Elbeco, Inc. Celebrates Its Centennial Anniversary

Uniform manufacturer is largest domestic union employer in public safety industry

READING, PA - Elbeco, Inc., a manufacturer of professional performance uniforms for police, tactical, fire, emergency medical technicians and the U.S. Postal Service is celebrating its centennial this year. Established in 1907, the eastern Pennsylvania-based company is headed by third-generation owner David Lurio.

“When I think of the humble beginnings of this company, I see generations of families fed, sheltered and educated while pursuing the American dream,” said Elbeco president David Lurio. “My ancestors worked hard to build a company that brings pride to our family, our employees and the men and women who wear our uniforms.”

Company founders Meyer and Benjamin Lurio left their home in Lithuania in the late 1800s to pursue a new life in America. The brothers, unable to read or speak English, had their original surname, Lurie, changed to Lurio when they passed through Ellis Island.

Meyer found success selling dry goods door-to-door throughout Pennsylvania, and eventually he and Benjamin opened their own wholesale store in Lancaster. That business led to the 1907 purchase of the Wide Awake Shirt Company.

Early customers included employees of the Reading Railroad. The company found its niche in uniform manufacturing when it won a contract to supply uniforms for the New York World’s Fair. Over the years, the company produced career apparel and uniforms for several U.S. airlines. The Elbeco name – a phonetic nod to the company’s founders, Lurio Brothers Company – was established and registered as a trademark in 1927.

Today, Elbeco produces in-stock and custom uniforms, including dress shirts, polos, tees, base layers, trousers, coats, outerwear and caps. More than 1.5 million pieces are produced annually, including custom orders for United Airlines, US Calvary Police, PA State Police, NJ Transit Authority and the Tri-State San Francisco Bay Transit Authority.

“More than 17,000 agencies wear Elbeco uniforms,” said Mike Vasilik, Elbeco marketing director. “On any given day in this country, there are more than a half-million first responders keeping our communities safe while wearing the Elbeco brand.”

Modern Materials Make Better Garments

Through the 1940s, the company custom made uniforms using dry-clean only wool blends. Caring for uniform apparel became easier and less expensive in the 1950s when the industry shifted to wrinkle-free, wash and wear synthetics. About the same time, companies like Elbeco began stocking popular uniform styles for greater affordability and quicker availability to market.

Today, Elbeco’s modern fabrication enhances wearer comfort and garment performance. Innovations such as moisture-wicking, anti-microbial technology keep wearers dry, comfortable and odor free. The company’s base-layer garments with four-way stretch offer features similar to athletic apparel, as well as life-saving benefits. Police and tactical officers rely on base-layer garments to regulate core body temperatures. Elbeco’s gusseted designs move with public safety officers under the most extreme conditions and protect skin from chafing under bulletproof vests.

Elbeco also uses nanotechnology in its modern fabrication to make fluids bead up and run off fabric, keeping users clean and professional looking. The company’s uniforms include UV protection, which keeps first responders on the street and postal workers on their routes, safe from the harmful effects of the sun.

Ensuring Quality Manufacturing Worldwide

In the U.S., Elbeco employs close to 500 UNITE Here! union employees and is the largest domestic union sewing operation in the industry. Elbeco operates plants in the U.S. including City Shirt Company, Frackville, PA; Caleb V. Smith, Galion, OH; and Warsaw Manufacturing, Warsaw, MO. In Central America, the company maintains contractual relationships with two plants in Honduras and Mexico.

Elbeco is committed to quality production, both in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to stringent quality standards, the company enforces a strict code of conduct for its domestic production and overseas relationships to ensure worker rights, fair pay and safety.

Elbeco recently endorsed the SweatFree Communities campaign for worker rights. The company is the first manufacturer in their category to join the campaign. The SweatFree coalition includes government leaders, labor unions, religious institutions, school districts and others working to end unfair labor practices at home and around the world.

100 Years of Domestic Manufacturing Excellence

Elbeco is marking its centennial year with celebrations for employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, as well as with its dealers.

As part of this centennial celebration, the company is making sponsorship funds available through its new Safe Communities program. Funds are available for programs aimed at advancing the professionalism of public safety workers and agencies engaged in law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical response.

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