Government, Manufacturing, and Sports Business

Wolverine lobbies for troops to wear US-made shoes

May 2, 2014
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Wolverwine lobbies for US-made footwear for troops
Saucony is one of the many footwear brands made by Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide. Courtesy Wolverine Worldwide

Rockford-based footwear giant Wolverine Worldwide is celebrating a federal policy change for soldiers — which it’s been advocating for several years.

Footwear allowance

The U.S. Department of Defense announced a policy change this week that will require new recruits to use their footwear allowance to purchase U.S.-made athletic footwear.

The policy is in line with the Berry Amendment, which requires a number of items, including clothing and textiles, purchased by the military be made in the U.S. whenever possible.

Wolverine has urged the Pentagon to procure athletic footwear manufactured in the U.S., rather than purchasing foreign-made products.

Wolverine said the policy change will ensure that the armed services "are not dependent on foreign sources for essential basic training needs" and will significantly help support the U.S. supply chain for American-made shoes.

"I am grateful that the Department of Defense has recognized the importance of providing the armed services with athletic footwear made in the United States," said Blake Krueger, chairman and CEO, Wolverine Worldwide.

Athletic brands

Krueger said the company’s Saucony, Merrell and Bates brands have partnered together to advance this effort.

“We are well into the process of producing state-of-the art athletic shoes at our manufacturing plant in Michigan,” Krueger said. “Wolverine Worldwide is committed to utilizing the full research and development capabilities of our entire corporation to support the training needs of those who serve our country."

Boston-based New Balance has also lobbied the Pentagon to make the move to American-made athletic shoes.

Manufacturing base

There are a handful of U.S.-based athletic shoe makers, as well as a number of suppliers who stand to benefit from the policy adjustment.

Wolverine said the policy change will help "strengthen and support the domestic industrial base and the thousands of manufacturing jobs" that provide the necessary equipment for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Special Forces.

It also strengthens the ability of industry to provide the full spectrum of footwear needs of the armed services, from combat boots to athletic shoes.

Wolverine makes a wide range of footwear brands: Merrell, Sperry Top-Sider, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine, Keds, Stride Rite, Sebago, Cushe, Chaco, Bates, HYTEST and Soft Style. The company also is the global footwear licensee of the brands Cat,Harley-Davidson and Patagonia.

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