Paul Kramer - Talking to Jack about the first two weeks Mountain Hardwear and starting Product Line

Powered by Drupal


Paul: Yeah, it was a scary thing to start Mountain Hardware for me. I’d been at Sierra Designs since 1971 and in 1993, you know I thought we were going to buy Sierra Designs and we’d offered more money that they finally took as you remember. But they didn’t want us as competitors and you suggested you know, I sort of thought I should probably get a real job someday. But I kept getting sort of interesting new versions at Sierra Designs. When you told me that you know should we start our own company, I basically was slightly embarrassed not to just go, “Yeah, absolutely!” or to have thought of it first and I said, “Yeah, yeah, Oh my god this is scary thing” I mean I mortgage my house and my wife supported me totally she said “let’s do it” and we mortgage our, we took every penny we had and put it into the company and it was very scary. And you know, you said the very first few weeks we hadn’t gotten a check yet from Ian. I remember basically, well here’s the mortgage for my house and I put you know, my hundred thousand dollars in or whatever it was at the time from that and put more money in later. It was very, it was a scary thing and I think now I’d have no problem because I know more about what makes a company work and I know we could do it. But then it was, it was I didn’t know all the parts, it was interesting.

It was an amazing first few weeks there at the new office because it was a well the beginning of November and we had to show samples. It wasn’t that we had to show samples only at February, we had to show a few of the dealers in December. And we work our, Ingrid and I, we worked our, it was clothing first, it wasn’t any tents and that kind of stuff but we work our butts off to try and get fabrics. I was working madly to get the fabrics get people to make the stuff and Clarion too. And Ingrid was working like crazy on these designs. I mean it was you know 60-hour 70-hour weeks basically doing that kind of stuff. We had a few; we had such a great crew. There and, not saying but everybody in the industry. We had 99 people target or 89 whatever it was we got, you know one less than that. And that was due to you, your respect in the industry and Mikes’ respect, the fact it worked his butt off there. And a few of the people knew me and they said “Oh, these guys are going to try to pull this together” and that was not only the dealers but it was also the suppliers because we were going out there and saying, “hey sell us some fabric”. And you know, where as you think, “Oh sure, they’ll be glad to sell us some fabric.” “Well do you have the money to buy it?” and “will you have enough money to buy the material you know the finished product.” And well for instance Gore, well certainly, the two biggest suppliers for us at the time was Mauldin Mills who was polar fleece and they didn’t sell to everybody because they didn’t sell to Sierra Designs for a long time because Sierra Designs was buying somebody elses. And so we said, you know we want Malden polar fleece and we want Gore and Gore had a licensed system and most people new companies they didn’t they didn’t let new companies in it was a year minimum wait to get a license. And we had it in a week because they respected the people in the company. It was the first time they ever awarded a license to anyone in less than six months, so big deal.

by Author
PaulKramer PaulKramer's picture

This Story is part of a Series...

Transcript: This is an Outdoor Industry story. I’m here with Mike Wallenfels. My name is Jack... Read Story
Q: Did this company (Mountain Hardwear) have a name yet? Transcript: Jack Gilbert: I am not sure... Read Story
Jack talks about employee ownership, seeking out financing, and meeting John Cumming and then Ian.... Read Story
Mike Wallenfels asks Jack about trying to buy Sierra Designs and why that didn't succeed. "Didn't... Read Story
Transcript: I’m Paul Kramer and I was Vice President of Sierra Designs. I started out there, well... Read Story
Transcipt: Paul: Jack, I was in Hong Kong as you said and I had written a letter because of course... Read Story
Transcript: Paul: Yeah, it was a scary thing to start Mountain Hardware for me. I’d been at Sierra... Read Story
Helen Li is absolutely the best QC, QA person in the industry bar none! Absolutely! [See the... Read Story
The founding act of this website was to get the Mountain Hardwear founders that lived in the San... Read Story
Transcript: Mike: My name is Mike Wallenfels. At the time at Sierra Designs when just before... Read Story
The question: How long had you worked at Sierra Designs prior to the beginning of MHW? Transcript... Read Story
Transcript: Mike: Halloween day; so I was incredibly nervous that day. I knew what was going on in... Read Story
Transcript: there were really only a few of us in the office, a handful, only 6 people,... Read Story
Transcript: So I am Christina Clark, mostly called Chris and my original position at Mountain... Read Story
l asks Chris about how she heard about Jack deciding to start a new company and how she decided to... Read Story
Chris tells about leaving The North Face for Mountain Hardwear Read Story
Transcript: I’m Roberta Hernandez and at the time that we left Sierra Designs I was the strategic... Read Story
Transcript: Roberta: It was very kind of nerve-wracking that day with a lot of anticipation what... Read Story
Transcript: Roberta: The first couple of weeks at Mountain Hardwear I think for me were –... Read Story
PaulKramer's picture
by Author PaulKramer

Start a Story of Your OwnStart a Story Icon


Do us a favor - 
Please take 2 minutes and give us feedback. Thanks!

This Story is Connected to...

Story Copyright