New Balance Shoes BiographySource (google.com.pk )
New Balance was founded in 1906 in Belmont, Massachusetts, where the company began operations as The New Balance Arch Company. Initially, the company manufactured arch supports and orthopedic shoes and, in fact, for much of the 20th century it continued to focus on this narrow, niche-oriented business line, rarely expanding and never moving beyond the boundaries of its native state. Like its physical growth, The New Balance Arch Company's financial growth occurred at a crawling pace as well, inching nearly imperceptibly forward as the decades passed. About the only notable achievement during the company's first half-century of existence was the establishment of a solid reputation, a renown forged by the quality of its specialty shoes and buttressed by decades of consistent high-quality craftsmanship. Though the work of the company was held in high regard, there was only a small circle of customers who could profess to the quality of New Balance's footwear. Beyond this tight circle, the company was unknown; it was a small, Northeastern enterprise blanketed in anonymity.
Widespread notoriety and a worldwide customer base eventually would come New Balance's way, but it would take roughly 70 years before the New Balance brand name stormed onto the national stage. One important step in this direction was taken in the 1930s, when New Balance began manufacturing specially designed orthopedic footwear for baseball players and track and field athletes. The foray into the athletic market was a pivotal one, moving the company into a business area that years later would provide plenty of fuel to drive its financial growth upwards. It also was an entry most likely forced upon the company by special requests from the athletes themselves, rather than arising from management's own initiative, but however the diversification originated, its occurrence planted the seed for further involvement. In 1961 the seed flowered, this time under management's directive, when New Balance applied its experience in producing specially designed athletic footwear to a new shoe dubbed "Trackster," a ripple-soled running shoe for men. The Trackster was unique, manufactured in a range of widths ranging from AA to EEEE, which set it apart from all other competing brands. Like its predecessor New Balance models, the Trackster gained a loyal following, winning over wearers who admired the workmanship and tailored fit of the shoes. However,, like all New Balance models before it, the Trackster enjoyed only a limited customer base. The majority of Trackster sales were made through mail order purchases from local high schools and colleges. No other attempt was made to market the shoe. Although New Balance had moved into a promising market, one that offered a greater potential for growth than the market for orthopedic shoes and arch supports, the personality of the company had not changed. New Balance remained tied to its demure roots, preferring a corporate existence in the shadows rather than a more ambitious life as an innovative trendsetter with mass-market appeal. New Balance's mellow and staid existence persevered for years after the introduction of the Trackster, but in the early 1970s an abrupt change took place, sparked by the arrival of a new owner, James S. Davis.
New Ownership in the 1970s
A 1964 graduate of Middlebury College, Davis was 28 years old when he acquired New Balance in 1972. Academically, Davis's interests were in biology and chemistry, but he only pursued these disciplines tangentially as a professional. His chief interests were in marketing and sales, and he learned these skills while working as a sales representative for a high-technology medical electronics company. After two successful years in sales, Davis was promoted to sales manager, but he did not linger long in his new position. By the beginning of the 1970s Davis was ready to fulfill his next dream: owning and managing his own business. A friend of Davis's suggested that he talk to Paul Kidd, who wanted to retire and sell his company, New Balance Shoes. Davis talked with Kidd and spent some time investigating the company by canvassing New Balance's small band of customers. His findings piqued his interest. "I felt that leisure-time products would be a high-growth market," Davis remembered, recalling his thoughts prior to purchasing the company, "and I found that New Balance had a good product. After running in them myself, I was very impressed with the shoe. I got the same reaction from other runners. The company had relied entirely on word-of-mouth advertising and I was confident that with some marketing, sales could be expanded substantially." Using his savings and money obtained from a long-term bank loan, Davis bought New Balance in 1972 for $100,000, the same amount the company was collecting in sales per year.
When Davis acquired New Balance, the company employed five workers who worked in a Watertown, Massachusetts, garage producing approximately 30 pairs of Tracksters per day. Davis was intent on dramatically magnifying the scale of the company's operations, but first he needed to establish a nationwide sales distribution system to support such growth, and he spent much of his first year establishing a network of geographically based sales representatives. After doing this, forces beyond Davis's control swept the company toward prolific growth, making his tenure of ownership overwhelmingly successful soon after he took control. The era of recreational jogging exploded with widespread excitement in 1973 and 1974, as vast multitudes took to the streets and parks and began logging miles in earnest. In a matter of months, running was transformed from an activity that attracted only serious racers and physical fitness enthusiasts into major leisure-time activity. The timing of Davis's acquisition had proved superb. Amid the sweeping passion for running appeared a collection of new magazines that catered to the jogging enthusiast, one of which was Runner's World, which in 1975 published its first annual supplement that rated the leading running shoes. In the first issue, New Balance placed third, an encouraging result in itself, but the following year, in October 1976, the New Balance 320 was judged to be the best running shoe in the world, with two other New Balance entries placing third and seventh. The notoriety received from being billed as the best tied New Balance to a rocket; at company headquarters in Watertown the telephone did not stop ringing with urgent requests for the New Balance 320. "Our biggest problem," Davis noted, "was getting enough of them out the door."