Kokatat, a premiere manufacturer of technical apparel and accessories for water sports based in Arcata, is celebrating 40 years of handcrafted innovation this year.

“When other technical brands were moving their manufacturing offshore, we made the decision to continue to invest in our own infrastructure in the US,” said Steve O’Meara, Kokatat founder and CEO. “By keeping manufacturing in Humboldt County we’ve been more flexible and provided better service to our dealers.”

Kokatat’s hands-on approach to manufacturing has allowed the company to quickly respond to market demands and keep a close watch on product quality.

More than 90% of Kokatat’s global sales are generated from apparel and accessories that are manufactured in Kokatat’s factory in Arcata. With a just-in-time manufacturing strategy, Kokatat is able to control its inventory and react to market demands much faster than competitors who manufacture offshore. This strategy ensures product availability the entire season without having to stock unnecessary excess inventory of finished goods.

The strategy has paid off. Kokatat has annually been named as one of the top customer service and dealer service brands in the paddlesports and outdoor industry.

“When we started out, the decision to keep manufacturing local was a business decision,” added O’Meara. “We’ve since found that sewing “Made in USA” into our garments, was also a socially and environmentally responsible decision as well.”

Thanks to domestic manufacturing, Kokatat has been able to maintain a low carbon footprint relative to many other outdoor apparel brands that source goods offshore. Kokatat further reduced its impact this year when it activated one of the region’s largest private solar photovoltaic systems, enough to run much of the company’s manufacturing equipment.