The New Balance Story

Posted on May 21, 2015 in Discover | No Comments
The New Balance Story

New Balance is a favorite running athletic brand that specializes in running footwear

(interesting to know: New Balance owns the brands:  Dunham & PF Flyers)

New Balance started as an arch support manufacturing company! The company was started in 1906 by William J. Riley in Belmont, Massachusetts. Understanding the need for good arch support for the shoes Riley manufactured arch supports for improving the shoe fit.  For a very long time New Balance Company manufactured and continued to stay focused in the business of arch supports without any expansion in their business beyond that niche.

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One of the major steps taken by New Balance was that in the 1930s they started to design orthopedic shoes for the baseball players as well as the athletes.  They soon gained the reputation for the production of specialty shoes supported with extraordinary craftsmanship.  Though the company had solid reputation, it had a very small group of customers who professed the quality of New Balance products.

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New Balance’s foray in to the athletic market was considered pivotal and this formed the driving force for its financial growth.

In 1937, Riley went in to partnership with Arthur Hall. Arthur Hall was a leading salesman who sells arch supports for the hard – working individuals whose work nature is to stand continuously on their feet for the entire day – police officers, firefighters, hotel waiters etc.The products were not sold in a retail store; instead Arthur Hall visited customers directly and sold the products Soon New Balance became knownas a producer of high performance footwear for all type of individuals. The company worked to make available extensive range of shoes with different sizes and width to fit everyone who tried New Balance shoes.

The company was prescribing footwear to people who suffer from the pains and aches in their foot and William got the idea of naming his company ‘New Balance’; based on his observation of the chickens in his yard, that balanced on clawed feet.

In 1938, Riley came up with the first pair of running shoes for a local running club.The shoe series was very successful. Their success spread all over, which made Riley to create custom made running shoes for runners, baseball players and tennis players. From then on, the company engaged in the manufacture of running shoes.

In 1960 they manufactured the first performance running shoe in the multiple widths.  In 1961 New Balance produced the worlds’ first Track shoe named Trackster– a shoe for men, that had a rippled sole and was manufactured in varying widths.

Trackster – was admired for its tailor made perfection and great workmanship. The majority of the sales of this shoe was through mail order and became popular among the high school and college students.

In the absence of marketing, New Balance managed to move in on an emerging market, capturing a promising position.

In 1972 James Davis bought the company. He made up his mind to maintain the founder’s quality in work.

He had great interest in the field of marketing and sales; skills he developed while he worked as a sales representative for a medical electronics company.

For his hard work, Davis was promoted as sales manager. He could not linger in his new promotion for a long time, and he wanted to move up in the process of fulfilling his dream. His dream was to run a business of his own. Davis found out that the owner of New Balance wanted to retire from business.

Davis was very much impressed with the New Balance company shoes, after using them and he saw a road for improving the business as New Balance’s success rested on word – of – mouth advertising. So with some marketing efforts, he thought that there could be substantial expansion of sales.

There were only 5 workers employed in Watertown, Massachusetts for New Balance Company when Davis acquired the company. They produced around 30 pairs of Tracksters per day. Davis wanted to magnify this scale of production and distribution.

There was extraordinary growth in sales – the annual sales in 1973 was $221,583 but in 1976 it was $1 million and the sales outshined in the year 1977 to $4.5 million. Actually, there was no other athletic footwear company that marketed shoes with widths from AA to EEEE and the size up to 20.

In 1990s, almost all the leading footwear manufacturers geared their production units overseas for the fact that those countries where the labor cost were low. But Davis never moved his manufacturing operations overseas;he preferred to keep his production operation close to home. The reason behind this is that he believed he could exert good control over the quality of the products produced.

Seeing the startling financial growth of the competitors having production units overseas, Davis continued to stay close to home but always saw room for improvements. Davis reasoned that New Balance was known for its quality and its immediate response to the retailer’s needs.

Unlike other firms, New Balance does not concentrate on celebrity endorsements. It continues to work on design, research, and the principle “endorse by no one”. Even though New Balance competitors like Nike spent huge sum of money on signing multi dollar endorsements deals with sports stars; Davis was not swayed by such deals. You can find many athletes wearing this New

Balance shoes for their fit and performance, but not for a lucrative contract.

Today New Balance has substantially grown continuing its career in the production of shoes with various combinations of widths and sizes. By 2003, New Balance reached the third rank in the athletic shoe manufacture.

 

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