By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, August 20, U.S. Senator Jeff Session was in Fayette County touring the Showa Best Glove factory in the city of Fayette.
Showa manufactures the modern equivalent of the old “rubber glove” the synthetic glove that has become an essential protection for workers and customers alike in medicine as well as in fields such as: first responders, agricultural processors, food processing, chemical manufacturers, fishermen, and a host of other commercial and industrial occupations. Showa faces enormous challenges on the world market from foreign competition and from an increasingly stringent federal regulatory environment.
Senator Sessions told the Alabama Political Reporter, “The world is very competitive. So if government regulation or governmental policy puts a company at a disadvantage, the company might lose out to a manufacturer in Canada, Mexico, China or some other place. So I like to hear what people are saying. We’ve had concerns about things like excessive environmental regulations and the government demanding things that cannot economically be accomplished. These types of regulations are unwise because it just makes companies more fragile, and money is basically getting wasted on regulations that don’t produce a benefit. Some regulations do produce a benefit, but some don’t.”
According to the 2014/2015 West Alabama Mining and Manufacturing Directory, Showa Best Glove Manufacturing is the top manufacturing employer in Fayette County. Bill Trank is the plant manager. Trank led Sessions on a tour of the plant which employs over 300 and runs 24 hours a day seven days a week.
Trank said that the plant daily turns over 6000 gallons of nitrile into 1.2 to 1.3 million gloves per day. Trank said that the gloves are purchased by: EMTs, laboratories, food processors, tattoo parlors, dentists, healthcare providers, and sanitation and maintenance workers and for industrial use. Trank said that they would like to sell more gloves to hospitals, but currently most hospitals order their supplies through a handful of hospital supply companies and those suppliers often prefer to purchase the cheapest gloves, not the best gloves.
Sen. Sessions said that it is important that we make things in this country and said that we have got to get this economy growing faster to improve the job situation.
One of the managers told Sessions that his job was to keep up with all of the regulations that the federal government placed on the plant. Sessions said, “Your job is secure.”
Trank said that the plant began in the 1960s. Gillette had a factory across the street in Fayette that assembled surgical kits for doctors and hospitals. Gillette was encountering problems getting a consistent supply of rubber gloves for their kit so they built their own rubber glove factory there at 931 2nd Avenue SE in Fayette.
The original plant made 80,000 rubber gloves a day. Eventually people developed a sensitivity to the rubber gloves. The synthetic glove was invented. The synthetic latex glove replaced the old natural rubber gloves over time. Showa has since invented a non-latex synthetic glove when people developed a sensitivity to latex.
Eventually Gillette went out of the surgical kit business and the glove factory was sold to an investor in Boston. Showa Best Gloves is run today as a closely held company with its headquarters in Menlo, Georgia. The plant was enlarged in the 1980s and 1990s to its present size and capacity.
Showa Best Glove is the inventor of the world’s first disposable nitrile glove, N-DEX®. Best Glove has now patented the world’s first biodegradable disposable nitrile glove, GreeN-DEX™. The Showa Best Glove’s Research & Development team has developed a process to manufacture a disposable glove that is biodegradable in biologically active landfills and anaerobic digesters while still retaining all the performance of its classic N-DEX® gloves.
Trank said that the company is in talks with Wal-Mart about carrying its gloves there for direct sales to the general public.
According to the company website, Showa Best Gloves manufactures more than 1800 individual glove choices in a variety of styles for use primarily in the construction, industrial, automotive, healthcare, retail and commercial fishing industries. Showa is recognized internationally for innovative technology and superior quality, the company manages the entire production process, from research and development to manufacturing to product management.
Showa manufactures a diverse line of gloves that include: ATLAS®, the world’s most popular brand of flat-dipped, latex-palm-coated gloves; N-DEX®, the industry’s first non-latex, non-vinyl disposable glove; the new AEGIS KVS4™, which combines a level 4 cut-resistant liner with a durable, sponge nitrile patented Zorb-IT® palm coating that blends KEVLAR®, stainless steel and polyester to provide comfortable cut-resistance; the new AEGIS HP54 ™ glove combines High Performance Polyethylene (HPPE), nylon, and Lycra with an oil resistant ZorbIT® palm coating to offer the wearer ANSI Level 4 cut protection with max-comfort; and the S-TEX line providing extra cut protection, featuring a patented Hagane Coil™ fiber technology, a trusted Kevlar® shell, and/or enhanced High-Vis colors – depending on the style selected.
Showa is an active member in the: Industrial Glove Association (IGA); Safety Equipment Distributors Association; International Hand Protection Association; American Industrial Hygiene Association; American Society for Testing and Materials; European Standardization Committee (CEN); National Fire Protection Association and the Industrial Safety Equipment Association.
Senator Jeff Sessions has served the people of Alabama for 18 years in the United States Senate and is seeking a fourth term.