Just eight months after it opened its factory in Portland, Oregon, Keen is revising upward its estimates of the plant’s capabilities. It started out saying that the factory would make eight footwear styles once it was up and running; now it says that this figure will be 13.
Keen opened the Portland factory with two production lines making the “Portland Boot”, and said that it hoped the new facility would allow it to better fast-track research into sustainable production, as well as lessen the risks of keeping all of its sourcing in Asia. It also hoped to create manufacturing jobs in its U.S. home market; almost all of its production is in Asia.
Fifteen people currently work at the 15,000-square-foot plant, when at full capacity will be able to produce 1.5 million pairs of shoes per year, 30 percent of the company’s total production volume. It uses direct-attach technology to adhere the outsole of each shoe to its upper, so there is significantly less need for petroleum-based adhesives or volatile chemicals.
Keen plans to hire more employees this year when it opens new production lines for men’s and women’s casual shoes.