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?
For anyone who may have missed it, Stormy Kromer was included in Esquire Magazine’s list of “Great American Things” in their December 2012 issue. Number 17 on the list was the Stormy Kromer Night-Timer.
The full list of “Great American Things” can be seen at the Made Collection’s website – where you can also shop! Please consider supporting American manufacturers this holiday season, and the Made/Esquire Shop is a great place to do so!
What are you buying American this holiday season?
SK: What’s your job at Stormy Kromer?
HN: If it’s got two rows of stitches, I did it. I do the double-needle work on the button and zipper vests, the town coat, our trousers—all the pants have two-needle pockets. It makes our clothes more durable, but there’s also art in it. Double-stitching is just more decorative.
SK: Do you have to sew everything twice, then?
HN: Nope—it’s a double-needle machine. Two side-by-side needles, two spools of thread, two sewing at the same time.
SK: How long have you been stitching for Stormy Kromer?
HN: Two years. I came back to Ironwood to be with my grandma, and I needed a job. I got the job to get a paycheck, but it turned into something I love. Now they can’t get rid of me!
SK: How do you feel knowing you’re stitching together a legend?
HN: I think about that a lot when I’m sewing—a hundred years ago, someone was doing this same thing. People still want it, and we’re making it the same way. By hand.
SK: So how many pieces of Kromer outdoor apparel do you have?
HN: Well, when I get one, it’s one for me and one for the boyfriend. So we have a few. I’ve got caps in pink, red/black plaid, green, black, brown and partridge plaid. All Originals. Oh, and one Ida Original. Yeah. A lot.
SK: What do you think of the new lines of clothing?
HN: I love that we’re growing and thinking abut the kinds of things people could really use when they’re out there freezing their toots off.
SK: Why is wool the fabric to work with?
HN: It’s warmer, and that’s what we’re looking for. You buy this cap or vest or jacket to stay warm, and it does the job.
SK: What do you do when you’re not making great Kromer gear?
HN: I like to travel, but mostly I’m here so my grandma has someone to holler to if she needs help. She’s 87, and I take care of her.
SK: Does she have a Stormy Kromer cap?
HN: Well, I bought her one, but she’s an old-style finicky lady, and she won’t put a hat on her head. So the pink one I got for her—now it’s mine.
SK: Is there anything else you want to tell Stormy Kromer fans?
HN: This is the most comfortable thing you can wear in five-degree weather and not be bundled up like the Abominable Snowman or that kid in The Christmas Story. It’s fashionable and comfortable. I’d own every piece of it if I could!
A few months ago, Bob got an odd voicemail message. The caller stated that he had a ‘ceremonial’ baseball bat that had belonged to George Kromer and was wondering if anyone here at the company had an interest in it.
Indeed we did.
As it turns out, the bat was a part of George’s estate that had wound up with his estate attorney’s family. After some negotiations involving Stormy Kromer apparel, the bat has found its way here to SK Headquarters.
The bat, a Louisville Slugger, has an inscription that reads:
TESTIMONIAL DINNER, GEO. STORMY KROMER, NOVEMBER 5, 1954.
SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
PB: I’m the work-lead for the outerwear line. That means I do a little of everything when it comes to our vests, the Town Coat, the Mackinaw Coat and the Airman’s Jacket. I make sure the orders get done in order; I make sure the shelves are stocked; and I sew right alongside my girls.
SK: That’s all?
PB: Almost. I’m a supervisor, so there’s management duties, too. I help employees with personal stuff, if they need it. We’re pretty close around here.
SK: So what’s Bob (Jacquart, owner) like as a person?
PB: He knows what he’s doing. He’s got a good background. He’s a nice guy, easy to talk to. Bob’s got a good company to work for—they put employees first. And taking care of your kids is very important to him, so if your kid’s sick or something, he’s very supportive.
SK: What’s the best day you’ve ever had on the job?
PB: I’ve been here so long, I don’t know if I can remember it! Seriously, it’s just great to work here.
SK: How long?
PB: Twelve years with Bob at Jacquart Fabric Products and two years now at Stormy Kromer.
SK: What do you do when you’re not making great outdoor gear?
PB: Well, my husband is an avid fisherman, and I’m not. So I sit in the boat with my historical romance novels.
SK: What’s your single favorite Kromer item?
PB: Petal Pusher, hands down. My husband, Rick, wears the original and always has. But they put that flower on there, and it’s adorable!
SK: We talk about being “True. Since 1903.” What does that mean to you?
PB: We’re true to the American way of doing things. True to the legend and what we believe a legend should be. True to the craft and to old-fashioned standards. We’re authentic in everything we do.
SK: Anything else you want to tell Stormy Kromer fans?
PB: We’re a happy little family here, and we all work together to make sure Stormy Kromer gear is an exceptional value. We take an extreme amount of pride in our work.
SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
LJ: I’m one of three inspectors, and I make sure every cap that goes out is perfect. All the threads have to be cut off, the earband has to be straight, the monogramming needs to be good, no skipped stitches. Everything. On every cap.
SK: So how many caps is that for you?
LJ: Well, in five years as an inspector (she’s been with the company for seven), that makes over half a million caps. Wow. I guess that’s why they call me “Eagle-Eye.”
SK: What’s the best day you’ve ever had on the job?
LJ: We hit 612 caps in one day and every single one was perfect—not even a string to snip off.
SK: What’s the strangest day?
LJ: When nothing goes right. But, you know, that doesn’t happen too often around here.
SK: How does it feel to know you’re stitching together a legend?
LJ: I feel like a movie star. I love it. I’ve already got my picture in the newspaper—me inspecting a cap. Got it up in my living room. I’m proud. I’m the one who gets to inspect and help make that cap. It says we’re doing a good job, you know?
SK: Absolutely. It says a lot about your standards.
LJ: Yes. It’s gotta be 100%. There can’t be anything wrong with any of the gear that goes out our doors. So I look at it like I’m buying it. You don’t want a thread hanging off that you pull and it unravels. That’s not Stormy Kromer. No, it’s gotta be perfect.
SK: What does “made in America” mean to you?
LJ: We’re the only sewing company around anymore. We love our jobs. We’re proud of this. And here, you get something sewn to perfection.
SK: Anything you else you want to tell Stormy Kromer fans?
LJ: When you buy a cap, you know that Eagle-Eye has looked at it!