William P. Hilger started what would become Stearns®, Inc. among the lakes and plains of central Minnesota. His first successful product was an electrically powered windshield heater that was a big hit in the colder climates of central Minnesota in the late 1920's, and eventually was a must-have product for cars from California to Maine. The company changed hands after World War II and became Stearns® Manufacturing Company. The heating systems in cars had matured to the point where, anymore, the idea of needing a frost shield was old-fashioned. The business then turned towards the future: Plastics.
In the ensuing decades, Stearns® would manufacture high quality outdoor products such as life jackets, water ski belts, and plastic boat interiors. Federal law changes in 1971 allowed companies to actually design a better looking Type III PFD that didn't have to be a bulky orange block. This was the starter's gun in a race towards ownership of the designed PFD market; a race that Stearns would easily win. In 2008, Coleman added to its family of brands the distinct quality of Stearns® products, the most recognized player in the life jacket business.It’s a natural fit.