Why Wolverine Is No Longer Making Shoes for the Military

Wolverine World Wide Inc. of Rockford, Mich., one of the remaining U.S. footwear manufacturers, has announced the sale of assets associated with its U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) contract business and the transfer of outstanding DoD contracts to Original Footwear Co. of Morristown, Tenn. The sale became effective on Sept. 29.

Original Footwear specializes in products for the DoD under the Altama brand. The company qualifies as a small business under the Small Business Administration regulations, which allows the company access to a significant number of contracts not available to larger corporations such as Wolverine World Wide.

Included in this sale is Wolverine’s Big Rapids, Mich.,-based factory, which is one of the largest producers of footwear to the U.S. military. Original Footwear will become also become a footwear supplier to Wolverine for certain products currently made in the factory. Wolverine will continue to retain the Bates brand and operate the Bates civilian and military exchange business.

“The sale to Original Footwear will provide the opportunity for the Big Rapids factory to compete for Department of Defense contracts set aside for small business,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine’s chairman, CEO and president. “We firmly believe that the sale of the Big Rapids factory and the DoD business to Original Footwear is in the best interest of the Big Rapids operations. With new ownership, we feel the factory is better positioned to win additional contracts that will retain important manufacturing jobs for the community.”

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