As the water worries continue in northern Kent County, Rockford-based Wolverine Worldwide is continuing to get bad press, whether the company did anything wrong or not.
The company dumped waste decades ago that's currently causing contamination in wells across a relatively small area near US-131 and 10 Mile Road.
So are all the headlines affecting the company's performance?
Wolverine Worldwide trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol of WWW and its stock price nearly hit $28 a share today. That's close to the company's 52-week high for a share at $29.62. The company's all-time high was $35 a share back in April 2015.
That's the good news.
The bad news is there are warnings in the company's 2016 annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that an expansion of underground water contamination could negatively affect the company's performance.
The statement reads:
The company has incurred, and continues to incur, costs to address soil and groundwater contamination at some locations. If such issues become more expensive to address, or if new issues arise,they could increase the company’s expenses, generate negative publicity, or otherwise adversely affect the company."
Wolverine's leaders indicate they believe they are being good corporate citizens by paying for all testing, water services, filters and whole house water filtration systems for every home that could be impacted by the water contamination in Plainfield Township.
There are still questions whether the company's done anything wrong because the dumping of these type of materials was legal when it was done. Leaders at Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality certainly, to this date, aren't accusing them of wrongdoing for the dumping.
"I suspect it was probably prior to 1978 when the more rigid current modern waste disposal regulations came into effect," Michigan DEQ'S field operations manager David O'Donnell said. "We're finding for a lot of industries there was some opportunistic disposing of waste."
The filings with the SEC also show a very solid business reason for Wolverine Worldwide to be good corporate citizens now and in the future. The documents explain how the shoe industry is a very fragmented business where brand loyalty is extremely important. The belief is Wolverine's future success will depend, in part, on the company's ability to maintain its brands’ positive images.
Wolverine's leaders say they're committed to a motto "Do the Right Thing – Always.” It will be up to consumers particularly here in West Michigan whether they think the company really has done the right thing.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.