Hardwick Clothes Gets New Owner, New CEO

by Harry Sheff
Bruce Bellusci
Bruce Bellusci
Hardwick Clothes, a 134-year-old brand that continues to manufacture its tailored clothing in Cleveland, Tenn., has a new owner and a new chief executive. Allan Jones, a local businessman who founded a successful pay day loan business, acquired Hardwick for $1.9 million out of bankruptcy in June. Jones has hired former Hart Schaffner Marx executive Bruce Bellusci to lead the company.

“Hardwick Clothes will soon be known as the company with the best blazer in the world and we wanted the best CEO to help us get there,” said Jones, who has vowed to spend $10 million to advertise the brand. “With Bruce on our team there is no limit to what we can achieve. The whole world is watching.”

“Hardwick is the oldest business of its kind in America and Allan and I will work together to make the brand famous again worldwide,” said Bellusci. “Allan believes the pendulum is swinging back to ‘Made in America’ and I agree – the future looks good for Hardwick and other American-made brands.”

The company was founded in Cleveland, Tenn. in 1880 by C.L. Hardwick and has been operated by his family ever since. The factory employs about 225 people.

Hardwick filed for bankruptcy protection in December last year to avoid a tax foreclosure brought on by an inadequately funded pension plan. According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Hardwick sought help from the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. during the recession; PBGC later found Hardwick’s $11 million in assets short, so it demanded the company pay $7.3 million, threatening a $1.5 million tax lien if it didn’t.

“The employees at Hardwick are enthusiastic and excited about the new challenge ahead,” added Bellusci. “The journey starts now to regain our national prominence. Working together, we will revitalize the Hardwick brand and reach new levels of success. The best is yet to come.”

Jones founded Check Into Cash in 1993 and has launched many other businesses, including LendingFrog.com, U.S. Money Shops, Buy Here Pay Here USA and LoanbyPhone.com. Check Into Cash has 1,300 U.S. locations.

Bellusci has been EVP responsible for sales and operations at Hart Schaffner Marx for the last seven years. Prior to that he spent nearly 20 years of his career at Hartmarx in Chicago working on the Tommy Hilfiger, Christian Dior, Donna Karan and Corneliani businesses.