Chippewa Boot Production Delay

Bootsmap12For several years, I have been strongly suggesting to a friend of mine who is a motor officer that he should get a pair of Chippewa Hi-Shine (model 71418) boots when it was time for a new pair, instead of the bal-laced Dehner boots he had been wearing. Not that he looks bad in Dehners (quite the opposite), but he had been complaining about his feet “needing more room” in the foot as well as the overall cost of Dehners being about twice as expensive as Chip Hi-Shines. He also noticed, as have I, that more cops here on the East Coast are wearing them.

When it came time this Spring for my buddy to order new boots, he found a vendor that offered a good discount to active officers He placed the order in late March, and waited. And waited. And waited.

After a month, he complained to the vendor and told me what the response from Chippewa was that the vendor relayed to him:

“I called Chippewa this morning and they told me that your boots are in production. They are waiting on some components for this boot, which has delayed their completion until mid June.”

He asked me what “some components” were that would cause such a delay in producing the boots.

Chipshinelug23I dunno… Chippewa doesn’t consult with me about its production issues, and I do not have a list of each component that goes into the boots. But it is an interesting situation that draws attention to the world economy — that is, even boots (or products) marked “made in the USA” are talking about the location of assembly — not the location of the parts that compose the product.

From what I know, Chippewa sources its leather from several countries, depending on availability. U.S. leather has been more scarce since a major, prolonged drought in the prime cattle-producing areas of the U.S. resulted in dramatic reduction of steer & cows. Also, what steer remained were not as well nourished, so I have an opinion that the quality of their hides from which leather is produced also suffered. Therefore, it may be quite likely that Chippewa started sourcing its leather from other countries (Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Spain, or Europe) and it takes longer to get it.

Chippewa uses Vibram soles on their boots as well. Vibram soles are made in Italy. I am not aware of a slow-down or reduced production of Vibram soles, so I do not think this is the reason for the production delay.

Chipshinelug28Other components, such as a steel shank and steel toe may be sourced in China. Regretfully and to my amazement, it is less expensive to buy bulk quantities of steel products (such as shanks and toes) from China and ship them all the way to the USA, rather than have those components made in the U.S. Again, it’s the world economy — vendors source products from anywhere that meets standards and offers a better price (i.e., low bid.)

Specialized components such as the light plastic top coat (that make the boots so shiny), buckles, insoles, linings, and so on — they all come from various sources, too, and probably not all from U.S. suppliers.

Major mass producers of boots these days source their products from world vendors. For various reasons, some vendors are unable to provide an adequate and timely supply of parts, so production delays occur. I’m sure Chippewa isn’t happy with the significant delay, and may be losing business as a result. I know my cop friend told me that if he had not already pre-paid for his boots (and got his reimbursement from his agency) that he would have ordered Dehners instead. Several of his colleagues just did that, to Chippewa’s loss.

Life is short: understand how the world economy affects boot production.