We’ve been married for 17 years, so we already know what it’s like to work together.
-Steve & Mary Jo Welch
Steve had been at Stormy Kromer for about eight years—working on manufacturing software and helping out in the Computer Aided Design department—when he heard of a position opening up in embroidery. He immediately thought of his wife.
And just like when he proposed, Mary Jo said yes, right off the bat.
“He’s so happy at the Kromer factory, I thought it would be a good place for me, too,” she said. “I got the embroidery job and have since moved into the Quality Assurance Department, where I get to inspect everything and help make sure ‘made in America’ means the highest quality standards.”
It’s been two-and-a-half years of being co-workers, and when you ask them the hardest part of sharing an employer, they’ll tell you “There is none.”
Steve says he’s “Glad to be helping so many smart, hardworking people produce so many good-looking, well-made products,” and while he could be talking about any one of the 120 employees here at Kromer, we’re pretty sure he’s referring to Mary Jo.
If you ever wonder who ties the tie on your Kromer, well, it’s nice to meet you.
-Breanna Ahola, Quality Inspector
I interviewed here a few years ago for a sewing position, but because I’m apparently a bit of a perfectionist, they said I was better suited for being an inspector. I guess they were right.
Simply put, I make sure every Kromer cap is perfect. Absolutely perfect. If there’s a flaw of any kind, it goes back, and I’ll inspect it again after it’s fixed. I’ve touched about 120,000 caps so far, and nothing less than the best gets past me.
I do get to do some sewing every now and then—stitching petals on the Petal Pusher, buttons on the Button-Up, et cetera. And I can make a perfect Kromer can koozie from start to finish—I’m the Koozie Queen—but the highlight of my job is hand-tying that tie. That is an honor.
I used to work at the hospital, so that qualifies me to take care of Kromers.
– Lynn Jackson, Quality Inspector
As a Stormy Kromer inspector, it’s my job to make sure every cap is sized right and sewn right. No loose stitches. No crooked cuts. No errors of any kind. You can’t make mistakes and make a legend.
Our gear goes out with a “Made in the USA” logo on it, and that means it was made in a small community and made by hard work. It’s so satisfying to see how many different kinds of hats and other products get sewn each day, and to know we’re making them with pride. I want everyone out there to know that, because I want them to wear their hats with pride.
I see a lot of tourists come in for tours, and I love to hear all their questions. The Green Bay Packers even came in once—that was really something. I guess I’m just happy to see people who love our hats, and that’s why I love my job.
We’d like to introduce you to Alan Svoboda. As our Lead Designer, Alan brings us the initial concepts and sketches for our new products each season. His resume includes companies like J Crew and Target, but his real passion is American-made brands. Today, he talks about why American made matters to him – and why it should to you this holiday season.
One of my favorite things about buying American made products is the quality. From first sight, to first touch, you can see and feel the difference immediately. Growing up, like most, I never gave a second thought about where my garments were produced. It wasn’t until I began shopping at thrift stores for vintage clothing that I began to take notice of the superiority American made products exude. Here were 70 year old garments, designed to be used under very grueling circumstances, and they were still in great shape. It was seeing these pieces of history that made me realize the importance of our American manufacturing traditions, and all the stories each one of these garments has to tell. You see it’s not about the products keeping up with the latest “trend”; it’s about the product keeping up with our demanding lifestyles. A piece of apparel that’s an investment, not because it cost more than something you would buy from a big-box store, but because it’s something you will wear for the rest of your life.
Here at Stormy Kromer we design apparel and accessories with you in mind. Made like you, by people like you. Outfitting our customers with products designed with a classic style, made from the highest quality materials, and manufactured in America by real people who care about the products they produce. Our garments are up to the task, and now it’s up to you to write your story. So spread the American made message this holiday season, and let’s raise the tide together. After all, quality is the gift that keeps on giving.
SK: What do you do at Stormy Kromer?
LJ: I’m one of three inspectors, and I make sure every cap that goes out is perfect. All the threads have to be cut off, the earband has to be straight, the monogramming needs to be good, no skipped stitches. Everything. On every cap.
SK: So how many caps is that for you?
LJ: Well, in five years as an inspector (she’s been with the company for seven), that makes over half a million caps. Wow. I guess that’s why they call me “Eagle-Eye.”
SK: What’s the best day you’ve ever had on the job?
LJ: We hit 612 caps in one day and every single one was perfect—not even a string to snip off.
SK: What’s the strangest day?
LJ: When nothing goes right. But, you know, that doesn’t happen too often around here.
SK: How does it feel to know you’re stitching together a legend?
LJ: I feel like a movie star. I love it. I’ve already got my picture in the newspaper—me inspecting a cap. Got it up in my living room. I’m proud. I’m the one who gets to inspect and help make that cap. It says we’re doing a good job, you know?
SK: Absolutely. It says a lot about your standards.
LJ: Yes. It’s gotta be 100%. There can’t be anything wrong with any of the gear that goes out our doors. So I look at it like I’m buying it. You don’t want a thread hanging off that you pull and it unravels. That’s not Stormy Kromer. No, it’s gotta be perfect.
SK: What does “made in America” mean to you?
LJ: We’re the only sewing company around anymore. We love our jobs. We’re proud of this. And here, you get something sewn to perfection.
SK: Anything you else you want to tell Stormy Kromer fans?
LJ: When you buy a cap, you know that Eagle-Eye has looked at it!