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Russell Corporation
Type Subsidiary
Founded 1902
Headquarters Alexander City, Alabama
Industry sporting goods
Products Athletic shoes, apparel, sports equipment, accessories
Revenue $1.438 billion (FY 2005)[1]
Owner(s) Berkshire Hathaway

Russell Corporation, headquartered in Alexander City, Alabama, is a manufacturer of athletic shoes, apparel, and sports equipment founded by Benjanmin Russell in 1902. Russell markets its products under many brands and subsidiaries, including Russell Athletic, Spalding, Huffy, and Brooks.

Formerly a publicly traded company, Russell Corporation has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway since 2006.


Berkshire Hathaway sale

On 1 August 2006, Russell shareholders approved the sale of their firm to Berkshire Hathaway for $18.00 per share in cash. The acquisition was successfully completed on the following day, 2 August. Russell's brands joined Fruit of the Loom in the Berkshire Hathway family of products.[1]

Honduran sweatshop controversy & boycott

Members of United Students Against Sweatshops march outside of Russell Corporation's offices in Atlanta, GA.

Since January 2009, Russell faces the largest collegiate boycott of an apparel company in history over violations of labor codes in its Honduras manufacturing facilities.[2][3][4] The boycott is coordinated by United Students Against Sweatshops in the United States and Canada, and supports the campaign by the Honduran garment workers' union SITRAJERZEESH.[5][6]

The Worker Rights Consortium has documented violations of the rights of workers by Russell in its factory Jerzees de Honduras. The report finds that Russell illegally fired nearly 2,000 in two of its factories, in retaliation for employees protesting working conditions and forming a union. The report also states death threats were allegedly made against some members of the union, though not by high-level company management.[7] In response, over eighty universities have canceled their contracts with Russell, including Duke University, Georgetown University, Columbia University, University of Michigan, University of Miami, University of Washington, University of Houston, Penn State University, Rutgers University, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Purdue University, Cornell University, and the University of Florida.[8][9][10][11][12]

On May 13, 2009, sixty-five Congressmembers wrote to Russell CEO John Holland expressing their concern over the labor violations.[13] On June 25, 2009, Russell became the first collegiate licensee to be placed on probation by the Fair Labor Association.[14] Finally, a second report

At first, Russell said it was being unfairly targeted by the garment workers' union and student activists, and that the plant closure was due to the general down turn in the world economy[15]. Five schools announced they planned to continue doing business with Russell[16][17], however at least one of those, the University of Florida, has since terminated its licensing deal with Russell.[18][19] The company had issued a statement noting that it had recognized the unionization of the Jerzees de Honduras plant on October 3, 2007. In later statements, the company admitted wrongdoing, although the violations are yet to be resolved.[20]

Corporate influences

Throughout its history, Russell Corporation has been involved in the manufacturing and selling of equipment for many professional, collegiate, and high school sports teams. Most notably of these are its stint of manufacturing uniforms for Major League Baseball, the production of official basketballs for the NBA (through its subsidiary Spalding), and the production of official footballs for the AFL (under the Sherrin Brand). Russell also makes uniforms for select high school and college baseball and football teams, which is one of the corporation's major divisions.


