For 10 years now green 3 has been in business. During those 10 years, we have made our products exclusively in the USA. Additionally, we make every effort to use suppliers who are local and in our community. We often are asked “why”? In all honesty, we do it because we believe that it’s important, and that it’s the right thing to do. Here are three stories that illustrate the point.
All our sweater knit goods, whether scarves, hand warmers, ponchos, throw blankets, etc, are made in a fourth-generation knitter in upstate New York. The company is run by the founder’s son, and working in the business are this man’s son, daughter, and grandson. Other family members are involved as well from time to time. Employees have been there 30 and 40 years, and take incredible pride in what they do. Why when most sweater makers of this era closed their doors and chose not to compete with low priced Asian competitors, did this family chose to soldier on? Simple, love of family, love of hard work, pride in what they do, pride in the community they live, and the desire to continue to provide a livelihood that is by no means extravagant, but is simple and comfortable. Recently we sat and shared frozen pizzas and lite beers with the son in law and grandson that work in the business. The passion with which they spoke about their products, their machinery, how they must constantly innovate and salvage to keep their machines running, and how they continue to evolve their business model to compete, was awe inspiring. As the evening concluded, we thanked each other for genuine partnership. We laughed about the challenges that face both our companies. And we shook hands knowing that what we are doing is much more than just about selling goods that keep people warm.
Some years back we saw a news story about a local organization that was providing scarves for the inauguration. We contacted the company to see if there was a mutual opportunity to partner. This company’s primary business is to provide job and life skill training for cognitively disabled adults. Their “clients” have disabilities that range from minor to severe, yet programs are developed to provide training and the opportunity to earn a livable wage for all levels. My ignorance about workers with disabilities made me think that the production might be of inferior quality, or involve a timeline much slower than we needed. After touring the facility and meeting many of the clients and seeing their work, I was overcome with emotion. I met a highly skilled workforce that loved what they did, and took incredible pride in their work. The workers were joyful and proud, and their smiles were infectious. Beyond all of this, or maybe because of this, they provided services that were not only competitive but in some cases, superior to other traditional avenues. After our partnership began and then grew, we had the opportunity to meet some of the client’s families. At this point the real reason why programs and partnerships like this are important became crystal clear. These families told us about how their “children” had found purpose, happiness, and independence through programs like ours. On the surface were they making skirts and scarves for us? Yes, but the real importance is far greater than that.
Our t-shirts are cut and sewn in a small northern town in Wisconsin. We joke that it’s not the end of the earth, but you can see it from there. The man that runs the facility has been there for many years. He located his business there and watched it grow to national recognition. He employed hundreds of workers in a town of 1500. And then his competitors began to move off shore. Price pressure mounted, and the business began to shrink. He could have followed suit and stopped production and sourced goods off shore, but he chose not to. His loyalty to his team and his community probably exceeded rational thought, but he refused to give in. Did the business shrink, yes? Did it go away, not a chance? His small and dedicated team work in a modest facility with a giant American flag on one wall. On occasion, he brings chocolates for his “girls” to thank them for their efforts. He works incredible hours, and rarely utters the words “it can’t be done”. The building he used at companies peak stands vacant just across town, but he looks forward to the day when growth will allow to move back in and hire more workers from a community where unemployment is close to 30%. We look forward to helping him realize that vision.
This holiday season when you are buying gifts for the ones you love, if possible choose to buy made in the USA. Your choice will benefit real family businesses close to home. It will provide independence and a source of pride for our neighbors with special needs. And it will benefit communities big and small that make up the framework of our great nation