Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012 - (Page 164)

Wigwam Mills / Revenue: $50 million / HQ: Sheboygan, Wis. / Employees: 250 / Specialty: Socks Robert Chesebro Jr., president: “I am in favor of manufacturing in the U.S. because it contributes to the strength of our economy.” wigwam mills has been producing wool socks in the united states for more than 100 years. Strong Foothold wisconsin-based wigwam mills manufactures a variety of socks sourced with u.s.-made materials. by eric slack For more than a century, Wigwam Mills has produced American-made socks using American sourced yarns spun with wool and manmade fibers. Founded as Hand Knit Hosiery Co., it started as a manufacturer of Wigwambranded wool socks for lumbermen. In 1957, the company changed its name to Wigwam Mills to take advantage of the brand’s popularity. Today, it produces lines of outdoor, sport, snow sport, work and health socks. “We don’t import anything,” says President Robert Chesebro Jr. ferent fibers – including nylon, Orlon acrylic, polypropylene, spandex and polyester – as part of a commitment to innovation. Wigwam was one of the first companies to make stretch socks utilizing DuPont nylon. Today, the company sells socks to approximately 4,000 sporting accounts throughout the United States and Canada. Major clients include Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and Dunham’s Sports. Wigwam Mills has a significant presence in the outdoor market through outlets such as REI, Cabela’s, Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops. The company also sponsors the annual Ironman triathlon in Kona, Hawaii and is a licensee of the World Triathlon Corporation. In addition, a number of extreme athletes wear and endorse its products. “We also sell to independent run- ning stores,” Chesebro says. “Our competition consists of those companies that make their own branded socks, major shoe brands and apparel brands that accessorize their lines with socks. We are much more varied in terms of the fibers we use and the types of performance socks we offer.” Right now, Wigwam Mills is in the middle of a new branding strategy that began in 2008. In the 1990s, Wigwam Mills developed the patented Ultimax and INgenius brands, which were designed for effective moisture management. These brands were sold in addition to the Wigwambranded product. Now, all of the company’s products are sold under the Wigwam brand umbrella. Packaging was updated to indicate that the Ultimax label stands for socks that contain patented Wigwam technology. Socks once under the Ultimax brand are identified by “Ultimax” on the package and “Pro” as part of the product name, while the INgenius brand now has “Ultimax” on the package and “Fusion” as part of the product name. “We consolidated our branding under the Wigwam name and introduced new packaging at the start of this year,” Chesebro says. Improving Operations Wigwam Mills continuously reinvests in its operations. One area of investment is in new knitting and packaging equipment to ensure it has the latest technology and its manufacturing is as efficient as possible. Today’s machines are highly automated via computer programming and utilize pneumatics, compressed air and vacuum air. IT is another area of ongoing investment, with the goal of allowing the company to manage its diverse product lines and yarns. People another resource the company invests in. Wigwam Mills employs an independent designer to help create its product lines, and a history of conti- Comfortable Fit Herbert Chesebro, Robert Ehany and Lawrence Bentz founded the company in 1905. Thirty-one years later, the Chesebro family gained control under the leadership of Robert Chesebro Sr. Throughout its history, the company has utilized many dif164 WINTER 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012

Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012
Wauseon Machine
Applied Energy Solutions
Carter Control Systems
Global Technology Systems
Positech Corp.
Tampa Tank Inc./Florida Structural Steel
Carbide Products
Datacard Group
Fullerton Tool Co. Inc.
Honda of South Carolina
Fintube LLC
Sapa Extrusions North America
ACE Controls Inc.
Vendors Exchange International Inc.
EXEL North America
DJO Global
Capewell Components Co.
U.S. Sugar Corp.
Industrial Magnetics Inc.
Lakeside Plastics Ltd.
Norpak Handling Ltd.
Mid-State Machine Products
TenCate Protective Fabrics
The Dupps Co.
Western Manufacturing Ltd.
Wisconsin Plastics Inc.
Metrolina Greenhouses
LaSalle Bristol LP
Clarion Bathware
DAP Products Inc.
Honsa Ergonomic Technologies Inc.
Engineered Material Solutions LLC
Master Spas Inc.
Nypro Inc.
Kelly-Moore Paints
Palomar Technologies
U.S. Chemical & Plastics Inc.
Varflex Corporation
Votaw Precision Technologies
Watry Industries
Wigwam Mills
Banker Steel Co.
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Manufacturing Today - Winter 2012