Supply Chain Innovation

Visiting the D’Clase factory in the Dominican Republic

Monday, June 18, 2007

The recent FLA Board of Directors meeting in the Dominican Republic (DR) offered a rich variety of experiences for the many attendees and visitors. The events included not only the meeting itself, but also a fascinating visit to a local factory and a stimulating stakeholders meeting at which key issues relating to the local economy and industry were discussed.


The factory visit, to the D’Clase factory in Gurabo, DR, just outside of Santiago, offered many University representatives and some company reps, the opportunity to see firsthand the production of Dockers pants, Timberland boots, and a number of other familiar products. The visit was facilitated by Phillips-Van Heusen, the FLA-affiliated company that manufactures a number of its products at this factory. D’Clase staff offered interesting insights into the various parts of the production process as we traversed the large factory, as well as the health clinic and day care center.


In business for over 20 years and employing a total of approximately 5,200 workers at their two factory locations in the DR – Gurabo and Esperanza D’Clase’s main focus historically has been in apparel production, specifically trousers. Now, however, they are diversifying into new businesses, including a call center operation. At least one collegiate licensee uses the factory’s screen printing facility.


The factory takes pride in the above average-salary and benefits they provide for their employees, including the day care center for workers’ children, clinic service and the opportunity to own a residence in dorms they have built close to the factory.

The tour began with a visit to the screen printing section of the factory, where logos were being screen printed onto Old Navy T-shirts.




The factory has diversified into manufacturing of footwear; we observed Timberland boots being made from start to finish in another section of the factory.



The shoemaking process, involving skill, strength and dexterity, was almost entirely performed by hand.


The group also discovered that stonewash actually does involve the use of stones – in this case, from Turkey!













And giant dryers









And the process of distressing jeans – taking a perfectly good pair of jeans and “distressing” and “grinding” them to give them the much-in-demand worn-out look – was fascinating to watch as the workers worked hard rubbing the wear and tear on jeans mounted on inflatable mannequins.




The D’Clase visit gave university representatives an opportunity to tour a factory outside the United States and see first-hand the working conditions and labor compliance efforts in such factories. At a Q&A after the visit, Auret van Heerden, FLA President, stressed the importance of universities becoming more interested and involved in the monitoring process with the factories that produce university logo-bearing goods. University involvement and oversight will go a long way in helping to ensure that workers are treated fairly and have safe and humane working conditions.


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