Woolrich

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Woolrich
Private
IndustryOutdoor apparel
Founded1830 in Pennsylvania
FounderJohn Rich
Headquarters,
Area served
International
Key people
John Ranelli (Chairman of the Board)
Nicholas Brayton (President)[1]
ProductsOutdoor apparel; blankets
RevenueUS$ 250 million (2013)[2]
Websitewww.woolrich.com/woolrich/index.jsp

Woolrich, Inc. is an American clothing company based in Pennsylvania since 1830.[3]

History[edit]

Woolrich, Inc., founded in 1830 by John Rich and Daniel McCormick, is the oldest manufacturer of outdoor wear in the United States. The company was founded for the purpose of manufacturing fabric for the wives of hunters, loggers and trappers. Later, the company also outfitted clothing supplies to the American Civil War.[4][5] and Richard E. Byrd's 1939–1940 Antarctic expedition.[6]

The 1830 wool mill was located on Little Plum Run in Dunnstable Township, Clinton County, Pennsylvania. Wool production stopped there around 1843–1845 because of insufficient water supply. The company bought 300 acres at Chatham's Run in nearby Pine Creek Township in 1834 and built a sawmill. Rich bought out McCormick's interest in 1843, and by 1845 the company moved to a new mill at the Chatham's Run location. The 1845 mill no longer exists in its original configuration but its location remains the site of Woolrich's main operations, which developed into a company town now known as Woolrich, Pennsylvania.[7][8] The 1830 mill was later used for storage and residential purposes; known as the Rich-McCormick Woolen Factory, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.[9]

Another member of the Rich family, Robert F. Rich, headed Woolrich for many years and was also a longtime Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Serving 18 years between 1931 and 1951, he became known as a vocal opponent of the New Deal[10][11] and (like many other members of his family) an important supporter of Lycoming College.[12]

After camping grew popular in the 1970s, Woolrich suffered in the 1980s due to other companies wanting to compete. For many years, their competitors have been L.L.Bean, Eddie Bauer, The Timberland Company, The North Face, Patagonia[5] and Columbia Sportswear.[13] In 1990, Woolrich let go of half of their 2,600 employees[5] nationwide by then-president S. Wade Judy[14] due to fewer orders.[15] That same year, the company also closed six plants in Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Colorado for about five years and outsourced the work to Mexico, leaving them with about 1,400 employees. Since then, the employment numbers have continued changing, with about 500 as of 2008[16] and about 200 in 2013.[2] In 1998, Woolrich provided the clothing used in the film The Horse Whisperer.[5]

In 2007, the company's long-time president and CEO, Roswell Brayton, Jr., died after collapsing at the Woolrich headquarters. He was a sixth generation member of the Rich family and joined the company in 1977 and became president in 1996 and CEO the next year.[17] The current president, Nick Brayton, and vice president Joshua Rich, represent the seventh and eighth generations of the Rich family to serve in the management of the company.[18] In January 2013, John Ranelli was named President and CEO of Central Garden & Pet Company and retained his "non-executive" Chairman of the Board title at Woolrich.[19] In May, the company announced they had plans to move more of their workforce to the United States.[2]

In September 2013, Woolrich partnered with Portland Product Werks (PPW) to manufacture shoes, a new line for Woolrich. PPW is led by Sean Beers, a former employee of Columbia Sportwear, a Woolrich competitor. They debuted the Woolrich footwear line at the Salt Lake City Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January 2014, Las Vegas in February and in Fall 2014 in New York.[20]

In 2014, Woolrich collaborated with Dogfish Head Brewery by releasing the limited edition Pennsylvania Tuxedo, a spruce-enhanced pale ale.[21][22] In 2015, the company celebrated and achieved its 185-year anniversary with an art gallery show at its store in New York.[23]

In 2016, Italian company W.P. Lavori, which had previously licensed the Woolrich name for the European market as John Rich & Bros., agreed to acquire a majority stake in the company. The move consolidated the European licensing operations with the company in the U.S., forming Woolrich International. Goldwin Inc., a Japanese company, also acquired a portion of the newly created company.[24]

In September 2018, the company announced it would permanently close its last plant in the United States, in Woolrich, Pennsylvania. It was also announced that the majority stake of W.P. Lavori was being sold to L-GAM Advisors, a private equity firm.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Woolrich Original Family Members Brayton, Rich Named President and VP International". prnewswire.com. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Rolley, Bob (15 May 2013). "Woolrich Inc. passes the torch". sungazette.com.
  3. ^ "Woolrich: Part of the fabric of U.S. history". CBS News. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  4. ^ Worden, Amy (20 August 2004). "Woolrich draws fire for selling forest lands Outdoor-clothing maker draws fire for selling its forest lands". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d Kinney, David (14 February 1999). "Woolrich Inc. fights back". Record-Journal. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  6. ^ "It's Back in the Black for Woolrich Inc". Los Angeles Times. 31 May 1999. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  7. ^ Megan E. Baker and Alan Jalowitz, "Rich in Tradition", Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Fall 2010/Spring 2011.
  8. ^ Russell E. Eshleman Jr., "Firm Roots Unbroken By Growth", The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 21, 1988.
  9. ^ Susan B. Hannigan and G. Jean May (May 1985). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Rich-McCormick Woolen Factory" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  10. ^ "Robert Rich, Industrialist", Associated Press in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 30, 1968.
  11. ^ Robert F. Rich at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  12. ^ John F. Piper, Lycoming College, 1812–2012: On the Frontiers of American Education (Lexington Books, 2011), ISBN 9781611483703, pp. 405 & passim. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  13. ^ "Sean Beers". The Wall Street Journal. 27 February 2002. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  14. ^ "Woolrich Seeking to Dress-up 168-Year Clothing Tradition". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 18 January 1999. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Digest". Washington Post. 6 October 1990. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Woolrich to close Jersey Shore sewing plant". lockhaven.com. 15 April 2008. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Woolrich CEO Roswell Brayton Jr. dies after collapsing". boston.com. Associated Press. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  18. ^ Josh Baron, "Wooly Mammoth", GO Magazine, December 2012.
  19. ^ "John R. Ranelli Named President and CEO of Central Garden & Pet Company". central.com. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  20. ^ Allan Brettman (18 September 2013). "Woolrich teams with Portland footwear company". The Oregonian. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  21. ^ "15 cant-miss things im Delmarva in 2015". The Daily Times (Salisbury). 8 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  22. ^ "Dogfish Head From Extreme Beer To Nautical Apparel". Businessweek. 10 June 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  23. ^ "Woolrich Celebrates 185 Years With A Gallery Show For New York Fashion Week". forbes.com. 9 September 2015. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  24. ^ a b Simon, Ruth (21 December 2018). "Weaving Magic Unravels in Woolrich, Pa". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 26 December 2018.

External links[edit]