Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Selz, Schwab & Co.
Selz, Schwab & Co.

Selz, Schwab & Co.

Morris Selz, a native of Württemberg, Germany, arrived in Chicago in 1854 after working in sales for companies in Connecticut and Georgia. Selz started in the clothing business in Chicago with Selz & Cohn, but in 1871 he entered the wholesale shoe trade, founding M. Selz & Co. By the following year, the East Madison Street factory of the firm had about 350 employees, who made about $1 million worth of hand-pegged boots and shoes each year. Selz's company now ranked among the leading shoe manufacturers in the Midwest. The enterprise became Selz, Schwab & Co. in 1878, when Charles H. Schwab—another German immigrant who had arrived in Chicago in 1854—joined the firm. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the company employed about 1,500 workers at its factories around northern Illinois, which were located in Chicago, Joliet, Genoa, and Elgin. By this time, Selz, Schwab & Co. manufactured about 12,000 pairs of boots and shoes per day, which placed the company among the leading makers of footwear in the United States. Selz remained a major footwear company throughout the 1920s, before the Great Depression crippled its sales and forced its factories to close.