Touring the factory floor at All-American Hose in Union City is a lesson not just in fire hoses, but in appreciating everything that goes into the manufacturing process.

“Most people take fire hose for granted,” All-American Hose CEO Ron Stanley says. “Where does fire hose come from? It’s on the trucks, and they use it and water flows through it. But where does it come from?”

A lot of it, as it turns out, comes from right here in Erie County.

All-American Hose operates the facility in Union City and one in Fairview Township. Combined, the two locations employ about 140 workers.

The company has been making lay-flat hose since the 1970s, first as Snap-Tite and later as All-American Hose. With the fracking boom in Pennsylvania, the company shifted a large part of its operations to manufacturing hoses for the oil and gas industry – a decision that proved costly when the boom went bust in 2015, leaving the company, and the livelihoods of its employers, at risk.

In 2016, private investors acquired the assets of the company, and Stanley, as the new CEO, was able to reassure the employees that their jobs would remain – and remain in Erie County.

Today, the Union City facility is again a flurry of activity – intricate looms spin threads into tightly woven hose liners, which are then fed into machines that merge them with lightweight polyurethane or more traditional rubber surfaces. Completed hoses are flattened and rolled up onto giant spools, receiving quality checks and rigorous testing all along the way.

With production going strong, Stanley is focused on rebuilding – especially rebuilding the relationships with distributors and customers that were damaged during the previous owners’ troubles. It’s all in the interest of shoring up the company’s foundation so that it can potentially expand to new capabilities, Stanley says.

“We’re not here to own the business three to five years,” he says. “We’re here for the long term.”

About All-American Hose: The company manufactures fire hoses as well as hoses for landscaping, agriculture, and the oil and gas industry. It mostly serves municipal customers, with distributors nationwide and in Canada. The bulk of the company’s business comes from the Midwest to the East Coast.

Why Erie County: The company values the experience of its workers, Stanley says. Some of the employees have been doing the job for a number of years, and their depth of knowledge shows. That’s clear as you watch workers capably skim their fingers over a skein of nylon yarn or nimbly tie knots. There’s a skill and a learned know-how that comes from spending time on the job, Stanley says. He also pointed to Erie County’s relatively central location, which is an asset when it comes to freight costs.

Challenges of Erie County: Many of the workers come from about a 15-mile radius, Stanley says – so the pool of new skilled, qualified workers is limited. Otherwise, the company’s major challenges remain the efforts to rebuild the business, renew relationships, and restore faith in All-American Hose’s future.

Address: 217 Titusville Road, Union City, PA 16438

 

Coming up next week: We explore Performance Castings in the City of Erie.