Duluth Pack, represented by Tom Sega, was the only Minnesota company at a U.S. Senate forum Wednesday featuring businesses that help local companies.

By: Candace Renalls

Duluth Pack’s President Tom Sega probably made an impression during his appearance Wednesday before a Senate forum in Washington.

Sega was the only one who brought along his product — a Duluth Pack bag with a lifetime guarantee — to the session featuring 25 successful businesses that help local economies.

He brought his own pack, 15 years old and still in good shape.

But Klobuchar has been impressed by Duluth Pack’s other products as well.

“I kept talking about the Minnesota bison purses,” Klobuchar said, hoping to get the women in the room interested.

It was fresh on her mind. During her “Made in America” tour in Minnesota last month, Klobuchar stopped at Duluth Pack headquarters in Lincoln Park and got a closer look at the packs sewn by hand. She liked what she saw so much that she made sure Duluth Pack was among the businesses at the forum Wednesday attended by 15 senators. Duluth Pack, which has been making outdoor gear for 130 years, was the only Minnesota company at the forum.

By hearing from the businesses, senators hoped to learn what businesses need in order to add jobs and boost manufacturing.

The group discussed ways to increase production by cutting red tape and developing a skilled work force. They talked about ways to make starting up businesses easier, which can unlock new industries.

According to Klobuchar, Sega did a good job telling how he took over the company in his 20s. He talked about the need to make credit from banks more available to businesses and the need for skilled workers. He said he had worked with the community colleges to make sure they offer classes in skills he needs in workers. And he talked about importance of exporting goods to grow, especially when homemade products are becoming hot now.

Klobuchar said the subject is a policy priority for her.

“My priority for years now is to make things in America, to become a country that makes things again,” she said. “And Duluth has some amazing examples, including Epicurean (Cutting Services), Duluth Pack and Cirrus (Aircraft).”