Foss Manufacturing celebration a blueprint for success

Hampton Union, April 18, 2008

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

It is a rare day that a local newspaper can report about an area manufacturing company being resolutely committed to keeping jobs stateside. While that's unfortunate, it is great news and a source of pride as Foss Manufacturing of Hampton sent that message at a ceremony last Friday celebrating its newest production line.

AJ Nassar, chief executive officer of Foss, and Alinian Capital purchased the company in 2005 for $39 million while it was in bankruptcy court. But Foss Manufacturing, following its financial crisis, could have been purchased by a larger corporation. The purchase could have been solely about acquiring existing product lines and technologies and its brand name. It could have been simply headquartered in Hampton or the Carolinas with its products produced in China, India or Mexico like so many other U.S. corporations.

But the celebration, at which Gov. Lynch congratulated Foss with a champagne toast, boasted a long-term commitment to America.

"They were waiting for us to die," David Rowell, executive vice president of sales at Foss, said of foreign competitors. "They were waiting for us to close the doors. We are not going to lie down and die and let our manufacturing jobs in the U.S. fade away so our children and our children's children do not have jobs."

One company on a day of celebrating itself is not going to dent the United States' spiralling trade deficit, which is at $206.6 billion for 2008, according to, where you can watch the deficit continuously growing. But, it is the values espoused by Foss Manufacturing officials that gives America its best chance to restore a major principal of its previous economic success.

That principal of assuring a balanced or at least manageable trade relationship with the rest of the world is one of most significant means for reducing the gap between rich and poor in America. If Americans ever forget just how important "blue collar" manufacturing jobs are to our society's upward mobility, it will be a sad, dark day in our nation's history.

"This is exactly the type of company that we want here in New Hampshire," Lynch said at last Friday's ceremony.

The state of New Hampshire recognizes the value Foss provides, enough so to recently provide it with a $475,000 Community Development Block Grant to aid it in improving production, which includes its environmentally friendly non-woven material.

Not only will the grant help the company build on its successful emergence from bankruptcy, Foss will repay the loan to Coastal Economic Development Corporation, which will use that money to help other Seacoast businesses. Also per the grant, Foss will create an additional 25 jobs, of which 60 percent will be available to people with low or moderate incomes.

Whether it's harkening all the way back to our Colonial times, our Revolutionary Era, our Industrial Revolution and on to the economic boom following World War II, the American worker made our nation great. The love of nation, will to work harder, more efficiently and for a cause greater than just our own is not an outdated concept. It's an American concept.

Keeping Foss Manufacturing and all other manufacturing jobs that remain here in the states is not going to happen because of one grant, one speech or scores of politicians. The workers will make America better from the guy or gal on the line to the CEO in the office.

"We bought (Foss) because of the people," Nassar said. "I can tell you the main thing that drives a company is the people. In the end of the day, if you don't have the right work force you have nothing."