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SHEBOYGAN, Wis., June 27, 2008 â€“ Wigwam Mills, Inc., an authentic American sock manufacturer and marketer based in Sheboygan, Wis., is facing an uphill battle in the war to provide quality socks to consumers. As the U.S. continues to walk the fine line between importing cheap goods and supporting local companies, manufacturers like Wigwam are forced to navigate through regulatory and foreign trade issues in order to survive.
â€œThe sock industry is the largest apparel sector left in this country, and it is declining at a steady pace,â€ said Margaret Chesebro, field marketing manager and the fourth generation of Wigwam. â€œAs a U.S.-based manufacturer, we often find ourselves at odds with the collective wisdom of free trade. Yet, we continue to strive to create the best products, using homegrown raw materials whenever possible.â€
According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, the sock industry has been sharply declining in the U.S. over the past several yearsâ€”going from 215 million dozen pair in 2000 to 99 million dozen pair in 2007, while imports have rocketed from 78 million dozen pair in 2000 to 240 million dozen pair in 2007. The implications of foreign imports and trade agreements like the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) are significant for companies like Wigwam. The company makes socks for five different consumer competencies â€“ work, health, outdoor, sport and snowsports â€“ using U.S.-based producers for its materials as much as possible. In fact, the company sources 100 percent of its wool from the American wool producers.
â€œWe strongly believe that providing products that are truly made in the USA will be an advantage for us in the long run,â€ said Chesebro. â€œOur products might be a more expensive than some of the imported products available, but they are also of a much higher quality and are made by a union workforce here in the United States.â€
Wigwam, locally owned and operated, is 103 years old and employs 240 people, some of whom are second and third generation employees. Margaret Chesebro represents the fourth generation of the Chesebro family to be part of Wigwam. The company is committed to the Sheboygan community, locally sourcing products and services when possible. Wigwam is also taking steps to be a good steward of the environment by installing a new solar process water heating system and energy efficient light bulbs in the factory. In addition, the company recently collected 280 electronic items from employees to have them properly recycled. Wigwam sells its products in specialty retail stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops.
Wigwam Mills, Inc., was founded in 1905 and is located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It is an authentic American brand that designs, manufactures and markets the knitwear that America grew up with. Wigwamâ€¦LIFE IS MOVEMENT. For more information, visit www.wigwam.com.