Home Gear product The two young entrepreneurs take over a century-old boot business

The two young entrepreneurs take over a century-old boot business

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In the early 2000s, Chris Sawyer blew up two pairs of Vasque Sundowner boots while working as a ranger at the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico. During his search for a replacement pair, he found himself browsing the back wall of Footsloggers, a hardware store in Boone, NC where he was drawn to the Limmer Lightweight, a boot all in leather that Kristin Hostetter, then editor-in-chief of Hiker magazine (and now OBJ’s editorial director), dubbed “almost perfect in its simplicity”.

Sawyer immediately agreed with this assessment. A devotee is born.

“They ended up being a Christmas present from my parents that year, and they were just different from any pair of boots I had ever seen or worn,” he told OBJ. “They were beautiful, so beautiful I was nervous to spoil them, so again in 2004 another pair of Sundowners were destroyed.”

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Over the next several years, however, Sawyer learned to stop worrying and love his Limmer boots. He wore them so much that they ended up needing new insoles. So he bonded with shoemaker Peter Limmer, the grandson of company founder Peter Limmer Sr., and had his boots resole and sent him back.

Fast forward a few years to 2014, when Sawyer found himself visiting his brother-in-law and sister-in-law in New Hampshire. While there, he knew he had to visit the Peter Limmer & Sons store in Intervale, New Hampshire, where Peter Limmer outfitted Sawyer for a new pair of custom boots. His attachment to the brand, to boots and to the shoemaker was reinforced.

While returning to the store in 2016, Sawyer met Limmer’s apprentice, Adam Lane-Olsen. Sawyer and Lane-Olsen have become close friends over the years, and when Karl Limmer, then owner of Limmer Boots Co. — the half of the business that produces boots through supplier Meindl — decided to shut down the company, the two new friends have sworn to carry on the tradition. Maybe they could be the next generation of Limmer stewards, they thought.

It took a while to convince, but Sawyer finally convinced Karl Limmer to sell him half the business. The deal was made in February and since then Sawyer has been working to rebuild Limmer Boots, which is now online and taking orders at limmerboots.com.

Chris Sawyer (top left) and Adam Lane-Olsen (top right) have taken over the legacy of Limmer Boots. Photo: Courtesy

Under their joint venture, Lane-Olsen operates Peter Limmer & Son in New Hampshire and Sawyer operates Limmer Boots and its distribution of stock boots to a wider audience in Fort Collins, Colorado. They are both “100% Limmer Boots believers,” Sawyer said, and they now have a strong team of Limmer enthusiasts working with them on the revival.

To learn more about this next chapter for Limmer, we chatted with Sawyer and Lane-Olsen via email about their plans for the new Limmer boots.

How are the two companies, Peter Limmer & Sons in New Hampshire and Limmer Boots, different?

Sawyer: Peter Limmer & Sons Inc. and Limmer Boots LLC (formerly Limmer Boot Inc.) are two separate companies that operate under the Limmer brand, of which Adam and I each own 50 percent. The companies were split in 2010 to facilitate the liquidation of certain real estate owned by both Karl and Peter Limmer. Peter Limmer & Sons will continue to manufacture bespoke boots and a number of series boots made in the USA. Limmer Boots works directly with Meindl to coordinate the purchase and distribution of German made Stock Limmer. The Meindl and Limmer families have known each other for over 100 years and have been business partners since the 1950s.

How will Peter Limmer & Sons and Limmer Boots coordinate?

Lane-Olsen: At this point, Peter Limmer & Sons will continue to repair and perform warranty work for Limmer Boots LLC. I see the importance, to the success of Peter Limmer & Sons and Limmer Boots, of telling the unified story in a way that reaches the right consumers and builds on the story that has been established by generations past. .

Limmer Boots
The new Limmer boots are now live and taking orders. Photo: Courtesy

Who else is involved in the reboot and how do you keep the brand’s DNA intact while ensuring you build a brand for today’s market?

