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Growth Manufacturers Case Studies

Tip of the Hat to '47

By Kathie Mahoney, Center Director, MassMEPKathie Mahoney, Center Director, MassMEP

"Without the guidance, flexibility and customized training provided by MassMEP, '47 would not have been able to successfully manage our exponential growth."
— Kevin Crean, Director of Human Resources


'47 is a private, family-owned American clothing brand founded in 1947 by twin Italian immigrant brothers, Henry and Arthur D'Angelo. Arthur D'Angelo is President of '47, with his four sons in leadership positions: Steven, Tip of the Hat to '47Robert, David, and Mark. The company is licensed to create headwear, apparel, and accessories for the Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Lacrosse, National Rugby League, and over 900 college institutions in the U.S.

Arthur and Henry D'Angelo, identical twin brothers, were born in Orsogna, Italy in 1926. They came to the United States in 1938 at age twelve and soon began selling various items, including Boston Red Sox pennants on the streets near Fenway Park where the Boston Red Sox played. You probably own several of their products, hats, shirts, sweatshirts, or various items of clothing.

In 2014, '47 became an official Tip of the Hat to '47licensed on-field partner for four teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League. In 2015, '47 expanded their portfolio with a USSF Major League Soccer partnership deal. In the same year, they clinched the rights to produce caps for MLB on-field postseason celebrations until 2019 and secured a license to create merchandise for Major Baseball League International (MLBI). In 2013, they reported an estimated $230 Million in revenue.

In 2014, the company was going through an aggressive growth period. Kevin Crean, Director Human Resources, knew that in order for the company to manage current and future growth, he needed additional training for their employees. MassMEP's partner, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), spoke to '47 about on-the-shop floor training opportunities and grant funding available in Massachusetts, including training programs from MassMEP, which met the balance of Crean's shop floor training needs. The training provided by MassMEP and AIM resulted in a transformational, company-wide training program that went beyond just the shop floor at '47.

Impact of Training
Revenue: $9 million, increased and retained
Jobs: 195, increased and retained
Investment: $3 million in equipment and software

The new training program changed the mindset within the company from a reactionary business to one with a clear business model and strategic goals. One of the first training sessions provided by MassMEP was a Value Stream Map (VSM), which encompassed the complete order process - from order taking to collecting payment. The VSM included seven departments; it was eye-opening for everyone to uncover where production delays were in the process and how many times the product went back and forth. They also discovered that 70% of artwork created was not being used and this was a huge drain on resources and time. An unexpected outcome, once the changes were implemented, was significant time savings within the IT department.

'47 experienced an immediate savings in costs and reduced production time. Prior to the training, productivity was inconsistent. After the training, they were 18 months ahead of schedule and the company experienced more open and strategic communications. During this period, they received contracts to produce products for the NFL and NBA for the first time. Crean stated that without the VSM they would not have been able to meet the demands placed on the company with these new contracts. Since the training, there are fewer mistakes, they have added final stop gap checks, and they are going to add four quality control positions in the near future.

Training Within Industry (TWI) job instruction provided the company with clear training goals and objectives. Now, all new hires go through a whole week of training. New employees spend at least 30 minutes with each department, plus lunch with the owners. Included in the training is a contact reference list of "who to contact" for what areas. They also conduct 30-60-90 day check in periods with new employees.

Training with MassMEP provided visibility to see what they needed and to improve their ineffective communications. As a result, the business model within the company improved, as well as morale and per product cost changed.

The training was funded through a grant from the Workforce Training Fund Program (WTFP). The WTFP is a program of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and is administered by Commonwealth Corporation.

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