Stormy Kromer Signs On To Support U.S. Men’s and Women’s Ski Jumping Teams

IRONWOOD, MI (May 21, 2013) -  Stormy Kromer is pleased to announce that they have been named the Official Lifestyle Apparel Sponsor of USA Ski Jumping and the Official Fashion Wear Supplier of Women’s Ski Jumping USA.

Stormy Kromer is a division of Jacquart Fabric Products, located in Ironwood, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, the heart of ski jumping country and home of Copper Peak, the country’s first ski flying jump.

Like the fate-filled cup of coffee and conversation that lead Stormy Kromer CEO, Bob Jacquart, to take the leap of faith and purchase (and ultimately save) the Stormy Kromer Cap Co., Jacquart took a call from friend and business colleague, Greg Windsperger, and their conversation lead to Stormy Kromer’s new sponsorship.  Over the past few decades Jacquart Fabric Products and the company Windsperger worked for, Federal Foam/Airtex Inc, had come to do business, which also brought Windsperger back to his old stomping grounds as he has been actively involved in the sport of ski jumping.  Greg jumped at Copper Peak from 1971-1976, he also competed in the 1974 World Championships, the 1976 Winter Olympics, and went on to coach the U.S. Men’s Ski Jumping Team in the ’84 and ’88 Olympic Games.  So, when there was talk amongst USA Ski Jumping delegates about investigating the opportunity of a possible future meet at Copper Peak, Greg immediately made a call to Bob to ensure a stop at Stormy Kromer was part of the Ironwood itinerary.

Upon meeting the USA Ski Jumping representatives, Bob knew immediately there was an intrinsic connection and that the stories of the Stormy Kromer caps so many have come to wear and love, particularly in winter, and the area’s ski jumping heritage belonged together. And this was before he really knew the story of the U.S. women ski jumpers, who for the first time in history will compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Which is hard to believe, because many have seen women competing in ski jumping for decades, especially in Upper Michigan, however even with a decree by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1991, committing that all future Olympic sports must be open to both genders, the ruling excluded the 16 original sports of the Olympic Winter Games, of which, ski jumping was one.  For more than a decade female ski jumpers have been fighting for the right to compete at the Olympics.

This tenacity, coupled with the sheer gumption that any person demonstrates when deciding to try the sport of ski jumping, made the Stormy Kromer sponsorship a perfect fit, much like the company’s iconic cap.

“Stormy Kromer is very excited to support the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Ski Jumping Teams,” said Bob Jacquart, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products, makers of Stormy Kromer.  “We are a proud American-made company set in a location with a rich ski jumping history and have been making a product that has already unofficially been a part of the sport for decades.”

USA Ski Jumping’s Rex Bell was delighted to welcome Stormy Kromer to the USASJ Family. “Like all our sponsors, Stormy Kromer will play a vital role in the continued development of ski jumping in the United States. Their Stormy Kromer cap shares an historic status, used by hard-working outdoor fans for more than 100 years, which is a perfect fit for the sport of ski jumping.”

As the Official Lifestyle Sponsor, Stormy Kromer will supply members of the Men’s USA National Jumping squad with a variety of products, including their Original Stormy Kromer cap, the Night-Timer Duffle Bag and the Town Coat.

“We too are thrilled to align with Stormy Kromer and its unique and rich history in the outdoor world,” said Robbie Beck, Executive Director of Women’s Ski Jumping USA. “Our athletes are proud to wear these beautiful products and represent Stormy Kromer and the United States as they make their long-anticipated and celebratory debut in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

The company will be providing the members of the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping Team with items from the Ida Kromer line including the Petal Pusher cap,  the Ida Cap with Hardware, and Ida’s Walking Coat. In addition to the gear being provided to the Women’s Team, $1 from every purchase of each of the Ida Kromer items listed above will go to Women’s Ski Jumping USA, allowing anyone who wants the opportunity to be a part of their historic Olympic debut, an opportunity to support some strong women while sporting some great gear.

“Women have been ski jumping for decades, something we have seen firsthand in our own back yard,” said Gina Thorsen, Vice President of Marketing for Stormy Kromer. “To see them break new ground and prepare to compete in the 2014 Olympics is thrilling. We feel a close connection to the Team’s spirit and tenacity, similar to the spirit of Ida Kromer that has helped take our company to new heights, after all, if it wasn’t for Ida, Stormy wouldn’t have gotten his cap.”

Even with the rich history and relationship between ski jumping and Stormy Kromer, the company is in need of help hunting down historic photos of ski jumpers wearing Stormy Kromer caps. Fans willing to share any old photos will be given a free Stormy Kromer cap in exchange for their effort. The free cap is dependent upon verification that the cap in the image is an official Stormy Kromer and there is a limit of one free cap per household. To send a photo, please mail to Stormy Kromer, Attn: Ski Jump Photos, 1238 Wall Street, Ironwood, MI 49938 (please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope if image is to be returned) or email contests@stormykromer.com for more information.

