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11/21/2013 9:53:00 AM
Welch native expands his outdoor clothing business

by Danielle Anderson

We are all told to chase our dreams, but how many of us really do? Doug Jackson followed his dreams and hasn't looked back since.

In retrospect, it is obvious why Doug started his business.  When he was in elementary school, his family moved to Welch from Wanamingo with his parents (the late Dyrol (Dyke) Jackson and Harriet Jackson, who still lives in Welch). His dad started working at Welch Village Ski Area. His backyard was literally the ski area.  He started skiing at nine-years-old and never stopped.

  After graduating from Red Wing High School in 1979 and the University of Wisconsin- River Falls, he worked as a stockbroker in Colorado. While he enjoyed this job, there was something missing.  After six years as a stockbroker he decided it was time for a career change. 

Jackson was first a sales rep for Boulder Gear in Colorado before moving to Chicago to run the skiwear and outerwear division of High Sierra. Jackson absolutely loved the outdoor apparel industry and knew this was the right career direction.

"I owned more ski jackets than regular clothes," confessed Jackson.

His job required him to travel for extensive periods of time, though. It was on one business trip he decided he needed change as he wanted more time with his family. (Jackson lives in Hastings. He has two daughters, 16 and 19). This was the start of Storm Creek. 

Jackson first started his business in 1995 under the name Welch Apparel Group.  He would design and manufacture apparel for other clothing brands. Then, in 2006, the company took another direction.  Jackson renamed it Storm Creek. Now the company focused on corporate branding.  For instance, Storm Creek would create the apparel, then companies like 3M, Cisco, and Delta Airlines would buy the apparel to have it embroidered with their company logo on it.  Storm Creek has changed even more in the last few years by selling through traditional wholesale channels. 

The hardest part that Jackson and designer Kaitlin Juhl face is to anticipate the trends before they happen. Jackson and Juhl have to have clothes designed two years before they will be launched.  Right now they are finalizing the line for Fall/Winter 2015.  This means they need to know what colors and apparel customers will want. Storm Creek creates technical outdoor apparel such as fleece tops, athletic tops, insulated jackets and soft shell jackets.

"I would be outside every second if I could," said Jackson.  "So the next best thing is this:  Creating clothing that allows people to be outside. It is so exciting to me," said Jackson.

Doug has the benefit of working with his brother Scott Jackson. Scott started in March of 2010, becoming the company's third employee.  Scott is the production coordinator at Storm Creek.  He reviews previous orders from customers to determine what the factories need to make, so Storm Creek has stock in their warehouse to ship to customers.

Scott and his family live in Cannon Falls. His wife, Brenda, works at Farmers&Merchants Bank and their children (Tatam, Korie and Tanner) are graduates of CFHS. Their other brother, Mitch, still lives near Welch with his wife, Lori, (nee Peine) a teacher at Cannon Falls Elementary. Their two children, Sawyer and Taylor, attend Cannon Falls.

"It is amazing to see his passion for the company.  He has an endless amount of energy and would work 24 hours a day if he could," Scott commented about his brother.

The company has grown drastically in the last two years.  For a majority of Storm Creek's existence, it was only Doug and one other employee. At the beginning of 2012 there were four employees. Since then, Storm Creek has added seven more employees- nearly tripling the staff. 

"The excitement is seeing the potential of Storm Creek.  You never know how big it could get," said Scott.

Since Scott started, he has seen the fabrics and technology evolve drastically. He can only imagine what the next three years will bring.

Storm Creek product has never been sold directly to the customer; there has always been a middleman. This year however, Storm Creek will be holding its first warehouse and sample sale at the warehouse in the Hastings Industrial Park, 624 Spiral Blvd, off of Hwy. 316.

  Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30 will be the first time customers will be able to buy Storm Creek product directly from Storm Creek.  A portion of the proceeds will go to Hastings Family Service and Hastings Hockey Association.  Everything at the sale will be 50-70 percent off retail price, which means nothing will be over $30.  The sale will be held noon to 4 p.m. on "Black Friday" and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on "Small Business Saturday."

Danielle Anderson is also a Welch Township native, growing up on the farm of her parents, Les and Jeanne Anderson. She graduated from CFHS in 2009 and NDSU in 2013 with a degree in Public Relations. She is the marketing and communications coordinator at Storm Creek.

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