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May 20, 2008


Posted by Charlotte A. Weybright on March 16, 2008

So Vera Bradley has decided to close three Indiana plants and one Ohio plant in order to move production “in-house.” The decision to move production in-house was made, according to a spokewoman, to consolidate manufacturing and cut costs. But exactly just what does “in-house” mean? When the term is used, it usually means manufacturing will take place in the company’s digs. Somehow I suspect that may not be what happens in Vera Bradley’s case.

The three plants that will close - Summit Production Systems LLC, Mercury Manufacturing LLC and Phoenix Sewing Inc. - are located in Fort Wayne. The fourth plant, KAM Manufacturing, is located in Van Wert, Ohio, and will discontinue most operations by the end of the 2008.

Management states that it will keep production in Fort Wayne, yet the company’s new location is being built outside Fort Wayne city limits, close to the GM plant south on 69. I guess that makes it easier to avoid scrutiny - out of sight, out of mind.

Photo Credit: College

The company has transformed itself from an Indiana for-profit corporation organized in 1982 to its latest morphing into an international corporation formed in 2006. Vera Bradley designs now operates under the moniker of “Vera Bradley International, LLC” and, of course, is outsourcing work to China.

The outsourcing makes Vera Bradley just like so many other corporations who have decided that profit is king. That means that Vera Bradley is now exploiting the cheap labor pool in China as well as adding to the environemntal damage occurring from China’s lack of environmental protection laws. The following is a quote from Patricia Miller given during a speech in Greenscastle, Indiana, in October 2005:

“Doing business is all about relationships. It’s like anything else — it’s the people you work with, it’s how your treat them and how they treat you, and you want to do business with people that are honest, that are hard-working, that deliver for you.”

Three months before making that speech, she had already headed a trade delegation to Asia in the summer of 2005. The company began outsourcing in 2006, and labels with “Made in China” began to appear in products by 2007. Just when I thought the weather was improving, we get another snow job - and this one from a company that has long touted its ties to Fort Wayne and the local economy.

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