Morristown-based Wellco Enterprises, which makes military boots, will close

By ED MARCUM | Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. | Published: July 14, 2014

Wellco Enterprises, a Morristown company that produces footwear for the military, will cease operations over the course of July, eliminating 46 jobs.

Wellco, which has a plant at 5968 Commerce Street in Morristown, will wind down operations between Tuesday and July 26, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Company officials could not be reached for comment, but Marshall Ramsey, president of the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that Wellco officials told him that business with the federal government has been drying up as the military winds down its involvement in Afghanistan.

Originally based in Waynesville, N.C., Wellco began operating in a 100,000-square-foot building in Morristown Airport Industrial Park in 2009. While it is tough to lose a company, the size of the facility Wellco is vacating will make it in high demand, Ramsey said.

“I feel pretty good that we can get someone in there quick,” he said.

According to the company website, Wellco began operations in 1941 as the Wellco Shoe Corp. However, the company traces its beginnings to Germany in the 1800s, where the owners of a shoe factory patented a process to attach a rubber sole to a shoe upper in a single vulcanizing process.

In 1965, the Army adopted a Wellco-designed hot-weather boot as the Vietnam Boot. The company also developed a desert boot adopted by the Army in 1991, and continued to make other footwear for the U.S. military.

Wellco also developed a number of work boots and was trying to expand into the civilian market, Ramsey said.

“As they were struggling with the troop withdrawals, they were working on private contracts with domestic companies, but I don’t think that came through,” he said.


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