Sole patrol

San Antonio shoemaker laces up $25 million deal for military footwear

San Antonio shoemaker laces up $25 million deal for military footwear

Nancy Richardson of San Antonio Shoemakers
CEO Nancy Richardson shoes off the shoes SAS is creating for military members.  Photo by Carson Frame/American Homefront

A San Antonio company is putting lots of sole into the U.S. military.

San Antonio Shoemakers just secured a $25.4 million, two-year contract to supply tens of thousands of athletic shoes to new recruits in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded SAS’ first military shoe contract, worth $34 million. That deal produced as many as 398,000 pairs of athletic shoes. In 2019, Air Force recruits at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland received SAS’ first batch of military shoes under that contract.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act required that the Department of Defense provide free American-made athletic footwear to new recruits, resulting in shoe contracts for SAS and two other manufacturers (New Balance and Propper Footwear).

“San Antonio Shoemakers has made athletic training shoes for the U.S. war fighter for several years, successfully manufacturing and delivering essential footwear to all branches of the military, even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Nancy Richardson, CEO of the 45-year-old company. “We are very proud to continue supporting our troops by making high-performance, durable footwear right here in San Antonio.”

Before the 2017 federal law took effect, the military issued uniforms to new recruits but not athletic shoes.

“Instead, recruits bought their own using a clothing allowance — which allowed them to choose the brand they preferred,” the American Homefront Project says.

When recruits went shoe shopping, they discovered that about 98 percent of footwear was manufactured outside the U.S. Now, they’re wearing athletic shoes made right here in San Antonio.