Stitched in Community: American Roots Does Labor Differently

Ben Waxman left a career in Washington politics to come home to Maine. As the adviser to the president of the AFL-CIO, Waxman followed Obama’s 2008 Ohio campaign. He visited boom and bust factory towns and decided to do something differently.

Ben Waxman and Dory Waxman at a recent press event for American Roots.

American Roots is a manufacturing company that makes fleece clothing from pullovers to blankets. They’ve set up shop on Danforth Street next to their sister company, Old Port Wool and Textile. Old Port Wool is owned by Ben’s mother Dory Waxman, who has been working in wool since 1992.

Ben formed a partnership with Polartec out of Lawrence, Massachusetts and hasn’t looked back. Although, Ben laid out the business model for American Roots, he says it is fiancé and co-owner Whitney Reynolds who is really the driving force behind operations. Whitney is overseeing three fronts for the company: production, finance and social media. Dory too is teaming up to get this company going, assisting in production standards, industry counsel and running ongoing training.

But what sets apart this company isn’t only their product. American Roots is doing labor differently. To find, train and maintain a workforce, American Roots worked closely with Old Port Wool and a network of Maine-based organizations focused on doing business better. Costal Enterprises, Goodwill Industries and Portland Jobs Alliance led the charge. These groups helped to create training programs, place workers and obtain a loan.

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