Brothers F.M. and William Brooks took a leap of faith during the Great Depression and moved their families to start a shoe factory in Nelsonville, Ohio. The duo set up shop in a rent-free building with lent equipment, and the William Brooks Shoe Co. was born.
In 1946, F.M. left Nelsonville, but his son John remained to raise a family and help grow the factory.
In the late 1950s, William sold the business to the Irving Drew Shoe Co. based in Lancaster, OH. Although disappointed over the sale of the business, John continued to work for the company under new ownership.
Footwear manufacturing in the U.S. languished throughout the 1960's. Production facilities closed and, eventually, the former William Brooks Shoe Co. factory became outdated. By 1975, Irving Drew was ready to sell or shut down the factory.
John Brooks grasped the opportunity and bought the business back with his son Mike, who immediately moved back to Ohio from his job at a Milwaukee tannery. In search of a rugged, outdoorsy name, the Rocky brand was created in 1979.
“I say that was the new birth of the business. We probably didn't have one chance in a hundred to survive. We should have been just another shoe company that tried and didn't make it, and there's hundreds of them.”
With Mike Brooks at the helm, the company continued to grow throughout the 1980s. Following a successful SHOT show in 1984, Rocky shifted focus and expanded their efforts in hunting footwear, designing innovative boots like the Cornstalker. Soon, outdoor stores and retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods and Cabela's were selling Rocky products across the country.
Still headquartered in Nelsonville, Ohio and now run by Mike’s son Jason, Rocky continues to be a world leader in premium quality Outdoor, Work, Western, Public Service and Military footwear as well as Outdoor and Work apparel and accessories. Innovation, quality, and durability are hallmarks of the Rocky brand.