Made in the Northwest: Hoffman Boots
KELLOGG, Idaho — John Hoffman, whose father and grandfather were both shoe repairmen, founded Hoffman Boots with his brother in 1973. And as soon as they put spikes in their logging boots for increased traction, they knew they were on to something.
“From there, it was like having a tiger by the tail,” recalled John Hoffman. “We just sold everything we made.”
And nearly five decades later, the Hoffman family is still handmaking high quality boots.
“It’s still our name on the products and we’ve got to stand behind it,” said vice president Tom Hoffman. “That’s how we’ve built a lot of business, just on customer service itself.”
Not only do they want their customers to be happy, they want them to be safe. For the logger on the hill, carrying a chainsaw, president Jim Hoffman says the company asks themselves, “How do we keep that guy up on his feet, you know, without slipping, falling? That’s where the caulks come in.”
Or for the lineman who might come into contact with live wires, “Our job is to make sure if that guy comes into contact with electricity on the ground that we keep him alive. That he doesn’t get electrocuted. And that’s a lot of our footwear is geared to withstand thousands of volts of electricity through the bottom of that shoe.”
But Hoffman Boots are popular with more than just loggers and linemen.
“Ice fishermen, hunters, snowmobilers, things like that that just want a good, quality boot that’s rebuildable,” said Jim Hoffman.
And there are no shortcuts in Hoffman’s boot making process. It’s all done the old school way – by hand.
“There’s a lot of sanding involved, as far as what the guys are doing,” explained Tom Hoffman. “A lot of physical hand work.”
Glue is brushed on to every custom made sole, before being flash heated and pressed to the boot on a shoe press.
“And then the girls, they’re working these big, heavy duty sewing machines that don’t just run themselves like the little at home version. They’re physical too,” said Tom Hoffman.
Even the spikes in the logging boots, known as caulks, are put in by hand.
“Every hole is hand drilled,” said Jim Hoffman. “Every receptacle that’s ont he back side is hammered in. And every one of these caulks is hand drilled in.”
Hoffman has sold its boots as far away as Japan and Australia. And it always has an eye on the future.
“The industry is always evolving and we’ll have to evolve along with it,” said Tom Hoffman.
“We’re always trying to innovate and trying to create the next best thing,” added Jim Hoffman. “And I think that’s what’s kept our business going so strong.”
But John Hoffman wishes he could go back in time, so his dad could see what his family has built after putting spikes in that first pair of boots.
“He would be amazed by what the first pair developed into.”
Catch up on the day’s news and look ahead to tomorrow by signing up for the Daily Local email newsletter from KXLY4. Headlines, events, and staff picks every weeknight at 8 p.m. Sign up HERE to get your news on the D.L.
COPYRIGHT 2020 BY KXLY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.