Up next in our series of employee features is Dan Pavlovich – a longtime employee who grew up with Bob Jacquart, and now plays a key role in product design and development.
SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
DP: Wow, what haven’t I done? I started at the front desk with Bob’s mom (Bob Jacquart, the head honcho here at Kromer). I’d sit there with a sewing machine and a telephone—greeting customers, laying out patterns, sewing and answering calls. I graduated to R&D, so now I work with the prototypes and new designs.
SK: So what sorts of things have you designed?
DP: Oh, I’ve worked on a little bit of everything, but I did the tote bag, messenger bag, overnight bags and developed the plaids for the shirts.
SK: You came up with plaid? How do you come up with plaid?
DP: I’ll just say you need a critical and artistic eye.
SK: How long have you worked for Bob?
DP: I’ve been here since the old store on McLeod Avenue, which started out as Bob’s grandfather’s grocery store. It’s been 25 years for me, but I’ve known Bob since I was little. He lived one backyard away.
SK: Is that how you got the job?
DP: Well, I went to college and got into costume design, then got out of it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive on that. Bob knew I could sew, though, so he hired me.
SK: Does costume design influence what you do today?
DP: All the skills I have I learned in the theater in college. Sewing, colors, design—all of it. I did it all by hand and still do. I think that’s the best way to design—you really get a feel for what you’re making.
SK: How does it feel to know you’re helping stitch together a legend?
DP: I really enjoy that. Everybody here has a hand in it, and no one has an ego. I’m very proud that we’re making people happy.
SK: What’s the best day you’ve had on the job?
DP: Every day is my best day! (laughs) There’s truth in that, though. I really enjoy coming here. I won’t say that I don’t like leaving at the end of the day, but I love my job.
SK: What does “Made in America” mean to you?
DP: It means we’re bucking the trend of making a fast buck.
SK: Anything else you’d like to tell Stormy Kromer fans?
DP: Keep shopping! And just wait until you see the great gear that’s coming out next!
We get a lot of great emails, facebook posts and blog comments from our customers. Every once in awhile, we get one so well-written and witty that it is too good not to share. This email came from a lovely gentleman named Rich and we asked him if it would be okay if we shared it with all of you. He was happy to oblige.
Dear Stormy Kromer,
I recently had an experience with your customer service that left me speechless.
I had a small issue with a Kromer I had recently purchased via the internet. I brewed a fresh cup of Folgers and sat down for what I was sure to come. Settled in, I called the customer service number, expecting to jump through the usual hoops…the voice prompts, the “please press 4 for customer service”…you know…the usual.
But something very odd happened, a person answered. A person with a pulse and vocal inflection and even a name! (Angela!) She asked me about my issue and then said, “Let me see about this with our shipping department.”
“Here we go,” I thought, “This is where I get handed off to Muzak-Land, never again to hear a live person…my problem forever unsolved.”
And then I heard something truly startling. I heard footsteps. Footsteps that led me to believe that someone, probably sweet Angela, was walking somewhere. WITH THE PHONE IN HER HAND! Why, she was walking to the shipping department! To solve my problem!!!! Angela, an actual person just walked over to where the shipping takes place and just, BOOM!, fixed my problem.
I was gobsmacked. I was not put on hold. I was not forwarded to another building or state or nation. I was not passed up the ladder. I was not talked to by a robot. I was treated like a, (you need to sit for this), like a real person! By a real person!
And then it was over. Angela and I exchanged a few kind pleasantries and it was done. I didn’t know how to behave. I hadn’t even touched my coffee and the problem was fixed to my great satisfaction.
Yet, I was ill at ease. My entire world view seemed canted at an odd angle. What could this mean? Customer Service that actually Services Customers? Why, it’s preposterous. What business would be precocious enough to still do things that way? What else will I have to rethink about my world?
And what of Angela? I felt there was so much unsaid between us. No verbal sparring, no sarcastic, “Well Sir…I’m sorry you feel that way.” It was over before it began…we walked to the shipping department together, she fixed everything and we went our separate ways.
