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

SimplyBank Creates Directing Officer Corps With 5 Senior Officers

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events April 12-16

Thousands Of Georgians Reapplying For UI Benefits Due To End Of Benefit Year


Growth at privately-held, Rhea County-based SimplyBank has organization leaders poised to make significant leaps into new markets and services this year. To help facilitate those expansions, ... (click for more)

April 12, ONLINE: Nokian Tyres: From Finland to Dayton Tennessee noon-1 p.m. This is a joint meeting with AGC, CRMA, Chattanooga Area Chamber's International Business Council and green|spaces. ... (click for more)

Although businesses are starting to return to full capacity as more individuals receive vaccinations, many Georgians are still out of work due to the pandemic. Last year at this time, almost ... (click for more)



Business

SimplyBank Creates Directing Officer Corps With 5 Senior Officers

Growth at privately-held, Rhea County-based SimplyBank has organization leaders poised to make significant leaps into new markets and services this year. To help facilitate those expansions, SimplyBank’s executive leadership elevated five existing senior officers to a newly-created directing officer corps this spring. The senior officers are Anthony Lastoria, Candace Colvard, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Chamber Calendar Of Events April 12-16

April 12, ONLINE: Nokian Tyres: From Finland to Dayton Tennessee noon-1 p.m. This is a joint meeting with AGC, CRMA, Chattanooga Area Chamber's International Business Council and green|spaces. Nokian Tyres opened its Dayton, Tennessee production factory in 2019 after breaking ground two years prior. The Dayton Factory is one of the most high-tech, eco-friendly tire production ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has No New COVID Deaths, 58 New Cases

Hamilton County had 58 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total to 43,100. There have been no more deaths from the virus, and the total remains at 480 in the county. Tennessee will report the state's new cases and deaths on Monday. (click for more)

Dequan Fuqua Gets 27-Month Federal Prison Term For Having Gun After Indictment For Attempted Murder

A Chattanooga man who was one of three men charged in connection with a July 4, 2016, shooting that left 31-year-old Natasha Jones with critical injuries has been sentenced to serve 27 months in federal prison on a gun charge. Dequan Kentrel Fuqua, 23, appeared before Judge Curtis Collier. Fuqua had been arrested by federal agents on a charge of possessing a firearm while ... (click for more)

Opinion

The Migrant Children Should Be Welcomed With Open Arms

My greatest concern for the migrant children is they don't be mistreated or abused. Being separated from their families must be traumatic enough. They don't deserve the added trauma of being mistreated and abused. They should be welcomed with open arms. Don't worry about our own precious children. They'll get to be exposed to another language, another culture. Children ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A ‘Full Throttle’ Finish

Alabama football coach Bear Bryant had a pre-game ritual where just before a game, he’d take his quarterbacks on a short walk around the courthouse square in whatever town the Tide was playing. Bryant wouldn’t say much, and the players wouldn’t say a word unless they were called on. The first time Joe Namath took the fabled walk, he purposefully trailed Coach by a step or two. Bryant ... (click for more)