1939

Winnipeg Pants and Manufacturing Ltd. formed

wpmc
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In the early days, business was tough. World War II had begun making it difficult to source fabric and it became even harder to sell wares. This made Abraham work even harder to support his family. Many mornings, employees showed up at work to find him sleeping on the cutting table. He decided to call on an old friend who was a buyer for the historic Eaton’s Department Stores to see if he would be interested in making a deal. After a long conversation, he was told to “leave the pants here and you’ll get some business”. Returning to the factory, which had four sewing machines and a cutting table, Abraham waited for the phone to ring.

Towards the end of 1939, Abraham checked the mail one Saturday to find a brown envelope containing an order for 30 pairs of black denim pants from Eaton’s mail order. On Monday, he found a few more orders. Business was finally starting to come in, giving Abraham the ability to obtain credit to help him grow his business. By the early 1950s, Eaton’s even started to pre-pay for orders and Abraham could expand his production to include new items like jackets, vests and knits.

1960

David Rich joins the business and Richlu Sportswear formed

Original Richlu Sportswear Logo
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In the early 1960s, manufacturing demands increased and it became apparent that more space was needed. Abraham created another company called Richlu Sportswear which would focus on making parkas. He rented space in another building that would house a few employees and cutting tables. During this time, Abraham’s son, David Rich, joined the company to learn all aspects of the company and to help run the new Richlu business.

1966

Adelaide Street building is purchased

Richlu building drawing
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With orders growing, Abraham purchased a building on Adelaide Street in the historic Exchange District of Winnipeg. It would later become the company’s Canadian manufacturing centre and head office once the businesses merged together to become Richlu Manufacturing.

1970

Work King created

Work King Canada logo
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During the 1970s, the manufacturing line expanded with new styles and fabrics. Aviator jackets, down parkas and rawhides were introduced. It was also around this time that David came up with the idea for a workwear line called Work King. It quickly became a staple for many Canadians who considered the shirts and jackets a go-to. Being a busy time, David needed extra help. He brought his two year-old son, Gavin, to count buttons and to start learning the business. Gavin ended up doing everything over the years from going on sales trips with David to working with fabric rolls to sweeping the floors. It was during this time that Gavin’s passion for the business grew.

1989

Tough Duck introduced to the marketplace

Tough Duck logo
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The 1980s saw Richlu become a major player in the down business and the entire garment industry started to take note of the quality of the clothing being produced there. Large and small department stores throughout Canada started using the company to design and manufacturer their clothing lines. And this continues today.

By the late 1980s, changes in manufacturing, exploration and urban expansion were happening throughout Canada. This change created a prime opportunity to introduce a premium apparel brand to the marketplace. In 1989, Tough Duck was introduced, focusing on creating clothing from work through play. These clothes would withstand the toughest job sites, the toughest climates and the toughest adventures. Around this time, iconic styles like the 1937 Quilt Lined Vest and the 7537 Lined Overall were forged.

1991

David Rich becomes president

David Rich sitting at his desk in black and white
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As Tough Duck grew, Abraham decided at the age of 80 that it was time to hang up his pants. His son, David took over the reigns in 1991 and his first order of business was to modernize the machinery to keep up with increased demands. It was also around this time that waterproof knees were added to Tough Duck overalls and other apparel based on feedback received from consumers.

1995

Gavin Rich joins the company

David and Gavin black and white
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As 1995 rolled around, business was increasing at a very fast clip. David invited his son Gavin for lunch and told him he needed his help. After many years in the entertainment industry learning about branding, communications and relationship management, Gavin felt it was time to join the company as Vice President of Sales and help take it to the next level. He became the third generation President in 2011.

2006

Work King Safety is born

Work King Safety Logo
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One of the pillars at Richlu is innovation. In 2001, the company became one of the first to source fabric and to manufacture in Asia. As the decade progressed, Europe became increasingly important. In 2005, Richlu jackets and pants took off in Europe demonstrating the design power of the company. In Europe, numerous safety clothing laws were established for work sites in Europe. Spotting an opportunity, in 2006 Gavin fused the company’s Work King brand into Work King Safety and launched a line of high visibility safety clothing.

2011

Gavin Rich becomes a third generation President

Portrait of Gavin Rich in black and white
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After the success of the Work King Safety transition, Gavin Rich became President. He continues to focus on expanding the company’s presence in the United States and on the innovation of new and innovative product lines.

2018

Tough Duck work boots launched

Tough Duck Adelaide work boots in black
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In 2018, Tough Duck introduced its first line of work boots to help ensure people are protected from head to toe.

Dark Brown Tough Duck work boots close up front view