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Duluth Pack and Michigan outdoor boot-maker Merrell have launched a co-branded work boot.

The two companies have been talking for about five years about a collaboration after Tom Sega, Duluth Pack’s president, and Greg Glover, Merrell’s product-line manager for North America, met at a trade show.

Customers are wanting more from companies, and so collaborations are a good route for smaller companies like Duluth Pack, Sega said. And once Merrell and Duluth Pack started talks, this particular partnership made sense.

“We had two companies that literally look at themselves to be the highest quality in their market sectors,” Sega said. “That’s why it could begin.”

The boots that launched Tuesday are a limited-time partnership.

“We wanted the products to create buzz,” Glover said.

However, the two companies already have started talking about what future collaborations might look like.

The collection features two styles of unisex boots: a steel-toe version for rugged work or projects for $190 and a nonsafety-toe style for $180. They are sold through Merrell’s and Duluth Pack’s websites, the Duluth Pack flagship retail store and Zappos.com.

Glover said Merrell took its boot design and then let the canvas and leather materials Duluth Pack is known for drive the final product, which was made in Duluth Pack’s factory.

This is not Duluth Pack’s first collaboration. For example, in 2017, it launched a limited edition collection of slippers and bags with Minnetonka Moccasin.

Duluth Pack is nearly 140 years old, started by French Canadian shoemaker Camille Poirier, who noticed that his customers could use better trail packs. The company’s products are still made in its Duluth factory.

Over the past dozen years, it has grown from 21 to about 120 employees, Sega said. The strategy is to organically increase revenue from its online store, its wholesale channels and its Duluth retail store.

All three areas are expected to grow this year, he said.

Merrell was started in 1981 by Randy Merrell, who with his partners, sought to merge cowboy boot features into Italian high-end boot-making. The Rockford, Mich., company, now owned by Wolverine World Wide, has been cited by outdoors enthusiasts for its quality boots.

“Duluth Pack was a perfect company for us to do this collaboration with,” Glover said. “Our companies really parallel each other very well,” in that they are both niche quality brands and both serve outdoor enthusiasts.

Catherine Roberts • 612-673-4292