A Northwoods Tradition, Made Right HereSubmitted: 03/20/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer

IRONWOOD - You probably recognize the name "Stormy Kromer".

You probably also know what the recognizable hats look like from seeing them around the Northwoods.

But do you know where and how they're made?

George "Stormy" Kromer was a semi-pro baseball player and railroad worker in Kaukauna in the early 1900s.

But old Stormy had a problem.

"He worked on the Chicago-Northwestern line for a long time, and he kept losing his hats in the wind, riding the trains. He brought a baseball hat home and asked Ida to sew a band around the hat, and the Stormy Kromer was born," says Gina Thorsen, the Stormy Kromer Vice President.

Before long, they took off, and were being mass produced in Milwaukee.

But that business was about to die in the early 2000s.

To save it, an Upper Peninsula family bought the brand and moved the production to Ironwood.

"We find that people who have hats almost think of it as a special club. When you see someone else wearing a hat, you might walk by and say, 'nice hat'," Thorsen says.

Since the hats started being made in Ironwood, they've gained even more popularity.

That's allowed the company to branch out into womens' Stormy Kromers, as well as other cold weather apparel.

That success has made it a staple of the community's economy.

"Here in Ironwood, it's a small town. Industries have left. Businesses have closed. To us it's really important to be able to provide jobs here with benefits and to treat them well and to provide them a place where they can spend their career," Thorsen says.

About 150 people work for the company in Ironwood.

They make hats that have become a symbol for people in the Northwoods and U.P.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com

What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/08/2015

- Thousands of books, magazines and videos will move across Eagle River this week to a temporary home.  It'll help make space for nearly $3 million in renovations to the Olson Memorial Library.  What makes the project so special?  We'll explain tonight at 5.

- Plus, live cutting events give logging manufacturers the chance to better connect with their customers. It also gives them the opportunity to show off some amazing machines. We made it to a live cutting event near Crandon Wednesday. Tonight on Newswatch 12 we'll discuss the industry and advancements.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Traffic will once again flow freely in downtown Eagle River.

This week, workers laid what's called the "binder coat" of pavement on Division Street.

+ Read More

Play Video

CRANDON - Live cutting events give logging manufacturers the chance to better connect with their customers. It also gives them the opportunity to show off some amazing machines. Nortrax held a live cut event Wednesday near Crandon.

It showcased its modern tools for the logging industry. Longtime workers like Nortrax U.S. Cut to Length Manager Ken Knauf say the way wood gets cut is what really looks different these days.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN - Rural Northwoods schools face different challenges than others in the state.

Some of those include declining enrollment, high transportation costs, and broadband.

Wisconsin Association of School Boards' Executive Director John Ashley is in the Northwoods this week talking about some of those problems. 

Newswatch 12s Kaitlyn Howe spoke with him Thursday.

+ Read More

CASSIAN - Veterans who die in Wisconsin currently have no options for national cemetery options for burial in their home state.

A new national cemetery in Oneida County will soon change that.

+ Read More

THREE LAKES - Pumpkin Fest celebrates fall in the Three Lakes. This year, a new event will emphasize the creative side.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin will host a Democratic presidential primary debate on Feb. 11.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here