ST. LOUIS -- Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. said Friday it has moved the company's baseball-manufacturing operations to Costa Rica, resulting in the closing of a plant in Haiti.
An unstable manufacturing environment in Haiti, dating back to the Duvalier family's long dictatorship there, was a major factor in the decision to relocate to the Latin American country, Rawlings said.
Rawlings, a division of Figgie International Inc., opened the Costa Rican plant in 1987 after conducting a relocation study aimed at establishing a new source for baseball production and assuring product continuity and delivery to Major League Baseball and other customers.
Rawlings, the official supplier of baseballs to the majors, had been supplying balls from its Haitian and Costa Rican facilities to both the American and National leagues the last two seasons.
Serious concerns about continuing operations in Haiti because of its political climate have existed since the early 1980s, Rawlings said. The company has been cutting back on its Haitian output for several years, discontinuing production of baseball gloves in 1986 and of clothing in 1989.
The move to Costa Rica represents the fourth time Rawlings' baseball production has been relocated in the last 30 years. Haiti has served as the company's primary source for baseball production during the last two decades.
Figgie International, a diversified company serving consumer, technical, industrial and service markets worldwide, had sales in 1989 of $1.3 billion.