Tuesday July 1, 2014
From the Beginning
In 1905, three men opened a factory in Sheboygan, Wisconsin called Hand Knit Hoisery Company. The company was created to knit high quality wool socks and headwear for hunters, lumberman and residents of the chilly Midwest. Founders Herbert Chesebro, Robert Ehany and Lawrence Bentz had no way of knowing the humble company they started would eventually become a major name in activewear, across America and around the world.
In 1924, Herbert’s son Robert Chesebro Sr. entered the business at the young age of 21. About a decade later, he took the helm as President and brought the company under the sole ownership of the Chesebro family. Robert’s vision made it the family-run operation we know today.
Robert Chesebro Sr. brought several new ideas to Hand Knit Hosiery Company and ensured it adapted well with the times. Under his supervision in the 1930s, he saw that Hand Knit Hosiery start focusing on products solely of its own manufacturing. In 1945, under the War Production Order, he obliged to produce goods exclusively for the military. A decade later, he made a bold decision spurring another change - a name change.
Wigwam Mills, Inc.
From the very beginning, Herbert Chesebro wanted the company to evolve with its customers. In 1957, Robert Chesebro Sr. took that concept one step further with his official company announcement. Robert reflected, “It has been thrilling and gratifying to watch the popularity of our product grow to a point where its trademark –WIGWAM– has become the symbol of comfort and quality in socks for every sport.”
After half a century in business, the Chesebro family welcomed the fact that their Wigwam sock line had become their colloquial namesake. They adopted the name Wigwam and officially changed their corporate name to Wigwam Mills, Inc. Robert closed his announcement in true Midwest fashion assuring their customers, “Only our name changes. Our people, our quality, our sales policies - and above all, our desire to work with you – remain the same.”
Wigwam remains in the Chesebro family today, under the leadership of Bob Chesebro (Robert Chesebro Jr). Serving as CEO and Chairman of the Board, Bob has continued to strengthen Wigwam's commitment to American manufacturing. The company prides itself on sourcing wool almost exclusively from American yarn spinners, who buy from American wool growers. Wigwam’s Made in the USA promise is engrained in their history and today every package of Wigwam Socks proudly boasts a Made in the USA emblem.
Making Footwear a Technology
Now, the name of the game is technology. Not only is Wigwam’s factory in Sheboygan working to embrace green efficiencies, but their socks continue to evolve in fiber and fabric as well. Wigwam was one of the first companies to utilize DuPont nylon in the 1940s to make stretch socks and they continue to pioneer the athletic industry. In the 1990s, they patented their ULTIMAX® technology, revolutionizing moisture management in footwear. Today, the majority of Wigwam sport socks, including those licensed under the IRONMAN® name, utilize ULTIMAX® technology.
Almost 110 years after its founding, Wigwam socks support some of the premier adventure athletes around the world. Just this year, Wigwam has gone to the North Pole on the feet of Polar Explorer Eric Larsen and to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games on the feet of ice climber Gordon McArthur. From its humble beginnings in Wisconsin, to a brand with global appeal, Wigwam is proud to be celebrating its 110th anniversary next year and remaining part of the American Dream that began 238 years ago.
Wigwam Employees on Wigwam…
“The Wigwam family culture is ever present in all of its employees and it makes work that much more rewarding.” - Margaret (Chesebro) Newhard, Director of Product Management
“It’s the kind of company, where you get to know everyone, and when you see them in the community you can say hi. They’re more than a face.” - Chris Chesebro, Director of Operations