Work Boot Executives Reveal the Industries They’re Serving the Most During the Coronavirus

Peter Verry
·3 min read

The coronavirus has undeniably changed, and continues to change, the workforce. Because of this, companies have been forced to adapt and cater to the people who are consuming the most.

FN reached out to six executives at industry-leading brands and asked the same question: Where are you seeing the biggest shifts in the work boot market?

Below, the six executives weigh in on the industries they’re catering to the most during the pandemic.

KELLY BALLOU
VP of marketing, Cat Footwear

“Our core work product designed for the men and women who work construction and the skilled trades still drives our business and we don’t see that changing with the pandemic. But we are absolutely going to continue to research and innovate as the nature of work shifts in our country. Warehousing and logistic workers are the unsung heroes in keeping things moving today — and we want to make sure we are enabling and supporting those industrial athletes.”

TOM KENNEDY
President, Wolverine Brand (including Bates, HyTest and Harley Davidson)

“The skilled trades remain strong, and we’re focused on all of our work boot consumers, no matter the industry. We’re seeing positive trends in our business overall, with significant growth in e-commerce [and] in our soft-toe work boots as a result of people staying home, taking on new projects and spending more time outside. Many of our retailers that sell work boots remained open and maintained a strong business as they were deemed essential storefronts.”

CHRIS HEFFERNAN
GM, Keen and Keen Utility

“COVID made it clear that warehousing and distribution was an essential part of the workforce and commerce equation. Even before the pandemic, we saw a growing need for more skilled workers in manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, and a growing job force [who] demand lightweight, athletic-inspired footwear. Beyond product, COVID challenged all brands to become savvier on the digital front — to get smart and stay nimble in all areas of e-commerce and support our retailers to do the same.”

ALEX BROWN
VP of sales, Merrell

“The same strategies that provided Merrell a loyal following in the outdoors are laying the foundation for success in work. With movement in industries and workplace requirements, more consumers are seeking Merrell products because of our proven success on the trail. This is evident from the warehouse workers to the service industry to the construction crew. Our track record is driving new consumers to our brand and loyal trail consumers to our work products.”

REBECCA CONWAY
Director of brand marketing, Timberland Pro

“There are certain industries like warehousing, transportation and distribution where we’re seeing higher levels of demand. With so much job growth in and around distribution centers, we’ve seen increased interest in our athletic offerings. We launched a new family of athletics and hikers this year called the Timberland Pro Reaxion, where we’re having especially strong success. [It features] composite toes and our Aerocore Energy system which fuses work boot protection with athletic shoe performance.”

MICHAEL GREENBERG
President, Skechers

“Our Safety Toe business not only didn’t slow down, it increased through the spring, summer and now early fall. We watched hiring trends in the warehouse and transportation sector fuel demand for our Safety Toe product. Workers in these environments are demanding quality, comfort and, now more than ever, value. And notably, they want work footwear that looks and feels like their athletic and casual shoes, not stiff and heavy traditional work boots.”

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