Stormy Kromer Fan Feature

Tim Santefort’s story isn’t a hundred years old, but it will be.

“It’s not a shrine!”

That’s what he tries to tell you about the framed Stormy Kromer poster surrounded by the dozen or so caps he and his family wear on a daily basis. “It’s a hat rack, that’s all.”

Maybe so, but it’s a hat rack worthy of homage in the Santefort household.

Tim, who works as an insurance and financial services representative in the east-central Illinois community of Watseka, isn’t who you’d picture as the traditional Stormy Kromer customer, and he didn’t get his first cap from his great-great grandfather, either. He’s a relative newcomer to the Kromer legend, and he did his homework before he ever went shopping.

“Let me start by saying I’m bald, and bald guys need serious protection from the elements. I needed something that would last—something that was more like a tool I could use than just a piece of clothing,” said Santefort. “So I researched every brand and all of Kromer’s competition. I loved the Stormy story and that it was hand-made in America . It also felt like I was dealing with friends from my very first order.”

There have been quite a few orders in the year or so since Tim first pulled down the famous ear-flaps, and they’ve been raising a few eyebrows around town.

“People come up to us in the grocery store and say ‘Well, would you look at that.’ They just love our caps.”

“It’s such a conversation-starter that my four-year old no longer waits to be asked: ‘It’s a Stormy Kromer,’ she’ll say to anyone who smiles at her.”

They’re the talk of the town, and Tim tweets frequently about his favorite headgear, but the stories that will be remembered are the adventures the Kromer-capped Santeforts share outdoors.

“We go hunting and fishing and camping together, and the first time my daughter caught a fish, she was wearing her cap,” added Santefort. “She’ll never forget that.”

She probably won’t forget the time her dad wore his original wool cap to take a Polar Bear Plunge into a frozen Lake Michigan, either. Well, at least it kept his ears warm.

“I imagine after they’re grown up and I’m long-gone, my kids will see a Stormy Kromer cap and think of all the things they did with their dad.”

So maybe it is a shrine after all—honoring not just the family’s caps, but the memories that fill them. Or, as Tim puts it, “These little caps bind our experiences together and tie the memories tighter.”

And in a hundred years, the great-great grandkids will have much to remember.

What is your Stormy Kromer story? Share it in the comments.

Developing Stormy Kromer Plaids

In addition to designing new products each year, our product development team also has the task of developing new plaid designs to be used on existing products.  This fall, we are launching three new exclusive Stormy Kromer plaids: Superior, Wintergreen and Mapleberry.

So, how does an exclusive Stormy Kromer plaid get developed anyway?  Our team sits down over a year before a product is released to look at color trends for that year and we put together palettes. Then, we draw the specific plaid designs on the computer.  We send that off to our factory, review a series of handlooms, and, voilà, we have finished wool!

Then comes the fun part – naming the new plaids!  Have you ever looked at crayons or paint swatches and thought, “Boy, it sure would be fun to come up with these names!”  Well, we can assure you, it is fun.

We asked our employees for help last year, and with their input we came up with the fine monikers you see here – Superior (in honor of that great lake just north of us), Wintergreen and Mapleberry.   You will find these new wools being used in caps – like the Original, Ida and Petal Pusher, and also in some new 2011 products like the Kromer Carryall and Ida’s Mittens.

This year, we’d like to ask for your help.  Below are photos of two new plaids we are developing for 2012.  While we can’t reveal what products they are for, we’d love your suggestions on names.

What name would you give these new Stormy Kromer plaids? Just reply to this post with all your creative ideas!


Living in Stormy Kromer Country

By Bob Jacquart, CEO

Bill and Jack Wagener with Bob Jacquart (on right)

A lot of people have trouble understanding how someone can live in a remote and cold place like Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The truth is, I don’t know any other way to live.  As I have gotten older, I have found that more and more friends and colleagues tell me how lucky I am.

I remember a time when I was watching the Packer Game with some friends at the best dining spot in the area, The Bear Bar.  My 3 friends were all from Madison.  At a commercial break in the 4th quarter, one of them said to me, “And you get to stay here!” as he started thinking about his long drive back to Madison and away from the Northwoods.

Or the time when I met a new business contact – someone who seemed to have accomplished a lot more than I had.  I told him how proud he should be of what he achieved, and his response to me was, “No, Bob, you should be proud because you have figured out a way to live and work in this beautiful place.”

So I do live here with my wonderful family.  I have been married to Denise for 37 years and if you don’t already know, both of my daughters, Gina and KJ, work in the business.

After trying hard to be an Olympic marathoner and blowing out a knee, I found road biking.  Gina wasn’t too sure of the connection between my love for Stormy and road biking when I asked if I could design a Stormy Kromer bike jersey.  Created by our graphic designer Matt Schnell and built by Mt Borah, I had a few jerseys made for myself and some friends.  We now have about 16 folks biking the Northwoods in their jerseys.  (I even traded the former owner of Schwinn – a new friend – a Stormy Kromer jersey for some Schwinn gear.)

Road biking is amazing here as the roads near our cabin are flat and quiet.  I take a 20 mile ride after work and I see on average 4 cars.

Michael Wagener in Taos, New Mexico

In the winter my bike goes inside on a trainer and I am very content with riding that and also with cross-country skiing.  All of this quiet time gives me a chance to think about how I can grow as a leader and continue to make Stormy Kromer a major contribution to my family, the people who work for us, our dealers, our customers and my community.

Are there other fans out there that have combined their love of SK with another hobby?  We’d love to hear about it.

Behind the Scenes: The New Stormy Kromer Website

By now you’ve probably figured out the Stormy Kromer website got a bit of a facelift a few weeks ago.  We’ve showcased some of our new products and displayed some of our latest photography. You have also obviously found our new blog.  But what else is new or different on the site?

Perhaps because of our location in Michigan’s beautiful yet remote Upper Peninsula, our friendly Customer Service folks are often inundated with phone calls simply asking us weather-related questions.  Things like, “I know it’s only September, but do you have snow on the ground yet?” or “How far below zero is the wind chill today?”

We thought we would help solve your weather quandaries by simply providing live, up to the minute Ironwood weather, right on our homepage.  In the upper right corner you can see the current conditions, the snowfall for the season, and even click over to the full Ironwood forecast. (Of course, if you’d prefer to call Kirsten or Katie in Customer Service, they’ll still be glad to chat!)

Right below the main images on the homepage are three smaller boxes – two of them will usually link to this blog and our Facebook page, and the third will change to promote our latest news, contest or announcement – like our Tall Tails Fishing Derby, which incidentally, will only be running for a few more weeks, so enter now!

Finally, don’t forget about two special features that come with your Stormy Kromer cap purchase:  our Lifetime Guarantee and No-Charge Insurance Policy.  In addition to guaranteeing the craftsmanship of our caps, you can also insure your cap against loss.  The links to learn more about these features have been moved to the lower right corner of our homepage.

What are your thoughts about our new site?  If you have favorite features or feedback, please share it with us in the comments.