Meet Cory, our second-generation professional bootmaker
As a young boy, Cory Mackwell would sometimes visit his father’s workplace — an old boot factory on James Street in Northbridge, Western Australia.
“I remember the smells, the smell of the leather, and all the noise,” he said.
Cory’s dad was a bootmaker for Comfortwear Footwear. Young Cory never imagined he’d go on to become a bootmaker himself.
“I wanted to be a mechanic,” he said. “I loved cars and I was good with my hands.”
But after leaving school at 15, and without a real plan for what to do next, Cory was offered an apprenticeship at Comfortwear, working alongside his father.
“I learnt everything from cutting, sewing and knowing every part that goes into putting a safety boot together,” he said. “It was quite a big team, and everyone was great to work with.”
Generations of true skill, working side by side
Among Cory’s new colleagues, of course, was his old man, Peter. What did he think of his son following in his footsteps?
“He said I was crazy!” Cory said. “He would have been about 45 and I was 15. We were close though, so it was just like working with a mate, really.”
Cory worked with Peter for six years at Comfortwear, learning his craft, before taking a break from the industry for a few years and working in crowd control. During that time, his dad began working for a new West Australian boot manufacturer, Steel Blue. When Cory was ready to pick up his trade again in 2002, he joined Steel Blue, too, working for another few years alongside his dad.
“I became his boss during this time, too,” Cory said. “Obviously, he had more experience than me and he knew what he was doing. He was a real all-rounder, so I could just leave him to it.”
Cory would soon develop all the skills required of a truly skilled bootmaker, making comfortable safety boots and shoes — skills comparable to any footwear technician.
Cory’s all-round experience highly prized at Steel Blue
Cory has had many roles during his 20 years at Steel Blue, starting on our women’s range and progressing from leading hand to foreman. He has even helped train some of our manufacturing team, passing on his skills to the next generation of bootmakers.
In more recent times Cory has chosen to get back “on the tools”, employing his vast experience and skills throughout the entire manufacturing process, wherever he’s needed most on any given day — whether that’s the manufacturing floor or the finishing room.
In other words, Cory has become an all-rounder, just like his dad.
Cory said Steel Blue values his expertise and skill and the company looks after him well, he works with a great team and has built strong friendships over the years.
Why Cory chooses to wear Steel Blue work boots
So, does he actually wear the boots he makes?
“Of course, I do!” he said. “I go with the 152s with the zip, in black or wheat (the Argyle Zip). They’re comfortable and the zip makes them easy to slip on” for the early morning starts. “They’re really durable, I wear them walking the dog and fishing on the weekend too.”