FILE: The Bollman Hat Company Factory

Making it in America: Bollman Hats

This Week On Making It In America

We tip our hats off to American manufacturing with Don Rongione, President & CEO of the Bollman Hat Company and Founder of American Made Matters.

Can you please tell us about the Bollman Hat Company?

Founded in 1868 in Adamstown, PA, Bollman Hat Company is America’s oldest hat maker. Bollman has continually made wool felt hats for 146 years. During its first hundred years, Bollman added hat manufacturing capabilities to produce a hat from raw wool to finished product. We added fur felt and straw hats to our manufacturing capability during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Today, Bollman has the best collection of hat brands in the headwear industry, including Bailey, Betmar, Country Gentleman, Helen Kaminski, Kangol and Pantropic. We became the first employee-owned headwear company when we adopted our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in 1985. Our employee-owners are proud to cover the world with unparalleled products that provide protection, comfort and style to millions throughout the world. We have nearly 300 people located on four continents and distribute products in 77 countries. Our products can be found worldwide in specialty stores, department stores, major and regional chain stores, and prominent catalog and e-commerce retailers. Throughout its incredible history, Bollman has been a primary supplier of private label headwear to the world’s leading brands and retailers covering fashion, outdoor apparel, uniform, formal wear and sports markets. Bollman owns hats.com, where consumers can browse and buy our products.

When did you first join the company? How did your role progress?

I started at Bollman as Controller in 1982. I have been blessed to serve in several positions within the company including Vice President of Administration, Sr. Vice President of Manufacturing, Executive Vice President and COO and finally President and CEO in 2002.

Why is making it in America significant at Bollman Hat Company?

Bollman is America’s oldest hat maker and will soon celebrate 150 years of U.S. hat making. I experienced the tragic decline of American manufacturing first hand when loss of major customers to foreign competition forced us to lay off more than 100 U.S. manufacturing employees. It was this experience that led me to found American Made Matters (AMM), an organization dedicated to educating consumers on just how important American manufacturing is to our country. Today AMM has close to 300 members in 43 states. Bollman is the home of American Made Matters.

What challenges has the Bollman Hat Company overcome throughout history in order to continue making it in America?

For our first ninety years, the hat industry flourished as wearing a hat was part of the daily uniform. The company always sought to develop new products and new markets. The loyalty and commitment of our people has been a hallmark of our famous company. We have 13 employee-owners during our history who worked for our company for 50 or more years of services. In 1985, we started our Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) making all of our employees owners of the company. Manufacturing in the USA continues to be a challenge for many companies with high labor-content products. However we are dedicated to keeping the jobs for our employee-owners here in the U.S.A. as well as being good stewards of our heritage.

How have you expressed a passion for American manufacturing outside from your business?

I continuously reach out to businesses to join the American Made Matters movement as well as personally purchase products from our own American Made Matters members. Today I am wearing 100% American made from my hat to my socks and shoes!

About the segments: ‘Making it in America’ is a place where individuals who are passionate about work in America can collectively share ideas, insights, and experiences relative to American manufacturing. Participants will be asked to share the ways in which they are ‘making it in America’ within their respective fields & present ways that we too, can help make a difference with work in America.

Past Guests

KNEX CEO Michael Araten.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Channellock VP of Sales & Marketing Ryan DeArment.
Makers Row - founding team Matthew Burnett, Tanya Menendez, Scott Weiner.
Made in the USA: The 30 Day Journey Producer/Filmmaker Josh Miller.
Quabaug CEO & Owner Kevin Donahue
Tervis - Rogan Donelly
Tito`s Vodka - Owner Tito Beverige
Country Music Artist Amanda Watkins
Annin Flagmakers - Marketing Manager Dale Coots
All American Clothing Co. President BJ Nickol

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in being interviewed on Making it in America, please send inquiries to Boomer Beam at [email protected]

About the Host:

Boomer Beam is a next generation writer, spokesman, advocate, & marketing professional. His career began in 2011, when he attended his mother`s 25th class reunion, who graduated from high school in 1986. She couldn’t go because she and his father had just moved. So Beam, who was studying Communication Studies at Wittenberg University at the time, went in her place. The rest is a humble beginning... Read more

Brought to you by All American Clothing Co.

American made matters

All American Clothing Co. Joins American Made Matters

The mission of American Made Matters is to educate consumers that buying US-made products strengthens the American Dream. The American Made Matters organization is made up of over 260 member companies in 42 states and growing.

The latest member to join the organization is All American Clothing Co., whose mission is to support USA families and jobs by producing high-quality clothing made in USA at an affordable price. By keeping production in the USA, the American made jeans manufacturer provides jobs and a tax base that supports our communities.

All American Clothing Co. is proud to continue our mission alongside manufacturers in the American Made Matters organization who represent many different industries and we hope that our USA made clothing company can help spread the message that American made really matters!

"We care about our country and the people in it; if we were only in it for money we would move our production overseas. We will NOT trade USA jobs for foreign profits." - BJ Nickol, President & Co-Founder All American Clothing Co.

