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April 9, 2014

Globe Manufacturing celebrates 10 years in Ada

Ada — Globe Manufacturing employees tried on funny hats, wildly colorful wigs or oversized glasses Tuesday, then ducked into a photo booth to have their photos taken. The finished pictures flashed on a screen above the photo booth, prompting chuckles from the staff.

The photo booth was part of Globe’s annual employee appreciation day, which coincided with a ceremony marking the company’s 10th anniversary in Ada.

Glenn Glass, regional development specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, presented staffers with a plaque signed by Commerce Secretary Larry Parman and Gov. Mary Fallin to mark the occasion.

“Thank you for the 10 years,” Glass said. “You’re the kind of corporate citizen we’re looking for. You invest in Oklahoma. We love having you here.”

Local leaders thanked Globe Manufacturing, which makes protective clothing for firefighters and first responders, for its commitment to Ada.

“You all are very important to our community,” said Joe Hill, vice president of the Ada Jobs Foundation. “You’re very important to our tax base and not only that, the product you make saves lives. And I think that’s extremely noble.”

Hill presented the staff with another plaque marking the plant’s anniversary.

Opening shop in Ada

Globe Manufacturing started in 1887 when founder J.D. Cleaver set up shop as a harness maker in Lynn, Mass., according to the company’s website. Cleaver’s brother-in-law, Courtland F.H. Freese, bought the business and moved it to Pittsfield, N.H., in 1901.

Freese later realized that American society was changing, creating new opportunities for manufacturing heavy-duty work clothes. He obtained a patent for a method of constructing waterproof coats and began selling turnout gear for firefighters.

Over the decades, Globe introduced many of the materials, designs and construction methods that are now commonly used for making turnout gear, according to the website.

The company was the first to use DuPont Nomex flame-resistant material, GoreTex and CrossTech moisture barriers and 3M Scotchlite reflective material.

The company also helped set National Fire Protection Association standards for turnout gear.

In 2003, the company needed to expand operations outside New Hampshire to handle increasing demand for its products.

Engineering manager Jim Aylward visited facilities in several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama, before settling on Ada.

Aylward said he brought other company officials with him on his second visit to Ada, and they met with city officials at East Central University.

“They had a good presentation of why we would want to be in Ada, and that’s how we ended up here,” he said.

After deciding in December 2003 to set up shop in Ada, Globe hired a skeleton crew to prepare the old Wrangler jeans facility for its new occupant.

By the time the plant reopened in April 2004, the facility at 2000 B St. had a staff of 13 people.

The number of employees has tripled over the past decade. Today, the plant boasts a staff of 42 workers, some of whom have been there since 2004.

Aylward said Ada is a good fit for the company.

“It’s been an excellent environment,” he said. “I’ve been coming here all 10 years, and it’s great.”

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