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Northwoods Spotlight: The Stormy Kromer Story

by St. Croix Rods 26 Dec 2023 17:51 UTC
Like St. Croix Rod, Stormy Kromer is a family-owned company with a long and storied history of crafting quality American products in the Northwoods © St. Croix Rods

Since 1903, the Stormy Kromer brand has come to embody the independence, wit, and grit of the upper Midwest.

It all started with a cap. George "Stormy" Kromer, a semi-pro baseball player and railroad engineer, kept losing his hat on the train. He asked his wife, Ida, to sew an earband on his favorite ball cap to keep his ears warm and the hat snug. It worked.

Over the past century, many brands have come and gone, yet Stormy Kromer has survived and thrived — thanks to the adventurers, the workers, the dreamers, and all the excellent people who value style, durability, and a sense of fun. They turned a simple wool cap into an icon and the cornerstone of a brand that remains fresh and authentic more than a century after Ida's very first stitch.

Like St. Croix Rod, because Stormy Kromer is family owned and operated, it has a personal stake in making sure their products are well made, their employees are well treated, and their company reflects the values of authenticity, quality and integrity.

Just up the road from Park Falls over the Wisconsin-Michigan line, Stormy Kromer is based in Ironwood, Michigan and headed by the Jacquart family — Bob and Denise, and daughters Gina and KJ. The family has strong roots in Ironwood. In fact, several of their ancestors were among the pioneers who settled the town, opening and growing businesses in and around Ironwood since the early 1900s.

Stormy Kromer's cut-and-sew manufacturing can be traced back to 1958, when Bob's dad, Robert R. Jacquart, began making bank deposit bags in the basement of his home under the name Jacquart Manufacturing. In 1970, Bob joined his dad, and in 1983, he bought the company, changed the name, and transitioned it from a small custom cut and sew operation to a more formal production shop.

Building the company became a true family endeavor, as kids KJ and Gina spent Saturday mornings at the shop helping customers and making change. Denise served as bookkeeper - and came up with the original idea for the best-selling Petal Pusher cap. Bob Sr. even stayed on part time until he was 92 years old.

During the 80s, Stormy Kromer made everything from fleece hats, gun cases, and machine covers to custom upholstery and boat covers. In 1988 it began making private-label pet beds, which helped fuel company growth. The company moved to its current location in 1994, eventually expanding from 17,000 square feet to multiple buildings occupying 90,000 square feet.

A watershed moment came in 2001 when Jacquart Fabric Products purchased Stormy Kromer. When he got word that production of the legendary Kromer cap would soon cease, Bob sprang into action. Just three months after his first phone call to Milwaukee, which had been the home of Stormy Kromer since 1919, the Jacquart family relaunched the brand from its factory in Ironwood. Bob says it's the best business decision he's ever made.

Today, KJ is the Purchasing Director and Gina is CEO. Bob Jacquart still serves as Chairman, walking the shop floor and leading factory tours. Together, the family continues to grow and evolve the company it loves and prepare for the future.

Shop the St. Croix Stormy Kromer collection now

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