Live American Made

For 100 years, we’ve proudly supported American businesses and communities. The Born Made Stayed blog is our effort to shed light on other remarkable companies that make products right here in the USA.


September 25, 2015

West Paw Design: Manufacturing Happiness for Pets and People

After a period of selling financial software on the East Coast, 23-year-old Spencer Williams returned to his home state of Montana with the intention of creating something that brings joy to people’s lives. In 1996, Williams purchased a local cut-and-sew pet toy company in Livingston, Mont., and with less than five employees, Williams set out to establish what is now known as West Paw Design, an American manufacturer of eco-friendly toys, beds and apparel for dogs and cats.

Photo credit: facebook.com/westpawdesign

Photo credit: facebook.com/westpawdesign

A True American Manufacturer

A few years after purchasing the company, West Paw Design had nearly doubled in revenue and in size. In 1998, too big for its current space, West Paw Design and all 15 of its employees moved 26 miles west to Bozeman, Mont. Instead of outsourcing its manufacturing operations to overseas, Williams decided to invest in the local community and build a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly manufacturing facility, where the company is still located today. In fact, it’s where 98 percent of West Paw Design’s products are made.

On its website, West Paw Design refers to itself as a “true manufacturer who makes products rather than simply writing a purchase order for goods overseas.” This bold yet truthful statement is made evident through its product innovation. In the early 2000s, Williams was working to develop a dog toy that could substitute for a tennis ball, which is made with toxic glues and has a coating that wears down the teeth of dogs. Wanting more control over environmental impact than he would have working with a contract manufacturer, Williams decided to invent his own material. Working with a small, family-owned plastics company, Williams created Zogoflex, an exclusive bendy, stretchy, bouncy plastic material that’s both non-toxic and fully recyclable. Today, products containing Zogoflex account for half of West Paw Design’s revenue.

Returning the Joy

West Paw Design continues to return the joy that pets bring to their people’s lives by providing them with quality, non-toxic products made right here in America.

“Without compromise, we make great products for pets. It is our honor to be a unique company that does what we say,” Williams says in a company blog post. “We are proud to manufacture the best toys and beds and know that by providing the best, safest products we make pets and their people very happy.”

To learn more, visit westpawdesign.com.

September 18, 2015

Manufacturing Takes an American Giant-Step Forward

Investing in “high quality product, American manufacturing and exceptional service.” That’s what it says on the website of the American-made online apparel company, American Giant. Headquartered in San Francisco, American Giant is the first apparel brand to rethink the traditional supply chain. Through a direct-to-consumer approach, American Giant is able to invest in producing the highest quality clothing, at great value, all made in America.

Photo credit: american-giant.com

Photo credit: american-giant.com

The Greatest Hoodie Ever Made

According to the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), about 650 textile plants closed in the U.S. between 1997 and 2009 due to outsourcing, costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

Despite the statistics, Bayard Winthrop, an entrepreneur with no prior experience in fashion design, was determined to prove that American manufacturing could be profitable once again. And in 2012, Winthrop launched American Giant, a clothing brand that sells its products solely through the internet. After only 10 months on the market, the company’s sales exploded when Slate magazine declared American Giant’s primary product, a zip-up hoodie, “the greatest hoodie ever made.”

An American-made Resurgence

Built from the belief that America has a history in manufacturing that’s worth preserving, Winthrop is helping to create what Fast Company calls “an ­American-made resurgence, one that draws its power from both a heritage appeal and the Internet.”

“We challenged ourselves to find a way to truly liberate American manufacturing,” Winthrop says in a Yahoo! Finance article. “All our fabrics, from cotton in the ground, all the way up through knitting, yarning and dyeing processes come up through a Southeast supply chain and ends up in our main factory in North Carolina.”

Today, American Giant’s manufacturing operations have grown from a single factory in San Francisco to another in Southern California and three more in North Carolina.

To learn more about the company behind the greatest hoodie ever made, visit american-giant.com.

