Jacquart Fabric Products in Ironwood, famous for the Stormy Kromer hat, is doing more than keeping people warm these days.
"The folks at Entropy called me and said, 'Do you realize that 700,000 people were fed with your delivery totes?'" said Bob Jacquart, company owner.
Nearly two years ago, Entropy Solutions, a thermal technology company, contacted the Ironwood sewing manufacturer about a project designed to reduce hunger in hot, urban areas. The result was a hand-stitched tote liner used to store food. Pepsi-Co uses these totes for its "Food for Good" initiative, a program aimed at providing needy children free meals each summer.
The material found inside the totes becomes solid at 34 degrees. It prevents foods from spoiling, but it also prevents beverages like milk from freezing.
The tote liners underwent months of testing before being used in Dallas, Texas in 2011 and then again in Chicago in 2012. During that time, Jacquart designers worked on nearly ten revisions.
"Yeah, it's funny how long something can take until you get it right. Not that we did anything wrong, but just to fulfill the needs everyone wants, it takes a while," said product designer, Dan Pavlovich.
Innovative products is sewn into the makeup of Jacquart Fabrics, but this project in particular left a lasting impression.
"You know our people make things and sometimes don't really feel what they've done and feel like it's just work. And then something like this comes along and you know your work is doing a little good for humankind," Jacquart added.
"When it's picked up and they like it and we've done a good job and it does what it's supposed to do and everyone's happy, yeah it feels great," Pavlolich explains.
Jacquart Fabrics currently employs 155 workers, but the company hopes to add more to its payroll with future projects in the works including next summer's "Food for Good" program.