Updated: February 19, 2020 10:24 PM
Created: February 19, 2020 09:01 PM
WATERLOO, N.Y. (WHEC) — There's an undeniable pride among the staff at Finger Lakes Textiles. Pride in the products they make, the people they make them for and pride in the mission that buoys this business in Waterloo.
"Finger Lakes Textiles manufactures military-grade hats, consumer graded hats, and also private label hats," explains company CEO Allen Connely.
Its hats are worn by U.S. soldiers in combat.
The Department of Defense is its largest single customer, shipping more than 1 million hats to the armed forces per year.
"We make a wool hat for them and fleece hats for them. So it's the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard," Connely said.
But what is truly unique about this non-profit company is that 100% of the profits go to serve their mission. The business is operated by Mozaic (a merger of the ARC of Seneca Cayuga and the ARC of Yates).
"Our mission is to give people with disabilities, people that have mental and behavior health issues, children in our communities, so everything we do here, all the profits we make here goes back to serve that population," Connely said.
That means residential programs, mental health services and pre-vocational programs.
Brett Davidsen: “How much money does this non-profit bring in for programs per year?”
Allen Connely: "This particular non-profit, anywhere between 4-6 million dollars a year."
They also provide jobs to people with disabilities who work side by side with others who have no disability. The manufacturing plant employs about 100 people in all.
"I think people sometimes forget the value of work," Connely said. "If you can come to a place like this and be able to do that, it's pretty impactful."
The hats are made from American made yarn and spun from machines into long tubes. From there, the material is cut and then sewn.
Beyond the military hats, Finger Lakes Textiles has begun its own consumer-branded hats under the label Arctic Gear. They come in all types of colors and styles are available for purchase online. They also produce computer-designed logo hats.
The company just celebrated an expansion of the facility, and Connely sees room for more growth. But he says the mission won't change.
Brett Davidsen: “For you, what is the most rewarding thing about this business?”
Allen Connely: "Most rewarding thing is just seeing the changes in the lives of the people that not only work here, but in our organization as a whole."
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