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Entries : Florsheim Shoe Co.
Florsheim Shoe Co.

Florsheim Shoe Co.

Workers at Florsheim Shoe Co., 1949
In 1892 Milton Florsheim, the son of a Chicago shoemaker, started a small shoe store. Florsheim soon moved into manufacturing, and by 1910 the company had 600 workers at its factory at Adams and Clinton Streets. By the end of the 1920s, when annual sales stood at $3 million, there were five Chicago-area factories, employing a total of 2,500 men and women. Business slowed during the Great Depression, but Florsheim emerged at the end of World War II as one of the top 10 firms in the industry, with nearly $18 million in annual sales. Control of the company left the Chicago area in 1953, when Florsheim was purchased by the International Shoe Co. (later Interco Inc.) of St. Louis. Florsheim became International Shoe's most profitable unit, leading the market for high-quality men's shoes. At the beginning of the 1970s, still a subsidiary, the Florsheim division consisted of 14 factories and 500 retail stores nationwide. During the 1980s, many of its manufacturing operations were moved overseas. In 1994, soon after Interco entered bankruptcy, Florsheim was spun off as an independent company with its headquarters in Chicago. By the end of the 1990s, Florsheim Shoe Group Inc. had about 10 percent of the market for men's dress shoes, making it the leading company in the trade. By that time, when it was doing close to $250 million in annual sales, only about 10 percent of its some 2,000 employees worldwide worked in the Chicago area.