Darn Tough: Sophistication and Commitment

Note:  This is Part 2 in a 3-Part series, “Darn Tough Vermont:  Success can be a Double-Edged Sword.”


We Really Know SocksThe high-value Darn Tough brand has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesFortune MagazineEsquire, Industry Week, as well as outdoor specialty media like Bicycle Retailer, Snowshoe Magazine, and GearJunkie.com.  Gearist.com went out of their way, coming to Northfield to create a video of the production process

There are many elements to the Darn Tough Vermont success story.   The down-home Vermont mystique for quality products and Yankee perseverance belies the level of sophistication behind the scenes.  Darn Tough was built on a top-flight branding strategy hatched in 2004.  It employs a  long-term public relations campaign helmed by Momentum Media PR .  It hires expert consultants to improve efficiency, cost-savings and supply chain management.  From Industry Week, March 9, 2015: How an American Sock Manufacturer Battled Its Way Back from Bankruptcy to Growth

“We begin with projections from the territories. We look at pre-season orders, and then set targets by sku of what we want to knit,” Cabot explained. “We can make real-time adjustments based on real-time demand, so the system is pretty robust, and it allows us to modify the schedule. If we think Glacier Socks are going to be a huge hit, we can adjust our orders because we do manufacturing right here.”

Darn Tough Vermont is pretty sophisticated on the business analytics side of things.  You don’t have to be an MBA student to understand the language and machinations of the global economy, but it helps.  Cabot is describing concepts like demand management, strategic sourcing, and responsive planning.  Let’s just say that behind every successful manufacturing enterprise, there’s some darn serious software solution.

Darn Tough’s business sophistication meets social commitment when we talk about Ric Cabot’s regard for family legacy and the livelihood of his employees.  Cabot has a bit of an old school sense of responsibility to the families he supports by way of employment.

“We know our employees are punching the clock for their spouse, their boyfriend, their kids, their elderly parents,” Cabot says in the Boston Globe piece.

darntough_harriets_general ad

This feels almost as warm and fuzzy – in a good way –  as a pair of his Merino wool and nylon socks in the middle of winter.

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