Caretakers of the Stormy Kromer Legend

By Bob Jacquart, CEO

9 years and 9 months ago, I sat in a local coffee shop and overheard that the Kromer Cap Company was about to discontinue production of its distinctive wool cap.  As a lifelong resident of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a third generation Kromer-wearer (not to mention the owner of a sewing factory) I knew there was something about this quirky cap that had to be saved.  And about a month later, my company Jacquart Fabric Products, owned the rights to the cap and the name.

I was an expert in sewing and manufacturing, and not in sales and marketing.  And now, I had a brand to sell!  I decided to seek out some experts in the marketing field, and I made a visit to an advertising agency in Milwaukee – one with experience in the outdoor industry.  I brought with me some old photos of family and friends wearing the cap (you can see a few here), and the critical bit of knowledge that George’s nickname was “Stormy” – a fact that the Kromer Cap folks had not really capitalized on.  They looked at me and said, “You really have no idea what you have here.”

I left that meeting full of excitement for the potential of Stormy Kromer.  We made some

immediate changes to the cap – including the now unmistakable signature and date to the back of the cap.  We took a year off from actively selling the cap and perfected production.  We added new colors.  And soon, we slowly began adding new products under the SK name.

A decade later, the brand now includes over a dozen cap styles in a multitude of colors that are worn by men and women, young and old, hunters and businessmen.  In a few weeks, a host of new caps, apparel items and accessories will be launched on our site and in our dealers around the country.

108 years ago, George and Ida unknowingly created a legend by stitching that iconic earband to a wool baseball cap.  We now carry the significant responsibility of being caretakers of that legend – making sure everything we do would make George and Ida proud.  And in fact, you are a caretaker of the legend too, from the moment you put that Stormy or Ida Kromer cap on your head.

We’ve launched this blog as yet another way to connect with you, our loyal customers.  We hope you enjoy hearing a little more about the company, the products, and the stories from all over the globe, that together make Stormy Kromer the legend it is today.

25 thoughts on “Caretakers of the Stormy Kromer Legend

  1. Written 02/05/2011

    I was probably 13 or14 when I got my first Kromer.

    As I remember, (But that could be fiction) finding it at a rummage sale. It was well used, and had seen better days. The lining was gone, and the hat was mostly just cloth with a brim and a flap. But what a flap it was. No one else at school had a hat like that. I showed it to my dad, and said what a cool “Elmer Fudd” hat I had, but flaps were wrong. He was a Conductor on the C & O here in Flint for 32 years, a Fireman on a steam engine in Wisconsin for a bit, and he had little patience for the uneducated. He said, “Damn Boy, you’ve got a Kromer there.”

    I never called it any thing else again.

    I wore that hat everywhere. Lots of comments and giggles, but I sure liked it. Wore the heck out of it, Yard work, fishing, canoeing, boating,…all over the place. finally after years of use my Mother offered to buy me a new hat. I think she just wanted me to get rid of the bare threaded thing I kept on my head.

    We had to drive to Durand Michigan, in order to find a store with the Kromer for sale. Durand was a small town, but had a large impact on the local railroad industry. Lots of history there.

    I liked my new hat, but it was more of a winter item, the lining was still intact (new) and the flaps were still ever present.

    I wore that hat through college and beyond, but lost it somewhere along the line. I finally saw one a few years ago on another customer at a store and said “Hey, you’re wearing a Kromer! He was quite proud of it and said he found it on the internet. I looked them up and thought they were a little pricey, the last on I got in the ’70′s was just $15 so I put it off for a while. I did learn however of the “Stormy” part of the story and a bit of the hats history. That was when I changed what I called the hat, now a “Stormy Kromer”

    I finally got my hat at Christmas when my wife pointed out what she wanted for a present. The price of her gift was surprisingly close to the price of a new Kromer, so I told her that was what I wanted. I could hardly wait, as it was delivered quickly and sat teasing me for several weeks. I felt just like a little kid.

    It is now the first week in February and the hat is almost ever present on my head. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. Thanks for telling some of your story with SK. I have been working hard to expand your customer list. I have had to give some folks their first SK, but then they are hooked!

