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Chaco Retrofits ReChaco Factory Operations to Sew and Donate Protective Masks

Chaco, a division of Wolverine Worldwide, announced today that it has shifted the focus of its Michigan-based ReChaco and ReChaco Mobile Repair bus factories from sandal repairs and product customization to the production of face masks and other critical protective equipment needed by healthcare and other first responders working through the Covid-19 pandemic.

After Michigan issued a statewide stay at home order this week, Chaco moved quickly to retrofit its factory to produce face masks, and is also exploring specs for the production of gowns and aprons. By sourcing patterns from local healthcare systems and collecting raw materials from Wolverine Worldwide, Chaco was able to put the plan in motion in a matter of days.

“We at Chaco are doers. It’s not in our team’s DNA to stand by when we have the opportunity and resources to take action,” says Lisa Kondrat, director of operations for the ReChaco Factory and 20-year veteran of Chaco. “We want our skills and machinery to be useful in this crisis.”

The ReChaco factory is equipped with industrial sewing machines, ample back stock of materials and is staffed by a production team with decades of professional sewing expertise. The ReChaco Mobile Repair bus is also outfitted with sewing machines, hot knives and other equipment for making and mending sandals, and will shift its focus to prototyping and producing protective equipment in the Pacific Northwest. Chaco is partnering with agency partner Field Scout and sister brand Merrell to source vetted fabric and materials for the initiative. The brand plans to share their patterns, sourcing leads and learnings as a resource for other companies and individuals looking to contribute during the pandemic.

“Our goal here is to inspire quick and creative action from other brands and companies in our space,” says Josh Weichhand, marketing director at Chaco. “Chaco and Wolverine Worldwide aren’t the only  companies with people and machinery positioned to help in this crisis—everyone has something they can offer. This is both critical aid for our communities and an opportunity to empower our teams to lead, and we know other brands with similar resources in the outdoor industry, footwear and fashion space will also rise to the occasion.”

To learn more about this initiative and Chaco’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and pandemic, visit

The April/May 2024 Issue

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