All American Clothing Co.

judge tractor pulling

All American Clothing Co. Sponsors Judge Pulling Team

All American Clothing (Arcanum, OH) sponsors Judge Pulling Team (Ansonia, OH) in the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling Circuit with team pants made in USA.

The Judge Pulling Team is part of the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, the premiere tractor pulling series in the United States. The team is made up of the Barga family who has both a family and winning tradition of tractor pulling experience. The Judge Pulling Team was started by Ron Barga, who has 50 + years of tractor pulling experience. He has now passed down the tradition to his six sons.

The All American Clothing Co. is proud to supply USA made items and materials to the Barga family and their Judge Pulling Team. We have a great appreciation for folks who put a large amount of time, effort, and hard work into something they compete & enjoy doing. Especially if it ends up making a lot of noise!

The highly popular Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League tours the country showcasing the most extreme vehicles and the most talented pulling drivers in the world. Featuring eight different vehicle classes from four engine, 5000+ horsepower tractors, to flame throwing jet turbine powered semi-trucks, it is a uniquely American competition that highlights the combination of sheer horsepower and driver skill.

We would like to thank Judge Pulling Team for allowing us to experience a part of their lifestyle during the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League this year. Good luck boys!

Visit Judge Pulling Team.

Visit Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League.

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The Big Package

Some things can only be handled in All American Jeans...

What is a Gusset?

Okay, we get asked this question ALOT.

I was recently asked the ‘what is a gusset?’ question by my father in law and let me tell you, it was so difficult to explain cleanly that I eventually resorted to pointing at my crotch in my All American Jeans and said ‘That is a gusset! It gives you more room and comfort!’ If you were not there for the show, I apologize. You will have to receive the proper definiton here.

A gusset is a diamond shaped piece of denim sewn into the crotch of our USA Made jeans. This eliminates 4 seams coming together in one place. We sew this ‘gusset’to help disperse stress around the crotch area to create a more comfortable fit and provide freedom of movement. Blue collar workers such as a roofers, plumbers, and farmers typically enjoy the extra space our gusset provides. When having to crouch down and work on your knees, a gusset keeps you out of a pinch.

When it comes to our American made jeans it is all about COMFORT! Don’t believe us?? Try a pair….If you aren’t 100% satisfied you can return your jeans within 90 days for a refund or exchange.

All American Clothing Co.

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Jeans featuring a gusset:

Rufus Mccooter Banner Title

The Legendary Legend Of Rufus McCooter

Tucked in the rural forests of Darke County, Ohio is the historic Bear`s Mill, where buhr stone ground flours & meals are produced. Built in 1849 by Gabriel Baer, Bear`s Mill is one of the few operating water powered mills left in Ohio today. The site and it`s water rights were granted to Major George Adams by President James Monroe in 1824.

The 'jeanius squad' from All American Clothing Co. visited Bear`s Mill recently for a tour with Master Miller Terry Clark. He shared with us many legendary stories that we will be featuring on All American Life.

None were more legendary than ‘The Legendary Legend of Rufus McCooter…’

Rufus McCooter has been described as an unusual being that roams Bear`s Mill causing mischief with his pranks. He has been heard stepping through the building, shutting doors, and dropping objects. To date, nobody has seen Rufus McCooter.

While many are skeptical of McCooter`s existence, scientists have visited the Bear`s Mill property to track his whereabouts. According to Master Miller Terry Clark, paranormal scientists have spent the night to produce evidence of mysterious activity taking place at Bear`s Mill throughout the evening hours.

Current Master Miller Terry Clark theorizes that McCooter`s existence originates from a previous master miller at Bear`s Mill. According to Clark, when working the mill alone he sometimes forgets to shut the main door. When he does, McCooter will sometimes shut it aggressively for him as if he done something wrong.

Clark also tells us that he, himself will play pranks on visitors of the mill and say it was Rufus McCooter, leaving this legendary tale up for your own interpretation.

Whether it is Terry himself or a spiritual being, the legendary tale of Rufus McCooter is one we`ll never forget!

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About Bear`s Mill:

Terry and Julie Clark acquired the Bear’s Mill property in 1978 and ran it independently for over twenty years. The Clarks came naturally as caretakers of Bear’s Mill. Terry, having a fascination for old buildings and their workings was immediately drawn to the mill, and Julie, a potter, found the natural rustic setting of the mill and property appealing to her artistic senses.

In 1999, the Clarks started a non-profit organization to keep the historic mill open for the public to enjoy. But, in October 2013 Bear’s Mill and the surrounding property was purchased by The Friends of Bear’s Mill non-profit organization through funding received from a Clean Ohio Fund Grant administered by the Ohio Public Works Commission. Additional funds were provided by the Darke County Soil and Water District in return for a conservation easement guaranteeing the property would remain undeveloped and environmentally preserved. Further support was also provided by previous Mill owners Terry & Julie Clark. The Friends of Bear’s Mill are responsible for management, fiscal responsibility and operations, as well as maintenance of the 35 acres of woodlands, dams and levees on the Mill property. The Friends of Bear’s Mill now governs it with a goal is to keep the mill preserved and open for touring & educational purposes.

Visit the Bear`s Mill website today to help preserve its history!

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Thank you for experiencing the All American Life!