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New Balance

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New Balance Image courtesy of www.newbalance.com

The Birth of a Brand:

In 1906, William J. Riley, a 33 year old English immigrant, founded the New Balance Arch Support Company, which manufactured arch supports and other accessories designed to improve shoe fit, in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1934, Riley took on as a partner his top salesman, Arthur Hall, who had found his niche by marketing his products to policemen and other people whose jobs required them to spend a lot of time standing. In 1956, Hall sold the business to his daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Kidd.

Background:

Eleanor and Paul continued to sell mainly arch supports until 1961, when they designed and manufactured the "Trackster," the world's first running shoe made with a ripple sole. It was also the first running shoe to come in varying widths. The Trackster became the shoe of choice for running coaches and fitness directors, and led to New Balance's growing reputation for manufacturing innovative and specialized footwear in multiple widths.

Made in USA:

New Balance is one of several shoe companies that still makes their products in the United States, and is the only shoe company that makes athletic sneakers domestically, stating on their website that around one quarter of their shoes are American-made in their own five factories, two of which are in Massachusetts and three of which are in Maine, and in a supplier's factory in California.

New Balance Today:

The company is now run by California native Rob DeMartini. DeMartini's background includes Proctor and Gamble and Gillette Shave Company. Critics say DeMartini big business experience is exactly what New Balance needs to take a global stance. New Balance employs more than 2,800 people around the globe, and in 2006 reported worldwide sales of $1.55 billion.

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