Fownes moving facility out of Amsterdam

One of the city’s most identifiable companies is leaving.

One of the city’s most identifiable companies is leaving.

Fownes Brothers & Company, which operates out of two city mill buildings, told its employees last week that the company would be moving to the Mayfield Commerce Park.

Fownes was founded in 1777 in England and moved to Amsterdam in the early 20th century. The company manufactures knitted and leather accessories, mostly gloves, hats and scarves for national retailers like Lands’ End and Macy’s.

The company’s manufacturing operations have since moved overseas, but the company, which is headquartered in New York City, has a distribution operation in Amsterdam.

Distribution occurs mostly out of the Elk Street mill, whose neon “Fownes” sign is a landmark visible from the state Thruway, but also out of a former Coleco building on Park Street.

Company officials in New York City and Amsterdam did not return calls for comment Monday, but Ken Rose, director of the Montgomery County Economic Development and Planning Department, confirmed that Fownes was offered several other sites within the county but chose the site in Fulton County instead. Rose said he believes the decision was made entirely from the Fownes corporate office in New York City.

“The positive thing about it is they chose to stay pretty local so their existing employees can keep their jobs,” he said.

At last count, the Amsterdam manufacturing facility employed between 40 and 60 workers. The number fluctuates with the season, Rose said.

Fownes opens a factory outlet store at the Elk Street location each winter for a few weeks before Christmas.

Fownes receives tax credits through the Amsterdam-Florida-Glen Empire Zone, according to director Fred Quist. It is unclear whether they will qualify for similar credits in Mayfield.

The Mayfield Commerce Park is a more modern, one-level facility, according to Quist. It was once a manufacturing plant for Coleco, which began as a toy manufacturer before it broke into the video gaming and electronic industry. Hasbro purchased the company’s assets in 1989.

Mayfield Commerce Park owner Fred Olbrych did not return calls for comment Monday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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