In Nov. 27 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Last Friday, Jamestown Mayor Brooks Bates invited former Fruit of the Loom General Manager Dale Halliwell and his replacement at the Jamestown factory, Jeff Wiles, to city hall to talk about the importance of the company to the city's prosperity
Halliwell, a 10-year Fruit employee, recently was promoted to Vice President of Purchasing in manufacturing services, a move that will send him to Fruit of the Loom's home office in Bowling Green. He said he will be commuting for a while to his new job in Bowling Green from his Russell County home.
"I've managed a lot of facilities and the relationship that this plant and this community has has been outstanding," Halliwell said. "It is very easy to communicate."
According to Halliwell, worldwide, there are around 40,000 Fruit of the Loom employees with more than 700 of those working in the Jamestown manufacturing facility.
He said he would miss his co-workers and employees the most. "They work extremely hard and it is going to be tough not seeing them every day," Halliwell said.
"A lot of them have been here since the plant started and there is something to learn from them, they've seen it all," he said.
Stepping in to Halliwell's former role is Wiles, a 20 plus year Fruit employee who has most recently been the Jamestown plant's process engineering manager. Wiles grew up in neighboring Casey County before moving to Russell County and then away to several states before winding up back in Russell County around four years ago to work at Fruit of the Loom. He had a six year hiatus from the company before again joining Fruit before his move back to Russell County.
"Jeff actually wasn't with the company when I joined the company but through a mutual friend ... I made him an offer he didn't refuse and he came back to work for us," Halliwell said. "He was in a good position and has done a lot of good things for the plant and I think his promotion is going to be good for the plant."
Halliwell said Wiles saw the plant through the transition into the new dye house and the expansions that have been made. Wiles said he looked forward to continuing the strong relationship between Fruit of the Loom and the city and county.
The Jamestown facility produces around 2 million pounds of fabric per week, according to Halliwell.
"We're about 65 percent dye and 35 percent bleach," Wiles said. Wiles, who said he was still preparing for the roles of his new job, said he wanted to continue to operate smoothly and produce good quality products as cost effective as possible while managing efficiently.
Halliwell said the facility is currently staffed to meet the current production schedules.
"Fruit of the Loom is the lifeblood of Jamestown," said Mayor Bates. "In almost every facet, from the utilities to the payroll tax."
Taking Wiles' old position as the plant's process engineering manager is Brad Cooper, a 5-year Fruit employee, who has most recently a knitting process engineer.
Wiles said he would continue the open-door policy to his employees that Halliwell had in hopes of himself building strong relationships with his co-workers.
"I'm excited about it and about the plant's future," Wiles said.
Fruit of the Loom's world headquarters are based in Bowling Green.
The company is one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of men's and boys' underwear, women's and girls' underwear, printable T-shirts and fleece for the activewear industry, casual wear, women's jeanswear and childrenswear, according to their official Web site.
The company is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, controlled by legendary investor Warren Buffett. In 2002 Buffet paid around $835 million in cash for the company.