Creating Opportunity in Honduras

By the early 2010s, SanMar’s Port & Company label was getting popular in the wholesale t-shirt market. It wasn’t widely known that this private label brand was actually made by Hanes in one of its Central American sewing plants. It had been a successful venture for both companies.

In 2011, Hanes decided they wanted to focus on their own brand. This inspired SanMar leaders to look into how we could manufacture shirts on our own.

SanMar began researching how to source yarn and looking at t-shirt factories in Central America. Renton visited several plants, including one called Elcatex. “I met with Jesus Canahauti and there was something about his family business and social consciousness that seemed right for SanMar,” says Renton. “I came back and sort of pleaded with the Lotts and Steve to take a chance and give them a little bit of business.”

SanMar cautiously proceeded to buy yarn and give Elcatex a small amount of t-shirt production. In time, it was clear that SanMar was getting better pricing and first-rate quality. In two years, SanMar switched all Port & Company manufacturing to Elcatex, offered to make an equity investment and went on to buy half of the company.

“It’s a perfect example of when during a crisis, an opportunity is seized upon. It has led to our amazing partnership in Honduras that has flourished and been so beneficial.”
– Pat Noonan – SanMar’s Chief Product Officer

The Elcatex partnership in Honduras has not only been wildly successful, it has also been a keystone in SanMar’s social responsibility efforts. The company has made investments in the local community including worker housing, healthcare, education and powering the factory to run with solar energy and biofuel using renewable king grass.