after the Men’s Wearhouse acquisition of Joseph Abboud – one of America’s traditional suitmakers,” he added.

Mr. Jones noted that Hardwick was at one time famous for having the best blazer in the world. He intends to help the blazer regain its prominence by using better materials and buttons.

Mr. Jones paid $1.9 million for the company’s assets through Jones CapitalCorp LLC but acknowledges it is going to take much more than that to turn the company around. He has been on a national search for a new chief executive officer for the company and will make an announcement soon.

Mr. Jones is best known as the founder, chairman and CEO of Check Into Cash, the second largest payday lender in the nation.

His career began at the age of 20 after he left college to help his father, who was suffering from emphysema, stabilize the family’s small, manually operated credit bureau located in his hometown of Cleveland.

Mr. Jones purchased the family’s credit collection agency in 1977 and grew it to the largest credit bureau databases in the state. He sold the credit reporting side of the business to Equifax (EFX) in 1988, although he retained the name and the company’s collection agency, along with most of the staff. He then built the company to be the largest in Tennessee with offices from Memphis to Atlanta. Jones sold the company in 1998.

Mr. Jones founded Check Into Cash in 1993 and the company grew to include 1,300 stores nationwide. His role in payday lending brought him into the national spotlight and he was credited for pioneering the concept of the nation’s first monolined payday lending company.

The Los Angeles Times once called Mr. Jones the “granddaddy” of the payday industry. In 2005, he was on BusinessTN magazine’s “Power 100” list and appeared on the list consistently with the nickname “The King of Cash.”

While Mr. Jones’ is known for being the pioneer of payday lending, his companies offer a variety of products in the micro-lending field – what he describes as small loans for short periods of time.

Thomas H. Hopper, the chairman and president of Hardwick Clothes, said he would remain with the company as Mr. Jones takes the reigns.

“Allan Jones brings real enthusiasm and excitement and it’s just what Hardwick needed,” said Mr. Hopper. “We can now move forward as an even stronger company and regain our national prominence. Our employees are excited about the future.”

 


 

Allan Jones, left, and son Will Jones, right, are pictured during a question and answer session with Hardwick employees
Allan Jones, left, and son Will Jones, right, are pictured during a question and answer session with Hardwick employees

TVA’s Regional Energy Resource Council To Meet In Chattanooga

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Regional Energy Resource Council will conduct a two-day public workshop  Monday, Feb. 2 and Tuesday, Feb. 3  in downtown Chattanooga. As part of the workshop, the public is invited to make comments during a public comment session  on Tuesday from 9-10 a.m.  at the Chattanoogan Hotel, 1201 Broad Street, Chattanooga. Anyone ... (click for more)

Environmental Attorney J. Wayne Cropp Joins Baker Donelson

Baker Donelson announced the addition of J. Wayne Cropp to the Firm's Chattanooga office.  Mr. Cropp joins Baker Donelson as of counsel and as a member of the Firm's Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions group, where he focuses on public policy, economic development and environmental law. He brings unique legal experience with respect to emerging ... (click for more)

Appeals Court Rules Against WWTA In Lawsuit Brought By Apartment Complex Over $8 Monthly Charges To Units

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an apartment complex that sued the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (WWTA) over an $8 monthly charge per apartment unit for preparing private service laterals. The court overturned a granting of summary judgment in favor of WWTA by former Judge Jackie Bolton. The appeals court said American Heritage Apartments, ... (click for more)

Barrel Feared To Contain Hazardous Materials Safely Removed From Waterway At Short Tail Springs Road

A couple walking their dog on Sunday in the Highway 58 area called 911 reporting a strange barrel leaking a blue substance in the waterway. The barrel was later safely removed. The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded around 2:30 p.m. to 7900 Short Tail Springs Road. Fire officials found a 55-gallon barrel in the waterway, but there were no visible signs of a blue ... (click for more)

It's Time To Insure Tennessee - And Response

Tennessee has a problem.  What is the value of saving the lives of 1,000 Tennesseans each year? That is exactly what can be expected if 176,000 Tennesseans gain health insurance through Insure Tennessee. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed that expansion of Medicaid was associated with a 6% reduction in yearly mortality for people in the 34-65 age group. Statistically, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Boots, Idiots & Guns

As the month of February was born this morning, allow me to hurriedly share three leftovers that were still in last month’s basket: * * * A first-grade teacher had endured a long day and was helping her students bundle up for the trip home when one of the little boys asked for help getting on his boots. Soon she could see why. Even with her pulling, and him pushing, the ... (click for more)