So here I am, a bubble off plumb perhaps, but truly happy with my customer service.
Thanks again, Rich for taking the time to write us!
Well, the month of January is over, and so officially is this year’s Living Legend program. Once again, you were extremely generous with your support of the program through your January shopping, and we will be sending our donation check off to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital next week.
The staff here at Stormy Kromer has really enjoyed getting to know Laura Mae Beaubien. So did Leslie Pugmire Hole, reporter at the Redmond Spokesman, a central Oregon newspaper. Her interview with Laura and family resulted in a few wonderful quotes that we’d like to share.
Leslie quotes Laura’s son Bob, who first considered nominating his father Harold.
“I started thinking about what had made my Dad strong and I realized it was my mother. She was always in his corner, she went to bat for him all the time. A 60-year marriage? People just don’t do that anymore.”
Laura continues to be humbled, and even a bit embarrassed about all the attention she’s received as our Living Legend, but still hopes her story is inspiring, even though (as she told us when she won), she didn’t win a war or anything.
“Families need to know there are good, one-day-at-a-time people still out there”, Laura said.
Yes, we sure do. And thanks Laura, for the legendary reminder.
Congratulations to this year’s Living Legend, Laura Mae Beaubien! In case you missed it, here is the nomination her son sent to us which earned her this honor.
By: Robert Beaubien, Son
My stay-at-home mother attended to the household and raising of six children – yes six kids! I believe there’s nothing stronger than the love a Mother has for her children. She had so many hats she had to wear.
If one of us scraped our knee, she was there as the “Nurse” to patch us up and mother away our tears, always followed with a kiss that made it better. She would take all of us to the A&P to go shopping with a bandana covering her curlers, the “Beauty Queen” to us. As a “Financial Planner,” Mom saved S&H Green and Gold Bell stamps to get something free. She could get all of us ready for church in our best Sunday clothes faster than a “Pageant Coordinator.”
I learned that when I was called, and that call included my middle name, I was in for it, as mom the “Sheriff” taught me. We had to make our beds, pick up our clothes, feed the dog and other chores, thanks to mom the “Warden.” My Mother the “Teacher” taught us responsibility. She taught us to say ‘yes please,’ ‘no thank you,’ and to show respect . Her “Dale Evans” hat was earned as we moved from our beloved Michigan to an Oregon cattle ranch. She learned how to ride a horse, brand, and vaccinate cattle. As the “Chef,” she maximized menus that would feed us and the branding/buckaroo crew for days.
With all these hats, she found time for my Dad as a loving, caring soulmate for life. Now that we have our own lives, Mom and Dad were free to do the things they put off in their youth in order to raise us as a family believing in our faith, having respect of others, and doing what is right.
This free time as “Vacationers” was cut short as my Dad was told he had cancer. Wearing this “Caregiver” hat, my mother has strengths I’ll never be able to describe, as she was a devoted companion till the end, remaining strong for us kids. Their last long trip together – with mom as the “Navigator” – wasn’t to Hawaii, Miami, or Southern California, it was home to Michigan, where they visited family and friends. They made new friends like Bob Jacquart, as they visited one of Michigan’s landmarks, the Stormy Kromer factory.
With a birthday on Christmas eve, my Mom will be 80 but not alone, as she will share in the celebration of life with her “Walton “-like family of Beaubien’s, driving from all over the state of Oregon, to be with her on this Blessed holiday and birthday. My Mother made her life in a world that said ‘they were to young’ and lasted far beyond today’s marriages, raised a family, taught us new lessons and reminded us of the ones we let slide. I nominate my Mother Laura Mae Beaubien because she would be a superior role model and a person to aspire and emulate her life’s values of a mother’s love.
Up next in our series of employee features, meet Melissa Allen!
SK: What are you most proud of in your work?
MA: My favorite thing is to see people wearing our caps. That puts a smile on my face, and I think: I sewed that!
SK: So, do you have a sewing machine at home?
MA: No, but my first job out of high school was in a sewing factory. I’ve been doing this awhile.
