Stearns Rainsuits (buy online)
Stearns, Inc. has a 60-plus-year tradition of quality and expertise in water safety solutions, which continues today with innovative new products for active lifestyles. Under its Stearns, Sevylor, Sospenders, Hodgman and Mad Dog Gear brands, the company offers flotation devices, towables, rainwear, waders, and gear for hunting and fishing, along with industrial equipment built for the harshest conditions. Owned by Jarden Corporation (NYSE:JAH), Stearns is part of the Jarden Outdoor Solutions business segment.
THE EARLY YEARS
The story of Stearns Inc. actually goes back several years before the company’s formation—to a man named William P. Hilger and his Minnesota Sales Corporation.
THE FUTURE LOOKS CLEARER
One of the product lines the Minnesota Sales Corporation developed was an automotive accessory: frost shields. A frost shield was a clear sheet affixed to the window of a car in colder climates. It prevented condensation and frost and thereby allowed the driver to see. Frost shields were applied to the windshield, both front side windows, and the rear window. They were, basically, “storm windows” for the car.
The company, now renamed Hilco, became known for exciting innovations in frost shield technology like pre-glued gaskets and the "electric sleet shield." By the end of 1936, Hilco had manufactured one million frost shields!
Despite an explosion at the plant on June 13, 1938, the company continued to grow at an impressive pace. When America entered World War II, resources became scarce, but fortunately, Hilco's quality and efficiency resulted in a defense contract supplying frost shields for trucks and construction vehicles.
The frost shield product line was sold to two former employees of the company, B. Howard “Pat” Flanagan and Maurice O’Link. The two named their new endeavor Stearns Manufacturing Company.
By 1945, the frost shield business tripled in size and was employing 40 employees. However, as the automobile manufacturers were beginning to develop and produce more effective heaters in their cars, the frost shield business was doomed. Maurice O’Link then began to focus Stearns’ efforts on developing products for outdoor activities.
FINDING THEIR NICHE
So, Stearns, with O'Link at the helm, began to focus its efforts on developing products for outdoor activities. Their first breakthrough? An innovative gun case – the first full-zipper-opening case, using vinyl as simulated leather and a newly developed simulated sheepskin lining. That one idea opened the corral and the new products came stampeding out. Products like sportsman's luggage, sleeping bags, boat seats and lounges, and cold-weather outerwear – down and polyester-filled jackets, vests, parkas and suits.
KEEPING YOUR HEAD ABOVE WATER
But, it was in the 1960s that Stearns really hit stride. The company began to develop stylish and comfortable Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) as an alternative to the orange "horse collar" preservers then in use. When the Federal Boat Safety Act was passed, allowing private industry to manufacture new PFD designs under U.S. Coast Guard guidelines, Stearns introduced its innovative Type III PFD in 1973. This tremendously successful product quickly gained popularity and its widespread use by consumers is credited as an influence in the continuing decline in boating fatalities.
High-quality water safety products are still a mainstay of the Stearns line: ship abandonment survival suits, deck suits, flotation jackets, inflatable life rings, flotation cushions, and water sport PFD's.
Today, the Stearns product line continues to grow. Currently, Stearns distributes:
- Personal flotation devices (life vests)
- Inflatable towables
- Inflatable boats, kayaks, and canoes
- Marine cordage and accessories
- Self-inflating sleeping pads
- SunShower® products
- DryWear® rain jackets and pants
- Mad Dog Gear hunting packs and accessories
- Hodgman waders and accessories
- Sospenders Inflatable PFDs
- Work vests
- Flotation jackets and coveralls
- Ice rescue suits
- Cold water immersion suits
1100 Stearns Drive, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379
Tel. 320.252.1642 Fax 320.252.4425