New Hampshire. Skiing, Hiking, Mt Washington --sure, but textiles? Not the first place that comes to mind as a hotbed for American Textile manufacturing.
On Thursday, David Rosenberg and I drove north. Our mission was SampleRoom partnerships-- and we got more than we signed up for.
First stop was to a new butted seam customer. A company who is working on a project that would replace steel with composites in the defense industries. After an hour or so, we came to an agreement and Merrow is now partnering to help develop the next generation of reinforced composites for the military.
Second stop, Velcro USA. A Merrow customer and a huge company.
Third stop, Ragged Mountain. Meeting with Rob Nadler, president of RM. In three hours Rob taught us a lot about the industry. His business is, in our very humble opinion, awesome. RM makes great stuff, partners with competitors who make great stuff, and manages to sell it all out of a shop in North Conway.
Ragged Mountain is a company that we would be proud to partner with-- and after a long discussion of SampleRoom and our business plan, we think that our trip to North Conway was likely the first of many.
Ragged Mountain, in so many words, gets it. They get that being competitive means being flexible, efficient, clever and enterprising. That a company can be competitive and not be a difficult place to work (contrary to that, RM is a disarmingly comfortable facility). They faced the same challenges that killed off most, if not all, of similar sized manufacturers-- and they're running on all cylinders from the looks of it.
After visiting with Rob, David and I both bought some Ragged Mountain gear and headed back to MA, surprised and encouraged by what we discovered in New Hampshire. Moreover we made a HUGE step forward with respect to SampleRoom. The concept is almost complete and and the details will be forthcoming over the next three months.