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Corsair’s “Power to Keep Going” Another Industry Veterans Post-Katrina Re-launch

Corsair Neckwear has long been a primary source for uniform and custom-designed ties, scarves, school apparel accessories and bow ties. Hurricane Katrina almost ended the companys 57-year history.

It was foolish to think we could salvage anything; all the machines were so rusted from the saltwater. We didnt know what we were going to do. We were almost ready to just fold, says Glenn Wild, manager.

Before the storm, everything was raised at least three feet off the floor, something he laughs aloud about because it made no difference at all. The New Orleans manufacturer suffered about a half million dollars in damage, according to Wilds estimates. Only $360,000 could be claimed through flood insurance, and even that took four months to process.

Wild gained access to the building two weeks after the storm. The one thing that hit me when I got down there was the quiet. It was the middle of New Orleans in the middle of the day, and it was silent, like you were out in the country and could hear every little sound, he says. In contrast to that was the gunfire. The National Guard escorted him and provided shielding so he could enter the building safely. After kicking in the swollen door, he saw the entire inside had been taken over by mold.

Wild now takes customer orders from the new offices outside of Baton Rouge, La. He and owner Jay Green have arranged for manufacturers overseas to produce the neckwear until new machines can be purchased. All product is sent to Houston for fulfillment to the clients.

Corsair has created and is selling the Katrina Tie to help support the rebuilding of New Orleans. So far the company has donated more than $5,000 to Habitat for Humanity. But Corsair will not be moving back to New Orleans. Unstable levees, sky-high insurance rates and a changed city flavor are too many obstacles.

Wild says his loyal customers are the key to his business bouncing back to pre-hurricane sales levels. He specifically mentions an unexpected gift from a school he supplies. It sent a flower mosaic and a letter explaining that each petal was a fingerprint of a student who said a prayer for Corsair and its employees.

We got that and said, We cant just sit here. We have to pick ourselves back up. And we did. When I feel bad, I just look at that mosaic and it gives me some power to keep going.

Above story first appeared in MADE TO MEASURE Magazine, Fall & Winter 2007 issue. All rights reserved. Photos appear by special permission.
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