The Richman Brothers Factory is an abandoned plant of men’s suits, furnishings and hats in Cleveland, Ohio. Richman Brothers Company operated a tailoring plant, a national network of stores and an office complex.
The company was originally founded by Jewish-Bavarian immigrant Henry Richman Sr., alongside his brother-in-law Joseph Lehman in Portsmouth, Ohio in the year of 1853. The business was relocated to Cleveland in 1879. The move was carried out in order to bring the business closer to a large, bustling city, expanding operations and customer base.
In 1907 the company took its present form when the founder’s sons, Nathan, Charles, and Henry, opened retail outlets selling factory-produced men’s clothing directly to customers, the first clothier to do so. All suits were priced at $10 until 1939 when men’s furnishings and hats were added to the line.
On March 9, 1915, Richman announced that it would construct one of the largest clothing plants in the United States. The Richman Brothes plant opened in 1917 and was designated by the local Chamber of Commerce as the best factory erected in the city for the calendar year. The facility eventually grew to occupy 612,000 square feet over 23-acres.
Richman was a pioneer in innovative employee relations. Throughout its history, Richman Brothers Company maintained a policy of corporate paternalism, referring to its many employees as the Richman Family. When its East 55th Street factory opened, employees kept track of their own time and piecework and, unusually for the time, the company provided annual paid vacations: one week at Christmas and one week at July 4, during which time the factory shut down. In 1949, paid vacation was increased to three weeks.
By 1950, Richman Brothers employee benefits included free life insurance, hospital and surgery benefits, double indemnity and dismemberment insurance, childbirth benefits, loans without interest, pay for holidays, medical expenses reimbursement, sick benefits, and pensions for any employee working 15 years. Employees were also encouraged to become shareholders in the company; almost 100 percent of employees took advantage of this option. These policies continued throughout the company’s existence.
By the third quarter of 1968, Richman Brothers had 4,300 employees and 281 retail stores and leased departments in 38 states operating under the Richman, Stein, Harvey, and Anderson-Little brands.
In 1969 the company was sold to F.W. Woolworth Co. of New York. By the early 1990s the firm had become unprofitable and at the end of 1992 Woolworth closed its Richman factory.
For nearly two decades the dormant boarded-up factory loomed over the Cleveland residential neighborhood that surrounds it. During vacancy the property was briefly considered as a potential future prison site or office space, but plans never materialized.
On September 11, 2009, a group of Chinese investors purchased the former Richman Brothers factory with the hopes of converting the property into a hub of North American operations of several Chinese companies.