Handmade by Him: Dan Pavlovich, dreaming of plaid.

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.

Stormy Kromer Design
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!

Living Legend Wrap-Up

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.

Living Legend
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.

So Many Hats

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

living legend
Laura Mae Beaubien is my father’s hidden strength.  Married at 19 years old, and for over 60 years, the two of them built a bond that could only be broken by the vow, “till death do we part.”

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.

Handmade by Her: Patti Budgick, an outerwear legend.

Stormy Kromer Patti Budgick
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.

Featured Stormy Kromer Retailer: Alice’s Wonderland

Stormy Kromer Dealer Alice's Wonderland

We’re about as far from the mall as you can get.

You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person to shop at Alice’s Wonderland, but you do have to travel through a good deal of rural Pennsylvania countryside to get there. And when you’ve gone far enough to think you’ve gone too far, keep driving. You’re almost there.

You see, when you look at it the way the Karpiak family does (these are the fine folks who’ve run Alice’s for four generations now), you have to ask yourself: Where else would you put an outdoor store? In town?

The Karpiaks have a keen sense for what (and where) their store should be. Take Grandpa Paul, for example. When he bought the place in 1940 and named it after his wife, Alice, it was a restaurant. But because farm families didn’t tend to dine out all that often—and they did ask Paul to pick up a shirt or two when he went into the city for supplies—he decided to shift the focus of the family business to clothes and other outdoor gear.

“If it didn’t have a purpose, it went away,” said PJ Karpiak, Paul’s grandson and co-owner of the store. “That’s how Grandpa took care of things, and that’s pretty much how we still run the show today. We sell products that solve people’s problems, and if we don’t believe in the clothes or coats or boots or caps, we won’t put them on our shelves.”

Sometimes that means they don’t stock the latest fads, but that’s just what makes Alice’s Wonderland so popular.

“Our customers are the kind of people who spend their lives outside,” added Karpiak, “and they’re not going to come back if you sell them something that doesn’t stand up to their lifestyle.”

This philosophy stems from a belief in serving the customer the way shopkeepers used to. Because, as the Karpiaks say, “You can buy anything you want on the internet (at Alice’s website, in fact) but you visit the shop for a reason. To be helped.”

This philosophy is also the reason Alice’s now sells Stormy Kromer wool caps and clothes.

“Kromer fits us perfectly. It’s a great product with a great history, and when people say ‘You can’t find anything good that’s made in the USA,’ this is what I show them.”

And when you find our way out to Alice’s Wonderland, you’ll know the trip was worth it.

Handmade by Her: Barb Wilman, Stormy Kromer Seamstress

This fall, we’d like to help you get to know the fine men and women at Stormy Kromer a little better through a series of employee interviews.  We’ll start by meeting longtime employee Barb Wilman.

Barb Wilman, Stormy Kromer Seamstress
SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
BW:
Just about anything they ask. I’ve spent the last 4-5 years sewing the caps—putting in the inside labels and the piece that attaches the earband. I’ve done every job on that line.

SK: So how long have you been at SK?
BW:
I’ve worked for Bob (Jacquart, of Jacquart Fabric Products and Stormy Kromer) for over 20 years now. I enjoy it here. It’s really like my family.

SK: It actually is your family, isn’t it?
BW: Yes, extended family. My husband, Jim, has worked here 15 years.

SK: How would you describe the company to an outsider?
BW:
Oh, my gosh. I get teary-eyed because Bob has taken such good care of me. And if you give the man an honest day’s work, he’ll pay you an honest wage.

SK: What part of all this are you most proud of?
BW: It might sound kind of odd, but seven years ago, my son started work on the BNSF railroad.  Now he’s an engineer, just like Mr. Kromer himself. I’m so proud of that.

SK: What’s the toughest part of the job?
BW:
Getting up in the morning.

SK: Is there anything else you’d rather be doing, other than sleeping in?
BW:
Nope. And that’s ironic because my mother used to sew my clothes, and she’d say to me “Whoever thought you’d sew for a living.” Well, apparently I really enjoy this.

SK: What’s your favorite Kromer cap color?
BW:
People sure seem to love the partridge plaid, but I think I’ll stick with my pink one.

SK: Why does “Made in America” matter to you?
BW:
Businesses send so many jobs overseas, it’s like we’re not taking care of our own in this country. People say there aren’t jobs here, well, we’re proving them wrong.