September 11, 2015

Simms Fishing Products: Hooked on American Manufacturing

In 1980, John Simms, a fishing guide from Jackson, Wyoming, saw a need to develop a higher quality of fishing waders and accessories than what was available at the time. That pursuit led to the establishment of Simms Fishing Products, the only American manufacturer of fishing waders in the country.

Photo credit: facebook.com/simmsfishing

Photo credit: facebook.com/simmsfishing

In the mid-1980s, Simms saw quick success from being one of the first companies in the world to introduce high quality neoprene, a synthetic rubber, into its waders, which provided improved warmth and waterproofing for anglers. Shortly after, John Simms sold Simms Fishing Products to another Jackson sporting goods manufacturer, Life-Link International. In 1993, current owner K.C. Walsh, a passionate angler and management consultant, acquired the company and relocated it to Bozeman, Montana.

Under Walsh’s leadership, the company became known for its product innovation. Shortly after Walsh acquired the company and moved it to Bozeman, Simms introduced a line of breathable waders using GORE-TEX® fabric, breathing new life into wader innovation, comfort and performance. Simms is the only U.S. and one of only three wader manufacturers in the world that is licensed to use GORE-TEX® in waders.

Quality That Lives and Breathes on the Water

Despite the company’s changes in ownership throughout the years, the one constant that has remained is Simms’ unwavering commitment to American manufacturing. Today, all of Simms’ waders are handcrafted in America and stitched one seam at a time by nearly 120 locally based employees at its 60,000-square-foot facility in Bozeman. The company has even been recognized as a “Montana Jobs Economic Engine” by former Montana Sen. Max Baucus.

“Simms Fishing Products is the kind of Montana business that can inspire others to weather the storm through hard work and innovation,” said Baucus in a 2011 news release. “This company truly is an economic engine for our state. It also shares Montana’s outdoor heritage with the world by selling the kinds of products that remind folks everywhere that Montana is a great place to do business, live, work and enjoy our rivers and lakes.”

To learn more about Simms Fishing Products, visit simmsfishing.com.

September 3, 2015

Keeping American Manufacturing Popping

In 1914, Cloid H. Smith started the American Pop Corn Company in Sioux City, Iowa where he launched America’s first brand name popcorn, Jolly Time. A century later, the company is still family-owned and operated in the U.S. by the descendants of Cloid Smith.

Photo credit: jollytime.com

Photo credit: jollytime.com

Cloid Smith pioneered the U.S. popcorn industry, personally hand-shelling the popcorn with his son, Howard, selling product to small grocers and street cart vendors. In 1925, Cloid introduced a proprietary canister designed to seal in kernels’ moisture. With his newest introduction, the American Pop Corn Company began to pop.

By 1929, the American Pop Corn Company’s yearly sales of Jolly Time Pop Corn had surpassed 10 million pounds. Ten years later on its 25th birthday, Jolly Time was named the “World’s Largest Popcorn Producer.”

A Homegrown Approach

Unlike many of its competitors, the American Pop Corn Company has resisted corporate acquisition over the years and has remained dedicated to being an American manufacturing operation dependent on relationships with local farmers and factory workers.

In fact, the American Pop Corn Company still manufactures its popcorn in America on the same site in Sioux City that it has been for the past 100 years. All of the corn that the company uses is purchased locally from about 100 farmers in Nebraska and Iowa, many of whom are multi-generational farmers that have been growing popcorn for Jolly Time since the 1930s.

Today, the American Pop Corn Company has sold nearly three billion pounds of Jolly Time Pop Corn, offering its American-grown products in grocery stores nationwide and in nearly 40 countries.

To learn more about the American Pop Corn Company, visit jollytime.com.

August 28, 2015

General Pencil Company: Writing America’s Past, Present and Future

General Pencil Company of Jersey City, N.J. is the oldest and one of the very last American-made pencil companies left in the world. For more than 125 years now, General Pencil Company has been manufacturing quality school, art and craft supplies in the U.S.

