Here on the App Gear Co team, we practice what we preach: our employees love to work hard, but play harder...and love to rock our All-Paca Performance apparel while doing so. Because we love getting to know our customers, from hearing their stories to following along on their adventures, we wanted to give our customers a chance to get to know us: the exuberant, passionate, adventurous people who make the App Gear Co machine run. So...here’s a peek into the life of John, our co-founder.
John started his career with a Fortune 500 textile manufacturing company, developing and producing fabrics for several different industries and many well-known apparel brands. Over the years, he saw American textile apparel manufacturing eventually lost to offshoring, but always hoped to re-enter the apparel industry. Hence, Appalachian Gear Company was born. But this lifelong outdoorsman brings more than just textile know-how to the company; he also brings a curious spirit, endless energy, and a true love of the outdoors.
What is your favorite piece of outdoor gear?
Other than my All-Paca garments, which I wear all of the time, my favorite piece of gear is my Big Agnes Fish Hawk sleeping bag. I’ve had it for years and it’s never let me down.
When has App Gear Co apparel saved the day for you?
I haven’t been on a long backpacking trip since we started to develop the All-Paca Fabric, because we’ve been working so hard! LOL! So, I guess AppGearCo apparel has saved the day for me day-in and day-out for the last 4 years, because it’s my mission – otherwise I might be jobless! (The last trip for me was Wind River/Titcomb Basin in 2015…Will I EVER get back there???? Please help…)
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to go to some remote mountainous region that has never been explored. Not sure if that exists anymore.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have perfect color acuity. It’s been tested frequently over the years. Now that I wear reading glasses, I’m not sure anymore – but in a shade-matching contest, I still won’t back down!
What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
Backpacking. In the mountains. Any mountains.
Worst outdoor experience?
My youngest son (at 12 or 13) got lost on a backpacking trip while trying to find one of his friends, who had also gotten lost. I found the friend, and then searched for my son as the temperatures went down along with the sun. My son was only wearing a lightweight Tee, because he had dropped his pack so that he could move faster. The sun went down, the temps dropped to 30° F, and I hiked 12-15 miles in the dark along various gorges and through river crossings – along every trail I could find – and could not find him. Finally, as I was almost completely exhausted, and at this point with the added help of another young person who urged me to keep going, we saw the faint glow of a campfire, and went towards it. My son had the presence of mind earlier to also go toward the campfire and found some fishermen who gave him warm food and shelter. So, as it turns out, he used his backcountry training and was never afraid, and never panicked. All turned out well, but it was certainly a frantic and scary time for me. The irony of the story is that he became lost initially when another fisherman pointed him down the wrong trail looking for his friend!
Favorite camping spot?
The Roan Highlands and the Grayson Highlands are two of my favorite spots in the world.
If you were to only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Fried chicken, fried okra, sweet corn, and cornbread. Don’t publish this where my doctor can see it.
What are you reading?
Mostly textile research since starting AppGearCo. Anything I can find. It’s been hard to read fiction/non-fiction the past few years – but when I actually have time to read books, it is generally non-fiction, like history subjects or biographies.
What are you watching?
Yellowstone. Kevin Costner…
What are you listening to?
Depends on the day/mood. Most often it’s Bluegrass/Newgrass, Blues, or the Subdudes.
Drink of choice?
Coffee, and lots of it.
Best gift you’ve ever gotten?
My two boys, courtesy of my wife.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I told myself to get off of my ass and start another textile company before I get too old. Some people say I don’t listen to advice, LOL…
Who is your outdoor idol?
My sons. They are highly accomplished outdoorsmen, and when I am with them, everything is OK.
Top hack, outdoor or otherwise?
I file the brass ball-ends of old electric guitar strings and use them as string guides to reduce the string angle going thru the electric guitar – and that increases string life and keeps them in tune longer.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What can’t you live without?
My All-Paca shirt, of course.
What’s one thing you do EVERY day, without fail?
Forget something. Every day.
Appalachian Gear Company. Couldn’t have done it without my partner Mike or the support of my family who know I will risk every dime for things I believe in. The long-term success of Appalachian Gear is still unknown – but we accomplished something that started with an idea that had been unachievable by anyone prior to our introduction of All-Paca fabric. So, regardless of what happens in the future, we won in a very definitive way.