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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

East Valley Beats Vegas for Small Textile Company

SPECIAL REPORT: SAVING VALLEY BUSINESSES This is one in an occasional series of articles exploring the issues of business retention and recruitment in the greater Valley area. The hiss of truck brakes brings Jason Honigberg to an office window at Drapes 4 Show, the textile manufacturing company he operates with his mother in unincorporated Los Angeles County. The tractor hauling the 40-foot container holding a full load of bolts of fabric pulls into the T-shaped parking lot of the small industrial park but the company’s lack of space requires that the fabric rolls be temporarily stored outdoors. “This is my problem,” said Honigberg, the chief operating officer. “I have to unload this safely.” The solution to the problem for the 25-year old company seemed to be to move out of state, closer to the Las Vegas hotels making up a bulk of the customer base for its napkins, table skirts, table clothes and backdrops. There were no vacancies in the San Fernando Valley to meet the space requirements for the storing, sewing and shipping done at Drapes 4 Show. Work on large pieces of cloth needed to be done outside. One morning stacks of boxes on a wooden pallet in the parking lot waited for delivery several to the Marriott Curacao Resort, others to the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. Then Honigberg and his mother Karen, the company’s president and co-founder, contacted the Community Redevelopment Agency for the City of Los Angeles who told the pair to hold off on any out-of-state moves. Drapes 4 Show will move this year but to the East Valley, into a former Cadillac restorations business in Sylmar that puts in one location the operations spread out in four bays at the industrial park and the raw material kept in five storage spaces. Making the move possible was financial assistance from the CRA and industrial development bonds from the Community Development Department. Additional financial incentives in the form of tax and utility credits are available because Sylmar is located within a state-designated enterprise zone. The consolidation cuts down on waste and inefficiencies and improves communications among the workforce, Karen Honigberg said. That industrial land is scarce in the city is not news to Margarita de Escontrias, the CRA’s regional administrator for the East Valley. The Sylmar property was underutilized and bringing Drapes 4 Show to the location reduces blight. The main attraction of the company is that it is small, hires locals and is owned by a woman. “We have staff directives to preserve the land, to provide jobs and that is what the industrial land can provide us,” de Escontrias said. The City Council approved in late February a $900,000 acquisition loan. The company receives partial debt forgiveness as long as it maintains a workforce of 30 or more employees for an 18-year period at the CRA’s living wage rate. The company indicated they planned to hire up to 10 new employees when they expand their business after the move, de Escontrias said. The industrial development bonds pay for repairs and improvements at the Sylmar location, which Jason Honigberg expects to take up to eight weeks. The benefits to moving from one end of the Valley to the other are that many employees will live closer to the new location. With access to public transportation from buses and a nearby Metrolink station, the company plans on subsidizing the cost to use mass transit. Possible relocation to Vegas made sense and not only because there are more hotel rooms there than any city on the planet. Karen Honigberg already owns two homes there where she and her son could live. But staying in the Valley still gives Drapes 4 Show an advantage as they can deliver their product overnight to Sin City while competitors from the East Coast and Texas need to set up warehouses there. While the city’s garment industry is not what it once was, fabric suppliers and dealers remain all over, said Steve Szabo, a retired tool and die maker who consults Jason Honigberg on industrial sewing equipment and other aspects of the garment business. “To move to Las Vegas, they would have to ship everything there,” Szabo said.

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