Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chaco USA...Yeah right.

My Chaco Feet a few years ago on the Colorado tundra(Holly Cross wilderness).

As many of you know I live in my Chaco sandals in the summer months and have been for more than a decade now, I get my "Chaco tan" every year because of it. Some of my Chaco sandals in past years have lasted multiple hundreds of walking miles, and I've always been proud to boast "Made right here in Colorado!"

But NO More! As this email I sent to "Chacousa" confirms...
My email:
Hi Chaco,
For the longest time I could have sworn I saw "Made in Colorado" on my Chaco footwear. I've lived in Colorado my whole life (33 years) and I really got proud of wearing my Colorado made product by a Colorado made company. Then a couple months ago in REI I overheard a conversation, where one person was saying that all the Chaco products have moved production to China. Are Chacos made in China now? Please say it anit so.
Sincerely, Alex

...And now the bad news:
Chacousa's reply:
Thank you for your email. Unfortunately what you heard was true, all of Chaco products are made in China now. Below is our reasoning for going to China by Mark Paigen, owner.

As you probably know, Chaco has made our Headwaters line of sandals in Colorado since the company was founded in 1989. However, as with any other company Chaco is subject to the vicissitudes of economics. It is no longer an economically viable proposition to manufacture relatively simple products by hand in the United States. By attempting to keep production here, when the numbers tell us otherwise, we put ourselves at a distinct economic disadvantage which threatens our very existence. While we will still assemble a limited number of our custom sandals here in Paonia, our production operations will now move overseas.

(If you’re interested in a pair of our custom, assembled-in–Colorado sandals, please let us know at

For the past few years, Chaco sandals have been "Assembled in the US" as opposed the "Made in the US." The reason is that there are no domestic US suppliers of the materials we need to legally say the shoes are "made" here. That is, the domestic content of our shoes has fallen below that level required to use the word "made." Parts are all imported - in separate boxes in containers - and then assembled here in Paonia. We think it's likely that the move to Chinese production may actually create a positive environmental impact. By assembling those parts into a whole sandal where the parts originate and shipping the whole item in one container instead of in many small ones provides an economy that we are unable to capture in the United States.

Chaco has for years been a model of environmental responsibility, going so far as to heat and cool our offices geothermally, to donate 10% of after-tax profits to organizations that care for the planet and its people and to pay our employees an incentive to ride their bikes or walk to work. The factories in China where our products are built were only selected after a rigorous investigation - and ongoing visits - by the owner of Chaco and his executive staff.

Speaking for myself, being able to work with a group of friends and make a great product in our little town here in the mountains of Colorado was a wonderful experience. However, as much as we wish they wouldn’t, things do change. To be perfectly honest, it has been a very emotional experience for all of us at Chaco – those who left and those who remain - to watch while our production jobs went away.

While we fully understand the economics of the situation and we know that we can’t stay in business if we don’t make money it hasn’t made the experience any easier.

On the positive side, while production jobs went away, other opportunities were created. Almost all of my colleagues in Customer Services, for example, are former Chaco production staff and other former production workers now fill key roles in Dealer Services, Marketing, Distribution, Repair and Warranty and Operations.

Chaco was very generous in providing separation benefits to our friends and former colleagues whose jobs went away and while that’s not the same as having a job to go to each morning it does go a long way to providing assistance until that new job is found.

We hope that you and other people of good conscience like yourself will still want the best sport sandals and shoes on the market. In that hope, we will continue to pour our heart and soul into these products. Thanks again for your email and on behalf of all of us here at Chaco, thanks for your support.
-Mark Paigen

Anybody know where I can get a good pair of sandals, Mine moved to China!
The problem I have with this move is that I've only had to buy about 4 pairs of Chaco sandal in the 12+ years or so that I've been wearing them. I can expect them to last a few hundred miles (2-3 years of summer walking) a pair. They are/were nearly Bombproof!
With production moving to China, I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure that the quality will suffer and I'll eventually be paying more for less.