IRONWOOD— Governor Rick Snyder and his family toured the Stormy Kromer factory in Ironwood’s Industrial Park Thursday morning, learning the history of Jaquart Fabric Products and the expansions that have taken the family company from a one-man basement operation in 1958 to a 80,000-square-foot facility with $15 million in annual sales.
“Jacquart’s is a great company, and I am very proud to see Stormy Kromer in Michigan,” said Gov. Snyder.
In 2001, Bob Jacquart got a tip from the late Mark Fitting, of Hobby Wheel, that the Stormy Kromer, designed in 1903, was being discontinued. Jacquart bought the rights to the hat, along with the name. The hat is offered through Cabelas and L.L. Bean, as well as locally, and sales are projected to grow 45 percent this year, said Jacquart.
Improvements to the hat include adding the Stormy Kromer label on the back of the hat and the history of the hat printed on a label inside. Upcoming are 10 new color combinations to appeal to Midwestern sports fans.
During the tour, Jacquart’s employee and Erwin Township historian Ivan Hellen presented a copy of a calendar featuring the history of the Erwin Township Hall, recently named a historic site in the state of Michigan. Snyder thanked Hellen, adding “his father attended school in a one-room schoolhouse, too.”
Snyder has been touring the U.P. this week, speaking with business owners and constituents in Marquette and Houghton about Healthy Michigan legislation, which has passed in the House but is awaiting Senate approval.
The plan would benefit over 470,000 hard-working Michiganders, said Snyder, many for whom insurance is too expensive.
In Marquette, a family practitioner told Snyder that under 20 percent of his patients have insurance, which means that when they need expensive things like X-Rays and tests, they forego them at the expense of their health.
“Getting primary care in the emergency room us a bad answer for individuals, and a bad answer for all of us,” said Snyder. “It results in higher insurance premiums for all of us.”
A challenge facing the Healthy Michigan program is its association to Obamacare which turns it into a polarizing and emotional issue, said Snyder.
“It’s a matter of life and death. That’s why I am so passionate about it,” said Snyder.
Michigan would save $206 million in the 2014 fiscal year by adopting the legislation, according to Snyder’s website.
Among other places, Snyder visited the Porcupine Mountains State Park Wednesday and was scheduled to see Bond Falls later Thursday. He will speak in Escanaba today.