LaCrosse Footwear acquires White’s Boots of Spokane

LaCrosse Footwear acquires White’s Boots of Spokane

White’s, a company founded in Virginia before the Civil War that has long made boots for miners and loggers, will continue to operate its factory in Spokane, said Gary March, White’s president. March will continue in that role, the companies said.

These days, White’s is known for producing hand-made custom boots for logging, forestry and casual use, and has 113 employees.

Based on discussions with LaCrosse officials, March said the goal is to produce even more boots and increase the number of employees.

“Our success has been based on quality, made in America,” March said.

The companies declined to discuss terms of the sale. White’s was solely owned by March’s brother, Skip Hulette March.

“He’s selling because he’s 67 years old,” Gary March said. “He’s ready to move on.”

The transaction was completed Wednesday. The sale also includes the White’s Spokane factory and 8,900-square-foot retail store, where customers can watch their boots being built by hand.

Talks with LaCrosse officials began more than a year ago, March said. He said other footwear companies, which he declined to identify, also explored purchasing the company.

While the earliest history of the company is sketchy, White’s officials say company founder J.P. White started selling boots to miners and loggers in Virginia in the mid-1850s.

The company moved to St. Maries, Idaho, in 1905, and then to Spokane in 1915, March said.

LaCrosse executives pursued acquiring White’s because the two companies complement each other, said LaCrosse chief financial officer Kirk Layton. Part of the appeal is that White’s products are all made in the US, he said.

“We’re big on made in the USA,” Layton said. “We don’t build 100 percent of our stuff in the U.S. They build all their boots in Spokane. That’s something that’s attractive to us. They share our heritage. They’ve been around for a lot of years, they specialize in high-quality craftsmanship.”

Layton said LaCrosse officials anticipate growing White’s business through increased production from its existing line of boots. The brand is already “viewed as one of the most premium boot brands in Japan,” he said.

LaCrosse is a subsidiary of Japanese copany ABC-MART Inc. LaCrosse Footwear brands include Danner Boots, which has a boot-building factory near Portland International Airport.

“ABC-MART provides a lot of influence to our business direction,” Layton said, “but they’ve also provided us with a lot of autonomy. Let’s jut say we keep them well informed on what were doing.”

— Allan Brettman