When a historic Cambridge shirt factory was closed by its owners last month, manager Rick Droppo was every bit as unhappy as his 100 employees.

So after mulling it over and seeking out investors, Droppo decided to purchase the factory himself.

Opening a new business under the name Canadian-Made Apparel, Droppo was able to hire back about 40 full-time employees.

“The skill level of these employees was really the inspiration behind the reformation of this company,” Droppo tells CTV.

“It feels pretty good to be able to put them to use and not just turn (them) out onto the street to collect unemployment.”

The John Forsyth Shirt Company had been operating out of the factory on Savage Drive in Cambridge’s east end for 110 years.

Employees were notified of the plant’s closure in February, with the company blaming the end of a federal duty program for the closure.

With the program ending, Forsyth officials said making clothes in Canada wasn’t nearly as financially viable as doing so in China and Bangladesh.

Droppo says Forsyth was instrumental in helping him get Made in Canada Apparel off the ground, and employees say they’re just glad to get back to work.

“I was happy and so glad when they called me back, because I was so scared to find another job,” said employee Concetta Deleo.

Canadian-Made Apparel produces shirts and uniforms for many of the same clients that Forsyth serviced out of Cambridge.

As orders ramp up and production increases, Droppo says he hopes to bring back the rest of the 100 workers that were let go when the plant closed.