Army To Be Shod With Wolverines

    ROCKFORD — Wolverine World Wide got a leg up on the competition, again, by securing a contract to supply the U.S. Army with hundreds of thousands of pairs of infantry combat boots custom designed to Defense Department specifications.

    The Department of Defense awarded the company’s Bates division a contract for upgraded infantry combat boots that is expected to generate $8.9 million to $22 million in revenues a year for up to five years.

    The latest contract is the largest of Wolverine’s military footwear contracts to date, calling for production of more than 100,000 pairs to upwards of 200,000 pairs of boots a year, said Onder Ors, vice president and general manager of the Bates Uniform Footwear division.

    The boots will be manufactured in Wolverine’s U.S.-based manufacturing facilities. Deliveries are scheduled to begin late in the third quarter.

    The boots are being made exclusively for the United States Army and are not available for sale commercially.

    “The contract stipulates United States Army guidelines and various domestic manufacturers compete under those guidelines and see if they can execute the boot,” Ors explained. “Being one of the leaders in boot manufacturing technology, we’re able to compete in that environment.

    “I think one of the advantages that we have compared to our other competitors in the marketplace is that we have synergy with our other commercial businesses to take those commercial applications and transfer them over into the military.”

    He said award of the contract reflects the company’s strategy of migrating commercially proven comfort and performance technologies into government issued footwear.

    “We think about biomechanics and what we can improve to make it the best for the soldier and his equipment. And we’re recognized for that.”

    The infantry combat boot is a black leather and nylon combination boot with a GORE-TEX waterproof membrane and a Vibram rubber outsole. It comes in one style.

    The U.S. Army buys five different types of combat footwear, and their construction usually addresses two things: geographic application and thermal properties.

    “Their range is minus 30 degrees all the way up to 130 degrees, but this boot is the one that fits the most geographic regions and kind of addresses all markets, but it’s not as extreme in either direction.

    “This is an excellent boot, designed as the multi-purpose issue boot for the U.S. Army. It’s condition-designed for multipurpose applications; it’s probably the broadest application.”

    Bates has long been a key supplier to the military. The company has several existing military footwear contracts that will run concurrently with the latest one.

    Wolverine World Wide is one of the largest suppliers of military footwear to the United States Department of Defense and all branches of the military.

    It has contracts with the Department of Defense that cover all branches and has separate contracts with individual branches of the military, as well, Ors said.

    In fact, two-thirds of Bates Uniform Footwear division’s business is with the military, while the remaining third is focused on civilian uniform and various export contract programs with other countries, he said.

    “Most military contracts are not short term because the military has a constant demand and they don’t change footwear every season. They want stability and consistent programs.”           

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