For the past 139 years, Duluth Pack has shown what it means to be an American-made business through their quality hand-crafted products, including sustainable PPE equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The past year has taught America a lot of things, but one of the biggest lessons learned is that we’re our strongest when we’re united. Between the Covid-19 pandemic, economic collapse, racial justice movements, and slew of natural disasters that the nation has faced, there’s never been a more important time to join together to rebuild all that’s been lost.
Supporting American-made businesses that emphasize what the American Dream is all about has been one of the biggest ways that citizens are showing their love for a nation that’s healing. Especially now, more and more people are finding themselves reaching for American-made products, not only for the quality, but because it also helps create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Americans have also grown tired of buying goods that are made overseas in factories with horrible working conditions that end up falling apart overtime anyway. Businesses that develop, manufacture, and distribute their products domestically are more heavily monitored for quality assurance. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), when American factories prosper due to an increase in product demand, American construction companies benefit by expanding the buildings, which then benefits American accounting firms that are involved in the construction, and supports American energy suppliers who provide them with power. “For every US manufacturing job an additional 1.4 jobs are supported in another sector of the economy,” according to the EPI.
Duluth Pack is one of the best examples of an American-made brand that has been able to benefit the nation in a multitude of ways for the past 139 years. The company is known as the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack manufacturer in the USA; they’ve been continuously doing business in Duluth, Minnesota since 1882, and every employee is also based in Duluth in-house, guaranteeing that the business truly is all-American.
“Duluth Pack is proudly the oldest canvas and leather bag and pack manufacturer in the USA, I mean we are literally older than sliced bread. In these trying times, we ask for everyone to come together and support local and Made in USA businesses like Duluth Pack. We’re in this together.”
Andrea Johnson is the marketing manager for Duluth Pack who I recently had the opportunity to speak with regarding Duluth Pack’s 100+ year reign as America’s most popular outdoor gear brand, as well as the benefits of supporting domestic companies that have been supporting Americans for decades now. She told me that the company has been manufacturing out of their legendary factory location since 1911, meaning they’ve been creating products in the same location for 110 years now.
“We have four core values that we’re really proud of and we’ve always maintained in our almost 140 years of business. First and foremost we take the quality of our products and company very seriously. Everything we do is of the highest quality, not only in the materials that we source and the way we manufacture our products – which has been the same since 1882 may I add – but the way we communicate with our customers as well.” Johnson explained how the customer connections that are made between their manufacturers and consumers is unlike any other brand.
“One of the most gratifying parts of our company is the stories our customers have, and the connection they make with our repair specialist. She has people crying on the phone all the time begging her to repair packs that are decades old and luckily for them we have a lifetime guarantee on all craftsmanship and hardware, so our customers can trust 100% that they’re receiving a quality product. After all, we are built to last for generations, so if you have an issue with a zipper or buckle on a bag 40 years after buying it, we will fix it for you for free. Sometimes we get sent repairs of bags that were originally made back in 1882 and have lasted for generations as family heirlooms.”
Beyond that, Duluth Pack’s website has a Meet Your Craftsperson page, so that customers can literally see a photo and description of the individual who manufactured their product from start to finish. Additionally, customers can email their craftsperson directly to thank them for their purchase. “We get so many emails that we deliver weekly to our employees, it’s a really fun and personal touch that makes our brand especially unique.” Customers can see who made their product on one of the three Duluth Pack tags that come in every single product. The tag itself is handcrafted and signed directly by the creator. Johnson explained that Duluth Pack has never done factory line-work to develop their line of canvas, leather, and wool gear, it’s always one individual from start to finish.
“Duluth Pack has created more than 350 styles of products that range from outdoor gear to high end business gear. Our products are available in 12 different canvas colors, five different leathers, and an assortment of wools.”
The leather, wool, and canvas is all sourced in America as well, and one of the biggest aspects of Duluth Pack products that they emphasize is how sustainable the process is to source, manufacture, and distribute their gear.
“Duluth Pack was a sustainable brand before it was cool, meaning we have been taking extra steps to source the best products and use every part of them since the dawn of our creation. Our leather, for example, is sourced within the US at the highest quality. Our cowhide and bison leather are raised in the Midwest and made here in Minnesota, so we have full knowledge over every aspect of what goes into our products.”
“The leather we source is a by-product of the meat industry. So, 20+ years ago, this leather would just have been thrown in the dump and landfills. The materials we utilize are sustainable and we take sustainable practices to have little no waste in our manufacturing process.”
Johnson also wanted to continue to emphasize the amount of time, energy, and quality goes into each one of their products. “Our craftspeople are some of the best out there. I mean working with leather, their hands are sore at the end of the day. Their work includes multiple stretches of certain leathers, every day you can see one of them doing certain exercises on their arms and hands to help them push the material through our industrial-sized sew machines.”
“Our company saw how hard the nation was struggling within the past year, so to do our part we began manufacturing PPE healthcare gowns, which we were able to send to hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare businesses in need.”
Duluth Pack also took supporting their nation a step further within the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic by manufacturing PPE equipment for healthcare workers. “Tom Sega, our president and CEO, was able to negotiate making Duluth Pack an essential business so that we could begin manufacturing PPE healthcare gowns, which we were able to send to hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare businesses in need.”
Their PPE distribution efforts have also proven to benefit the environment and the company’s overall goal of sustainability. “Our PPE can be washed and sanitized 50+ times, it’s not disposable, which is great for the environment and also is a great fiscal investment for the healthcare industry which has been struggling throughout this pandemic.” Duluth Pack has continued to distribute PPE equipment and because of their ability to stay open as an essential business, they were also able to keep their over 100 workers employed throughout the pandemic.
Duluth Pack has one flagship retail location in the iconic Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth, Minnesota; but ships to all seven continents, including Antarctica. They have distribution centers all around the world and various retail locations/ third party websites that carry Duluth Pack products internationally. They also do private label corporate business which means any company can contact them to put their logo on one of their popular products. Johnson claims they work with thousands of companies on custom orders.
Overall, Duluth Pack has spent the past 139 years proving that “made in the USA” products and services work to benefit the entire nation. “When our customers buy one of our products, we want them to know that you buy it once, and you have it for life. It’s an investment that will give you adventures for the rest of your life. It’s our own version of the American dream.”
If you are interested in shopping for some of Duluth Pack’s quality totes, outdoor gear, packs, bags, and shooting sports equipment that they’ve been making since 1882, click here.
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