Hewlett-Packard, Mattel, and Apple Computer – what do these companies all have in common? They started in someone’s house or garage and have grown into multi-billion dollar corporations. The bag company, Timbuk2, was also started in a someone’s home, but unlike those other companies, they have chosen to keep the design and manufacturing of a number of their products close to where it all began for them in San Francisco, California.
Started in 1989, with a meager investment of $200 by then bike messenger Rob Honeycutt, Timbuk2 has grown from producing bicycle handlebar bags to manufacturing some of the toughest messenger bags on the market. Today, not every item produced by Timbuk2 is made in America, only those in their custom line. This line includes a few messenger bags, a laptop sleeve, a cargo tote, and a backpack – each available “to order” in 30 different ballistic nylons, five different higher-performance materials, and/or more than 10 different, patterned specialty fabrics. These choices, added to the signature three-panel design utilized in almost every Timbuk2 bag, may just mean that you will never see another bag that looks exactly like the one that you custom order.
Though they have chosen to move their ready-made bags overseas to Asia, there are a number of different reasons that they have kept the a manufacturing staff in San Francisco, as detailed on their website:
Local manufacturing enables us to sew and ship custom bags in 2 – 3 business days. And if the customer is in San Francisco, we can do same-day manufacturing and delivery. Other huge advantages of manufacturing locally include in-house sampling, real-time problem solving, maintaining in-house patterning and sewing skill, proximity (i.e. our entire team is in one building), low minimums (i.e. we can experiment!) and speed to market.
Currently Timbuk2 employs nearly 60 people at their San Francisco home – designing, marketing, selling, and manufacturing from their current Mission District location, not far from where Rob started back in 1989. A lot has changed in the 20 years since their first messenger bag appeared, but with the materials and construction techniques that they use, it is quite possible that a few of their bags are almost as old.
Each bag from Timbuk2 has a lifetime guarantee, which means that the bag could possibly outlast the “tastes” of the owner. To encourage the recycling of older bags, they implemented a program that benefits the customer and those less fortunate in San Francisco. For those customers that mail-in there old Timbuk2 bag, they will receive a 20-percent-off coupon good for a future purchase and the old bag will be donated to At The Crossroads, an organization that helps the homeless of San Francisco.
Those who do not like to throw their money away will appreciate the rugged construction of all of the Timbuk2 products. Though the roots of Timbuk2 started in the bike messenger world of San Francisco, being a messenger yourself is certainly not a requirement for those wanting a tough bag with a little style. If you are currently looking for a bag to carry your laptop, tablet, or just the groceries, check out the made in America custom line of products from Timbuk2.