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Wolverine Worldwide Applauds Passage Of Defense Bill Directing Armed Services To Procure US Made Athletic Footwear

Yesterday marked final passage by the Senate of the 2017 NDAA which includes the language that will have military issue athletic footwear made in the United States. This is a HUGE win for the Berry Amendment, the warfighter, and the domestic industrial base. My congratulations to everyone who made this happen.

Saucony Now Producing Footwear in Michigan
Defense Department to Provide American-made Athletic Footwear to Troops

Rockford, Michigan, December 8, 2016 — Wolverine Worldwide (NYSE: WWW) today hailed the passage of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the defense bill that sets the policy and spending levels for the fiscal year. Included in the final version of the NDAA is language directing the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to comply with the Berry Amendment and provide 100% American-made athletic footwear to recruits upon their initial entry to basic training. The Department of Defense has been providing a cash allowance to new service members for foreign-made athletic footwear. U.S. Marine recruits have been required to spend their own funds on these items.

Wolverine Worldwide is the parent company of Saucony, a manufacturer of high performance running shoes as well as of Bates footwear, the largest and most capable provider of combat boots, dress uniform and other footwear to the military. This legislation will positively impact footwear manufacturing in Michigan as well as the industrial base throughout the United States.

Members of the Michigan, Massachusetts, South Dakota and New Hampshire Congressional delegations, notably Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Representative John Moolenaar (R-MI), Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD), Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) have strongly supported this provision. Their hard work and leadership during NDAA consideration has ensured that recruits will have access to high-quality, American-made athletic footwear for military training and will help expand manufacturing for footwear and related components throughout the United States.

“I thank those members of Congress who have worked to sustain domestic manufacturing and ensure our warfighters train in American-made footwear,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Congressional support for American-made products for the Department of Defense clearly demonstrates an understanding of the importance of maintaining a critical industrial capability within our country and ensures that soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will be provided with a choice of technically advanced, durable, American-made athletic shoes for use in basic training.”

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment has required the Department of Defense to purchase American-made and sourced clothing, textiles, foods, and other essential military items for our men and women in uniform. The purpose of the Berry Amendment is to ensure that the United States is able to maintain viable domestic industries to support the needs of the Armed Services.

Wolverine Worldwide recently expanded its manufacturing plant located in Big Rapids, Michigan and employs more than 600 people who proudly build a broad spectrum of footwear for the Department of Defense. Products manufactured in Big Rapids include combat boots for the service branches, mountain combat boots for Special Operations Forces, and military dress shoes. Wolverine is adding an advanced manufacturing line for Berry-compliant Saucony running shoes in preparation for the pursuit of government awards. The company is looking forward to expanding upon this American-made athletic footwear capability to serve the Department of Defense as well as commercial markets.

Saucony is a leading global performance running brand founded in Pennsylvania in 1898. The brand is known for its best-in-class design, innovation and performance technology. Saucony has recently expanded its technical research laboratory in Waltham, Massachusetts where the company performs material testing as well as biomechanical, physiological, and sensory analysis of runners.

For additional information, please visit, www.wolverineworldwide.com.

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18 Responses to “Wolverine Worldwide Applauds Passage Of Defense Bill Directing Armed Services To Procure US Made Athletic Footwear”

  1. Darkhorse says:

    I’m not being critical of Wolverine/Bates/Saucony.

    The Berry Amendment has always confused me- While I agree that buying American made products is GREAT for America, this applies to less than 1% of clothing/apparel purchases made in the USA. The result, the soldier (in many cases) gets a lesser performing item. There truly isn’t enough American manufacturing and to stand up quality manufacturing at competitive prices, this amendment should apply to more than our armed forces. In reality, who requires an item to perform the best it possibly can, a recreational snowboarder, or a soldier in an alpine climate?

    This is also why you see people on SSD griping about the cost of items posted here on the site. In short, in many cases, the soldier gets a lesser performing item at a higher price.

    I’ve also found it interesting that people (in general) love these “earth friendly” companies. In many cases, they manufacture overseas where regulations aren’t what they are here in the USA and they can produce cheaper and with far fewer “earth friendly” regulations.

    To clarify, I am (of course) 100% behind the idea of buying American made products. Just pointing out some issues I have with soldiers being mandated to buy lesser quality at higher cost. Berry Amendment also doesn’t apply to things like tech- why not?

    • SSD says:

      You shouldn’t confuse what the government chooses to purchase with the quality of American made products. There are loads of examples of high quality American goods, particularly in the tactical arena. Lots of international customers insist on buying American quality when it comes to PPE.

      As for these athletic shoes, the companies involved have been making limited styles here in the US and work hard to ensure both quality and value. They aren’t going to turn anywhere near the profit on these shoes that they will from foreign sources models. But, they’ll employ Americans while doing it.

  2. Lawrence says:

    I agree Darkhorse. I support buying American when it means I get a comparable quality product even if I have to pay a little more. But (my opinion to follow) manufacturers are in buisiness to earn profits and they do this by outsourcing where it makes cents/sense. Without muddying this comment by bringing up concerns over manufacturing processes that are harmful for the environment (I like being able to spend my time outdoors without wearing a dust mask like they have to in Beijing) I just see this move as ultimately bad for service members in the short term and possibly good for American manufacturing in the long term.

  3. Kit Badger says:

    Waving the flag is great. But what if we just sourced the best equipment? Like the avid consumer does. Government involvement (which always works out great) just handicaps the companies under the guise of helping them. If they said, we are going to solicit the best product, you actually create larger competition that drives innovation. But… that is the free market. Can’t have that.

