It's hard to believe that the famous hunting boots worn by presidents, generals, kings, movie stars and hunters the world over, have been hand made in the same rustic, vine covered building on Franklin Street in Berlin, WI, for more than 108 years. But it's true!
The Russell legend began in 1898 when Will Russell hand crafted his first pair of boots for the then booming Wisconsin logging business. Hunters quickly recognized the value of the Russell hand sewn product...thus a legend was born.
Young Bill Gustin joined the company in the 1920's as a traveling salesman. Armed with a degree from Ripon College and a keen interest in the outdoors. Gustin spread the word about the wonderfully comfortable, hand made moccasin boots from Russell. Following W.C. Russell's death in 1924, Gustin liked the product so much...he arranged financing and bought the company.
The rest is history. Gustin, a competitive trap and skeet shooter, hunter, fisherman, foresaw the needs of sportsmen and set out on a path to provide sportsmen with the finest hand lasted boots and shoes that human hands could make. In the early 1930's he introduced the now famous Russell Birdshooter plus a line of oxfords, loafers and casual shoes.
Bill Gustin ran Russell Moccasin for 55 of its 108 years. Gustin was joined in the business by his son-in-law, Ralph Fabricius in 1956. Gustin passed away in 1994 at the age of 95! Today, Russell Moccasin is in the capable hands of Ralph Fabricius.
Those of you who attend Safari Club International's big annual convention in Reno, or the Dallas Safari Club or Houston Safari Club Conventions, will immediately recognize Ralph's face and gentle demeanor...possibly from a phone conversation or maybe a previous meeting in the company's always-busy booth.
Today, Russell Moccasin still makes their products the same way they were made 108 years ago. One pair at a time, hand lasted, hand cut and trimmed, hand sewn...with quality and pride. Over the years, Fabricius, along with an avid outdoorsman, Richard Sanders, of Tiffin Hill Marketing Communications, Prescott, WI, has updated the Russell line to include special application boots and shoes such as the High Country Hunter, Scent Control Bowhunter, The South 40 Birdshooter, Turkey Hunter, Safari PH, Art Carter Traveling Sportsman Chukka and a wide selection of exotic shoes and boots including ostrich, hippo and shark,, which use special new waterproofed leathers, special application soles and radical designs that fit them perfectly into the serious sportsman's closet.
Russell Moccasin...family owned and operated for 78 years.
Russell differs from other boot and shoe manufacturers in that Russell not only custom fits its boots and shoes to the customer's foot...but hand lasts and hand sews them. If a customer's foot differs from what most would call a "normal" last, Russell builds the last up to exactly duplicate the shape of his or her foot. Thus is why you can literally take a pair of Russell's out of the box and wear them all day with no break-in period.
Who's Who at Russell Today
Chances are you have spoken with one of the members of our small office staff. We thought it would be a good idea to put their pictures on our web site so you know who is on the other end of the line the next time you call in.
VP of Operation
VP of Marketing and Sales