Wolverine Finds A Federal Fit

July 28, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — One company that is no stranger to doing work with the government is Wolverine World Wide, which recently announced its Bates Division has been awarded a contract with the Department of Defense to supply the Army with an upgraded infantry combat boot.

The contract, which may extend for a period of up to five years at the government’s option, is expected to generate revenue from $8.9 million to $22 million per year. Deliveries under the new contract are scheduled to begin late in the third quarter of 2003 and therefore will not have a material effect on the company’s 2003 results.

“We have a good rapport with the Department of Defense because we have worked on several contracts with them in the past,” said Onder Ors, vice president and general manager of Bates Uniform Footwear. “There were many factors that went into this contract, including the fact that we have a good product, are ISO certified and have had the military as a customer for several years.”

Another factor contributing to the contract is that WWW’s Bates Division produces its products domestically.

“The government requires that all products and services it purchases be produced domestically,” said Mike Donabauer, vice president of marketing and planning for Wolverine Footwear. “All of our labor is done in the United States and everything is completely produced right here.”

But just producing a product in the United States doesn’t make a company government contract material, said Ors. Bates also had to demonstrate it was able to handle the workload, even during what is called a “surge” plan.

What that means is that in times of great need, a contractor needs to be able to go into overdrive and produce much faster than was originally agreed upon. Ors said Bates has this ability and will be able to push to the next level of production, if needed.

“This contract also came out of our willingness to go through the process,” said Ken Raymond, contract administrator. “We worked on the initial contract solicitation, submitted our bid and then got word we received it.”

Raymond added that the time between submitting a bid and receiving job confirmation can be months and sometimes even a year. On rare occasions, he said, he has even seen some go for over a year.

In the past, Bates has received contracts to produce a jungle desert boot, safety boot and the service man’s oxford. The fact that Bates produces commercial products as well makes it easier for the government to see what the company is capable of as well as the quality of the craftsmanship.

“This contract reflects the execution of a strategy to migrate commercially proven comfort and performance technologies into government issued footwear, allowing our soldiers to better execute their duties in extreme conditions,” said Ors.

“The infantry combat boot features state-of-the-art technologies, including GORE-TEX waterproof linings to keep wearers comfortable and dry and Vibram outsoles for durability.”           

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