How Embroidered Caps Help Make the Trans Alaskan Pipeline

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1974 was the start of the Cap industry in the United States.

The most significant embroidered cap orders were from 1974 to 1975, sold on the Alaska Pipeline.

Caps in those days were not popular. It was a working man thing.

This brings us to the Trans Alaska Pipeline Project in Alaska. This project was held up for years while the lower 48 was starved for oil.

Government Regulations

Despite after years of fighting with the government and environmentalists. The Trans Alaska Pipeline project was approve by Congress and signed by President Nixon. May 1975 was the project’s start date and the cap industry’s birth.

Government Regulations
Prudhoe Bay Alaska Keeping America Independent

71,000 Pipeline Workers

Housing was built before construction started. Furthermore, there were 31 man camps to house the workers, 71,000 total. Each camp had a canteen stocked with personal items and trucker caps. The caps were an afterthought.

Cap Selection Was Sparse In Alaska

Cap selection was limited to a basic snapback Trucker Cap with the Trans Alaska Pipeline Project patch on the front. Logo caps were to become the trademark of the Trans Alaska Pipeline Project.

Can you imagine a customer base earning a fantastic amount of money and having no place to spend it? This was the only souvenir item they could buy and take home. Belt Buckles, tee shirts, and whatever was an afterthought.

Transporting Caps to the Pipeline

Getting caps was now a problem. Somehow the caps had to get to Alaska and into the camps. Furthermore, shipping the caps to Anchorage and trucking the Haul Road to the construction caps was challenging. This made it necessary to find a canteen manager who would take the caps and sell them in their canteen (camp store). The camp contractor would oversee the supply and logistics to prevent cap interruption.

Map of Alaska
The pipeline started in Prudhoe Bay.

Caps, Cash, And Bootleg Booze

Everything was in place, all needed was to fill the camps with workers with boatloads of money and no place to spend it. Bootleg booze was the biggest seller on the pipeline. Despite getting caught meant immediate dismissal. Selling caps was harmless and not a problem.

Patch Beanies became another big hit with the workers.

Map of Alaska
Beanies are popular with the 71,000 workers in Alaska

In conclusion, from start to finish, over 100,000 caps were sold on the pipeline.

Times were good on the Trans Alaska Pipeline.

In conclusion, the Trans Alaska Pipeline project was the seed money for Northwest Custom Apparel.

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Antonio-Massey

Antonio Massey

Production Team: Folder

Antonio Massey recently joined NWCA in June of 2022. His role on the Production Team has greatly improved our processes and productivity. Antonio is always willing to lift heavy boxes or help his co-workers during busy times. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his dog and mastering video games.

Alicia-Wada

Alicia Wada

Shipping Clerk

Alicia Wada is passionate about helping her co-workers at Northwest Custom Apparel in any way that she can. She works in our Shipping and Logistics department. Alicia, who goes by Ali, has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics. She lived in Japan for ten years and recently brought her family to America in 2019. She is interested in learning crafts and textile art from around the world.

Erik-Mikelson

Erik Mickelson

Manager

Erik Mickelson’s position as Manager is more than a job, it’s a passion. It’s always fun and exciting because he enjoys marketing, computers, and coming up with innovative ideas to help NWCA grow. He majored in accounting and finance at Washington State University, graduating in 1996, and returned to school to obtain his Master of Business from WGU, graduating in 2016. Erik continually strives to advance his education through podcasts, audiobooks, and industry tradeshows. He is married to a remarkable and caring wife named Wendy, a Registered Nurse, with whom he shares his many hobbies and a love for the outdoors.

 

Ruth-Nhoung

Ruth Nhoung

Production Manager

Ruth Nhoung is our Production Manager and Northwest Custom Apparel is lucky to have her. Thanks to her vast knowledge of machine embroidery and dedication to creating a comfortable and supportive work environment, the production plant runs smoothly and customers are pleased with our work. She is a loving mother and grandmother and enjoys spending quality time with her siblings. She says, “I love everything about Northwest Custom Apparel: the people, the atmosphere, the work, and the customers. I love what I do and I embrace all of NWCA’s core values”.

Steve-Deland

Steve Deland

Art Director

Steve Deland has been our amazing Artist since 2017. He loves working at Northwest Custom Apparel because he appreciates the goal-oriented, progressive-thinking management style. He is most passionate about his art, which includes scroll saw woodwork, and his five grandchildren.

 

Taylar-Hanson

Taylar Hanson

Sales

Taylar Hanson is a highly acclaimed Saleswoman at Northwest Custom Apparel. She has a BA in Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles from Washington State University. “Go Cougs!” The best part of Taylar’s job is getting to work with longtime customers who trust us to do the best work and take care of their needs. She is passionate about appreciating nature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Nika-Lao

Nika Lao

Sales

Nika Lao is very knowledgeable in how the business is ran because she began as an Embroidery Machine Operator and has worked hard to become the excellent and personable saleswoman she is today. She enjoys the stress-free environment and the many chances to connect with her co-workers over potlucks, BBQs, and bowling parties. Nika is a proud sister of two highly successful brothers and can boast mastering three languages herself: Khmer, Thai, and English. She is an avid camper, enjoys going to farmer markets, and loves cooking.

Bradley-Wright

Bradley Wright

Accountant

Bradley Wright has been a vital team member of NWCA since 2017. As our accountant and knower-of-all-things, Bradley is proud to work closely with his wonderful colleagues. He studied at the University of Washington. These days he dedicates his free time to his new house.

