All 55 of us here at TOM BIHN — design, manufacturing, shipping, customer service, photography, web team — work in the same 16,000 square foot location. We collaborate, problem-solve and innovate in ways that are only made possible by sharing the same space. We think this results in a better bag for you, and it’s more fun for us too.
How We Began
When Tom was 10 years old, he asked his parents for help in getting the equipment he wanted for hiking and camping. They suggested two options: get an after-school job and earn money to buy it, or "just figure out how to make it yourself." Tom chose the second option. His grandmother had an old Singer home sewing machine which his brother Dan helped get running; Tom's mom taught him how to sew and his dad provided the foundations of the necessary engineering.
And the rest is history: Tom has spent the last 40 years designing and making backpacks, travel bags, and briefcases.
You're as much part of this as we are. I mean, think about it: the fact that you buy our bags allows us to exist as a company. And that you use our bags and provide constructive feedback on how they either work or don’t work for you helps us to build a better bag. We literally couldn't be doing what we do without you. Thank you.
Our Own Way
Here's a few things to know about us and how we work:
Our company is big enough that we can do cool things like develop our own fabrics while small enough that it still feels like we’re one big family. Our capacity is limited and we don't have plans to significantly increase it. That means that you can expect many of our bags to be In-Stock while other bags are In Production. Read more about that here.
Our creativity is what drives us — and we make space for it. Doing stuff like working on new designs, developing new materials, improving existing internal procedures, programming our own software, updating the website, taking new photos — we do it ourselves because A) we’re kinda control freaks and B) we love our work.
We think experience counts. Tom has spent over four decades designing and making bags. In his early days, he often repaired bags made by other manufacturers. That’s a whole lotta learning over many years about what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to bag design and fabrication. We use that experience to make a bag that will better serve you.
Back in 2013, we wrote down some aspects of our company philosophy and made it into a book. Some of the people we work with asked us to make a public version and in 2016, we did.
Here's an excerpt:
"Coworkers, boss, manager, customer, delivery person and anyone else you deal with during your work day: imagine yourself in one of their positions and try to see things from their perspective. Gain some understanding of what it looks like on the other side of things. And, hey, don’t just imagine it: if you wonder something, ask. Being curious is a wonderful thing to be: it frees you from the burden of thinking you know everything! Ask Bob our UPS driver: “How’s the holiday season busyness going so far for you?” or, ask him if it works better for him if we stack boxes “this way” versus “that way.” Most folks will be pleasantly surprised by how you're paying attention."
Read more: Our Company Philosophy