Growing up in Western Massachusetts in the early 1990’s, skiing was the only thing that mattered to me. With a ski hill close by, my free time was occupied exploring the resort and freedom of being able to ski. No matter if it was summer or winter, snow was on the mind. It completely consumed my life. After getting frustrated with conventional team sports, I knew skiing was the one thing that always allowed me to feel free to do what I wanted and how I wanted. I had played baseball every spring but in my sophomore year of high school I decided to give that up to get a job to pay my way to summer camp at High North, in Whistler BC.
JP Auclair at High North
This decision completely changed my life and it taught me what was most important in my life. Instead of going to baseball practice, I would leave school at the end of the day and go to my job working in a plastic injection molding factory making plastic parts for all sorts of applications. The sound of machines running all day long and the smells that filled the factory will live with me forever. Having this job allowed me to be able to afford the life changing experience of ski camp.
Sinicon Plastics in Dalton, Massachusetts.
When I graduated from college in 2009, the economy was at it’s worst and I found myself in a completely different job market. Instead of having a promising job waiting for me, I found that there was a scarcity of jobs. A couple years later I got together with a good friend from college, Kevin Perron, to create a brand we felt we could build up and believe in. We hoped to then be able to hire our friends to give them jobs that would further their own careers.
First mock up of our General Suspenders
We are currently working with another college friend, graphic designer Christopher Lisle, to build Treefort Lifestyle Products into a brand that we hope will change the way one thinks about how products are currently manufactured. I look back at my experience working in the plastics factory and can more fully realize what a good factory job means to the American worker. Without this job, I would never have been able to experience what freeskiing was in 2003 at High North.
Portland Studio Portland, Oregon Studio
I’d like to share the importance of these manufacturing jobs as the US industry continues to move overseas. Coming from a middle class family in Massachusetts, my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father all worked in a GE factory in my hometown of Pittsfield. There were once 13,000+ factory jobs in Pittsfield at the GE facility, today there are less than 100 employees. The negative effect of GE sending jobs overseas is apparent every time I go home to visit my family.
GE transformer manufacturing in Pittsfield, MA
Treefort Lifestyles has made a commitment to always build our products in the US, and we want to prove that it is still possible to manufacture products in the USA. By supporting the American worker, you are supporting the families, towns, and future success of our nation. It is much easier to consider only the price tag when deciding on a purchase, but I feel it is more important to consider where that product was made and who has made it.
American Flag on the Black Canvas Deluxe Travelers Trunk
While it is difficult to find American Made Products in the ski industry, there are some companies that do it and they inspire us everyday. Although we started our company within the ski industry, we want our lifestyle products to expand beyond the ski industry to support others in their lifestyles. As skiers, we are so much more than just the term “skier.” In the summertime, we skate, surf, bike, fish, travel and explore. Our vision for Treefort is to support the lifestyles that go along with skiing and we are proud of where we started.
Savannah Pitts shot by Sara Schrock
I am grateful to have all of my friends, family, and fellow skiers support Treefort Lifestyles and I wanted to have a chance to express what American Made means to me. I take pride in taking the hard road…..a paved road is more comfortable to walk on, but no flowers will grow on it.