  • 1902 - The Russell Manufacturing Company is incorporated with Benjamin Russell as president. Assets include eight knitting machines and twelve sewing machines. The first finished product is a ladies' undershirt, or summer-weight vest. The mill's beginning capacity is 150 garments daily.
  • 1912 - Electricity is installed in the Russell plant.
  • 1914 - Russell purchases the Marble City Mills in Sylacauga, Alabama, but a cyclone demolished the plant that was covered by every known insurance, except windstorm.
  • 1925 - Long underwear, sweaters, athletic shirts and ladies' bloomers are added to the production of ladies' vests, making a more complete product line.
  • 1930 - The product line is again expanded to include fleece lined sweatshirts.
  • 1932 - Russell acquires Southern Manufacturing Company which gives the company access to team apparel. This is the beginning of the Russell Athletic division's cutting and sewing operations.
  • 1938 - Russell begins making woven athletic garments, including basketball, baseball and football pants and jackets.
  • 1945 - Benjamin C. Russell dies and is succeeded as president by his brother, Thomas D. Russell.
  • 1962 - Russell Manufacturing Company's name is changed to Russell Mills, Inc.
  • 1967 - Russell develops the tear-away jersey.
  • 1973 - Russell Mills' name is changed to Russell Corporation.
  • 1983 - A line of styled sportswear and a line of basic T-shirts bearing the JERZEES label is introduced.
  • 1985 - Russell's Common Stock begins trading on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 26, 1985.
  • 1989 - Russell Corporation purchases Cloathbond, Limited, a knit apparel manufacturer in Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland. The name is later changed to Russell Corporation UK Limited.
  • 1991 - Russell Corporation introduces NuBlend, a revolutionary poly/cotton fabric that virtually eliminates pilling. Russell also embarks on a massive recycling program with facilities located in Alexander City.
  • 1994 - Russell Corporation acquires DeSoto Mills of Fort Payne, AL.
  • 1995 - Sales reach $1 billion.
  • 1997 - Russell is ranked 5th amongst apparel companies by Fortune Magazine in total return to investors over the 10 year period from 1986 to 1996.
  • 1998 - John F. Ward is named Chairman, President, CEO of Russell Corporation.
  • 1999 - Offices in Atlanta, GA are opened establishing dual headquarters with Alexander City.
  • 2000 - Russell Corporation signs agreement to acquire the apparel operations of Haas Outdoors, Inc. and will create the Mossy Oak Apparel Company.
  • 2002 - Russell acquires Moving Comfort
  • 2004 - Acquires AAI (American Athletic), Huffy Sports and Brooks Sports
  • 2006 - On April 17, Berkshire Hathaway has agreed to purchase 100% of Russell in order to take the company private.
  • 2006 - On August 3, Chairman and CEO John F. Ward resigned.
  • 2009 - On January 29, the company announced it was closing its Atlanta headquarters

College Football Programs Sponsored by Russell


  1. ^ a b Business Wire (2006-08-02). "Acquisition of Russell Corporation Complete". Press release. Retrieved 2006-08-07.  
  2. ^ "Michigan Is the Latest University to End a Licensing Deal With an Apparel Maker", New York Times, February 23, 2009 (retrieved July 30, 2009).
  3. ^ Bonior, David (2009-02-13). "Schools Score Points by Standing Up for Workers", Huffington Post. Retrieved on July 30, 2009.
  4. ^ "Labor pains: UA ends contract with Russell Athletics after labor report alleges abuses, Daily Wildcat, July 22, 2009 (retrieved July 31, 2009).
  5. ^ Dreier, Peter (2009-06-14). "Human Rights Activists Protest NBA-Linked Sweatshops". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 30, 2009.
  6. ^ "Congressional Letter, New Video, & 70 universities boycott Warren Buffett's Russell Athletic!". United Students Against Sweatshops. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  7. ^ Russell Corporation's Rights Violations Threaten 1,800 Jobs in Honduras, Workers Rights Consortium, 2008-11-07,, retrieved 2009-02-13  
  8. ^ Schools Score Points by Standing Up for Workers, Huffinton Post, 2009-02-13,, retrieved 2009-02-13  
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Letter from Congressmembers to Russell". Retrieved July 31, 2009.
  14. ^ "FLA Board Resolution", Fair Labor Association, June 25, 2009 (retrieved July 31, 2009).
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "University of Florida cuts sportswear ties with Russell Athletic", St. Petersburg Times, June 5, 2009 (retrieved July 31, 2009).
  19. ^ [ "UF terminates licensing agreement with Russell Athletic Officials with UF and Russell would not make additional comments."], Gainesville Sun, May 29, 2009 (retrieved July 31, 2009).
  20. ^ "Russell Athletic open letter", July 15, 2009 (retrieved July 31, 2009).
  21. ^ "Russell Corporation Timeline". Russell Corporation. Retrieved 2006-08-07.  

External links



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