Factory fire causes nationwide knish shortage

 Gabila Food Products, Inc. shows their original Coney Island square knishs, which have been off the market for at least six weeks. A fire at a Long Island factory billed as the world’s biggest maker of knishes has led to a nationwide shortage of the fried, square doughy pillows of pureed potatoes and other fillings. (AP Photo/Gabila Food Products, Inc.)

Gabila Food Products, Inc. shows their original Coney Island square knishs, which have been off the market for at least six weeks. A fire at a Long Island factory billed as the world’s biggest maker of knishes has led to a nationwide shortage of the fried, square doughy pillows of pureed potatoes and other fillings. (AP Photo/Gabila Food Products, Inc.)

COPIAGUE, N.Y. –  A fire at a factory billed as the world’s biggest maker of knishes has created nationwide shock and oy for those who can’t seem to find the Jewish treats anywhere.

Kvetching has been going on at delis, diners, food carts and groceries since the six-week-long shortage began, but lovers of the square fried doughy pillows of pureed potatoes may not have to go without much longer. The factory promises an end to the knish crunch by Thanksgiving, which coincides with the start of Hanukkah.

“Our customers … are calling us saying they are literally searching supermarkets and stores and they’re all asking when we’ll be back,” Stacey Ziskin Gabay, one of the owners of the 92-year-old Gabila’s Knishes, which sells about 15 million knishes a year.

A fire Sept. 24 at the Gabila’s plant in Copiague, Long Island, damaged the machinery that makes the company’s biggest seller — “The Original Coney Island Square Knish,” which also come filled with kasha or spinach.

Gabila’s, which also makes matzoh balls, blintzes and latkas, sells the knishes both online and at retail outlets around the country, with New York, Florida and California leading the sales.

“For the last month I haven’t had any knishes — my heart is broken,” said Carol Anfuso, a native New Yorker who has been without a knish to nosh since the BJ’s Wholesale store near her Atlanta home suddenly stopped stocking them.

But Anfuso didn’t learn of the shortage until she visited her sister for lunch at the Pastrami King restaurant in Merrick, Long Island, and found that it was out of stock, too.

Pastrami King owner Joe Yamali said he normally sells about 2,000 knishes a month.

“It brings you back to your childhood and they’re just so delicious,” Yamali said. “Gabila is square and fried. You bite into it and the potato oozes out. It’s very good.”

Katz’s Delicatessen, the 125-year-old landmark on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, ordinarily sells about 6,000 knishes a month.

“I usually get four to take home,” grumbled Brooklyn native Forrest Gurl. “Their crunchiness, their hard corners, the mustard and sauerkraut you put on them. You can’t beat a knish.”

Like most places, the round, baked version is still available. But Gurl harumphed a familiar sentiment of knish devotees: “Who gets round knishes?”

Jesse Hochberg, a retired IT employee, didn’t know there was a shortage until he got to the Katz’s counter.

“I miss them,” he said.  “It’s something I grew up with. I like the taste, sliced with mustard. … I always look for them, and I haven’t seen them recently.”

Katz’s chef Kenny Kohn has grown weary of explaining the shortage to customers.  Along with the pastrami sandwiches, he serves up a typical New York attitude to the ongoing complaints.

“Get over it! Get a life! It’s just a knish.”

‘Made in America’ High Fashion Easy to Find at Fashion Week

Lela+Rose+Backstage

(NEW YORK) — Is “Made in America” clothing making a comeback at New York fashion week? Though designers from around the globe have gathered in the Big Apple to display their spring and summer collections for 2014, many say their clients still get a kick to learn their clothes are made in the U.S.

Though it means higher retail prices, several designers say they produced 100 percent of their collections in the U.S., including Joanna Mastroianni and Honor.

Even large design houses say they produce a majority, if not a large chunk, of their collections in the U.S.

Trina Turk, who presented for the second time at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City on Sunday, says about 40 to 60 percent of the clothing from her women’s label is produced in the U.S.

“There’s a customer segment that enjoys that things are made in the U.S.,” Turk said.

Turk has boutiques across the country and sells her clothing in department stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

The design and production behind her summery “California Roadtrip”-themed collection available this spring took place in her headquarters in Southern California.

Even global jet-setting designer Vivienne Tam, whose clean, structured spring show was an “ode to modern Shanghai,” produces some of her clothing in the U.S.

