" My grandfather was in the sock business , and my dad is in the sock business," says Ric Cabot , owner of Vermont-based Darn Tough Socks .
"I'm a third-generation sock maker . People appreciate that kind of commitment from a family, the commitment to building a business and growing it. We will never sell out to a bigger company. We will never move overseas and turn our backs on the families who depend on us ," promises Ric Cabot. "Never".
Ric Cabot's father, Marc, opened Cabot Hosiery Mills in 1978. The company primarily made wool socks for other brands at its Northfield, Vermont, plant, and knitted for Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Limited. Ric joined the company in 1989, abandoning journalism for the thriving family business. Then with globalization trade restrictions changed and Cabot Hosiery went bankrupt . Creditors threatened to close the plant. "I knew that if this company was going to move on to a fourth generation Cabot, something had to change ," Ric recalls.
"I thought about it a thousand times and realized that we would never be the cheapest, but that we could make the tightest, most comfortable and most durable performance socks ." Ric called them Darn Tough , like the people of Vermont. "But the name meant more than strong socks," Cabot says. "To me, it meant - and means - that I can't fail; I can't give up . It's also a source of inspiration . I want people to feel like they can take on the world in Darn Tough socks. Put some Darn Tough on your feet and you can take on difficult challenges , go the extra mile, reach a great summit . The name means we are here with you. We understand the struggle. Our socks are very durable and if they are not enough for you we keep our promise of a lifetime guarantee .
To launch Darn Tough, Cabot purchased the best merino wool from New Zealand and the most modern knitting machines with the smallest needles. He hired highly skilled sock-making staff , some of whom had been making socks for 30 years. They experimented until they knitted a high-density, low-volume sock with more than twice as many stitches as other socks . They then distributed 3,500 pairs of socks at the Key Bank Vermont City Marathon, with an unconditional guarantee: If they break, you can return them for another pair. "A lot of people wrote to us that they liked the fit, the feel, and that even though they had never run in our socks, they didn't have any blisters ," Cabot recalls.
Although Darn Tough has grown steadily at around 60% each year, its rate of return is still only a fraction of one percent. Cabot still reads all the emails they receive about their socks. "When we get feedback," says Cabot, " we take this data and turn it into better socks ."
Cabot now employs 170 Vermonters , and the company just submitted plans to the city of Norwich, Vermont, to triple the size of its plant . This means more jobs in a community with high unemployment and many of those unemployed are former factory workers.
"Being tough, being smart is the story of Vermont," says Cabot. "We've done a good job, and we can do even better. I don't want to be successful, I just want to be successful. For me, success means that I've reached the end, that I've done the best I can . But I haven't done our job yet. " best sock ." Cabot and his team are slowly improving Darn Tough. We knit basically the same way as in the early days of the brand, now we use lighter yarns , low micron merino wool and more durable synthetics in the socks, all with the goal of making you forget you're wearing them. When Darn Tough improves the fit, comfort, or durability of a sock, it improves this feature across all 1,600 styles. Therefore, the brand experience remains the same across all categories.
Cabot is passionate. "The market appreciates quality," he says. "When you decide to outsource manufacturing processes to make them cheaper , you take away hope , the hope of helping yourself and your family . We are one more link in the community in which we live and if our neighbors do poorly, we too ”.