Recently I had a chance to visit the Keen Utility offices and factory in Portland, Oregon.
Although the temperature was hitting 107, and we had some air advisory notices coming down from fires in Canada…I couldn’t have had a better time.
The Factory -
With a focus on American Made, I got a tour of the Keen Utility factory and got to jump on the line at a few different points in the process. The assembly line worked like a dream, starting with bits and pieces of boots and melted rubber, and snaking its way through the building until all those pieces came together as a finished boot, boxed up and ready to ship. Hats off to these workers, they make everything look so smooth and easy. Turning out boot after boot, while they
graciously walked me through the steps of their jobs.
The Designs -
You have to think that footwear as new and exciting as what's coming out of Keen Utility has to have a pretty impressive design area, and they did not disappoint. They have lasers, multiple 3D printers, sewing machines of the future, and everything else they need to be forward thinking in the footwear industry. Being able to prototype in house turns concepts into realty that much quicker, ultimately getting better looking, stronger, and more comfortable shoes on your feet faster. Something we all appreciate.
The People -
You hear from a lot of companies that everyone on staff is like family, and talking with people there it really did seem that way. But Keen Utility gives this a whole new meaning. With the owner taking a very hands on approach and the factory and new product design run by the owner’s sons (both incredibly knowledgeable and all around good people) you could really feel that the company was in good hands.
As my fellow woodworkers know, the greatest tools in the world mean nothing unless you have the right people running them. From what I saw, Keen Utility sure found the right people. From the factory to the front office, everyone was passionate about one thing; taking innovative ideas and turning them into well made shoes.