Founded In 1922
Founded In 1922

Founded in 1922 as the Lehigh Rubber and Leather Company in the Lehigh Valley of PA, it is rumored that the President of a well-known steel company approached the President of Lehigh with a need to help him protect his factory workers. The 2 friends came up with several ideas, such as inserting a steel toe inside a work boot... and the Lehigh Safety Shoes Company was born.

The Legend of Lehigh

Lehigh's history is rooted in the Lehigh Valley where mines/steel foundries recognized the need for additional protection from failing and rolling objects to the instep areas of the foot. The need resulted in Lehigh developing some of the first Metatarsal shoes for these customers. (Pictured: Bethlehem Steel Workers circa 1919)

 

Working Through The Years


For 100 years, Lehigh has been an innovative supplier of safety footwear. We were at the forefront of steel toe development and pioneered the on-site shoe truck. We continuously lead the industry in introducing new advanced technologies and innovative product designs. With dedicated program services, we partnered with the employing companies to ensure them a more productive and profitable business. Progressively entering the digital landscape allowed us to build online tools to better control and manage the process for our customers. Utilizing our years of experience, Lehigh remains the unrivaled innovation leader.

 
1930s
1934

Ahead of other work boot providers, Lehigh understood the importance and value of a proper fitting boot for industrial work and provided this fitting sizer for workers to measure for their best fit.

1935 - The Slogan

The slogan INDUSTRY WORKS IN LEHIGH SAFETY SHOES was trademarked in 1935.

 

Selection Of Shoes To Buy


Circa 1940s, workers had a great selection of lightweight leather Lehigh Safety Shoes to fit their needs and style.

 
1940s

1942

Lockrim® Trademark for Lehigh steel toe caps

1943

Lockrim® trademark transferred to Endicott Johnson - started manufacturing Lehigh Safety Shoe boots

1950s
1958

Lehigh Footshields trademark registered

1960s
Shoe Trucks: Mobile Shoe Service

We pioneered the shoe-store-on-wheels approach for exceptional service. Each truck was serviced by a growing nationwide network of shoe centers located in local industrial areas to accommodate any shift with full size runs of required footwear. But after years of providing this leading-edge service, we keyed in on its painful limitations of supply, selection and service times and revolutionized the industry by progressively transitioning into an online solution we named CustomFit.

Part I

Part II
1965 - If Monty Python Made Safety Shoes

"Be a good Knight again and save ladies with long hair."
In 1965 Lehigh Safety Shoes had a sales pitch created for the relatively new safety shoe market. The result was this quirky series of animations and demonstrations. If Monty Python made safety shoe advertisements, they might look like this. Where did safety shoes all begin?

1970s
November 1973

The Endicott-Johnson Corporation in Endicott, NY buys Lehigh Safety Shoes Inc.

1980s

Lehigh exclusive Miragum® sole was rated the best in the industry for wear-resistance against oil, chemicals and abrasives.
Lehigh exclusive Lockrim® steel toe cap tested to meet ANSI class 75 specifications.

1988

NuGuard 75® Trademark filed

1990s
1992

PermaLite trademark filed - registration date 1993 & Positrax Slip-Resistant footwear introduced

1995

The Endicott-Johnson Corporation, owner of Lehigh Safety Shoes, is purchased by US Industries and its name is changed to EJ Footwear Corp. It's base of operations is moved to Franklin, TN but Lehigh Safety Shoes stays in and operates out of Endicott, NY

1996 - FlameGuard™ Firefighter Footwear trademark registered

The first time in a fireboot, Lehigh offered in 1997 a non-metallic puncture-resistant plate. Like steel, the composite plate was flexible and provided excellent protection, but unlike steel it did not conduct heat or cold but insulated the foot as a shield from extreme temperatures.

1997 - LSR® created (trademark filed)

• Standing for Lehigh Slip Resistant, the iconic all black or all white leather styles were designed for workers in the hospitality and restaurant industries who needed easy-to-clean comfort shoes that would resist slipping on a commercial kitchen tile floor when contaminated with water, soap and grease.
• Power Cushion™ technology introduced
• FlameGuard™ Firefighter Boot - First non-metallic puncture-resistant plate in a fire boot

1999 - US1 created (trademark filed)

US1 was Lehigh's top of the line Union-made in the USA line of footwear

 

The New Millennium


• Fit For Safety® and Fit For Work® trademarks were filed to promote our dedication to fitting company needs for quality, dependable and compliant footwear that ensures employee safety in various work environments.
• EJ Footwear Corp., owner of Lehigh Safety Shoes, is bought by Citicorp Venture Capital Ltd., a subsidiary of Citigroup.

 
2000s
2001 - Boot Tracker Created

Boot Tracker was an innovative offering to our B2B customers. It was a Sales History Information Center that allowed them to view and download order and shipment history for greater program visibility and analysis.

2002

Comfort To The Max ad highlights our newest comfort technology. Similar to Power Cushion, the extra thick free-breathing removable insert provides foot flexibility and increased comfort for all-day wear.

