October 31, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – From apparel to candy and snacks to key tags to watches, venerable company N.G. Slater makes products, many for unions, that are all union-made as well as made in the U.S.A.
The key to its growth? Word of mouth, says Senior Vice President Sid Hauser. LaborPress talked with Hauser to learn about the history of the company, highlights, and some of its clients.
N.G. Slater was founded in 1936 by Nathaniel Slater, the father of current president Robert Slater. Originally, says Hauser, its factory, located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, manufactured metal buttons for local political campaigns, and non-profit organizations. When FDR ran for governor, the company produced the campaign buttons. “At that time buttons were rarely used for advertising and promotional purposes,” says Hauser, “so our focus was on politics.” Another hugely important historical moment the company was involved in, was making a button for Martin Luther King, for his march on Washington.
It was when “the political and social spills over into labor,” says Hauser, that the need for union products arose. The company made buttons “to promote an event in labor, such as a strike,” he says. “The buttons became a means of telling a story for labor. This started in the 1930’s. Coal miners, farmworkers – Cesar Chavez actually came to our office.”
Clients began asking for a range of products: t-shirts, caps, hoodies, and outerwear, for example, and so the company evolved into making those items in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. For unions, usually the logo of the union is used. For a specific campaign, such as the recent fight for a fifteen dollar per hour minimum wage by fast food workers, Slater worked with the SEIU on artwork, and “they wanted to make sure everything had a union logo on it.” “We come up with fresh and unique ideas to meet their needs,” says Hauser. For example, for a convention where there will be a lot of literature to carry away, the company may suggest a tote bag with the logo. “We work with the union, but we also have our own in-house art department and staff.”
The fact that all the products are union-made and made in the U.S.A. is a source of pride for the company. “It adds to the cost, but we know who we can go to here that can make it up to our standards. The product has to be made in a union shop.”
Although the number one most popular order is t-shirts, Slater has had some literally taller orders. “The most unusual request was a 40’ by 60’ sign for the SEIU, supporting President Obama’s first election. It was actually placed right by the Lincoln Tunnel,” says Hauser.
The recommendations keep coming. “People want to make sure they’re dealing with someone who is reliable,” says Hauser. “People don’t have time to waste. We’ve built a good reputation.” You can visit N.G. Slater online at www.ngslater.com