SK: What kind of person works at Stormy Kromer?
MA: You’ve got to be an honest, hard-working, happy person to be here. If you don’t like your job, why do it? You’ve got to be happy with it, and I expect that all of us are.
SK: When we say “True. Since 1903.” what do you think that means?
MA: To me, it means good clothes and outdoor gear that will last a lifetime. And it just keeps getting better and better as time goes on.
SK: What’s your favorite piece of Stormy Kromer clothing?
MA: It’s the Original wool cap. I buy those for everyone—even one for my grandbaby who’s not here yet!—but I haven’t gotten around to picking one up for myself.
SK: What’s your best day so far?
MA: Oh, my first day. I’d been trying to get a job here for a year, and I was just so excited to start.
SK: What does “Made in America” mean to you?
MA: When I look inside the cap and see the flag and “Made in the USA” label, I know people are getting good quality and that they’ll be proud to wear it. What we make will last their whole lives.
SK: Any other advice for the people who’ll read this?
MA: You’re gonna love Kromer gear. Go get some!
Just as the voting period for the 2013 Living Legend comes to a close, we received an email from a fan alerting us to a truly legendary story about a small-town football team, just down the road from us.
In the spirit of legendary-ness, we felt compelled to be sure all of you read it too.
Each year, Sports Illustrated does a series called, “Underdogs: Inspiring Stories in High School Football.” Not only was Ishpeming High School (right here in the Upper Peninsula) named a finalist, they won this year’s prize.Daniel Mears/AP
Their winning story, which you can read here, centered around Eric Dompierre, a 19-yr old student with Down’s Syndrome. You see, Eric was the back-up kicker for the team, but because of his age, had to fight the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the right to play his senior year. A fight he, his father and the entire Ishpeming community took on wholeheartedly, and won.
The amazing thing is, this is only a portion of the inspiring story behind this Ishpeming Hematite Football Team. If you want to know “the rest of the story,” we encourage you to check out this wonderful blog posted yesterday on SI.com. Trust us, you won’t regret the time you spend on it.
Are there any other legendary team stories we need to know about? (And don’t forget to get your Stormy Kromer Living Legend votes in by 12/16.)
Recently we asked our employees for ideas of their favorite American made products (other than Stormy Kromer, that is!). With their input, we’ve put together a little gift guide for you to inspire your holiday shopping this season.
We’ll start with some fellow Midwestern companies. Fox River Socks, located in Osage, IA, offers a full range of warm, comfortable, functional and fun socks for all your outdoor activities. They’ve been manufacturing these fine foot covers in the Midwest since 1900. In addition, they are the manufacturer of the Original Rockford Red Heel Monkey Sock. They even offer a sock monkey kit! At just $28, the kit includes everything you need to make one sock monkey. A great project for crafters and their family!
Over in Duluth, MN, Duluth Pack has been making rugged and functional outdoor packs since 1882. Like Stormy Kromer caps, these packs are built to last and guaranteed for life. While you can’t go wrong with an Original Duluth Pack, we also love that they have added a modern twist to their traditional packs, like this Scout Pack complete with laptop sleeve.
Did you know Burt’s Bees products are made in the USA? KJ, one of our Division Managers suggested them, and on their website it states: Over 95% of our products are made right in our own manufacturing plant in Durham, NC. The rest are made by other respectable American manufacturers. They offer a wide variety of gift sets for men, women and babies too, all at a wide range of price points.
What better endorsement could you ask for than this? “I have one of these, and it’s awesome,” says Jeremy from our IT department. The Weber Q 100 portable grill packs 8,500 BTUs in a compact grill that is perfect for your next tailgate or picnic. And of course, it’s made in the USA.
And last but not least, “America’s Favorite Lip Balm”, Chapstick, is also made in the USA. Available virtually everywhere, it makes a great last-minute stocking stuffer. We’ve got a few employees who swear by it up here in the cold and dry Upper Peninsula winters.
So – what would YOU add to our American made gift guide?