Home Back Issues Nov/Dec 2012 American-made plan in the bag

American-made plan in the bag

| Print |  Email
Articles - Nov/Dec 2012
Monday, November 05, 2012



1112 GamePlan WiggysIf Doug Hoschek can’t get REI to consider carrying a line of sleeping bags, then probably no one can.

The impassioned 68-year-old veteran of the textile industry preaches a mean gospel for sleeping bags, outerwear and the insulation that fills them from Wiggy’s, a Colorado company founded by longtime friend and associate Jerry Wigutow. He got to know bigwigs like Jim Whittaker, the one-time CEO of REI and the first American to summit Mount Everest.

And around 1980, Hoschek himself helped develop and sell one of the most ubiquitous fabrics in the outdoor world — Polarfleece — while on the payroll at the famed Massachusetts textile company Malden Mills.

“For 15 years, I basically controlled who got Polarfleece in the U.S.,” says Hoschek, whose run with the fabric essentially ended in 1995 when a fire burned Malden Mills to the ground.

With most textile manufacturing now outsourced overseas and stateside retailers sticking with their foreign supply chains, Hoschek has had a tough time getting Wiggy’s bags, which are popular with the U.S. military, into the broader outdoor market. Undaunted, Hoschek opened his own Wiggy’s retail store in Bend’s Old Mill Marketplace in early October, which sells Wiggy’s American-made sleeping bags and outdoor clothing.

Competing with big names like The North Face and Marmot won’t be easy, but Hoschek is confident in the products and thinks consumers will be too. He’s also encouraged to hear that Wiggy’s Alaska, a small store Wigutow helped start in Anchorage, has annual sales north of $500,000.

Beyond finding success through the Wiggy’s store, Hoschek also sees a greater goal in his current endeavor: revitalizing domestic manufacturing and restoring Oregon to its proper place as a synthetic and natural textile powerhouse. One idea: helping Wigutow possibly relocate his manufacturing operations — with job opportunities for up to 40 people — to Bend in 2013. Hoschek says he ran his thoughts on reviving Oregon’s textile sector past Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this year.

“He looked at me, his eyes got wide and he said, ‘How are you going to do it?’” Hoschek says. “And I said, ‘Just watch.’”


More Articles

100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

Monday, March 03, 2014

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 11.26.47 AM

Check out interviews with employees from some of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon winners and find out what makes their company a great place to work.


Car ignition recalls and lean product design

Contributed Blogs
Friday, April 11, 2014
04.11.14 thumb gm-gettyTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.


Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Spreading the wealth

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A money management firm broadens its reach. 


How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


The future of money

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An ancient institution moves slowly into the digital age. 


The 2014 List: The Top 33 Large Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.


Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02