American-made plan in the bag

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

 

BY JON BELL

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

Playoffs pay off for the Ducks

The Latest
Friday, January 02, 2015
oregon-ducks-logo-helmet-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The University of Oregon football team looked unstoppable on the field Jan. 1 — and the university is reaping the benefits of the new postseason format.


Read more...

Closing the Gap: The two Oregons and the way forward

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

"Nostalgia is not an economic strategy."


Read more...

Light Moves

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Fittingly, Light at Play — a business whose sole purpose is to create mesmerizing ambience — was conceived at Burning Man.


Read more...

Imperial Palate

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power Lunch at the Imperial.


Read more...

MBA Perspective

February 2015
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Robin Anderson, dean of the Pamplin School of Business, University of Portland: "You need people who are comfortable leading in ambiguity."


Read more...

Tackling the CEO-worker pay gap

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY OREGON BUSINESS STAFF

An SEC rule targets the disparity between executive and employee compensation, reigniting a long-standing debate about corporate social responsibility.


Read more...

Convention Wisdom

February 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

After more than a decade of wrangling, construction on a convention center hotel in Portland is slated to start this summer. But debate over project financing continues.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS