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