SK: Anything else you want to tell Kromer fans?
BW:
Come on up to the U.P.—to God’s country—and take a tour. We’d be more than happy to show you how we make your Kromers.

Hat’s off to our Dads

Earlier this week, we asked our employees to share with us some bit of advice they got from their dads.  In turn, we thought we’d share these words of wisdom with you.  From the practical to the silly, they are a great reminder for us to say thanks to our dads this weekend for all they do for us.

Enjoy!

“The day before I got married my Dad pulled me aside and said, ‘Before you go I need to teach you a couple of things: 1) how to change a flat tire because every girl needs to know how to change a tire and 2) how to make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! ‘”
-Kirsten, Customer Service

“My dad, the founder of Jacquart Fabric Products once told me, ‘Once you start working 12 hours a day, your luck will change.’”
-Bob, CEO

“My dad always told me while in the car and a deer crosses, ‘When there’s one, there’s two.’  I frequently find myself repeating him now when I see a deer, and of course once the second deer crosses, I feel that it’s “okay” to continue.  (Until that third one runs across one day!)”
-Katie, Customer Service

“Always have a firm handshake.”
-KJ, Key Accounts

“My dad was a man of very few words and I learned from him over the years by simply watching what he would do rather than what he would say.  He treated everyone with respect, therefore, he was respected.  He was indeed a legendary dad.”
-Joel, Sales Manager

We’d love to know what you’ve learned from your father in the comments below.  In the meantime, Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

Looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift?

It’s soon to be Father’s Day…and if you’re scratching your head as to what to get the deserving man in your life, don’t worry.  We’ve got you covered.

We’ve just added some all new colors to our popular Deck Shirts – in a lighter weight than our flannels or twills, these shirts are as versatile as they are fashionable.  Choose from the blue hue of Lagoon, or the warm and woodsy look of Sequoia.  Either way, the man in your life will be a statement of outdoors style!

 

 

For the guy on the go, try one of our all-new wool and waxed cotton bags.  The Sidekick is Stormy’s take on the popular messenger bag style, while the Night-Timer, our new rugged overnight bag, works just as well in a hotel as it does in a tent. Both come in four colorways, including our classic red and black plaid.

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Of course, you can never go wrong with one of our classic caps, even if it is the middle of June.  With your help, Dad will be prepared well in advance of this fall and winter.  After all, aren’t we expecting a heck of a winter after last year’s mild days?  Try one of our all new offerings – like the Original in Adirondack Plaid, or the Waxed Cotton in Black.

Would your Dad enjoy one of these new products?  Is he already a Kromer fan?  We’d love to hear your best “Dad” stories here in the comments.

 

 

 

Featured Retailer: Yoder Department Store

If you can’t find it at Yoder’s, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t need it.

The U.S. Census Bureau lists the population of Shipshewana, Indiana, at 658, which is roughly the same number of people who’ll be in line in front of you, waiting to get into the Yoder Department Store parking lot. Yep. People who need stuff, get stuff here.

“It’s not uncommon in the summer for folks to wait ten, maybe fifteen minutes to park their car,” said Andre Yoder, the third-generation general manager of this little town’s massive mercantile. “The flee market and auction across the street can draw up to 10,000 people in a two-day stretch, and a lot of them stop by because they know what we have to offer.”

What Yoder’s has to offer isn’t so much a step back in time—you’ll find all the latest clothing styles mixed in with tons of traditional favorites—it’s just that the style of service customers enjoyed decades ago is still thriving here.

Take, for example, the fact that second-generation owner Janet Yoder started working at the store when she was 13 and just recently retired at the age of 77. Many of the current employees, too, have been working here for more than 10, 20 or even 30 years. These are people who know how to treat a customer.

And if, for some reason, you want eight pairs of jeans with a 66-inch waist and they only have five (they really do have this size, by the way, and they have that many in stock), they’ll get them for you. Pronto.

That’s service you don’t see all that often.

“People come here to be taken care of and because they’ll find quality products at fair prices,” added Yoder. “Those are the same reasons we carry Stormy Kromer: great apparel, good prices, made in America. Those things matter here.”

As if to prove the point, Yoder’s menswear/work apparel manager, Tim Hethcote, recalled the story of a fellow who stopped in to get his son-in-law a gift. “He bought a couple Stormy Kromer flannel shirts, took them home, gave into temptation, tried them on, and kept them,” said Hethcote. “He eventually bought his son-in-law something else.”

No doubt he found it at Yoder’s.