When it comes to manufacturing, Wisconsin is special.
Three of the firms I visited on my recent mid-west trip are located in Wisconsin.
All three have been in business for over 50 years.
And all three are models of how American consumer goods manufacturers can compete and win in today’s global market.
I told you about Allen Edmonds the other day and Hart Schaffner Marx last week. Well today I want to tell you about Wigwam Mills.
Wigwam has been producing knit socks for over one hundred years. Mr. Herbert Chesebro founded Wigwam Mills in 1905 and ran the company until 1932. He was succeeded by his son Robert Chesebro who ran the firm until 1968 when he was in turn succeeded by his son, Robert Chesebro Jr. Robert Jr.’s two children, Chris and Margaret, are now working at the firm.
The morning I turned up at Wigwam in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Robert Chesebro Jr. was walking in to start his day. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to talk with him for over an hour. Mr. Chesebro emphasised that Wigwam’s two core strengths were the quality of their socks and the identification of that quality with the Wigwam name. While many sock companies treated their products as commodities, the Chesebro family has always emphasised the Wigwam brand.
After my talk with Mr. Chesebro, Mr. Gerald Vogel, the President of Wigwam, took me on a fascinating tour of the Wigwam manufacturing facility. I will be putting up a video of the tour within a week. Prior to having it explained to me by Mr. Vogel, I had no idea how socks were made. Well let me tell you the secret to knitting socks. It’s all about the loops baby! It is a lot more complicated than that of course, but loops are what sock knitting machines produce at the most basic level. It was amazing to watch these sophisticated machines produce socks from as many as 15 different kinds of yarns.
The majority of Wigwam socks are made from wool, and it is amazing the difference in the feel of a wool sock after it has made its journey to the dye house. Before visiting the dye house, the wool is rather oily and somewhat rough. After their stay in the dye house, Wigwam wool socks are very soft and supple.
I had the good fortune of meeting a few Wigwam employees during my visit and they told me the same things the employees at Allen Edmonds, Subzero and Hart Schaffner Marx told me. They take great pride in making great products in Wisconsin for members of their extended American family to use. They also told me about the importance of their manufacturing job in the life of their family. How their wages allowed them to buy houses, help their kids through college and help fund their retirement. Not to sound trite, but that was what I was taught growing up was the American dream. Show up every day. Work hard. Take pride in what you do. That was what I witnessed over and over again during my Mid-West trip. And the other unifying belief that all the members of our extended American family at these firms in Wisconsin shared? That the Green Bay Packers are the finest football team in the land. Well ok, there were a few Bear fans, but they were a distinct minority.
So, what do I want you to do? It’s simple. Just buy more Wigwam socks.
Buy the Wigwam Single Trax Pro socks for running,
the Wigwam Merino Comfort Hiker for your time on the trail,
and the Wigwam Snow Steeps Pro for when you hit the slopes.
Wigwam socks are of the highest quality, they are stylish and they are very reasonably priced. So just buy more Wigwam socks. If you do, then Mr. Vogel will hire more workers, who will be able to buy more Hart Schaffner Marx suits and Allen Edmonds shoes and Subzero refrigerators and those firms will hire more workers who will buy more Wigwam socks and… Well you get the picture.
Now get shopping!