"Hit by Imports, Small Firms Seek Uncle Sam's Advice, Centers Around U.S. Provide Consulting to Help Survive Competition"
Baseball had been good to Roman Art Embroidery Corp., a company that makes caps for sports fans.
Then came the foreign competition, and the manufacturer was hopelessly undercut. "Imports were burying us," says Robert Mazzola, president of the Brockton, Mass., company.
Needing advice, Roman Art turned to the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, one of a dozen government-funded organizations around the country that help companies devise ways to survive against imports.
The center and the consultants it retained worked together with Roman Art to develop an entirely new specialty, something foreign competition would have a harder time invading. The solution: Go into vintage baseball caps.
It was a good call. Relying partly on its own archives, Roman Art now reproduces nostalgia treasures such as caps of the 1946 Dodgers and the 1927 Yankees. And by next year, sales of the vintage caps will exceed "the best sales we ever had with the old product line," Mr. Mazzola says. "Without the help, we would have been forced out of the field," he adds.
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