Brooks Brothers Queens factory values experience

- At an 80,000-square-foot facility in Sunnyside, Queens, Brooks Brothers is turning silks into ties by the millions and doing alterations for 50 stores.

Director of operations Luis Nava says the factory makes the vast majority of ties that Brooks Brothers sells in its stores. That's about 1.5 million, which means every day workers have to push out 5,500
ties. An individual employee can easily touch 2,000 or 3,000 ties a day.

Nava is in charge of ties, textiles, and a diverse population. It's not easy to find talent to work in a craft and skill like this, so Nava says he wants to retain the people they have, without making distinctions based on age, gender or, ethnicity. Brooks Brothers value experience and give everyone an equal opportunity.

More than half of his 219 workers are over 55, with decades of experience. Brooks Brothers gives those workers 1,400 minutes a year to use however they choose, whether it's going to a doctor's appointment or taking a grandchild to school. That flexible policy helped the factory earn a 2015 Age Smart Employer Award from Columbia University.

Nives Mattiasich, the manufacturing manager, says wonderful people work in the factory. Many of them have been there for 20 to 30 years. Mattiasich herself has been there 45 years.
Every fabric handles differently, so Mattiasich says you need to know how to work with it and what it should look like. She says older people who have worked with different fabrics for many years know just what to do.

Paola Posca, 68, has worked in alterations at Brooks Brothers for over 20 years. The day we visited, she was putting a custom lining in a made-to-measure suit. Posca says the factory is like her home because she spends a lot of hours there and Brooks Brothers is a really good company. Any work they give her, she is happy to do.

Master tailor Mario Mannarino, 74, came out of retirement to work here three days a week. His most recent masterpiece is a copy of the topcoat Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he died. Mannarino says he just finished the project last year. He was commissioned to make a replica of the original Lincoln coat, made by Brooks Brothers. Mannarino went to Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., where Lincoln was assassinated to see the original. It had a large part ripped off where the president was shot, but Mannarino says he was able to copy every detail.

This plant has made some other memorable pieces, like the tie Jennifer Aniston wore on the cover of GQ in 2009.

Chances are if it's Brooks and it's around your neck, it was born in Queens.

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