Swine Flu Impact on Factories Minimal

NEW YORK — The swine flu outbreak has not knocked the wind out of U.S. footwear companies who manufacture in Mexico.

While some firms are taking precautions to protect their employees, most said production is continuing as usual.

“It hasn’t affected any of our back-and-forth business to Mexico, or the production of our shoes,” said Stephen Bailey, marketing and communications director of John Fluevog Shoes, which is based in Vancouver. The company’s production site is off the coast of Mexico, “far away from the epicenter.”

According to Bailey, U.S. employees travel south of the border about three to four times a year. “We just got back about a month ago and we will go back again in four or five months.”

Ronn Simpson, owner of Berkeley, Calif.-based Brand X Huaraches, plans to postpone traveling to Mexico, but said he could conduct all his business over the phone.  And while the company is still receiving shipments from Mexico, it put out e-mails to customers warning them that deliveries could be affected by the flu situation.

Lisa Lankes, director of corporate communications and licensing for Justin Brands Inc., said her company is urging its workers to take personal hygiene precautions. “We are also supplying hand sanitizers in work areas and have suspended travel to Mexico for our product development team until further notice,” she said.

For Peter Chiara, director of development for Morganville, N.J.-based Fama Trading, it’s been business as usual. “I’m going to Mexico in a few days,” Chiara said, noting his factories were hundreds of miles away from Mexico City, the center of the crisis.

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