The legend of Stormy Kromer began with a unique cap created in 1903 and was originally stitched by Ida Kromer, Stormy’s wife.  In 2001, Jacquart Fabric Products proudly became the Caretaker of the Legend, not only continuing to produce the iconic cap, but expanding the brand and product line to feature a wide variety of men’s and women’s clothing, outerwear and accessories to complement the popular caps.  Today, the company continues to strive to provide classic yet contemporary products sewn with passion and practicality and still proudly made in the USA for more than a century.

 

Featured Retailer: Getz’s Department Store

Unless you’re reading this from someplace like Singapore,
you’re gonna want to get to Getz’s.

We like Getz’s. A lot. A little too much, maybe. But when you’ve got three stacked floors of department store goodness packed with people who remember how things used to be done, well, it feels to us like the kind of place Mr. Kromer himself would have owned. Except he was just a kid when it opened.

Getz’s Department Store in downtown Marquette, Michigan, hung out its shingle in 1879, and aside from selling a few brands of clothing and outdoor gear that didn’t exist back then, not much has changed. And that’s the way folks like it, according to Dennis Mingay, the man in charge of menswear.

“Remember when you were a kid,
and you’d walk into an old clothing store and
smell the richness of the wool and leather?
That’s what Getz’s is, and there aren’t many places like us left.”

The big box stores have taken over, but when you sort through the thousands and thousands—and thousands—of products on the shelves, from men’s suits and Silver Jeans for women, to outdoor wear, kids’ clothes, shoes, and—get this—7,000 square feet of Carhartt, you start to wonder how the national chains could ever compete with Getz’s.

“Here’s how we beat them,” said Mingay, who happily works six days a week and is as much a figure at Getz’s as Getz’s itself. “When people come in, we greet them, we take care of them. And when they ask for a pair of pants, we walk them over to the pants, we don’t just point.”

It’s this type of traditional service and commitment to customers that drew the attention of Stormy Kromer Mercantile owner, Bob Jacquart. Shortly after buying the SK patent, he walked into the UP’s favorite department store and straight up to Dennis Mingay.

“He said ‘I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I just bought Stormy Kromer, and I’d like Getz’s to be a distributor.’ It took a little work, but just look at us now.”

Last year, Getz’s faithful fans (if that’s you, thank you!) purchased over 2,300 Kromer caps and articles of clothing. But it’s not the numbers that matter, it’s the nostalgia. Getz’s and Stormy Kromer are cut from the same cloth, if you will. They’re down-home brands built in rural America, and because they remember it’s the shopper who makes them successful, they’ve cultivated a global following.

So even if you are from Singapore, you might want to make a point of stopping by. Or at least visiting www.getzs.com.

Made in the USA: The Journey of an American Sewing Manufacturer

By Bob Jacquart, CEO

In 1974, when I started working for my dad in his canvas repair shop with one other employee, I never once thought that “made in America” would ever mean something significant to me – and to our country.

As our small sewing business evolved – around the time I was 30 – I learned that I could employ more people by taking on higher volume production work. The thought of being a fair and just employer in my small town was just too irresistible for importing to ever cross my mind.  At that time, Jacquart Fabric Products (JFP) started making gun cases, polar fleece hats and pet beds.

Employees hold an American Flag sewn at JFP

Manufacturing pet beds soon became the largest part of our company.  Around the early 90s, China started making headway into this industry with some of our commercial customers.  At this time I started to become aware of the very serious threats that China (and other countries) might pose to us – especially as regards to labor costs.

As more and more US cut and sew operations began to close their doors, we tried to keep focus on viable models for US production.  We realized that one advantage we had over overseas production was our ability to produce shorter, more customized and individualized products.

Around 2000, even this advantage began to go away.  At that time, pet products became commodity items:  you could buy a pet bed at every big box store for $10-$20.  These are retail prices you cannot compete with when you are paying honest wages and benefits for employees supporting families.

We finally realized that importing would have to become a part of our pet bed business.  We now do a combination of importing raw goods and components and complete the final assembly here.  We are still employing US workers in the pet bed business, but just in a different way.

In 2001, JFP was  blessed – yes, blessed – by having the opportunity to buy Stormy Kromer.  This was finally another viable American-made model:  a brand with an authentic history and heritage that as we found out from our customers, had to be made in the USA.

The challenge remains that US manufacturing is hard.  And expensive.  Every new product we work on involves pretty intense debates about the cost of adding extra features versus what the consumer is willing to pay for.  And while we try to source raw goods domestically, it can sometimes be nearly impossible.

But despite all that, here we are…and growing.

Do you think we will survive?  I think that’s a no-brainer.  With amazing fans and customers like you, who value quality in their apparel and outerwear – and with two wonderful daughters in this third-generation sewing business, we plan to take Stormy Kromer and his legend to places we all never dreamed of!