One hundred and twenty-five years ago, Rainier Industries was founded as Puget Sound Tent & Duck on the Seattle waterfront. We could not be more excited to celebrate our history, our success, and all of the incredible experiences achieved thanks to our customers, employees, and community.
Generations of Success
One hundred and twenty-five years is a huge milestone for our team. As a family-owned company, we are thrilled to celebrate this milestone with our proud customers and employees.
Today, Rainier is known as a diverse and unique manufacturing company. However, you can’t have 125 years of company success without generations of owners.
In 1896, Rainier was established by Henry Carstens, under the name Puget Sound Tent & Duck. The company was located on the Seattle waterfront and sold tents and camping equipment to gold miners heading north to Alaska for the Gold Rush.
In 1916, soon after George Schaffer returned from fighting in Work War I, he purchased Puget Sound Tent & Duck, owning and operating it from 1918 to 1962.
In 1963, around the time The Beatles’ released their first record, the term “personal computer” was first mentioned in the media, and John F. Kennedy became the 35th President of the United States, Albert Cox and Bob Campbell purchased and renamed the company to Puget Sound Tent & Awning.
Following this transition, Albert Cox and Bob Campbell sold Puget Sound Tent & Awning to Scott Campbell. Scott had the opportunity to experience the company in its entirety from the eyes of his father. Scott was thirteen years old when his dad started bringing him to work for a few days a week during the summer. Like many at Rainier, Scott is a hard worker that has experienced and completed each job required to build on the company's success. From sweeping the floors as a thirteen-year-old boy to bookkeeping, managing the front desk, leading the install team during the busy season, and renaming the company to Rainier Industries in 1984, Scott has done it all.
Noteworthy Milestones - The Events That Have Shaped Our History
In 125 years, we have faced several important transformations, which have helped build Rainier Industries as we know it today. In the early ’80s, the owner of Seattle Tent & Awning approached S. Campbell with a proposition. In those days, Seattle Tent & Awning was our largest competitor, producing tents and sleeping bags for camping. Over time, S. Campbell decided to purchase Seattle Tent & Awning. One of the assets that came with this acquisition was ownership of the Rainier brand name. Our name, Rainier Industries, was inspired by the Rainier Wall Tent, which was first sold in 1897 by Seattle Tent. This among others, was the first of 18 acquisitions under S. Campbell’s leadership that would create the company we are today.
Following this transition, the company quickly outgrew its original space on the Seattle waterfront and began searching for a new location to call home. As part of the move to the Olympic Building in Kent Valley, the added space brought increased capabilities for Rainier, prompting a name change from Puget Sound Tent & Awning to Rainier Industries.
1996 marked another transition for the company, as we purchased our first digital printer, the Scotchprint 9512. We built a climate-controlled room and put the printer to action. Our graphics business was steadily growing when we gained an exclusive supply deal with Starbucks and began manufacturing more products for Nordstrom. Thus, began the venture towards developing Rainier Display as a new addition to Rainier Industries. Now, Rainier Display is known for its expertise in décor, signage, graphics, and fabric solutions using state-of-the-art equipment for metal, millwork, large format printing, powder coating, and 3D freeform tube bending.
In 2008, we had officially outgrown our building in Kent Valley, bringing us to another bump in the road. With the option to add on, move locations, or find a larger space, we ultimately decided to find a larger space. Any company move is a big transition, but Scott had his eye on the perfect space to continue growing Rainier. Currently, Rainier operates within a 140,000 square foot facility in Tukwila, Washington, allowing us the freedom to take on diverse projects while leveraging our wide variety of manufacturing capabilities.
In 2013, Scott added another 80,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Statesville, North Carolina. The subdivision, Rainier Shade, quickly outgrew the manufacturing space needed to produce quality shade systems for our customers. Scott thought it best to branch out of our Seattle roots to reach our shade and shelter customers on the East Coast.
In 2016, we reached another important milestone after being approached to collaborate and produce a large art installation for the Salt Lake City Airport. Initially, we didn’t have time to secure a rational plan to manufacture the project, but we knew we wanted to be a part of it! This project led us to a small Dutch town in Germany, where we purchased a 3D Freeform Tube Bender. There are only a handful of 3D Freeform Tube Benders in the world, and there is no limit to their capability. The Tube Bender can bend any commonly available metal including copper, brass, aluminum, and steel. The Canyon at the SLC International Airport took Rainier’s manufacturing capabilities to an entirely new level. Click here to see the entire project!
New Generation, New Brand, Same Company
The latest transformation in our history and one designed to work in conjunction with our 125th anniversary was our corporate website redesign. “With the redesign of Rainier.com, we wanted to do more than just update content and modernize the style and functionality. We wanted a site that best represents Rainier, that tells the Rainier story, that walks visitors through the main products and services that Rainier and its divisions offer” said Tony Eder, Ecommerce Manager.
Celebrating Our 125th Anniversary
To celebrate our company anniversary, there were several plans made, including some fun employee events and activities to acknowledge our 125-year success. While our celebrations have been postponed for the time being, Rainier continues our dedication to the Rainier philosophy: put customers first, be responsible, deliver results, have fun, and be kind.
This 125-year page will continue to grow with content throughout the year and end with a full historic timeline of our extraordinary company. We will be sharing unheard stories and imagery from our history. Many of our employees have been with Rainier for decades. Scott Campbell, CEO of Rainier Industries, has worked for Rainier throughout most of his lifetime. Scott Campbell noted, “at the end of the day, what really gets me excited about coming to work in the morning is the people I work with, and we have a lot of fun taking care of our customers.”