The company that first put the zipper in men’s trousers is still making American-Made products.
It’s 1830 in the young nation known as the United States. The Oregon Trail has begun transporting the first western explorers across the country in their covered-wagons, and a young English immigrant named John Rich has just built a woolen mill in Plum Run, Pennsylvania.
More than 180 years later, Rich’s legacy lives on, as Woolrich Woolen Mills is still producing quality, Made in America wool fabrics in the heart of the Keystone State.
“While we are an international company, who sells to many customers in many countries, our hearts and roots are here in Woolrich, Pa.,” said Joyce Raesner, director of Woolrich Woolen Mills. “We’re proud to say, ‘Made in America.’”
Nearly 250 people are employed by Woolrich, 64 of whom work at the mill. The wool goes through 13 steps from sourcing to shipping to the customer. All fabrics are put through a final inspection, which attests to the excellence that Woolrich is known for.
Maintaining manufacturing in the United States is important to Woolrich, Raesner said.
“I believe it’s our heritage,” she said. “We’ve provided wool fabrics, and employment opportunities, to families living in this area from generation to generation, and continue to do so today.”
The current mill isn’t the first built by Rich; he opened the current facility next to a town called Chatham Run. The area where he built it is now officially named Woolrich (for obvious reasons) and eight generations of the Rich family have live and worked there, building up the company to its current reputation.
The company has been a part of history from the start. According to legend, it was the first to use a zipper in men’s trousers. Woolrich also delivered blankets to Union soldiers during the Civil War.
“While we are an international company, who sells to many customers in many countries, our hearts and roots are here in Woolrich, Pa. We're proud to say, 'Made in America'.” – Joyce Raesner, Woolrich Woolen Mills director
A little after Woolrich’s 100 year anniversary, the government contracted the company to provide wool clothing to Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s expeditions to Antarctica, which spanned from 1939 to 1941. Woolrich still sells Made in America Parkas fashioned the same way as Byrd’s.