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Kodiak's New Safety Boots

06 November 2003

A Canadian company has launched its new reinforced-toed safety boots.

Kodiak Group Inc. says its new ""rockfibre"" boots are tough enough to withstand extreme cold and pressure without triggering the growing number of metal detectors found everywhere from nuclear sites to airports.

Demand for the product, made from a combination of polymers and rock fibres, is expected to be huge in the United States, a new market for Kodiak. ""We just finished assembling a U.S. sales force,"" said Kevin Huckle, president of the Mississauga-based firm. In Canada, where the company is the leader in steel-toed footwear, the new line is being offered initially to the professional trades mainly through industrial specialty stores, such as Mr. Safety and Mark's Work Wearhouse.

But Huckle said he could foresee demand expanding into the casual market served by department stores. ""There's a major expansion coming,"" he said. Suggested retail prices range from $99 to $199, about 15 per cent higher than comparable Kodiak steel-toed footwear, the company said.

Besides being security compliant, the boots have the added advantage of being about 30 per cent lighter in weight as well as warmer, the company said.

""We were trying to develop a product that didn't conduct the cold as well as steel,"" Huckle explained.Most composite materials (man-made materials that combine two or more materials) fall apart under the harsh criteria imposed by the Canadian Standards Association, he said. Kodiak solved the problem by combining a type of polymer with rock fibres, he said.

""It's a little like Colonel Sanders' secret formula,"" he said, declining to go into further detail. All the components, including the eyelets, comfort systems and supportive shanks, are also metal free.

To meet Canada's safety standards, Kodiak had to demonstrate the footwear could survive the impact of a 23-kilogram object dropped from less than 61 centimetres. It also had to prove that a 122.5 kilogram (270-pound) person wearing the boot could step on a nail without puncturing the sole. The boots were designed in Canada but will be manufactured in Asia.