Joe Julian of Julian & Sons and Luke Kolbie of Kingfisher
Leatherworks Purchase W.C. Russell Moccasin Company
A word from Joe Julian:
I have a shotgun that comes to my shoulder almost automatically and puts my eyes right on target. All I have to do is drive past the bird and follow thru. It’s a perfect fit.
Not long ago, I learned that the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company was looking to pass on their tradition to new owners. I’ve been wearing Russells for over 30 years and have felt that I have been “part of the Fabricius family,” the family that owns this iconic American brand, ever since. They’ve been making custom-fitted hand-crafted outdoor footwear in their Berlin, Wisconsin workshops since 1898. Still handmade today, the way they did in the beginning
It occurred to me how much Julian & Sons and Russell Moccasin have in common. Both companies start with the finest materials in the hands of talented craftsmen who individually craft a unique product not typically found in today’s throwaway world.
It also struck me that my great friend Luke Kolbie, the founder of Kingfisher Leatherworks, which crafts leather cases, luggage and shooting equipment her in the United States, was very much cut from the same cloth.
All of us share the vision of a pursuit of perfection, and a passion for our products and the people who use them. There’s no question that there is a growing admiration and respect in America for fine craftsmanship, for building the best products possible. It’s not just about the workmanship but also very much about building something that will last a lifetime and, if needed, can be re-crafted instead of being thrown away or recycled. Prioritizing re-craftable designs, investing in enduring materials and employing the best craftsmen make the difference between a heritage product and a consumable one
We like to call this idea “Conservation Through Craftsmanship,” the simple but powerful notion of building things for the long haul, not the landfill.
With all this synergy in place, Luke and I took the next step and purchased the W.C. Russell Moccasin Company. For me, this was a personal move, not just business a decision. I could not pass on the opportunity to play a role in continuing to build upon the Russell Moccasin tradition and to shoulder the responsibility of continuing to serve as stewards of their legacy. It meant a lot to both Luke and I to hear Suzie Fabricius, third generation owner of Russell Moccasin, say, “It’s never easy selling a family heirloom, but we are most gratified that Luke Kolbie and Joe Julian are committed to continuing our traditional method of custom manufacturing in Berlin, Wisconsin. We have operated virtually unchanged for more than 124 years and we are thrilled that Luke and Joe share our same values, sustaining and building upon the Russell Moccasin heritage.”
All in all, it strikes me as another perfect fit…get ready!!!
Official Press Release: Russell Moccasin Passes On Tradition To New Owners
The W.C. Russell Moccasin Company of Berlin, Wisconsin, makers of custom-fitted hand-crafted outdoor footwear since 1898 has been purchased by Luke Kolbie, founder of Kingfisher Leatherworks and Joe Julian, president and owner of Julian & Sons. Chief Operating Officer Joe Gonyo will be continuing in his role leading the day-to-day production of Russell’s famous moccasin-style boots and shoes.
Luke Kolbie will serve as the new CEO of Russell Moccasin. “As a fourth generation Russell Moccasin wearer, the opportunity to be a steward of this company that has been so closely connected to both my heritage and that of the entire sporting community is a humbling and exciting experience.”
Joe Julian, no stranger to world-class craftsmanship noted that, “This is a personal, not just business partnership for me. Luke and I are good friends and share the same “Conservation through Craftsmanship” approach to business. We are united in the hope that the Russell Moccasin community will both support and hold us accountable to this philosophy. It is a foundational concept for both of us as we begin our tenure as the stewards of the Russell Moccasin legacy.”
Ralph “Lefty” Fabricius, 2nd generation owner and President of Russell Moccasin, states “Time marches on! It has been a privilege being a part of the Russell Moccasin legacy. I wish our new owners Luke and Joe continued success in the Russell Moccasin tradition.
Suzie Fabricius, 3rd generation owner of Russell Moccasin, says, “It is never easy selling a family heirloom, but we are most gratified that Luke Kolbie and Joe Julian are committed to continuing our traditional method of custom manufacturing in Berlin, Wisconsin. What is most important to all of us is keeping the integrity of the product and its traditional manufacturing processes in place. That way our customers can be assured they are still receiving the same quality footwear they have purchased throughout the years at Russell Moccasin. The only change you should notice will be in the faces at the helm of the RMC. We have operated virtually unchanged for more than 124 years. We are thrilled that Luke and Joe share our same values, sustaining and building upon the Russell Moccasin heritage.”
Luke Kolbie is the founder of Kingfisher Leatherworks, which is a U.S. producer of leather cases, luggage and shooting equipment. Joe Julian is the president and owner of Julian & Sons, specializing in bespoke gun rooms and fine cabinetry. Both Luke and Joe believe that the “Conservation through Craftsmanship” philosophy that has been integral to the success of both Kingfisher and Julian and Sons, is also the key to preparing Russell Moccasin for the next 124 years, “We believe that conservation begins when you start designing a product, not when it is worn out and ready for the trash truck. Prioritizing re-craftable designs, investing in enduring materials and employing the best craftsmen make the difference between a heritage product and a consumable one. Russell Moccasin has never wavered in their commitment to crafting a lifetime product. We will be doubling down on that commitment as it is the bedrock of the Russell Moccasin brand.”
For more information, visit RussellMoccasin.com