Conceptualized and hosted by Kokatat Inc., (www.kokatat.com) leading US manufacturer of technical apparel and gear for paddle sports, the 2013 American Made Outdoor Gear Award was open to all American manufacturers with a compelling story.
Liberty Bottleworks began producing its American made, BPA-free, recycled aluminum water bottles in 2010 at a purpose-built factory in Yakima, Wash. From the outset, Liberty has been committed to making its products in America by American workers.
â€œLiberty stood out among the so many great stories we received,â€ said Jeff Turner of Kokatat, the founder and host of the American Made Outdoor Gear Award. â€œNot only do they make a product in a highly competitive space that is dominated by imports, but they do so in a factory where the machines were also built in the US.â€
More than 50 of the most innovative domestic manufacturers in the outdoor market entered the first-annual â€œSassyâ€ award program â€“ a long overdue chance to raise a glass to the leaders in American made quality, craftsmanship and creativity in the outdoor world.
As winners of the American Made Outdoor Gear Award Liberty Bottleworks will take one-year ownership of the â€œSassyâ€ travelling trophy -- a hand carved, 3-foot-tall, redwood Sasquatch from Humboldt County, CA. An official â€œSassyâ€ presentation will be made on Thursday, January 24, 2013, at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City, UT.
â€œWe are humbled to be recognized with the first Sassy and very proud to represent American manufacturing,â€ said Liberty Co-Founder Ryan Clark. â€œWe make the best bottle out there, but it's really about remaking our country's economy and proving that American-made products can compete in every aspect of the market. We're thrilled to win this award, and we'll be just as thrilled to pass it on to another manufacturer next year that's as passionate about this movement as we are.â€œ
Kokatat's hosting of the awards is rooted in their own history, as the brand's founder and president, Steve O'Meara, recognized from the start that keeping production local was necessary in order to control quality and continually develop the finest and driest paddling apparel in the world.
â€œIt's amazing to me that the reasons I began Kokatat and have kept our production in the U.S. are shared by so many of the Sassy applicants,â€ O'Meara said. â€œTheir commitment and successes will ensure a stronger America and keep manufacturing from becoming a myth like our friend Sassy.â€
The 2013 American Made Outdoor Gear Award harvested a variety of intriguing data regarding US manufacturing and sourcing. A sample of statistics from entries include: 80% of applicants own their own facility; 74% of applicants created new manufacturing jobs in the last year totaling over 500 new jobs; and more than 60% of the applicants reported that 90% or more of all the goods they sell are made in the US.
â€œEvery applicant, bar none, is bullish on the prospects of domestic manufacturing and believes that not only will they be increasing capacity at their company, but that the trend will grow throughout the country over the next ten years.â€ added Turner. â€œWe had applicants ranging from large established companies like Woolrich (www.woolrich.com) and Thule Car Racks (www.thule.com) to new start ups like ReFleece (www.refleece.com) that repurposes used Patagonia fleece jackets into iPad and Kindle cases,â€
Along with an overall winner, Kokatat recognized winners in several categories based on company size. The category winners will receive a miniature version of the Sassy award during the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market celebration.
In the category of Less than 10 Employees Cilo Gear (www.cilogear.com) of Portland, OR, who manufactures specialized packs for outdoor and urban use took first place and the runner up was PaHaQue Custom Shop (www.pahaquecustom.com) who produces custom camping trailer covers and canopies out of Poway, CA.
In the category of companies with 10 to 50 Employees Branches LLC (www.bendingbranches.com) of Osceola, WI that handcrafts canoe and kayak paddles received first place and merino wool apparel company Ibex Outdoor Clothing (www.ibex.com) of White River Junction, VT received runner up.
Ironwood, MI based Stormy Kromer (www.stormykromer.com) who handcrafts woolen winter caps won 1st place for companies with 50-100 Employees and Timbuk2 (www.timbuk2.com), the San Francisco, CA, bags and accessories manufacturer. received the runner up.
For companies with 100+ employees 1st place went to Jackson Kayak (www.jacksonkayak.com) of Sparta, TN who produces whitewater, recreational, and touring kayaks and accessories.
Runner up went to Smith Optics (www.smithoptics.com) of Sun Valley, ID, makers of performance eyewear and accessories.
For additional information about the 2013 American Made Outdoor Gear Award visit www.kokatat.com/sassy. For more details about the results please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Kokatat Watersports Wear: â€¨
Celebrating over 40 years of innovation, Kokatat is an independently operated, US manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports. Handcrafted in Arcata, California, Kokatat employees are focused on building the finest functional product for people who work and play on water. Our gear is designed for paddlers, by paddlers, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience on the water all year long and in all weather conditions. Into the water with Kokatat! Please visit www.kokatat.com and follow Kokatat on Facebook and Twitter â€œ@kokatat.â€