Local Spotlight: Oregon Glove Company
We had the awesome opportunity to speak with Oregon Glove company about their history, products, plans, and what it means to be rooted right here in the Pacific Northwest. This story hits extra hard for me, as they are based out of my hometown of Salem, Oregon. We truly take so much pride in working with local, passionate brands and are excited to share more of their story.
When, where, how, and why was the company founded?
The Myers Glove Company was originally founded by the Myers family of Salem in the early 1900’s. In Post-War 1948 they built their factory on 12th street as a small manufacturer of quality leather gloves. America was just starting to recover from the depravations of World War II and the Willamette Valley was rich in farming, logging and construction jobs for the men and women willing to move here. Those jobs needed quality gloves and the Myers family provided them to the local retail market.
How has the company evolved over the years and what values have remained?
In 1960 the Myers family sold the business to North Star Glove Company based in Tacoma Washington and changed the name to The Oregon Glove Company. At that time Oregon Glove was still mainly manufacturing gloves and sold some gloves at a small counter in the front of the workroom. In 1996 the company was sold to the current owner Dean Catherman who retained the Oregon Glove Company name. All the owners had one tradition they kept throughout the years... Quality Gloves Made in Oregon and friendly, personal service for all customers.
Oregon Glove Company has expanded its retail store to include the largest variety of work gloves in the Pacific Northwest catering to industrial, agricultural, automotive and homecare needs. Most recently opening an online store, FaceBook page and Instagram.
What makes your product and processes different?
The Made in Oregon gloves are hand made right here in the store so we can control the process and craftsmanship. Dean Catherman takes special care hand picking the leather that goes into making The Oregon Glove. Oregon Glove does not make cowhide leather gloves, instead, we choose to make the majority of our driver gloves from Goatskin. Goatskin is stronger than Cowhide. Works harder. We also make small quantities of Deerskin and Elk skin gloves. We are able to create custom fit ‘bespoke’ gloves for our customers. We customize gloves for special needs such as amputee, arthritis, cancer sleeves. We take pride in making sure the glove fits the job and the customer.
Oregon Glove also carries a large variety of imported gloves to support the needs of all the customers. Rubber gripped gloves for industrial uses. Disposable nitrile and latex gloves for medical exams, tattoo artists and mechanics. String knit gloves as liners. Chemical resistant gloves for spraying pesticides, etc.
What does it mean to you, to be based in the Pacific Northwest?
Dean Catherman’s parents were farmers in South Dakota, after losing everything during the Dust Bowl in 1935 they pulled up stakes and moved to Oregon looking for work in 1936. Here they laid down strong roots and raised their family in the Carlton area where Dean and his sisters were born. The parents, Charles “Bud” and Ruth Catherman built a small farm, raised three children and lived off the land, Dean often says, “We didn’t have much, but we didn’t know that,” Bud sold tires and occasionally did mechanic work on trucks while Ruth worked as a nurse’s aid. Dean was raised with strong work values on the farm. He and his two sisters CallaJean and MaryJo went to school in McMinnville. Dean’s first job with The Portland Glove Company was in June 1960. He worked his way up to managing the company before it was sold to a Midwest Glove company. He has been in the glove business ever since. Dean was proud to serve in the Army National Guard 1963 - 1969 and was stationed at Fort Lawton, Washington during the Vietnam War.
We asked Dean if he ever wanted to live any where else and the answer is a very resounding “NO! Oregon has everything, ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes… I’ll visit the other states but Oregon is Home.”
Could you talk about what it means to you to make a product by hand? The connection that it makes between brand and customer?
Oregon Glove does not make cowhide leather gloves, but instead we choose to make the majority of our driver gloves from Goatskin. Goatskin is stronger than Cowhide. Works harder. We love to tell our customers a pair of our Silver and Tan Goatskin Gloves can strip the thorns off of a blackberry vine. They don’t shrink and get stiff like cowhide gloves after they get wet.
A customer calling or coming into our store can expect to have their questions answered in full. There is nothing we like better than to talk gloves and leather with our customers to make sure they are buying the gloves most suited to their needs and the application of the job. Dean has more than 50 years of experience in the glove business and has enjoyed every minute.
We do make a small quantity of Deerskin and Elkskin gloves. Many times a customer comes into the store with hides that their uncle/father/grandfather had stored in the attic/garage/chest for many years and asks us to make keepsake gloves for the family members. Some of the hides were even tanned by the Myers family, the original owners of the store. One of the services we offer is making custom gloves for special needs such as amputees. With the help of a doctor we developed a custom made goatskin glove with a long sleeve for cancer survivors so they can continue to enjoy working out in the garden with out fear of infection from a scratch.
We take pride in making sure the glove fits the job and the customer.
What does quality mean to you?
Gloves that fit well, feel good on your hands, do the job they were meant to be used for and don’t fall apart in just a few days. I have several pair of my gloves and they are several years old… my wife keeps asking me when I’m going to throw them away… I tell her… they’re not done yet… when they have holes then I’ll get rid of them.
What have been your largest goals and what are some into the future?
1. Keep making a glove that the customer can’t do without!
2. Expand our Made in Oregon Glove production line.
3. Let people know about our story and expand our brand
How do you work with the community?
We embrace our community and find ways to give back where we can. We support and donate to the Salem Union Gospel Mission, Future Farmers of America, Salem SAR dog trainers, and local churches in need. We also offer tours to Senior Services, schools, boy scouts to educate them about leather and glove making.
Overall, we left this conversation incredibly inspired. To know that there is a company that holds these values and creates such quality products not only our own backyard, but in my own hometown, honestly gives me shivers. They have not only a wonderful story but they are doing wonderful things. Why should we support our local small business, makers, artists... and more? Because of people like this.
Please visit the below links to learn more!
Thank you everyone! #pnwonderand