Dominic-Nguyen

Dominic Nguyen

DTG Operator

Dominic Nguyen recently joined our Direct-To-Garment department. He says he loves the family work environment at Northwest Custom Apparel. In his free time, Dom likes to listen to music, hangout with friends, and play video games. He comes from a very big family which can be very chaotic at times, but is always exciting.

Sothea-Tann

Sothea Tann

Production Team: Trimmer

Sothea Tann recently joined the Production Team in 2022. She finds Northwest Custom Apparel to be a good working environment with helpful and friendly staff. In her free time, Sothea spends quality time with her family and, overall, focuses on a peaceful and happy lifestyle.

Brian-Beardsly

Brian Beardsley

DTG Supervisor

Brian Beardsley has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. He is our DTG Supervisor. Brian loves that he gets to work with high-tech machines in a fun atmosphere. He has a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. He said, “I always wanted to create visually interesting assets in a variety of mediums”. In his free time, he enjoys building and painting models, playing video games, designing, and playing his guitar.

UT-Tri-Tran

UT Tri Tran

Embroidery Machine Operator

UT Tri Tran loves Northwest Custom Apparel so much that, although she has already retired after a long career in machine embroidery operations, she is happy to return part time. She says, “I love the family style work environment and how everyone shares food, laughter, and fun on a regular basis.” In her free time she is dedicated to living a healthy and peaceful lifestyle with her friends and family.

Bunsereytheavy-Hoeu

BunsereytheavyHoeu

Embroidery Machine Operator

BunsereytheavyHoeu, who goes by Theavy, won our Operator of the Year in 2021. She takes on many roles in the production team. She says, “These are not my co-workers, these are my family! I cherish all the memories we make together”. When she goes home to be with her family, she makes the most of her time with them by holding family get-togethers and even karaoke competitions.

Sreynai-Meang

Sreynai Meang

Embroidery Machine Operator

SreynaiMeang is a hard-working Machine Operator. She is most passionate about helping people. Sreynai, who goes by Nai, likes to exercise in her free time and talk with her family in Cambodia.

Kanha-Chhorn

Kanha Chhorn

Embroidery Machine Operator

Kanha Chhorn has been an Embroidery Operator with Northwest Custom Apparel since 2018. She is delightful and always makes everyone smile and laugh. Kanha takes on additional tasks that allow us to exceed our customers’ expectations. In her free time, she can be found at her local temple or spending quality time with her family and friends.

Savy-Sorm

Savy Som

Embroidery Machine Operator

SavySom is one of our Machine Operators who is passionate about embroidery and sewing. She enjoys working at NWCA because of its flexibility. She has two teenage sons and loves spending time with her family on the weekends.

Sorphorn-Sorm

SorphornSorm

Embroidery Machine Operator

SorphornSorm has been a Machine Operator since 2011. One of her four sisters works here as well. Her other relatives are in Cambodia. In her free time, Sorphorn studies English, listens to music, and enjoys exercising.

Jim-Mickelson

Jim Mickelson

CEO

Jim Mickelson, after a successful career with a major oil company, founded Northwest Embroidery in 1977. This was the first commercial embroidery in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Jim has become the guru of embroidery never refusing to answer a question or offer advice to his fellow embroiders. Jim and his wife Leeanna raised four wonderful children who went on to successful business careers.

Northwest Custom Apparel
Northwest Custom Apparel
152 Google reviews
Janice Herron
Janice Herron
2024-02-09
Love their amazing customer service! From ordering over the phone, through email, or in person at Northwest Custom Apparel, everyone is very helpful, and very nice! Always! We have been ordering our apparel for our local small business through them for many years! Thank you Thank you!
Morgan Pero
Morgan Pero
2024-01-26
Excellent people, products and customer service!
Drew Halverson
Drew Halverson
2024-01-23
Great product offerings/results, swift communication, and helpful staff. Highly recommend!
Tim s
Tim s
2024-01-12
Northwest Custom apparel always does great work! We have been a customer for over 25 years and are always satisfied with the products we get!!
RPD
RPD
2024-01-12
NW Custom Apparel treats us like we’re their only customer! Everyone is always so friendly and helpful. They’re great!
Randy Birch
Randy Birch
2024-01-11
We us Northwest Custom Apparel for our work shirts and they are incredible. The staff is super friendly, the quality of workmanship is outstanding and they stand by the work they do. I love this place.
Heidi Christiansen
Heidi Christiansen
2024-01-10
Eve
Eve
2024-01-10
The company I work for has been buying custom apparel for the team members for years now. We love working with NW Custom Apparel because the process is easy, delivery is timely, and materials are high quality. Anytime I’ve ever had an issue, they’re quick to resolve it. We’ve purchased both embroidered items and DTG graphic tees. We’ve purchased blankets, shirts, jackets, hoodies, etc. Everything ends up looking super professional, and our team members always have positive things to say. Ally is always there at the warehouse with a smile and a friendly greeting when I pick up materials. She is so helpful and respectful. Taylar is a wonderful customer service rep. I’ve sent her some complicated orders—like 20 different items with all different colorways and styles or 150 items with three different styles—and she is so good at getting everything just right. I plan to continue purchasing from NW Custom for high-quality custom apparel.
Hoa DeBusk
Hoa DeBusk
2024-01-09
Have used them for years. Knowledgeable team that is always so helpful in recommending options or creating designs. Great quality too for embroidery or digital prints. Very happy with them as a vendor.
Stacey Perez
Stacey Perez
2024-01-09
We use Northwest Custom Apparel for all of our professional embroidery needs for the orthodontic office I work at. They do great work, are quick and have never missed a deadline. Highly recommend if you need any custom apparel needs.