You may have heard that DoD is going to finally apply the Berry Amendment to athletic footwear. Many have been working behind the scenes for years to help make this happen and it’s a significant win for those who believe in helping maintain a domestic industrial base. In addition to the troops who will wear this footwear, the change will affect the footwear manufacturers, primarily Wolverine (Saucony brand running shoes) and New Balance, but also the fabric makers, sole maker Vibram, leather providers, and even the shoelace makers in the US who depend on domestic production. This is great news for our domestic supply chain and will help drive innovation in our space.
As I see it, this is just an initial step. The deal is only for initial entry trainees using their voucher, and does not apply to currently serving personnel, so you don’t have to worry that you’ll be required to purchase a Berry compliant shoe. And, for those of you complaining that there won’t be many choices and that you need something special to fit your particular foot, consider this; a few years ago, DoD went to a common last (footbed shape) for combat footwear. In reality, you already don’t have different fits available for your feet.
Rockford, Michigan, April 28, 2014 — Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today commends the Department of Defense for updating the policy regarding the acquisition of athletic shoes for military recruits. In a letter to members of the Armed Services Committees, the Deputy Secretary of Defense confirmed a policy change that requires new recruits to use their footwear allowance to purchase U.S.-made athletic footwear that is compliant with the Berry Amendment, once they are available in the marketplace.
For the past several years, Wolverine Worldwide has urged the Pentagon to procure athletic footwear manufactured in the United States, rather than purchasing foreign-made products. This 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.
This policy correction 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, with no additional cost to the taxpayer. 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.
“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, Wolverine Worldwide Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our Saucony, Merrell and Bates brands have partnered together to advance this effort and we are well into the process of producing state-of-the art athletic shoes at our manufacturing plant in Michigan. 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.”