Jobs move from Asia to Suffolk

Published 11:10 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

Office Manager Monica Berrong, at Trans-Ocean in Suffolk, shows an example of the many home accessories produced by the company, which is moving some operations from Asia, creating a dozen new local jobs.

In an era of news about jobs heading in the opposite direction, a company is moving operations from Asia to Suffolk and creating 12 new local positions.

Trans-Ocean designs and manufactures rugs, pillows and other home accessories, distributing them to dealers and retailers including Tommy Bahama, Crate & Barrel division CB2, Restoration Hardware, Front Gate and Macy’s.

The White Plains, N.Y.-headquartered firm has announced it will relocate laminating, laser cutting and other sewing operations to its existing Suffolk Industrial Park facility, at 1005 Obici Industrial Boulevard.

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“Things are getting more expensive in China, unfortunately,” Trans-Ocean Operations Executive Lou Koprivec said.

Shipping finished items back from China can also be problematic, he said, citing East Coast port workers’ plans to strike.

“The pricing is almost exactly the same by doing it here, so what we’re doing is bringing in the fabric” and creating the products in America.

A North Carolina company will finish the fabric, which will be made into different products at the Suffolk facility, Koprivec said.

“It also helps us sell it, because now we can say ‘Made in U.S.A. out of foreign materials.’”

The Suffolk site has been Trans-Ocean’s distribution hub since 2000. The $1.1 million expansion project will relocate laminating, laser cutting and other types of sewing operations currently performed in Asia, a Suffolk city press release states.

Two of 12 slated new positions have already been filled, Koprivec said, saying, “It’s probably over the next six to 12 months we are planning to have everybody up.”

In addition to relocation of operations from Asia, the company also tentatively plans to increase the floor space of its 100,800 square-foot Suffolk facility.

“It’s on the books to potentially (add) 30,000 square foot, but that would be after things really start taking off,” Koprivec said, adding, “That’s one to three years out.”

C.W. Brinkley, the Suffolk contractor that built the original facility for Trans-Ocean, would be first in line for the expansion construction contract, he said.

“They would honestly be who we would look to for the next step, because they already know the building plans.”

In the city press release, Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson praised the company for investing in Suffolk and “bringing jobs and operations from overseas to Suffolk.”