Michelle Smith’s edgy and modern women’s spring ready-to-wear was presented on Wednesday for her brand, MILLY. Smith says that while retail prices are higher when she produces domestically, she believes better quality is delivered to customers.

“One of the greatest benefits of producing in the US is that I have a better handle on quality control,” she said. “My sampling room is located one floor below my studio in the heart of the Garment District.”

About 80 to 90 percent of MILLY is made in New York City, while the remaining percentage is fully fashioned knitwear, which cannot be produced in the U.S., her company says.

Without knits, it may be easier for designers to tout their American-produced clothing during fashion week’s spring collections than the winter presentations in February.

Lela Rose, whose brilliantly-colored women’s line was presented on Sunday, said knits are the last remaining puzzle of clothing items she does not yet make in the U.S.

She said 95 percent of her collection is produced domestically, and she is starting to develop and produce knits in the U.S.

“We’re not there yet,” Rose said.

But she is on her way, because the benefits outweigh the challenges of producing in the U.S.

Based in New York City, her factories are based within a 10-block radius of her headquarters.

“If they have a question, they send a representative with a sample,” she said. “And we have people constantly monitoring the factories.”

While it may cost less to produce abroad, Rose said overseas lead times “are so much longer than they are here made in [America].”

Many times, operations have ended up becoming more costly due to things lost in translation or having to revise clothing because things haven’t gone right.

Rose said she supports the preservation of New York’s garment district for “very self-serving” purposes. “If we didn’t have these factories, we wouldn’t have trend stores or last-minute things to add to our collection,” she explains.

And, Rose adds, her clients appreciate that her clothing is produced in the U.S.

“Women love that. I think customers are proud to wear things and are happy to spend money on supporting this economy, especially after all these years of seeing manufacturing diminish,” she said.

Lela Rose

Lela Rose

Designers like Nanette Lepore, whose spring presentation attracted hundreds of clamoring fans on Wednesday, have become politically active in lobbying to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs. Lepore has even helped organize rallies in support of New York’s Garment District.

Melissa Hall, who is behind the website TheEmergingDesigner.com, said new designers want to produce in the U.S. for several reasons, such as being close to the design process and control quality.

“Many designers are also keen on helping to stimulate their local economy and provide jobs to factory workers,” she said. “Plus, one consumer trend that is happening right now is their desire to learn about the designer’s back-story to feel a connection with the brand. That’s where Made in America comes in as a marketing vehicle along with being able to communicate the craftsmanship that goes into making their product.”

Emily Saunders of the up-and-coming label SAUNDER said she loves being able to support industry in her hometown of New York City.

“And it’s important to me to have a relationship with the people who help make the clothing for my line – SAUNDER is my baby and it’s nice knowing that my baby is in good hands,” she said.

Marlon Gobel, behind the men’s line Marlon Gobel, is another New York-based designer who takes pride in producing in the U.S. In his recent fashion show, his “We Built This City” collection was inspired by iron workers who built Manhattan in the early 20th century.

“It just makes more sense to make it here. You can control the timing of your product so much better.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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Made in USA Certified

Hotels bet guests will favor furnishings made in USA

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Montague Furniture

By:Barbara Delollis USA Today

When you walk into a hotel in the U.S. today, you’ll see many items – chairs, draperies, lamps – that were made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia or elsewhere overseas.

But that’s gradually changing, hotel designers and furniture makers tell Hotel Check-In.

There’s a small but growing trend among hotels to buy more items from local, regional or U.S. vendors.

Hotel owners, developers and designers are increasingly deciding it’s worth it, even if they pay a little extra for a U.S. product.

Why? There’s time and risk involved with ordering items from overseas, plus showcasing locally made goods can give the hotel a patriotic or community-minded spin.

Examples:

