Justin Boot celebrates 25 years in Cassville

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Justin Boot Company employees celebrated the Cassville plant's 25th anniver-sary with an outdoor luncheon on July 20.

"I appreciate everyone sitting through the heat to be a part of this celebration," said Randy Watson, Justin Boot Company president and chief executive officer. "There are not many shoe manufacturers left in the United States. This is a special moment in the footwear business."

The Justin Boot Company Cassville plant has shipped over 9.7 million pair of boots in the last 25 years, said Watson.

"I have to hand it to everybody for what you're doing here in Cassville," said Watson. "It's all about a quality product, which takes the hard work of a lot of people on a daily basis. This is something to be really proud of."

Watson, who travelled to Cassville from Justin's Ft. Worth, Texas, headquarters, presented the Cassville plant with a certificate of appreciation plaque to commemorate the 25th anniversary. He also presented each 25-year employee with a 25th anniversary mantle clock.

Employees who have worked at the Justin Boot Company plant in Cassville for the last 25 years include: Dub Antle, Janice Hinson, Phyllis Howe, Rose Newman, James Aldridge, Jimmy Asburry, Art Koehler, Pat Aldridge, Peggy Eddie, Ann Griffis, Judy Davis, Hal Smith, Geraldine Fields, David Shoemaker and Patty Day.

"Justin Boot was founded in Texas in 1879," said Bill Ledbetter, Justin Boot Company human resources director. "One of the hardest sells we've had was to convince the Justin family to produce boots outside Texas.

"Once we made that sale it was one of the better moves the company has made," said Ledbetter. "I can't imagine not being in Missouri now."

Ledbetter recalled visiting the Cassville plant during its grand opening 25 years ago. He believes the local workforce is one aspect that has helped to sustain the business locally over the last two and one half decades.

"It's all about the people," said Ledbetter. "We have been lucky to have a really great workforce here. I hope they feel the sense of pride that we feel in being here for 25 years."

The Justin Boot Company continues to make machinery and environmental improve-ments at the Cassville plant to help promote efficiency and safety.

The Justin Boot Company Cassville plant spent several months preparing for the 25th anniversary celebration. Plant supervisors served the cafeteria-style meal and 25th anniversary cake to Justin Boot Company employees during the celebration.

The Justin Boot Company was founded in 1879 by H.J. "Joe" Justin in Spanish Fort, Texas. Using $35 that had been loaned to him by an employer, Justin began making boots for the working cowboys who stopped in Spanish Fort on their way to the western cattle drives.

Justin measured and fitted each cowboy to customize each pair of boots. The cowboys picked up their new Justin boots on the way back through Spanish Fort from the cattle ranches. When the railroad bypassed Spanish Fort, Justin moved his boot business to Nocona, Texas.

After Justin's death in 1918, the boot company was run by H.J. Justin's sons, John, Earl and Samuel, who moved the Justin Boot Company to Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1925.

In 1981, Justin Boot Company executives made the decision to purchase a facility in Cassville. The Justin Boot Cassville plant opened in July of that year.

Today, Justin Boot Company corporate headquarters remain in Ft. Worth. Footwear manufacturing plants are located in Cassville, Carthage and El Paso, Texas.

Justin Boot Company is a division of Justin Brands, Inc., a recognized leader in the production of western footwear. Justin Brands' divisions also include Tony Lama Company, Justin Original Workboots, Nocona Boot Company and Chippewa Shoe Company.

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