February 22, 2006

Isabel Bloom's owners do a head fake

Good news. Some Isabel Bloom production will remain in the Quad Cities.

Citing the uproar over their decision in response to a dip in the "gifting" industry to uproot and ship all production to sweat-shop labor in China, owners Tom Carter, Hunt Harris, and Jeff Gilfillan, who seems to be the designated spokesman for the group, have made a decision to keep at least part of the production facilities here.

Two articles address the decision in the Dispatch, though only one of them list the other two owners besides Gilfilan. One includes glowing assessments of these "three fine businessmen", a strange way to describe the guys who were villains to the area only 24 hours ago. I guess it's an effort to help along the obvious PR offensive this is designed to be.

Their plans to move operations to China are still ongoing. It appears that they realized that the cost to keep a small presense in the QCs was worth an attempt to erase all the bad PR they attracted by their initial decision, and the Dispatch seems happy to help out.

But, showing more PR accumen than the Bush administration and Republican party and candidates that Hunt Harris has steadfastly supported financially and otherwise, they at least fess up to having misread things and having made a mistake.
Area Isabel Bloom fans met news of the company's about-face on sending production of the Quad-Cities icon to China as a pleasant and surprising turn of events.

In a statement released Tuesday, Isabel Bloom LLC announced it would keep its Quad-Cities production line, and expand production of some products overseas as part of the company's efforts expand in the market.

"Thank you for caring -- for showing us the depth of your local pride and passion for Isabel Bloom sculptures. ... We listened and learned," said an apology, addressed to customers on the Isabel Bloom Web site. "The community's response underscores our recommitment to offering distinctive, locally made artwork."

Isabel Bloom LLC, owned by Tom Carter, Jeff Gilfillan and Hunt Harris, cited "enormous marketplace pressures in the gifting industry," in the decision to move production to China early this summer. Outraged community members flooded local media outlets with e-mails, phone calls and letters voicing their disapproval and feelings of betrayal.

Donald A. Lewis, Moline, vowed never to step inside an Isabel Bloom store again when the company announced their overseas expansion plans. He was overjoyed, Tuesday with the news that the company would stay in the Quad Cities.

"I'm ecstatic! It's a wonderful thing that these three fine businessmen, after hearing the community, reconsidered," said Mr. Lewis. "It's wonderful! That's the way it should be.'

In response to the announcement that Isabel Bloom, has "listened and learned," local blogs were buzzing with responses. A few people are skeptical that the Quad-Cities has just been victim of a public relations stunt, but most are just happy the company is staying put.

"I'm pleasantly surprised," said Lee Strobehn, Rock Island. "That's rare. It’s really rare (that company executives would listen to the community) it tells a lot about them."

The company will continue to explore overseas options, but they are apologetic for the "turmoil" employees, customers and the community as a whole endured over the last two weeks.

"We apologize for failing to fully recognize the priorities of our local customers and we accept full responsibility for this error in judgment," said Mr. Gilfillan in a released statement.


At 2/22/2006 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! It was great to see the support that the staff at KWQC-TV has given to the fine workers at Isabel Bloom.

It was truly amazing to see how KWQC interviewed those poor dedicated people when their jobs were in jeopardy. You told the stories of families at risk of being displaced from their jobs by corporate greed on the part of the owners.

KWQC-TV should be proud to be of service. Your station has taken great care in showing the community how it cares for those employees.

Isabel Bloom shows great corporate responsiveness by listening to its staff, and most importantly its customers.

It really goes to show how much power KWQC-TV and the media has when it comes to influencing the outcome of FIFTY peoples lives and all the far-reaching iterations of other lives that would have been affected.

Empowered by the FCC as a licensee, KWQC-TV is supposed to serve in the public trust, the community as a whole.

Now KWQC-TV - the station that cares for the community, it is time for you to make magic happen again. It is time for you to answer to the call to action. The call for help is a cry coming from your own close knit family.

I speak of the individuals from within your own walls at the station on the hill. The station with just as much rich history as Isabel Bloom. The beacon that people turn to when they get up in the morning. The station that Cares for You.

Please come back to the bargaining table with your own inside individuals, your family, your employees with fair labor practices at the forefront of your agenda and bargain in good faith and give your employees a fair shake.

Take a stance and show this community how much you really care for your own, just as you did when you went to bat for the Isabel Bloom employees.

To do anything less than bargain in good faith only serves to show a two-faced and contradictory point of view, that your viewers, the same ones that slept a little better last night because Isabel Bloom had a change of heart, that what is good for the goose isn't always good for the gander.

Give Local 825, your family, a fair shake!

visit http://www.tv6cares.com

D. Vadersky
Bettendorf, IA

At 2/22/2006 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Dope, seems corporate greed is growing steadily in the QC area.....in many other ways.

And yes the thinking folks can see that the China move will still happen with Isabel Bloom and that means that it's likely they will still eliminate the Davenport shop - but they will be a little more sneaky about how they do it of course and they will get their way eventually...

At 2/23/2006 7:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Head fake is right on Dope. They will still proceed with the slower more orderly move of their production to the labor rich county of China. That will go on as planned without closing the Davenport plant and stopping the 50 jobs for now.....until they can quietly do it later on.

At 12/28/2008 10:17 AM, Blogger jb said...

I have recently visited the local Isabel Bloom store. It is very obvious to me, which sculptures are made here and which ones come from China! I am still very disappointed. I will be asking for proof from now on, as to where they came from. A Bloom from China, is not a Bloom.


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