  • The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis recently finished a $25 million revamp that used “Made in America” as its central theme. More than three-quarters of the items purchased for the renovation came from the USA, says designer Michael Suomi of New York-based Stonehill & Taylor. The guest bathroom counter tops, for instance, feature granite quarried locally and purchased from a century-old Minnesota company.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, in Greensboro, Ga., is in the midst of redecorating to give guests a lighter, more modern look with many U.S.-made products, says Megan Ybarra of the Dallas-based interior design firm Duncan Miller Ullman. The hotel found wall coverings from Kentucky, guestroom carpet from Georgia, and a Texas metalwork firm was hired to custom-make the metal branches that form the base of guestroom ottomans, she says.
  • The InterContinental Chicago’s 477-room renovation emphasizes locally-sourced materials and furniture, says Dan Egan, the hotel’s sales and marketing director. Guest rooms contain drapery from Union, Ill., headboards from Jasper, Ind., wall covering from York, Penn., and room signage in hallways from McCook, Ill.
  • Montague, a 20-year-old guestroom furniture maker, last April invested in its first-ever factory – and it’s located in North Carolina, says Misty Delbridge, who runs the company’s U.S. division. It made sense, because hotel owners are increasingly seeking products made here and the factory was in danger of closing down, she says. A Hilton hotel in Texas, for instance, is having the company prepare two model rooms for a renovation – one outfitted with furnishings made in Vietnam and the other with furnishings made in the U.S., she says. Montague still has about 70% of its products produced in China and Malaysia.

No. 1 priority: Put heads in beds

Another factor driving the growth in U.S.-sourced products is hotels’ rush to renovate in as small a window as possible so that rooms can stay filled with paying customers, says Delbridge. It’s especially true in New York City, where some hotels can be sold out or almost sold out most nights of the year.

“If the cost (to purchase U.S.-made furniture) is 10% higher and the hotel can gain revenue back in six to eight weeks, they’re all about it because then they could have a ‘Made in America’ story and gain revenue,” Delbridge says. “These companies wouldn’t do it just for the story. There’s got to be an advantage in it for them.”

Hotel renovations are faster paced than building new hotels from scratch, notes Ybarra, who worked on the Ritz-Carlton Lodge project. It typically takes about 18 months to renovate a hotel, which since the recession has been the most common activity among hoteliers, vs. about three years to build a new one, she says.

“Our clients are willing to pay an extra dollar or two to not have the hassle of waiting,” Ybarra says. There’s also the risk of complications, she says, citing long waits at U.S. Customs and a time when pirates took over containers filled with items for a Turks and Caicos hotel.

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Seven Reasons Outsourced U.S. Bank IT Jobs Are Heading Back Onshore

Some bank IT jobs that have been outsourced for the past 10 years or so are coming back stateside, at least according to one expert. “A number of banks have told me they’re pulling back work from offshore, particularly from India but not only India,” says Harley Lippman, founder and chief executive of Genesis10, an IT consulting and staffing firm based in New York. “India is still the epicenter of IT work for major banks, although some work has gone to China, Eastern Brazil and other locations.”

Lippman doesn’t have numbers to back this observation. “I’m gathering that as we speak,” he says. “A lot of people are interested in that.”

Lippman’s own company has benefited from this trend, although he declined to name any bank clients. His firm is hiring in Troy, Michigan; Atlanta (where it just opened a new facility); Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Kansas City, Mo. “That’s all driven by bank client demand,” Lippman says.

Some banks are bringing the work back in house, but the majority are finding an onshore outsourcing provider, Lippman says. “In all banks there’s head-count pressure; there continues to be cost pressure, there’s pressure on execution and delivery for all the major banks,” he says. Outsourcing offers variable costs and the flexibility to ramp up and down as the volume of work fluctuates.

Offshoring made sense 10 years ago, when a New York City programmer might have cost $100 an hour, versus $15 an hour for a worker with similar skills in India, Lippman says. “Today it’s very different, the world is more flat,” he says. “Jeffrey Immelt,” the General Electric chief executive, “said there’s no more cheap labor; I found that quite significant.” Inflation is over 20% in India.

Why are banks turning from offshoring to onshoring? Lippman offers several reasons:

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Obama to Draw an Economic Line in State of Union

A signer interpreted President Obama’s campaign speech on Thursday at the Apollo Theater in New York. His third State of the Union address, before a joint session of Congress, is set for Tuesday.

By NYT    Published: January 21, 2012

WASHINGTON — President Obama will use his election-year State of the Union address on Tuesday to define the role for government in helping to promote a prosperous and equitable society as an American tradition, hoping to draw a stark contrast between the parties in a time of deep economic uncertainty.

In a video preview e-mailed to more than 10 million supporters on Saturday, as South Carolina Republicans went to the polls to help pick an alternative to him, Mr. Obama promised a “blueprint for an economy that’s built to last,” with the government assisting the private sector and individuals to ensure “an America where everybody gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everybody plays by the same set of rules.”

Mr. Obama has honed that message for months as he has attacked Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail, contrasting it with what he has described as Republicans’ “go it alone” free-market views.  Read more of this post

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