Check out the new March/April issue of Midwest Living for a great article on 19 classic midwestern companies, including Stormy Kromer! The issue is on newsstands now and includes a feature on one of our long-time employees, Dan Pavlovich. Thanks to Midwest Living for recognizing the great work happening in the Midwest.
The folks who work here are the lucky ones. And when people ask what I do, I tell them I have the best job in the world, at the best place in the world, for the best people in the world. For 12 years, that’s been true every day.
Technically, though, I’m a “media specialist,” which is French for “graphics, embroidering, digitizing, photography, and anything else they’ll let me do.” Truly, I’ll do anything I can to help, and not just because my wife and I both get our paychecks here. (Yep. She was hired on the same day as me.)
We love it here. We have passion for what we do and where we’re from. And when you buy a piece of Stormy gear, you’re not only getting the highest-quality American-made merchandise money can buy, you’re getting a piece of the company—something made by hardworking Americans who put their reputation on the line every day to guarantee your satisfaction. Just try it on, and you’ll feel that passion, too.
I work in the engineering department at Stormy Kromer, and that means I get to figure out the most efficient way to make the best products. I work on the prototypes, and I determine how much each piece is going to cost to produce. I even get to sew every now and then.
Most importantly, though, I get to work with a great bunch of hardworking people, and we’re helping keep jobs in the U.S.A. I’m more proud of that than anything. I think we all are.
I want people to buy our products, of course, but I also want them to come to our factory in Ironwood, to take the tour, and to see meet the people who make “Made in America” happen. It’s more than just making hats, it’s really something we can be proud of.
Anytime you order an item from Stormy Kromer, it’s made by hardworking people who care about and take pride in making the best product they can. It’s my job to make sure you get that product on time.
My department (Packing and Shipping) works as hard as anyone here to make sure our orders get shipped out correctly and efficiently. And I’ll tell you, the best thing I’ve ever seen was around Christmas last year, when we had 32 pages of orders one day. Everyone jumped in to help—people from other departments, people just coming out of their offices to chip in and get the orders out.
Those are the kinds of people who work here—who make your Kromer gear—and they take the same kind of care as you would, if you were making it for yourself. I’m lucky to get to work with them.
Every day on the job is the best day on the job.
- Dennis ‘Mac’ McRae, Purchasing Director
Okay, 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.
Would you like it tomorrow? Okay then, how about today?
Cheryl Bjork, Production Manager
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.
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.
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?
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: 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!
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.
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: 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!