From Sandals to Work Boots?

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My boots are possibly the most important tools I own. For the past twenty years, I have owned at least a couple dozen different pairs of work boots. Unlike my favorite copper tubing cutter or pipe wrench, a pair of boots won’t likely last any one of us multiple years and work as well as the day they were new. Yet we rely on our boots sometimes for 15-20 hours a day, batter them with dirt, dust, mud, rain, snow, water and more. Our boots aren’t much different than any of our other tools, with the wrong pair our jobs are harder, less efficient.

We recently had the opportunity to tour the KEEN Utility headquarters in Portland, Oregon to learn all about this relatively young company; how it got its start and where they’re heading in the future.

In 2003 the KEEN shoe company emerged with the now iconic Newport sandal; most would recognize the Newport sandal because of its rubber toe cap. Martin Keen and Rory Fuerst were co-founders of the brand and shortly after they founded KEEN started, Martin KEEN ventured out to pursue other creative and business interests. Rory Fuerst has remained a passionately dedicated owner, driving KEEN, Inc. to new heights every year including introducing KEEN Utility and safety footwear in 2010.

Don’t mistake KEEN and KEEN Utility as one in the same

Hiking boots are for hiking or camping and I doubt your steel toes are your go-to footwear for your next trip to the Tetons. The construction materials, process and whole design of KEEN Utility work boots differs in many ways from the parent company’s hiking boots. Simply stated, KEEN Utility boots are built to handle the tough demands of the job site, hiking boots are not.

Made in the USA

Let’s face the facts, the majority of KEEN’s shoes and boots are not made in the United States but the same can be said about nearly all other footwear companies in the work boot market however, KEEN Utility is manufacturing multiple models and styles at their Portland manufacturing factory. The list of USA made boots is available the KEEN Utility website.

Our tour included a most memorable experience as we actually built our own boots! From the very first steps of assembly to packaging, we all walked away with our own boots and it was a really cool experience.

Our very own Made in the USA boots!

Our very own Made in the USA boots!

What’s coming?

Women’s work boots are typically just smaller sized men’s boots clad in different colors, this is a problem women face when selecting protective boots. The KEEN team is changing that by leaving the “shrink-it and pink it” business model for other manufacturers; they’ve been working for a couple years now with ONLY women to design a complete line of protective, high performing work boots based on true women sizes. The new designs will hit market in 2019 and are promised to fit better than other “women’s” boots available today. We anticipate the launch to be well received and plan to post reviews from our female ProStaff members when the new boots are made available to the team.

KEEN Utility offers a complete and comprehensive line of work boots for all trades. You can find more information on


Men's San Jose 6", aluminum toe

Men’s San Jose 6″, aluminum toe


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