Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of stories about the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce award winners.
The Red Wing Shoe Company has been a staple of the community, and country, over its 110-year history.
During the annual Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce meeting in January, the company won its eighth award-fourth in a row-for local Manufacturer of the Year.
"Being named Manufacturer of the Year is a testament of having dedicated employees focused on making remarkable products here in Red Wing, Minnesota," Chuck Witzke said. "We are also very proud of being one of the largest employers in the Red Wing area that promote manufacturing in the Red Wing community."
Witzke said winning this award is a privilege and humbling to be recognized by the community that he and the rest of the company love so much.
Helping the community prosper is a goal for the Shoe, volunteering as much as they can. The company has also become more involved with Red Wing High School, giving students tours and showing them what a possible career in shoe manufacturing could look like.
Explaining that working at Red Wing Shoe is not just some dirty job, but a place where you can grow and thrive is important to Witzke. He has worked at the Shoe for 33 years, with almost half that time spent as the director of manufacturing.
Four things come to Witzke's mind when talking about the shoes and boots made at the plant: safety, quality, cost and delivery. The employees reflect those high standards, saying the award they won shows how dedicated those people are.
"The reason I believe we're successful as a business and for the community is our employees," Witzke said. "Our employees are what drive us to be so successful. They work very highly on quality."
Outside the community, Red Wing Shoe continues to make a splash as Oprah Winfrey sported a pair of boots in the April cover photo of O Magazine. She wore the Iron Rangers from Red Wing's Heritage while trekking through the Amazon.
Even as celebrities and famous people become more interested in the top tier boot and shoe company, Witzke said the culture the Shoe and its workers established has helped them thrive over the last century.
"Best thing about Red Wing Shoe is the teamwork," Witzke said. "We've got a great group of people from top management, all the way down that are very supportive. They care about the community, they really care about the employees."