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On The Road in Biddeford

BIDDEFORD TEXTILE CORPORATION -- Biddeford, Maine

In this segment, we meet an unlikely group of people who partnered together to save jobs and a textile industry with roots in Maine for generations.

For over 150 years, the state's mill operations have primarily been owned by outside investors and profits have been reaped elsewhere. Biddeford Textile Corporation, a blanket-making factory in Biddeford, Maine, was no exception to rule. But when local business investors, the mill's management, its employees and labor union all came together to buyout the most recent investor -- this time from Florida-based Sunbeam-Oster Corporation -- for the first time, profits stayed at home. To cut costs and to drive the company's stock price up, then Sunbeam's CEO, Al Dunlap, threatened to shut down Biddeford, among a handful of other Sunbeam units across the country.

The coalition buyout of Dunlap at Biddeford resulted in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, where with local investors, employees now own the majority of the mill. "We have our own future to guide," says Ray Tillson, a mill worker and the union president. "We're not getting someone else rich. We're making money for ourselves, not for Al Dunlap or Sunbeam. It's for us."

 

Livelyhood's third one-hour special, "Honey, We Bought the Company," aired on PBS in September 1998. For information on how to order the show, call 510-268-WORK.

TO COLUMBIA FALLS | TO HOPI RESERVATION
TO MADISON | TO SOUTH BRONX

These images captured by the Apple QuickTake 200 digital camera.

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