2004 - SlipGrips® Launched

With increased demand and popularity of the Lehigh LSR collection, it was expanded and branded SlipGrips. The initial SpiderGrip tread pattern introduced rival technology that channeled liquids away to allow for greater floor contact and friction to provide chefs and kitchen workers better stability, security and safety. 21 initial styles were introduced through a partnership with Shoe Carnival. As an extension of Lehigh Safety Shoes, SlipGrips offered corporate safety shoe programs to regional and national restaurant chains and casinos. To meet the demands of customers and increase variety and selection of styles, SlipGrips added distribution of other established slip-resistant brands to its catalog, becoming the largest single offering at the time of both styles and brands specific for the industry. In 2017, the DragonGrip proprietary outsole design was introduced. The smarter, ambitious, multi-tasking, fearless outsole empowers the wearer to work the floor with the sole of a dragon.

2004 - Online Private Catalogs Offered

• To broaden our service channels, we started offering dedicated websites to our customers to provide approved-only styles, easy 24/7 ordering and online payment.
• On December 6th, 2004, EJ Footwear was acquired by Rocky Shoes & Boots, Inc. located in Nelsonville, OH. Operations of Lehigh Safety Shoes was moved to Nelsonville

2008 - Official Launch of Lehigh Outfitters

With continued progression of the brand and shoemobile service, Lehigh Outfitters emerged as the parent company to broaden the scope of serving the individual working person. Seeing the need in its existing customers for tough, reliable gear on jobs and projects outside of traditional shift work, Lehigh Outfitters was established as gear for work and weekends. Retail stores opened in high traffic areas to service individual walk-ins in the front and stock shoe trucks for on-site industry visits in the back. Existing shoe centers in industrial locations were to be relocated and converted to also serve retail customers. The flagship store opened in Columbia SC in 2008.

2009 - Lehigh CustomFit® Established

Private Catalogs officially change to Lehigh CustomFit. As ecommerce and digital services grew, we elevated our focus on our Private Catalog offering. Although we had pioneered the on-site shoe truck, after years of providing this leading-edge service, we keyed in on its painful limitations of supply, selection and service times and progressively transitioned into an online solution we named CustomFit. Further entering the digital landscape allowed us to build online tools to control and manage a safety footwear program for our customers.

 

If Only Everything Was CustomFit


In 2011 Command Center was created to give our customers greater control.
Expanding the Innovative service of Boot Tracker, we changed the name to Command Center to promote how our digital and statistical tools help put our customers in command of their safety footwear program. More Info.

 
2010s
2012 - On-Site Kiosk Launch

In line with our digital offering and further embracing the convenience of technology, Lehigh started offering free on-site kiosks. Either permanently placed or temporary for a scheduled ordering event around subsidy renewal, the option provided greater program visibility, awareness and availability for convenient 24/7 ordering of unlimited styles and sizes compared to shoe truck visits.

2016 - Ordering & Fitting Events Launched

To help balance our digital service, we started offering iFit Ordering & Fitting Events to new accounts and around annual subsidy renewals. We increased program awareness and participation by bringing in kiosks for ordering, boot samples for demonstrations and our expert fit specialists to personally recommend the best fit per employee. Learn More.

2018 - Shoe Angel Debut

Shoe Angel was established in January 2018 to partner with healthcare facilities to help ensure their staff and associates are wearing proven slip-resistant comfort footwear designed for medical environments and containments. Learn More.

2018 - Innovative 3D Foot Scanner Introduced to the Safety Footwear Industry

Powered by Aetrex Technology, a worldwide leader in the industry, our 3D foot scanner brought to on-site Ordering and Fitting Events captures individual foot data to recognize and correct foot issues to help improve overall on-the-job performance. Learn More.

 
2019 - CustomFit Wellness Program Launch

After 100 years in the safety footwear business, we know that feet are the structural foundation of the body and essential to overall health and wellness. Everyday working conditions such as walking and standing on hard surfaces for long shifts can cause harmful issues to feet that radiate up the entire body. Our Wellness Program keeps its focus on safety while offering products and expertise that addresses proper fit and full body alignment for a healthy workforce. Learn More.

 

2020s

Keeping you safe while innovating your managed PPE program.


 
2020s
2020 - Safety Pledge

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic we provided essential workers their needed safety footwear to maintain company compliance by pledging to follow all CDC, company, state and local guidelines to give the highest level of safety and service to all of our customers.

2020 - True Fit Launch

Mainly used by Fashion retailers, True Fit is unique to the industrial workforce industry. Wearing the right size footwear is huge to avoiding foot issues and keeping employees on the job. So we worked with True Fit to introduce their online service of combining manufacturing design data with millions of consumer order date to recommend a perfect individual fit.

2020 - Email & SMS Launch

With email and text subsidy reminder notifications, Lehigh increases program awareness, compliance and wellness.