Sawyer: An amazing group of people helped bring it all together. Adam and I are very determined to keep Limmer’s DNA roughly the same. The story is absolutely amazing, we hope to share and celebrate it, but understand that we cannot stand alone and must continue to adapt as necessary and build for the future. One of the main ways we are preparing for today’s market is by consolidating two websites into one, in order to streamline the customer experience. For the first time, customers will be able to order boots directly from us on Limmerboots.com and register electronically on the custom backlog to reserve their spot online for a pair of custom Limmer boots. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to reconnect the two companies and know that doing this part right is critical for Limmer customers. I have all kinds of pipe dreams about the future, but we’re going to be taking slow steps to make sure we move in a measured and steady direction. We also hope to start working on partnerships with agencies and businesses that complement Limmer, and where we hope our boots will make a difference.

Lane-Olsen: The transition at Peter Limmer & Sons has been better than I expected, and the client has gone largely unnoticed from the outside. It was intentional. Most clients still expect a family member to run the business. Since taking charge I have made small changes, but from a staff and product perspective not much has changed. Most importantly, Peter Limmer continues to work for me at the store part time. After the transition he was fantastic. He works hard, allows me to lead the business, is excited about the changes I have made and is the first to tell clients that Peter Limmer & Sons is in good hands even though he is not in the business. family.

Looking just at the product side, how will the new iteration of Limmer boots differ from the old version? How are they the same?

Sawyer: We have worked closely with Lukas Meindl and his production team to ensure that Limmer Stock boots are made and sourced from the exact same materials as they always have been. This includes the supply of thick mountain cowhide, specifically the 3.2mm leather for the standard boot.

Lane-Olsen: There has been little change over the past 70 years. Why start now? The changes occurring are not intended to make modifications to the boot, but to improve the equipment and to accommodate the changing supply chain and extended delivery times. At the store, I focused less on the product change, although I did do an upgrade – to a braided polyester thread to sew the midsole to the boot shank, eliminating a twisted linen thread. . I also focused a lot on the store itself. Since March, I have invested approximately $ 20,000 in materials, lighting and tools. I doubled the amount of light in the workspace, bought a newly rebuilt Landis L 1956 stitcher, an additional sewing machine, a second leather knife, a second finisher, and enough hand tools to make sure that newly hired employees will have a full set of tools from day one. I changed the layout of the store to provide more workspace and create a more welcoming atmosphere for customers.

What is the brand’s channel strategy (i.e. direct, wholesale, etc.)?

Sawyer: The first and second year will be direct sales. Time will tell, but hopefully customers can try Limmer Boots in the retail space, as I did at Footsloggers in Boone, NC, in 2003. The current plan is to get started. by the stores that made Limmer Boot Co. a hit in the late 90s. Some of them have gone out of business, but we would be planning to move back into these type of stores, independent, owner-owned retailers. local. We haven’t reached out to the Grassroots group of retailers yet, but these are the types of stores I dreamed of at night as a kid, the types of stores we hope to support in the future.

Lane-Olsen: Peter Limmer & Sons offers a very unique model that I want to protect. Ninety-five percent or more of our customers come to the store. I don’t plan on making any changes to this aspect, however, being able to access the custom backlog through the new website is new and has made this process easier for customers.

How do you plan to measure the success of the rebirth of Limmer Boots and what are the long term plans?

Sawyer: Success will be measured in several ways: by how we serve Limmer customers, by providing them with the shoes they need to work, hike and treat foot pain; by how we align the goals of Peter Limmer & Sons and Limmer Boots, so as to facilitate an incredible customer experience and a streamlined business; and how we manage the Limmer story in a way that sets the brand up for success for the next 100 years. Adam and I are committed to preserving the century-old legacy of Peter Limmer Sr., Peter Limmer II, Francis Limmer, Peter Limmer and Karl Limmer, by providing customers with the highest quality boots, materials and customer service possible. We believe in the power of developing community and relationships in the great outdoors, and know that the moments of introspection and empowerment learned there can transform any individual. We are excited that customers try on Limmer boots and hope they will be transformed by the people and places they meet when wearing our products.

Lane-Olsen: Peter Limmer & Sons has been, and will be, focused on quality over quantity – dedicated to the craftsmanship of making custom boots to a level that will allow the utmost attention to every detail and maintain a direct relationship with clients. In addition to the customer aspect, I want to create a work environment for myself and for the employees that fosters learning and creativity, provides a comfortable salary and provides ample time away from work.


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