TACOMA, Wash — Rite in the Rain makes paper so tough it holds up in the rain, in the washing machine, under a pick-up truck, even deep underwater. And it's all made in Tacoma.
“It's a real product made in a real city made in the USA,” says Todd Silver, who once ran the company with his brother Scott.
The year is 1916 and the Northwest timber industry is churning out more than a 100 million board-feet a year. But keeping track of all that wood is tricky in a rain forest.
Enter World War I vet Jerry Darling and his waterproof paper.
“They literally dipped paper into the secret sauce and hung it on an indoor clothesline,” says Silver, “and when it was dried they would sell it to all the lumber and logging companies.”
Todd Silver's dad joins the JL Darling Company in the 1950s. Then his sons take over. Both are retired, but Todd Silver enjoys visiting now and again.
“It's totally mind-boggling to see the scale now,” says Silver. “We used to make spiral books in batches of 500 books and now we make them in batches of 10 or 50,000. And we ship all over the planet now!"
Artists and arborists use Rite in the Rain products. So do explorers, athletes, construction workers and fishermen.
“People outdoors who use Rite In The Rain swear by it because it enables them to work and save the data,” says Silver. “You write it down. It is there for good.”
The products are so widespread they can be seen in movies and on TV.
“We are always watching for the flash of the yellow cover,” says Silver, “and I'm taking pictures on the TV.”
The company also makes pens that work upside down and underwater. On this visit, Silver checks out a new machine that is churning out notebooks at an even faster rate. He’s obviously having a good time.
“Every time I come, there's new innovations, new equipment, new art,” he says. “It's very cool.”
And so is a machine in the back. It’s the result of nine years of research to change that secret waterproofing sauce so there's no petroleum involved.
“It's all now very green water-based coating,” says Silver. “This machine is literally a Lamborghini, and it creates tons of paper a day. So it's tremendous and very green.
Rite in the Rain: successfully defying Mother Nature for more than a hundred years.