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

Fuel's gold

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The coastal town of Coos Bay appears poised to land every economic development director’s dream: a single employer that will bring hundreds of family-wage jobs and millions in tax revenue. 


The more they change, the more they stay the same

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
100-best-collageBY BRANDON SAWYER

The 100 Best Companies get more creative with perks and more generous with benefits; employees seek empowering relations with management and coworkers.


Q & A with Chuck Eggert

Thursday, March 06, 2014
03.06.14 thumb pacfoodsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

The founder of Pacific Foods talks about why his company has flown under the radar in Oregon, how saving a family-run chicken hatchery has helped his bottom line and why he thinks organic food is anything but elitist.


Speeding up science

Tuesday, February 25, 2014
02.25.14 Thumbnail MedwasteBY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER

The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.


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.



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.


From the Editor: The human factor

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02