Caledonia, MN is a small midwestern town much like any other. As has happened many times in other small towns, one of its key employers is closing up its facility there and moving the jobs elsewhere. The difference here is what that company happens to be.
For 20-ish years Miken has manufactured baseball helmets and softball bats in Caledonia—in fact, all the helmets used by MLB. Miken, however sold itself to Seidler Equity Partners (note: the Seidler family owns the Padres). Seidler, in turn, sold to Rawlings. MLB, it should be noted, owns a piece of Rawlings.
Rawlings is closing the Caledonia plant over the next 18-24 months. The helmets will now be made in Missouri. The softball bat production, however, will be shifted to a factory in…China.
The Caledonia factory at its peak employed about 150 people. It’s down to 80. Miken apparently also paid above average wages. People in the area are understandably upset. Local officials and others have attempted to pressure MLB and, in turn, Rawlings, to reverse its decision, at least for outsourcing the softball bat manufacturing.
An MLB spokesperson stated MLB does not involve itself in Rawlings’ corporate decisions, especially ones that do not directly impact MLB. The person also pointed out the helmets, like MLB uniforms, will still be made in the USA. The statement, however, is disingenuous in that (although their ownership share is under 20% of Rawlings) they do hold a large enough stake in Rawlings that they’d certainly take notice if MLB didn’t support the decision to move jobs out of the country…particularly since MLB is also one of its biggest business partners as Rawlings supplies MLB with its baseballs as well as helmets.
Ultimately, of course, the decision is a monetary one. As long as Rawlings’ leadership believe net income will be greater outsourcing jobs to China, jobs will be outsourced to China. One person interviewed by CBS in Caledonia, MN said MLB will lose a lot of fans over this. The reality is that, no, they won’t. This will just be another chapter in a very long story. Another small town in America will get smaller as the displaced workers seek employment elsewhere, and the average American (having his/her own problems) will quickly forget about it.