Jason Schott, fourth-generation owner of Schott Bros. Inc.
Based in: Union, N.J.
# of employees: 100
A century after it was founded, Schott Bros. Inc. is still committed to making its iconic jackets in the U.S. It even sources American cowhides for its leatherwear, said Jason Schott, owner and chief operating officer.
Schott's great-grandfather started the business in New York City in 1913, selling fur-lined raincoats door to door. As its product line evolved, the firm introduced a black leather motorcycle jacket called "The Perfecto."
"My great-grandfather added a zipper to the jacket and it took off," said Schott. The jackets' popularity soared as celebrities like Marlon Brando wore them. Over the years, the company also supplied American-made leather jackets and peacoats to the U.S. Army. Schott later added nylon jackets and sweaters to its product line, but those are made overseas because finding a U.S. manufacturer proved too difficult.
In early 2000, sales slowed, the business became unwieldy and workers were laid off, said Schott. But as enthusiasm for goods made in the U.S. has surged, sales have revived.
Continuing to manufacture its jackets in the U.S. is tricky, because "we're also losing American suppliers of leather, wool, zippers and trims," said Schott. But, he added, "that's still our competitive advantage because it allows us to make products quickly."