Carhartt Celebrates 125 Years With Local Detroit Makers

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Less than 1% of companies make it past the century mark, let alone to 125 years. Carhartt first got its start in 1889 making overalls for railroad workers. Today, the company is headquartered in Dearborn and is known for their work clothes including jackets, coats, jeans, shirts and more.

To celebrate this century and a quarter in business, they’ve invited America’s makers (people who produce physical things) to come and join them for a beer.

They kicked off the celebration this week with New Holland Brewery at Ponyride, a so-called “Makerspace” in Detroit and one of the burgeoning community hubs for the small entrepreneur. The event was held in an old-fashioned camping style, and all types of employees from Carhartt’s Vice Presidents to interns were drinking with local makers.

“Our founder’s birthday was August 22nd so we celebrated on his birthday. His family still runs the business today,” said Tony Ambrozo, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Carhartt. “We’ve talked so much about how it’s not the company but the people who make this company possible. This event is about the people.”

Screenshot-2014-09-23-at-10.21.35-AMTypically, Carhartt’s people celebrate around a campfire. So, they recreated the look and feel outside of Ponyride.

The brand has always been focused on the people. Ambrozo expressed that the brand shares its value for crafted goods, one consumers are interested in more than ever today.

“At the end of the day it’s about being a brand that values craft. More and more people care about that,” said Ambrozo. “It’s not just about having things. It’s about owning things that are authentic and really knowing who made it. That’s something that a lot of folks have connected with.”

With over 400 employees they’ve been able to maintain manufacturing in the U.S. and handle all product design and development right here in Detroit. Carhartt often partners with Ponyride to help other local makers like the Empowerment Plan, which among other services provides innovative coats to homeless people that double as a sleeping bag.

“It’s great to be a contributor and support folks here at Ponyride. It’s great to make a difference in our backyard,” said Ambrozo.

The company looks forward to continuing to tell stories that champion the craftsmen’s way of life. Over the next two weeks you’ll see the Carhartt crew travel throughout the Midwest with one more stop in Michigan at Holland.

All 125 years the company has remained in Michigan, though since the Great Depression their manufacturing has been spread out across the U.S. Check out their products online at You can also follow their travels around the U.S. online.

What local makers do you love to support?

A version of this post originally appeared on Michipreneur, the state’s leading online entrepreneurship publication and is used with permission.

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