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Begich drubs quality of Xtratuf boots

Letter to boot-maker expresses concern over outsourced jobs

Posted: October 11, 2012 - 12:08am

Senator Mark Begich recently questioned the quality of Chinese-made Xtratuf boots in a letter asking Honeywell Safety Products to bring manufacture of its storied boot back to the U.S.

“People replacing boots that used to last for years found the new pairs leaked and the soles separated from the uppers after just a few weeks’ wear. These were not the durable boots Alaskans were used to, earning the new name: ‘SORT-OF-TUFs,’” Begich said in his letter to Honeywell.

At least of third of Honeywell’s annual Xtratuf boot production ends up in Alaska.

Begich said poor manufacturing in China is to blame for the reduction in quality. Honeywell, a U.S. corporation, outsourced manufacture of the storied boots in late 2011. In his letter Begich asked Honeywell CEO David Cote to recommend adjustments to U.S. tax code that are needed to bring those jobs back to America. As of the writing of this story, Begich had not yet heard back from Cote.

Western Auto Marine General Manager John Weedman said his store had an uptick in Xtratuf returns for a time at the beginning of 2012. Though the boot material and design remained unchanged in China, the glue holding the boot together was poorly applied, he said. Boot linings began to sag and soles delaminated.

“We’ve seen a few people change brands,” Weedman said.

Honeywell has since identified and fixed the quality control problem, Weedman said. Since early May, Xtratufs sold out of Western Auto have been of good quality, he said.

“Anybody who sells Xtratuf went out of their way to get that defective product out of the supply chain,” Weedman said.

Weedman said that most of his Xtratuf customers have remained loyal to the brand.

He said customers still occasionally return defective Xtratufs.

“We’re happy to take care of them,” Weedman said. However there are limits to a warranty, he said.

“If they have hole in their boot where a halibut harpoon went through their foot” the return policy does not apply, Weedman said. “But they’ll get lots of sympathy from us.”

For more information visit www.xtratufboots.com.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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