Great State: Roundhouse Overalls

Great State
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SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA -- He first tried this factory on for size in 1978. "I liked it," says Jim Antosh. "I like manufacturing." He was fresh out of school. Jim went to work with his dad making Roundhouse Overalls long before his son David was even in denim diapers. Jim chuckles, "We've gone full circle,"

Such is the unique success story of a company born in 1903. Roundhouse got its name from the old railroad maintenance yards. Shawnee was a big hub for the old Rock Island Line in those days. Hundreds of workers needed a steady supply of sturdy garments.

The elder Antosh describes some of the many things happening on the factory floor. "These are the backs here," he points out. "These are the fillings here." Railroad workers still buy them, but so do a lot of other working people. David Antosh walks over to a a pile of boxes ready for shipment. "These are all headed for Taiwan," he says.

The Antosh's keep a file of celebrities who've worn Roundhouse gear. Even Donald Trump once wore the Roundhouse label. From big men to really big men. The largest size the factory makes sports a 74 inch waist. "We sell about 3 dozen of these a month," says Jim. "My boys used to dress up as a two-headed man in these for Halloween," he laughs.

From pinstripes to camouflage, the big factory floor, still in Shawnee, churns out more than a quarter million overalls per year. Jim Antosh breaks it down further. "We're typically making about a thousand pair a day," he says. Even a decade ago you could still find apparel manufacturers scattered across Oklahoma. Most of the operations that didn't move to Mexico closed for good. Roundhouse kept kicking.

They actually opened a new factory in 2008 to make Roundhouse jeans. The Antosh's have plans to add-on to the Shawnee plant in the Fall. Overall aren't just big. They're still growing. The reason? Jim explains, "First off, we have a pretty good bunch of employees. They've been with us a long time and they do a good job. Also, we keep or overhead and costs low. We don't a lot of management so we keep those costs low. Plus, we make a great product."

In the first ten years of the 20th Century a good pair of overalls cost less than a dollar. Buyers could slide all kinds of tools into the pocket then head out to a hard day's work. Lots of people still do that today. The nice thing is that the label and the location haven't changed a bit.

If you want more history on the Roundhouse brand or you'd like to know where to get a pair the company maintains a good website. .

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