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New Era ramps up local production of NFL hats

New Era Cap Co. will ramp up production of National Football League caps at its Derby plant, which will help secure local jobs.

New Era on Monday said the Derby plant was launching a production run of 100,000 hats, and that total could go higher depending on customer response. The local plant has made NFL caps in smaller, custom quantities until now, said Christopher Koch, president and CEO of the family-owned business.

New Era makes 4 million caps at a year at the Derby factory, including those for Major League Baseball.

“New Era will produce the largest collection of NFL caps ever, right here in Western New York,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, who joined Koch and Russ Brandon, CEO of the Buffalo Bills, for the announcement.

The Derby plant employs about 250 people. The company expects to add 17 jobs by year’s end because of the additional NFL work.

The company’s announcement about bolstering NFL hat production locally comes just after the Buffalo Bills and New Era announced a stadium naming rights deal. The home of the Bills is now known as New Era Field.

New Era has been the NFL’s official sideline cap since 2012. The stepped-up output is another effort to capitalize on that relationship, Koch said.

Koch said the company had been talking to the NFL about how it would be important to make hats worn by NFL players at the Derby site.

“That turned into, let’s make it more than player product, let’s make it fan product,” Koch said. “And then it turned into, let’s do what we do best in Derby: Let’s do custom, high-end, fashion-foward product. It’s taken some time to put that all together.”

In addition to the Derby manufacturing plant, New Era has about 250 employees at its headquarters in downtown Buffalo.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com

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