As the winter - such as it is in Ocoee, Fla. - rolled in two years ago, the situation was pretty grim at Teak Isle Manufacturing.
The company, which produces specialized parts for boats, had been buffeted by the economic downturn when one of its bigger customers closed during an already-weak period for sales, according to the Ellwood City (Pa.) Ledger.
“We either had to start to lay people off or find something else to do,” Teak Isle president Pat Brown told the paper.
So Brown, who had been making Nativity displays and selling them on a small scale, decided to start manufacturing the scenes on a larger scale. The displays are made from the marine-grade material Teak Isle uses to manufacture most of its other products. The season for ordering Nativity scenes — October, November and December — coincides almost perfectly with the slow season for boat-related orders.
Bob Burrows, Teak Isle’s production manager and a graduate of Lincoln High School in Ellwood City, said the impact was immediate.
“This has turned into such a blessing over the years,” Burrows told the paper.
Not only did all of Teak Isle’s workers keep their jobs, but Brown said the company has hired more than a half-dozen additional workers and added a shift to the manufacturing operation.
The Nativities are made up of silhouettes depicting the manger and Jesus, Mary and Joseph, with the basic set available for $149.50. An expanded version, which includes additional animals and characters, is sold for $464.50.
And Brown likes the design, which he said isn’t ornate or commercial.