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(Published: 2013-01-20)

How many times have you heard someone exclaim: “boy, they sure don’t make (blank) like they used to?” Every day we hear stories about once-great brands diminished by outsourcing, off shoring, and other cost cutting measures. Many small companies, struggling to stay afloat in a very tough economy, have been forced to make shortsighted decisions in order to survive, and then end up closing their doors anyway.

Thankfully, there’s a countertrend to this all-too-common business scenario. It’s called the “reopening,” and there’s a great example right in my own back yard: Faribault Woolen Mill of Cannon Falls, MN, makers of the iconic Faribo blanket. In business since the end of the Civil War, the mill has made quality woolen blankets for the armed forces, hospitals and retailers for over 140 years. In 2009, the American legend ceased production, shuttering the factory and putting many in this small community out of work.

Their revival story is as heart-warming as their blankets. After standing dormant for over 2 years, the factory and the name were bought by two brothers looking to reinvent themselves after previous successful careers. Chuck Mooty, the company’s CEO, was formerly CEO at International Dairy Queen (part of the Berkshire Hathaway empire.) His brother, Paul Mooty, an attorney, became his business partner. Both men wanted to do something that would help bring back much-needed manufacturing jobs to a troubled economy.

The Mooty brothers consider themselves caretakers of a legacy. Big picture thinkers, their mission is to revitalize a community, as well as an iconic American brand. They are doing that by creating products that are current and forward thinking, with techniques and machinery from the past. Their globally competitive products, from blankets to iPad covers, are 100% American made. Their vertical manufacturing process is a throwback to another time—everything is produced from start to finish under one roof.

Many workers that were laid off when the mill closed have since been rehired. In the two years since “reopening,” the workforce has grown from 7 to over 80. The blankets are now being made by 5th generation craftspeople who, each day, weave luxurious fibers and American pride together into something very special and very beautiful.

The bold and brightly striped Revival Stripe Blanket is a best seller. Another classic, the Foot Soldier Blanket offered by men’s shoe brand Allen Edmonds, is available in US Navy solid gray or US Army solid green. The iconic blanket is made to the original US military specifications from 1917. The unique double-cloth construction results in a warm, heavy, yet breathable product…a gem of a paradox to snuggle up with.

The company is on track to continually reinvent itself, entering into exclusive design partnerships with retailers such as JCP and Target, hotels like the Waldorf Astoria and the hip Hudson hotel in New York, and even an exclusive polo club in Texas.

There’s more winter ahead, so if you want to wrap yourself in a future heirloom, check out their website:

Revival Stripe Blanket

iPad Cover

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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