Tag Archives: employees

Employee Profiles: Dennis ‘Mac’ McRae

Every day on the job is the best day on the job.
- Dennis ‘Mac’ McRae, Purchasing Director

MacCUOkay, I know how that sounds, but for the most part, every day here is great. I work with hardworking, dedicated people, and the company is growing, changing, expanding, and that keeps me coming back.

What do I do here? I’m responsible for sourcing and purchasing the raw goods our gear is made from: the best wools, cottons and other fabrics from all over the world. And for 34 years, I’ve been proud to help keep the team working by keeping up with the growing demands for those raw goods.

I’ve got ten Kromers of my own (my favorite of which is the waxed cotton cap), and I guess what I want to say to other Kromer fans is thank you. Thanks for helping keep a legend alive and growing. Thanks for supporting Made in the USA.

Employee Profiles: Cheryl Bjork

Would you like it tomorrow? Okay then, how about today?
Cheryl Bjork, Production Manager

cheryl_profile

I started working at Stormy Kromer 11 years ago because it’s a flexible, family-friendly place to work, and anyone who shows interest and ability has an opportunity here. They have a place to grow and build their skills.

I started as an entry-level inspector—a very important job and one I was proud to do—and have since moved up to the position of production manager. That means I’m the one who makes sure we have enough of the right items in inventory to fill our orders.

And that means it’s up to me when you get your gear; my goal is to ship it the day you order it.

College Colors Day

Did you know today, August 30th, is College Colors Day?

We didn’t, until a few days ago when one of our employees stumbled on their website.  We decided to have a little fun with it, so some of our employees got together wearing Benchwarmer Caps in their college colors.

Are you sporting your college colors today?  Is there a Benchwarmer Cap for your school?

2013 Cornhole Champions!

Some of our loyal blog readers might remember our post from last year about our Annual Cornhole Tournament.

This year’s tournament wrapped up this week and we are proud to introduce you to our champions, The Untouchables! (Better known as Kirk and Shane, in the center of the photo.)

Last year’s winners, Ruff and Ready (or Dennis and Carol) handed over the prestigious corn trophies.  We almost had our first ever repeat champion, as Ruff and Ready played in the championship match.  The Untouchables were just too much to handle.

This year we had about 23 teams participate in the tournament, playing matches on their breaks in a double-elimination format.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s tourney.  We’d also like to add a winter tournament for our employees.  Any suggestions?

Handmade by Him: Jim Berton, the man behind the pictures.

Up next in our series of employee features is Jim Berton – our resident photography/graphics/technology expert who loves learning new skills and putting them to use at Stormy Kromer.

SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
JB: I wear a lot of hats. Really.

SK: Nice pun.
JB: Thank you. Truly, I learned to do what needs to be done. They needed a product photographer, so I’m the product photographer. I also digitize the embroidery for the logos on the custom hats and other products. I went to school for digitizing, so I’m trained in that, and I’ve got a pretty good background in graphics. I guess I’d say my day is split between embroidery, graphics and photography.

SK: How did you get the job?
JB: I was a plant manager for Modern Case Company in Bessemer, making cases for musical instruments. We had one of the first computerized cutting machines in the area, and when Bob (Jacquart, owner of Stormy Kromer) toured the plant to check out that machine, that’s when we met. When he bought his new cutting machine, he hired me to run it. He hired my wife, too.

SK: Your wife works here?
JB: She does, and we started on the same day. May 5th, eleven years ago.

SK: What have you learned in all that time?
JB: I learn something every day. I have to, or I can’t go to bed at night. Really, I’ll stay up until I learn something new. And I never tell anyone I don’t know how to do something—if they give me one day, I’ll know how to do it tomorrow.

SK: What do you think of the new lines of apparel?
JB: Things here just keep getting better and better and better. And the new gear is just a knockout. I shoot the pictures, and I say to myself, “Man, is this really made here?” I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

SK: So you like it?
JB: We went from the “old man hat” to the “everyman hat,” and the things we’ve done since Gina (Thorsen, VP of Marketing & Sales) started, well, the sky’s the limit. As a matter of fact, my wife and I always planned to move back to Ohio someday, but because of the positive direction this company is going in, we’re going to stay up here ‘til we die.

SK: How many pieces of Kromer gear do you own?
JB: None, sorry. I’m the weird guy who wears shorts 12 months a year—even when snowblowing—so this warm clothing is just too much for me. I buy it all the time for family and friends, though.

SK: What does “Made in America” mean to you?
JB: It says it all. When I see people working here and putting out a product they’re proud to make, it just says it all.

SK: Anything else you want to say to Kromer fans?
JB: There are only two kinds of people in the world: The ones who get to work here and the ones who wished they work here!

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 DesignSK: 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!

Treated Like a Person, By a Person

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.

Angela, SK Customer Service
The Actual Angela

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!

Handmade by Her: Melissa Allen, making a Kromer a Kromer.

Up next in our series of employee features, meet Melissa Allen!

Stormy Kromer SewerSK: What’s your role at Stormy Kromer?
MA: I put the earband on the cap. It’s a big job, and I love it.

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.

Sewing an earbandSK: What keeps you at Stormy Kromer?
MA: I like it here. I like what I’m doing. Believe it or not, I like to get up and come to work every day—I walk in with a smile on my face.

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!

American Made Gift Ideas from Stormy Kromer Employees

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.

Sock Monkey KitWe’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!

 

 

Duluth PackOver 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.

 

 

 

Burt's Bees Essentials SetDid 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.

 

Weber Q 100 GrillWhat 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.

 

Classic ChapstickAnd 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?

 

Handmade by Her: Patti Budgick, an outerwear legend.

Stormy Kromer Patti BudgickSK: 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.