weinbrenner shoes

Ben Meyer/WXPR

Full hides of brown and black leather are draped over a cart and wheeled by a worker from place to place in the maze-like Weinbrenner Shoe Company factory in Merrill.

“Not everybody realizes what goes into making the shoe. I always tell people, if you get a chance to tour a shoe factory, take it,” says Rick Hass, a costing engineer serving as a tour guide of the factory floor.

The factory, which produces premium shoes and boots sold under the Thorogood brand, dates to 1936.

It has low ceilings, some dark corners, and worker after worker focused on their task.