BLAUER COMPANY HISTORY
1936 – Blauer’s Beginning as a Contract Sewing Company
Blauer Manufacturing was founded in 1936 by Louis Blauer as a contract sewing company providing no-label garments to several companies in the Boston area. The initial patterns included golf jackets and sport coats, among other garments. As the business grew, so did the factory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Fifty people worked in the factory, using manual spreading machines and wooden horses to carry fabric throughout the building. The workforce in the original factory was diverse. The first and second generation Blauer family, including Louis and his sons Aaron, Maurice, and Charles, worked alongside individuals from Poland, Portugal, and Greece to create quality apparel that was then sold to other companies.
1950-1975 – The Development of the Blauer Brand
In 1950, Maurice completed Graduate School and returned to Blauer to become a Sales Manager. Upon Maurice’s return to the business Blauer began to develop its own label and garments. The Blauer brand started with a line of civilian rainwear that was sold to department stores across the country.
While Blauer was working with department stores, Maurice was also serving as a Reserve Army Officer in the Supply Division. Through this position, Maurice spent time developing a lightweight, military raincoat – taupe in color, double-breasted, and made with lightweight nylon. The raincoat was utilized by military personnel across the country including the Commanding General of the 26 th National Guard Division of Massachusetts who also served as the Head of the Massachusetts State Police. When he found out that the rain coat was made in Massachusetts, he visited the factory in Cambridge and asked if the coat could be made in navy blue for the State Police. After some revisions, including removal of the original belt and extension of the pocket welt from 6 inches to 10 inches to properly access a weapon, we made our first garment for law enforcement – a navy blue rain coat for the Massachusetts State Police, originally called the #732.
After the creation of our first law enforcement jacket, we began experimenting with fluorescent orange and yellow fabrics that were being used for down-sea survival suits. Blauer created the first hi-vis orange police raincoat with a detachable cape that went over the coat and protected liquid sealed seams, called the 633V. The coat was adopted by the New York State Police and the Connecticut State Police for their troopers to keep officers visible in low-light conditions. This garment slowly evolved into the classic Blauer reversible raincoat, the 733, made with a black and orange side to adapt to different occasions that an officer may need a functional outerwear garment. Blauer’s line of outerwear continued to develop – for civilians, the military, and police. We created a waist-length jacket with an elastic waistband, zip-out liner, and detachable pile collar.
After a successful venture into the public safety apparel market through the creation of rainwear for multiple departments in the Northeast, Blauer continued to grow. In the 1960s, Blauer began to shift its efforts towards the uniform business and lessened sales to department stores and the military. After Maurice’s retirement, Charles took over the company and ended the military and post-exchange business to focus on the public safety apparel market entirely.
1975-2000 – A New Generation and Increased Focus on Public Safety
Charles’ children, Michael, Stephen, Sharyn, and Bill, joined the company and further fostered the growing presence of Blauer as a premier public safety uniform company. In 1976, Michael joined Blauer at the factory level and later took over responsibility for production in 1981. In 1985, Stephen joined the family business. Currently, Michael is Blauer’s President and Stephen serves as a Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Bill as the National Sales Manager, and Sharyn as the Director of Sales Support Services.
During this time, Blauer created many different police rainwear styles, including men’s and women’s options in multiple lengths and fabrics. In the 1980s, we created a new line of lightweight rainwear made with TECH-LITE material which was a revolutionary urethane coated waterproof fabric. Blauer produced the first coated nylon Reefer coat that replaced the woolen police coats of the time, and developed its best-selling hip length style #255 winter jacket, with a number of innovations. In 1988, Blauer introduced public safety outerwear garments with lighter fabrics and a Gore-Tex® waterproof breathable membrane.
Since 1990, Blauer has been awarded more than a dozen US patents for garment innovation and design. We improved production practices, adding team-manufacturing systems, and also became certified to the international quality standard ISO 9000. We were the first company to be certified to NFPA 1999, 1997 edition standards for outerwear with CROSSTECH fabric and were the first uniform company to utilize GORE-TEX and GORE WINDSTOPPER materials for public safety use. Because of the constant pursuit of the highest quality police uniforms and outerwear, Blauer expanded its personnel, manufacturing facilities, and attention to detail and personalization – opening numerous factories in Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas adding to the corporate headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.
2000s – Expansion and Technological Advancement
Following the turn of the 21 st century Blauer began further innovating manufacturing practices and product development, looking overseas to lower costs and improve quality. SWM Company, a Blauer factory in Oxford, Mississippi, transitioned from manufacturing to customization and distribution of products in 2003.
After establishing a strong domestic presence, Blauer began pursuing international opportunities in the early 2000s. Blauer established Operadora Ganso Azul of Merida, Mexico in 1999, which employs more than 600 people and manufacturers Blauer shirts, trousers, and accessories. In 2000, Blauer signed an exclusive agreement with FGF, a fashion house in Italy, licensing them to use the Blauer authentic designs for fashion garments in Europe and Japan. Blauer's Canadian licensee, Martin and Levesque, has been building the Blauer uniform brand in Canada for over 10 years.
In 2008, Blauer entered the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear/Hazardous Materials Persoanl Protective Equipment (CBRN/HAZMAT PPE) market with the launch of three protective ensembles made with a revolutionary fabric technology called CHEMPAK, which is produced by W.L. Gore & Associates. Blauer’s commercialization of Gore’s CHEMPAK fabrics propelled it to a leading position in both market share and exposure among our target markets of U.S. Public safety and UASI regions as well as the Defense Department’s CBRN Response Enterprise (CRE). Blauer has been awarded multiple R&D grants from the federal government’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office - Technical Support Working Group (CTTSO-TSWG). The CRBN/HAZMAT program continues to grow, with constant progression and technological advancement.
Stephen’s daughter Alexandra joined Blauer as the Director of Marketing in 2009. Ali expanded Blauer’s presence through digital marketing and online ordering options. She represents the fourth generation of the Blauer family to join the business.
2016 – 80 Years of Innovation
In 2016, Blauer celebrates 80 years in business and four generations of family leadership and contributions. Charles currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of the company, with four of his six children and a granddaughter joining him in our Boston office. Blauer has always prided itself on high quality products. Technologically, our apparel, outerwear, and footwear excel beyond our major competitors. Blauer was built by generations working in the factory, examining product and fabric technology, and constantly innovating. We continue to listen to the needs and wants of law enforcement professionals and look for new opportunities to create products that you need – from uniforms to outerwear, boots, and accessory products.
Throughout our 80-year history, Blauer employees and law enforcement agencies across the country have allowed the company to evolve from a sewing contractor to a prominent fixture in the uniform industry. Today, Blauer garments are worn by the most prestigious public safety agencies in the US and Canada including the US Secret Service (White House), and US Capitol Police, NYPD, LAPD, Baltimore, Chicago, DC, and Philadelphia Police departments, OPP, California Highway Patrol, and our very own Boston Police Department.
We wish we could take sole credit for our leadership position in the public safety uniform market, but without the constant support and guidance we’ve received from the men and woman in the law enforcement, fire/ems, and military communities over the past 80 years we wouldn’t be where we are today.