Made In Iowa: Fox River Socks - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Made In Iowa: Fox River Socks

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by Phil Prazan

Some say small town America is on its last leg.  They must have never been to Osage or the iconic Iowa company that pumps life into the town.

Fox River Mills is actually named after its former location on Wisconsin's Fox River.

Founded in 1900, the company bought Osage's Marr Knitting in 1966.  Three years later, a fire destroyed Marr Knitting and Fox River headquarters came in its place.

"It was an easy transition, it's all I've done my whole life," says President John Lessard, whose father passed the company down to him.  He's done nearly every job in the building.

"I did.  When I was in high school I worked in the dye house, in the shipping room, on the knitting floor.  We used to make errands, so I even helped in the errand department once in a while," says Lessard.

The production line wouldn't run without dedicated, qualified people to keep it going.

"I've always enjoyed fixing things and trouble shooting things. Trouble shooting things is the biggest part of my job," says Jeremy Nicholson who started here when he was 16.  Almost 25 years later, he works the knit floor.

"I kind of decided at an early age that this is where I want to raise my family so Fox River Mills is a good fit for that," says Nicholson.

"Most people live right around Osage.  Most of us have been here for anywhere from 18 to 30 some years.  So there's got to be a reason we all stay here," says Betty Huebsch.

Operator Betty Huebsch checks the quality on board and pair.

"My husband works here.  My sister is over there, she works here.  It's just a place where you can make a living and raise your family in a small town," says Huebsch.

What's on the feet of the nearly 200 employees here at Fox River?  Well, Fox River Socks, of course.

"Every pair of socks that I wear are from Fox River.  I won't wear any other socks," says Nicholson.

"That's all I wear is Fox River Socks," says Huebsch.

What type they're wearing, it could be many: outdoor, military or peak.  In the 1980s Americans decided they wanted different socks for different activities.

"They had to have a sock to cut a tree down, a sock to play basketball or a sock for tennis, a sock for hiking, mountain climbing, everything was activity specific," says Lessard.

Many to choose from, but all made here in Iowa at Fox River Mills.

If you want more information or want to buy socks, click here.

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