  3. We visited the actual business last year and was given a fabulous tour by Gina. Very informative. Before we left, my husband bought himself a Stormy Kromer hat and t-shirt. He wears the t-shirt proudly and the hat kept him warm blowing snow this past winter. Thank you again for the time.

      • Hey Randy,
        It was great seeing you at the cabin in Mercer last month.
        If you get a chance, wait for it to get cold and post a photo with you on your Harley…maybe even with you wearing it backwards with an attitude…on our Facebook page. It would be great having there.
        Say hi to your wonderful family,
        Bob Jacquart

  4. I introduced my husband to the Kromer when he came to Ironwood for a visit with me about 8 years ago. He immediately fell in love and bought one for him and his brother. He’s since gone on to buy one for just about anyone who he needs a present for. I’m so glad that you were able to rescue this amazing hat from extinction. It’s a terrific piece of UP history that has appeal for everyone (we’ve sent 3 to Texas!). Great job Jacquarts!

    P.S. I’m currently waiting for my Petal Pusher to arrive in the mail. I can’t wait to get it!

  5. Bob,
    Let me tip my (Kromer) to you…I’m so happy to hear of all the success you and the rest of the team at Jacquart’s have had since saving the Kromer hat from extinction. I’ve followed your determination and hard work for many years now, and I’m proud to see it has been all good.

    Before my dad, Bud, passed in 2004, I purchased one of your hats for him and told him all about how you brought back the SK hat. He was extremely happy and proud to hear about the hat’s success…he once again rekindled many fond memories about your dad and family. Therefore, the above picture means very much to me, being able to see him in his youth, proudly wearing a hat that will live for a long time. Thanks!

    Here in the Twin Cities area, I too own 2 Kromers, my wife owns 1, and many of my friends own and wear them with pride…1of them even has the special Green Bay Packer Kromer. We are your biggest Minnesota SK cheerleaders!

    Once again, happy to see and hear about the Stormy Kromer Revolution! Keep up the great work!

    • Hey Craig,
      How’s my long-lost…what is it…3rd cousin?
      Going for gas at Uncle Bud’s gas station in our Studebaker Lark in the late 50s and early 60s was always a treat for my family. If I recall, we were alwys greated with a “hi there” while he was washing our wondows.
      Please fell free to stop in for a tour at 1:30 or, if you get in touch with me in advance, I would love to give you one myself.
      Still playing the trumpet?
      All the best,
      Bob Jcaquart

  6. I have to admit that I was a little embarassed that I had never heard of a Stormy Kromer until my brother purchased one two years ago. My husband wears one also and for Christmas he gave me a ladies Kromer that I LOVE. We are expecting our first child this December and I just purchased a Lil’ Kromer. I just want to say Thank you for keeping the Legend alive, and for producing a uniquely American product. By the way the Petal Pusher is gorgeous- hope to get one soon!!!

  7. I first was introduced to the SK “legend” not all that long ago during a winter hunt in N. Idaho. The outfitter had this familiar looking hat that I’ve seen periodically in different outdoor magazines. I now feel embarrassed to share the question I directed at him “Is it warm?”.

    As a seasoned caretaker now, I thank you for carrying on a Iconic Made in the USA product.

  8. Bought my very first SK cap today…a very comfortable black wool cap. I live in South Carolina, but am headed to Chicago in a couple weeks and know this cap will keep me warm and with a great sense of security as I face those those North winds off Lake Michigan. I am now looking to buy my second SK cap, the black cord, to wear for the warm seasons we have here in Carolina. This is the best cap I have ever bought and looking forward to wearing it for years to come.

  9. Our family became “Caretakers of the Legend” not in the usual way. We didn’t have any SK hats or clothing. Oh, we had heard of SK. We just hadn’t yet purchased their products. Then,by chance we met the Jacquarts, We figured that with people at their level of sincerety, hard work (and fun) the products just had to be the best.

    Soon, we were buying hats, shirts and other items for ourselves and daughter and son-in-law and in-laws and friends. Don’t get me wrong. The quality exceeds any clothing we have ever bought. But it’s the quality of the owners and employees that really impressed us and got us started.

    So I hoist a brandy old-fashioned to you, Jacquarts. Here’s to you and the SK family. Keep making quality. Keep being quality.

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