    • SSD says:

      Do you understand why the Berry Amendment exists?

      • Kit Badger says:

        Yes, to protect our industrial base here at home. Making sure food, fabrics, metals and some other stuff are sourced here in the US. But it doesn’t necessarily equal a good, or superior product.

        When the government protects businesses at home, it does them a disservice by creating a guaranteed market, which in turn does not spur innovation (not to say we don’t have some amazing products being made here) but it also artificially inflates prices, since the market is kept artificially small and the sourcing of materials is limited.

        I get the Barry Amendment, I just feel everyone would benefit from the competition of the open market, translating into more innovation and lower costs. Which is why I don’t necessarily purchase much that is Berry Compliant :)

        • SSD says:

          Considering that people all around the world insist on US made PPE and field equipment I’d say that you’re assertion that our guaranteed market is substandard is flawed. To the contrary, in this case, protectionism has prevented companies from moving manufacturing overseas and allowed American innovation to flourish.

  4. z0phi3l says:

    Not sure what all this whining about “low quality” gear is coming from, everything I was issued was of great quality, some pieces I really wish I kept good

    When I was a poor PFC I bought cheap articles from US Cav, you could tell the difference immediately and sure enough was not made in the US, The Official and US made gear never let me down

  5. 112honeybadger says:

    This is certainly good news for US manufacturing. I am skeptical, however, that this will just lead to more issued clothing and equipment that is wrought with defects (the uniforms made by “lighthouse for the blind) and is ultimately not the best for Joe Soldier or even close. I am all for “Made in the USA”, but we have all seen what comes out of the military industrial complex. Quality control is low or non-existent, the materials used are low quality, and the replacement cost at MCSS is just as high as purchasing comparable gear on the economy. For Christ sake, our unit is hand-receipting unit patches to new Joes, when they are even available, or having them go to MCSS to spend $50 bucks during in-processing just to belong to the unit, and I have to my own toilet paper for my shop because supply hasn’t had it for months so that they can “spend the money on training”. Perhaps the money spent on “a HUGE win for the Berry Amendment, the warfighter, and the domestic industrial base.”, could go to better pursuits.

  6. bloke_from_ohio says:

    This is nothing but Juche style pork. It is a waste of the military’s time and a waste of political capital to boot.

    The kind of troop who cannot be trusted to acquire good running shoes and use them on their own is not the kind of person you really want in the ranks. Showing up unprepared to run should be all but self selecting. The standards are all over the net, as is advice of varying quality. Running shoes are not strategic resources. And unlike a lot of other skills, boot camp should not be the first time a recruit ever runs or does calisthenics.

    If Joe shows up with unsuitable footwear make him run to the PX/MCS in either his worn out shoes or his boots. While there, let them buy new shoes that will work for the remainder of training. If you have to throw the two or three outfits that make shoes in the US a bone, then subsidize part of the cost and impose this flag waving requirement. Otherwise just charge the new shoes to Joe’s first paycheck and drive on.

    If Joe does not want to buy those shoes or take the hit to his check, he should show up prepared. Make this clear to every would be recruit before they get on the bus and hold the line on it.

    In a perfect world the PT test would be the very first thing recruits do in their civie PTs and whatever footware they brought with them. Fail any event and you get back on the bus and sent home. No questions asked no re-dos.

    • SSD says:

      This is just fir basic training where they tell the recruit what to buy anyway. Instead of purchasing foreign sourced shoes, they’ll be buying American made.

  7. RFfromNOVA says:

    Berry amendment works great for many items. This is nothing more then wolverines ensureing they have less competition then they should. This is a lose for the taxpayer and a lose for the warfighter.

    • SSD says:

      I hardly think, enforcing a law to provide American made Footwear to military recruits is going to hurt Nike’s or Adidas’ bottom line.

      • RFfromNOVA says:

        This has nothing to do with keeping American manufacturing healthy to supply the warfighter should the need arise. No matter what the current admin says about boots on the ground no one is fighting in go fasters. I have no idea what Wolverine will provide, but I do know I’ve never chosen a wolverine running shoe, or boot for that matter. The berry amendment, especially as applied here is just BS.
        let’s change the law, allow the mil to pick what they want (of course through a selection process) then just mandate the goods must be made here. That could come in the form of some licensing agreement with whatever company won.
        As it sits. The tax payer and the warfighter lose on this deal.

  8. Lasse says:

    I’ve realized that the issue isn’t manufacturing, it’s the raw material supply. The US simply doesn’t have top of the line raw material development/production on an industrial scale any more, which means that the products won’t be the best out there.

    But it will be interesting to see what happens and who’s going to be in it. Adidas have their Speedfactory in the US and the industry rumor is that Nike wants to make Flyknits in the US too.

    • SSD says:

      They’ve been working on improving the infrastructure for several years. Some of it has been concurrent with the work being done to force DoD to come in compliance with the law, but also, the advantages to manufacturing overseas are becoming less and less significant. At this point, the advantage is very much infrastructure. Manufacturers have ignored capital improvements domestically, and concentrated on their overseas operations because they were more profitable. Now, with labor costs rising year after year in China, even the Chinese are building new factories in other countries. Once you factor in shipping and holding costs as well as tariffs, manufacturing some things here in the States start to sound pretty good. That’s why every one was so excited about TPP. The tariff costs would have all but disappeared, making China, and those other countries getting new factories, quite attractive.