CINCINNATI (TDB) -- This three-minute YouTube clip has been around since mid-2009. The title says it is a Totes Isotoner (you can access corporate website 'about us' link here) executive addressing a trade show in Taiwan. The trade show was sponsored by Enson International Ltd., (click to access the company's website), a Taiwan company that built a plant in China's Guang Dong Province to make umbrellas for Totes. Mitt Romney's venture capital firm was in control when contract manufacturing began in China. Enson says it has 500 workers in the Chinese factory.
The exec in the video is said to run international procurement for Totes and he is speaking Chinese. Totes Isotoner, based in suburban Cincinnati, was purchased in 1994 by Bain Capital Inc., the buy-out firm founded by Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Totes is a successful company. Manufacturing was moved offshore and contracted out . Umbrellas have been made in China since shortly after Bain Capital acquired its majority stake in Totes. Bain sold its interest in Totes in 2001. As he campaigns for president, Romney describes himself as a jobs creator. But he hasn't been talking about creating new jobs in China. Do American workers lack the abilities to make umbrellas? Or do the Chinese offer cheap labor?
Reprinted below is a 1994 Wall Street Journal article about Bain Capital's acquisition of Totes:
Totes Majority Stake Bought by Bain Capital
28 June 1994
(Copyright (c) 1994, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.)
BOSTON -- Bain Capital Inc., an investment concern, expanded its interests in the apparel industry by buying a majority interest in Totes Inc., a maker of umbrellas and rain gear.
Both companies declined to comment on the value of the transaction and on the number of shares sold. Closely held Totes, based in Loveland, Ohio, reportedly has annual sales of about $175 million.
Totes had been seeking "outside equity participation" in the wake of a previously announced restructuring plan, said Totes spokesman David Eden. The company has been engaged in a "right-sizing" plan since March 1992, which has included a refocusing on its core rain-gear business and has resulted in layoffs.
In 1993, Totes retained Wasserstein Perella & Co., a New York investment banking firm, to seek a potential investment partner. Totes considered several financing options, but decided to negotiate with Bain Capital as it was "looking to do something long-term," said Mr. Eden.
"The bank knew that Totes fit our profile," said Robert F. White, a Bain spokesman. "We're always looking for good consumer-product companies to invest in."
Bain Capital, which manages equity investments totaling more than $500 million, has invested in several retailers and manufacturers.