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9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Keen Utility

The Family Handyman was recently invited to visit Keen Utility in Portland, Oregon. The following are nine things we learned about the brand and its work boots that we didn't know before.

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Made in the USA

Made in the USA

Using materials sourced from around the world, about 25% of Keen Utility footwear is assembled by American workers in the United States, coming right out of the brand's Swan Island factory in Portland, Oregon. Click here to see the work boots in the American Built collection.Photo courtesy of Keen

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Specialized for Different Trades

Specialized for Different Trades

Keen produces specialized safety boots, such as the Mt. Vernon Met, for workers of various trades. The Mt. Vernon Met features an external metatarsal guard and Kevlar stitching to prevent feet from getting crushed on risky jobsites.Photo courtesy of Keen

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All in the Family

All in the Family

Keen leadership remains in the family. Sons of Rory Fuerst, one of the founders of Keen, now head up the innovation and production facets for the brand, keeping the original Keen passion and values alive. The iconic Keen Newport sandal (shown) launched the brand's success back in 2003.

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The Keen EffectMR.SOMPORN NA-UBON/Shutterstoc

The Keen Effect

The company gives back in several ways through the Keen Effect, which provides grants, volunteers and boot donations to various nonprofits around the world that share Keen's core values. This includes helping to protect natural resources through partners such as The Conservation Alliance, Leave No Trace and more.

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Passion for Reuse

Passion for Reuse

Recycling and repurposing are woven into the business culture. The Keen corporate offices feature upcycled furniture, work surfaces and more, giving the building a cool, industrial-chic vibe and also making use of materials that would otherwise end up in a dumpster. Photos near the entrance of the building show the single dumpster that was filled during the renovation of the building. Everything else was reused or recycled.Plus: Build a Router Table by Upcycling a Kitchen Countertop

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On-Site Design Team

On-Site Design Team

Innovation for Keen footwear is developed within the Portland factory by FIL (Fuerst Innovation Lab). A small team dreams up ideas, creates prototypes and launches new styles in-house using cutting-edge technologies such as 3D printers and laser cutters.Photo courtesy of Keen

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Keeping it Weird

Keeping it Weird

Rory Fuerst Jr. explained that Keen's vibe of being quirky and different means the ideas that his innovation team brings to the table must be a little crazy or they won't make it beyond the first stage of development. Take the new Raleigh men's work shoe, for example. It certainly doesn't look like your average jobsite boot, but its aluminum safety toe, metatomical PU footbed and slip-resistant, non-marking PU outsole hold up for anyone working light industrial or manufacturing jobswith the look and feel of a sneaker.Photo courtesy of Keen

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Testing the Limits

Testing the Limits

Rigorous testing for safety and durability happens onsite at the Keen factory in Portland, too, with cool machines designed to push the boundaries of materials and mimic extensive use and extreme environmental conditions. The photo here shows flex testing of outsoles with a small puncture. These tests ensure that Keen Utility footwear meets strict safety standards.Photo courtesy of Keen

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Hitting the Road

Hitting the Road

In an effort to reach more men and women that may not have time to shop for new work boots or maybe haven't heard much about the brand, Keen Utility has hit the road with a trailer stocked full of products and experts ready to find the right pair of work boots for every individual that stops by. Click here to learn more and see the Keen Utility Road Show schedule.Photo courtesy of Keen