The John Forsyth Shirt Company factory in Cambridge has been reopened as Canadian Made Apparel, and 40 former employees rehired.
Rick Droppo, former director of manufacturing for Forsyth, refused to give up hope after the owners shut down the Cambridge operation in March, citing fincial trouble and the loss of a $2 millon-a-year Duty Remission Program subsidy.
"Standing there and watching people's faces when they've been told their factory is closing and they're losing their jobs forever, if that doesn't stir you, you're not human," said Droppo, now the president of Canadian Made Apparel.
"That really has always been my responsibility, to keep this factory going. These people, to see their faces then, when they were being told they were losing their jobs, it was tragic. It was like a mass funeral."
Droppo said the employees were his inspriation to get the company up and running again.
"Every single one of them is grateful. While we were rebuilding the company there were employees coming in voluntarily to help me move machinery, ladies schlepping machinery around the factory and cleaning up and reorganizing, voluntarily."
"We were all out of jobs then and they had nothing but a hope that we could put something together," he added.
Forsyth helped him acquire equipment for the factory and gave him business and financial advice.
According to Droppo, Canadian Made Apparel was able to retain the company's uniform contracts with Tim Hortons and Sobeys.
"It's not a complete duplicate of the business that we closed down but I want to be careful to build it back up at a speed that I can manage properly."
So far 40 former employees have been hired back, and Droppo says he hopes to hire a more in coming weeks.