Photo credit: facebook.com/GeneralPencil

Photo credit: facebook.com/GeneralPencil

Edward Weissenborn and his son Oscar A. Weissenborn founded General Pencil Company in Jersey City, N.J. in 1889, where it remains today. The company quickly earned a reputation for producing quality pencils, but was nearly destroyed during World War I when a British blockade made it impossible for pencil manufacturers to get lead from Germany. Unable to get their leads, Oscar experimented and came up with a way to make his own. It was during this time that many of General Pencil’s unique drawing formulas consisting of graphite and charcoal were created.

Keeping the Pencil Moving

Withstanding the Great Depression and Second World War, General Pencil Company later expanded operations into California to become closer to the incense cedar supply and to the Western market. In the late 1970s, the company expanded its product line, increased sales and distribution capacity, leading General Pencil Company to become a worldwide supplier of fine art and craft products.

General Pencil Company’s pride in handcrafting quality, American-made pencils and artist materials remains today. Now in its sixth generation, the family-owned and operated company continues to handcraft its pencils using genuine California incense cedar wood and traditional quality formulas in the same Jersey City factory where it first started more than 100 years ago.

To learn more about General Pencil Company, visit generalpencil.com.

August 21, 2015

Yankee Candle Illuminates America’s Homes

In 1969, 16-year-old Mike Kittredge of South Hadley, Mass., couldn’t afford to buy his mother a Christmas present. Desperate for a gift, Kittredge melted down some crayons in his parents’ garage and made her a scented candle. Before he could give the candle to his mother, a neighbor saw it and was so impressed, she convinced him to sell it to her. With these new funds, the teenager bought enough wax to make a candle for his mother and another one to sell. That was the moment that Yankee Candle was born.

Photo credit: yankeecandle.com

Photo credit: yankeecandle.com

America’s Best Loved Candle

Today, Yankee Candle is the largest American manufacturer of scented candles. There are more than 565 Yankee Candle retail stores and 35,000 other locations worldwide, but only one manufacturing plant, and it’s right here in the U.S.

Yankee Candles are made at its plant in Whately, Mass. near the company’s South Deerfield headquarters. Operating as the largest candle production line in North America, the Massachusetts plant makes over 200,000 scented jar candles a week and it’s projected that they will make about 75,000,000 this year for worldwide distribution.

Yankee Candle remains the #1 most-recognized name in the candle business and the country’s best selling candle brand – something the company attributes to its devotion to American craftsmanship and quality.

The company certainly has come a long way since its garage days in South Hadley.

To learn more about Yankee Candle, yankeecandle.com.

August 14, 2015

Cycling Through America with Heritage Bicycles

If you had asked Mike Salvatore what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answer most likely wouldn’t have included anything involving bikes or coffee, let alone any combination of the two. Today, Salvatore is owner of Chicago-based Heritage Bicycles, a part bike shop, part coffee shop that offers custom, American-made heritage style bikes within the setting of a coffee house.

Photo credit: heritagebicycles.com

Photo credit: heritagebicycles.com

Bringing Heritage Home

Before opening Heritage Bicycles, Salvatore helped establish Bowery Lane Bicycles in New York City. But as a native Chicagoan, Salvatore wanted to bring quality, American-made bikes back to his hometown. In 2012, Salvatore and his wife, Melissa, opened Heritage Bicycles on the North Side of Chicago.

Everything Heritage Bicycles does is centered around the company’s commitment to the community, including local manufacturing. Made from American steel, and welded by hand and assembled locally, Heritage Bicycles is proud to be the first completely Chicago-made bike since Schwinn production left the city in the 1970s. What’s even better is that at Heritage Bicycles you can enjoy a cup of locally roasted artisanal coffee while you shop or wait for your bike to get repaired.

In addition to being the wheels of choice for many Chicagoans, Heritage Bicycles has also made bikes for celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay Z and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

To learn more, visit heritagebicycles.com.

August 6, 2015

Cade&Co: Taking America’s First Step

It’s an important milestone in a baby’s life when he or she learns to take first steps. Equally important are the shoes they’re wearing when they take those first few steps. Handcrafted in America, Cade&Co is a Utah-based company that specializes in designing American-made, all-natural leather shoes for babies and toddlers learning to walk.

