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Wolverine founder G.A. Krause is credited with saying, "There is some opportunity here." Whether he was talking about Rockford, Michigan (the site of his new shoe plant), the entire U.S. or the world as a whole, Krause definitely found that opportunity and capitalized on it. In 1883, Krause organized the Red River Electric Light and Power Company to bring electricity to Rockford. Twenty years later, he and his sons built Hirth-Krause Company, the shoe factory that would soon become known as Wolverine. This company employed a team of talented craftsmen to produce 300 pairs of durable work shoes per day, providing early laborers with the footwear they depended on when building much of America as we know it.
In 1908, the Wolverine tannery was built to supply Krause's factory with high quality horsehide. A line of shoes made from this material was also called Wolverine, and the durability and comfort of the footwear led to the nickname the "1,000-Mile Shoe" in 1914. The success of a national advertising campaign a few years later led the Hirth-Krause company to change its name to Wolverine Shoe and Tanning Corporation in 1921.
Besides ensuring the safety and comfort of worker's feet, Wolverine took care of its own employees, offering stock to employees in one of America's first profit sharing plans in 1928. After the stock market crashed in 1929, the Great Depression dramatically raised unemployment rates and sales declined, but the Wolverine factory kept its doors open, employing workers to manufacture shoes to be stored in the warehouse until times got better. During World War II, Wolverine developed pigskin gloves for the U.S. Navy, which led to the creation of pigskin suede, the material that began to replace horse leather in Wolverine products. To reflect a move toward international sales, Wolverine changed its name to Wolverine World Wide in 1964.
The company continues to seek new opportunities for development and growth, funding the Biomechanical Engineering Laboratory at Michigan State University and forming the International Design Center in Montecatini, Italy in 1986. New technological advances, such as the DuraShocks and MultiShox comfort system for work boots and new product lines such as Harley-Davidson boots ensure that Wolverine continues to lead the global footwear market in casual, work and outdoor footwear for men, women and children. Opportunity, it seems, is everywhere today.