2017-12-28 / Front Page

EUP Way of Life Is Featured in Catalog

By Erich T. Doerr


Clothing company Carhartt visited a few Eastern Upper Peninsula locations when taking photographs for its Fall and Winter 2017 catalog. The cover of the catalog pictured here shows Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farms Manager Troy Leach at work in Pickford last February with a tool he uses for working on the lines used to bring in maple sap for processing at the sugar bush. Additional photographs inside the catalog where taken at Cedarville’s Great Lakes Boat Building School. (Photograph provided by Carhartt) Clothing company Carhartt visited a few Eastern Upper Peninsula locations when taking photographs for its Fall and Winter 2017 catalog. The cover of the catalog pictured here shows Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farms Manager Troy Leach at work in Pickford last February with a tool he uses for working on the lines used to bring in maple sap for processing at the sugar bush. Additional photographs inside the catalog where taken at Cedarville’s Great Lakes Boat Building School. (Photograph provided by Carhartt) The Eastern Upper Peninsula can be both a place of immense beauty and rugged hard work in a variety of unique fields, so wasn’t a surprise that Dearborn-based clothing company Carhartt came north to take photographs for its 2017 fall and winter catalog. The cover portrays Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farms manager Troy Leach at work in Pickford while an inside photograph features students at Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville.

“That’s kind of different,” Mr. Leach said of being on the cover. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Mackinac Bluffs Maple Farms, owned by Luke Jaroche, features both a sawmill and a maple syrup-producing sugar bush. Its syrup facilities include two pump houses for processing maple tree sap and a main cookhouse where the sap is cooked into food-grade maple syrup. This is the company’s seventh year making syrup, and Mr. Leach said that the farm produced 10% of all the syrup made in Michigan last season. It bottles real maple syrup specifically for several customers, including Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. At its peak, the farm features a crew of four to six people collecting almost 50,000 gallons of sap.

The cover photograph portrays Mr. Leach last winter. Carhartt visited the sugar bush last February with a team of 14 people to take the photographs. The company was photographing a number of local farms, including those raising sheep and beef cattle, and sought out the sugar bush after hearing about it from others in the area. Mr. Leach remembers how the Carhartt team was surprised at how big the sugar bush property is, as the area where it has tapped maple trees is two miles by one-half mile in size.

On the day of the photo shoot, a contingent of employees and photographers rode out into the woods on snowmobiles to tap trees. The Carhartt team set up some computers in one of the sugar houses that allowed them to remotely review the picture being taken and tell the photographers what they needed to do next. They took several thousand photographs over the course of the day, with cameras that clicked them off at fast speeds.

In the photograph on the cover, Mr. Leach is holding a tool he uses for installing splices and tree-connecting drops onto the sugar bush main lines. He uses this tool a lot and it’s with him every time he goes into the woods to work. The photograph was taken as he walked back from tapping a tree while holding it as the photographer walked in front of him.

The relationship between Mackinac Bluffs and Carhartt extends beyond a photograph shoot. Mr. Leach said employees at the organization have been wearing the company’s clothing for years. Mr. Jaroche has been giving his employees Carhartt jackets and vests as Christmas gifts and they wear them each winter.

The cover shot with Mr. Leach was intended to showcase a Carhartt Full Swing Jacket, designed for ease of arm movement and featuring an elastic waistband for a comfortable fit. Jobs at the sugar bush require a lot of movement and most employees dress lightly because of that. Workers can walk up to seven miles in a day.

“It’s pretty demanding on a person,” Mr. Leach said. “You have to be a go-getter.”

Ryan Hinnen, the director of administration at Great Lakes Boat Building School, said a locations scout from Carhartt contacted the school, which was glad to provide a tour and help plan the shoot. A camera crew spent a day last winter taking photographs.

“We enjoyed having them here,” Mr. Hinnen said. “They are welcome back any time.”

The Carhartt team’s photography session included three of the school’s students, Mark Pugh, Chris Ritchie, and Sam Hill. Mr. Ritchie is now in his second year at the school, while Mr. Pugh and Mr. Hill were since graduated. During the shoot, students donned a variety of Carhartt clothing to show off the company’s pants, shirts, and other items. Mr. Ritchie said this was a unique opportunity, offering good exposure for both the school and Carhartt.

“That was a fun day,” Mr. Ritchie said. “We work hard up here in Cedarville and Hessel, for sure.”

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