Photo credit: cadeandco.com

Photo credit: cadeandco.com

A Step in the Right Direction

In 2003, after the birth of her second son, Naomi Doyle was determined to find a higher quality, better-designed and creatively styled shoe for her child. As an avid runner, Naomi constantly saw her son’s feet poking out from the stroller. Wanting something that stayed-on, but offered more protection than socks alone, Naomi went on a search for the shoes she was looking for. Unable to find soft-soled shoes that had the high-quality and creativity she wanted, she decided to make her own.

Today, Cade&Co is recommended by pediatricians from all across the country. The natural suede sole provides protection while allowing babies and toddlers to feel the ground beneath their feet as they learn to stand and step.

Every shoe in their inventory is American-made with care in their Park City, Utah studio/shop. In fact, customers and others can walk right by the shop and see Naomi and her team busily sewing the next pair of shoes. To learn more, visit cadeandco.com.

July 28, 2015

Bottled with American Pride

In 2008, Tim Andis was working at a high-end outdoor equipment supply company selling to major retailers. When these major retailers told Andis they wanted American-made water bottles, he searched the U.S. to find a supplier.

Unable to find one and recognizing the demand for American-made products, Andis enlisted the help of longtime business partner, Ryan Clark, and the two set off to create Liberty Bottleworks.

Photo credit: libertybottles.com

Photo credit: libertybottles.com

American-made from the Bottle Up

Located in Yakima, Wash., Liberty Bottleworks is the only metal water bottle company that is 100 percent made in the USA. Every machine in Liberty Bottleworks’ 35,000 sq. ft. facility is manufactured in the U.S. and all of their materials are sourced domestically, including the recycled aluminum for the bottles.

“We’re using technology that was designed and developed here in America with employees who care deeply about producing the best water bottle possible in a zero waste sustainable manufacturing facility,” said Tim Andis, founder and CEO of Liberty Bottleworks, in an article. “We wouldn’t be Liberty Bottleworks if we weren’t made in the US. It’s fundamental to our flexibility, customer service, quick response time, custom art and quality.”

This strong commitment to delivering quality, American-made products caught the eye of others, too. In 2013, Liberty Bottleworks was awarded the very first American Made Outdoor Gear Award, which is given annually to the company with the most compelling “made in America” story. See our previous post on the American Made Outdoor Gear Awards to learn more.

Today, Liberty Bottleworks’ water bottles are being sold at big-name retailers such as REI, Whole Foods and Amazon, and have attracted customers like the Dave Matthews Band, Harley-Davidson and Redhook Brewery. To learn more about Liberty Bottleworks, visit libertybottles.com.

July 24, 2015

Troy-Bilt: Rooted in America Since 1937

“Rooted in America.” That’s what Troy-Bilt, a leading American manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, has printed on its labels. Headquartered in Valley City, Ohio, and with manufacturing locations in Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee, Troy-Bilt is committed to providing customers with high-quality American-made products.

Photo credit: donaldantiquerototillers.com

Photo credit: donaldantiquerototillers.com

In 1937, C.W. Kelsey introduced the very first American-made rototiller that changed the face of farming in the U.S. After noticing that European-made rototillers were unable to break through the rocky soil conditions in North America, Kelsey was determined to design a rototiller that was able to break through the tough American soil. Using inspiration from an imported, commercial German machine known as the Earth Grinder, Kelsey developed the first American-made rear-tine rototiller, known as the Model A-1.

By the end of World War II, Troy-Bilt began manufacturing small tillers for home gardeners. People could now plow a garden for their own personal use and grow vegetables in their backyard.

Sticking to its Roots

Troy-Bilt continues to thrive today, expanding its product line to include top-quality tractors, mowers, tillers, cultivators, trimmers and a variety of outdoor power tools. Its reputation for producing high-quality and durable American-made products that are “built for life” has remained true. In fact, today’s modern rototillers still feature two of the original-designed parts found on Kelsey’s first rototiller – rear-mounted tines and power-driven wheels – and are still revolutionizing the way gardening is done today.

To learn more visit, troybilt.com.