A local small business is lending a helping hand to restore quality of life through employment in a rundown area of Wilmington.
Husband and wife team Frank and Donna Masley, owners of Masley Enterprises, recently moved their glove manufacturing company to the Eastside neighborhood of Wilmington, an area designated by the Federal Government as an “Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) zone”.
“Traditionally, it’s a low income, high unemployment area,” explained John Fleming, acting district director of Small Business Administration.
Masley Enterprises, which makes heavy-duty gloves for the military, is the first business in Wilmington to take advantage of SBA’s HUB zone program.
“Once you’re certified, what ends up happening is when you bid on federal contracts, you receive a ten percent price differential, so you don’t always have to be the lowest bidder,” explained Fleming. “We set that market ten percent so if you’re within ten percent they would award you with the contract and that’s the biggest benefit.”
Additionally, the manufacturer received a $37,000 grant from the city of Wilmington’s Office of Economic Development.
One of the requirements for businesses utilizing the HUB zone program is that at least 35 percent of the employees must live in the HUB zone area.
Theo Gregory, Wilmington city council president and third district representative, said the presence of Masley Enterprises gives many residents who were previously on public assistance, a chance to get back to work.
“A job is the greatest social service we can ever provide so here in the third district we’re trying to move our district from poverty to opportunity to mobility,” said Gregory. “The SBA HUB zone program provides that, so we can have great businesses like Masley Enterprises, which invest in our neighborhood. It’s a win-win for us.”
The company has about 35 dedicated employees and plans to continue expanding.
“We’re so proud of our work team,” said Frank Masley. “They’re here to start the line at 7:30 every morning, not to get the coffee or a drink of water, but to start the line at 7:30. That takes commitment and discipline and then they have a special skill of assembling the Masley gloves. Our glove is unique and they’re the ones who make it unique. They put the quality into each pair of gloves because they do care about them.”
Donna Masley added that the company’s success is a result of the pride employees take in their work.
“What we provide is full-time work, day shift hours which are really hard to find for individuals with kids and maybe not a college degree,” said Donna Masley. “We teach them work-life balance, how to come to work everyday for eight hours a day, sometimes we do overtime and when we ask for overtime, all the hands go up, they all want the business to grow and they understand that it takes a village to keep the business going.”
According to SBA, there are many HUB opportunities left in Wilmington and they encourage interested businesses to gather information by visiting SBA’s HUB zone website.