Wellco begins shutdown

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

Effective today, Wellco Enterprises Inc. will begin ceasing operations at its Morristown manufacturing site.

Located in the Morristown Airport Industrial District, the company employs 53 workers, according to a Human Resources representative. The employees were notified in advance by letter.

The shutdown of the plant, estimated to be completed by the end of July, should not come as a huge surprise, according to Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Marshall Ramsey.

“They operated primarily by government contracts,” Ramsey said. “Anytime a company with a focus on military contracts locates in a community, you understand they have a definite lifespan. The longevity is often at the whim of political powers, such as the pullback in troops from Afghanistan.”

Wellco was established in Morristown in 2010, at the 100,000 square-foot former site of BOS Automotive, to manufacture army combat footwear.

The original facility was constructed in 1996 by BOS, and is still in good condition, according to Ramsey.

“We have already had interest in the building,” he said.

According to the Wellco website, the company’s Morristown location was labeled as the largest footwear molding facility in North America.

Wellco Enterprises Inc. began operations in 1941 under its original name, Wellco Shoe Corporation.

In the early 1930s, the German company developed the first practical method for molding and attaching a rubber sole to a shoe upper in a single vulcanizing operation and patented the technology.

In 1965, as a result of unsatisfactory performance of previous Army combat footwear in the jungles of Vietnam, the Army adopted Wellco-Ro-Search technology for the manufacture of its hot-weather boots, a product that was later known as the “Vietnam Boot.”

-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer

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