New Balance had an early upbringing. In the early 1900s, William J. Riley decided to manufacture shoes with arch supports. By 1934, his Boston, Massachusetts based business took on a new partner Arthur Hall. The company was later sold in 1954 to Arthur’s son-in-law and his daughter, who decided in 1961 to create the world’s first high performance running shoes.
In 1972, New Balance was sold again, this time to Jim Davis, who kept the concept the same. Once their shoe was seen in the NYC Marathon, New Balance gained a lot of attention, and in 1978 they were known for having the best running shoe.
New Balance found themselves in hot water with the FTC because they were labeling their shoes Made in the USA but were in fact being manufactured overseas. A group of politicians stopped the FTC from doing any harm to the company, but over the years they did find themselves with more drama.
In the early 90s the company had declining sales but by the mid-90s they had spent 14 million on a new advertising campaign and their revenues grew substantially. In April 2001 NB began making orthopedic shoes, and by 2003 New Balance was ranked as number three among athletic shoe manufacturing companies.
In 2004, NB acquired the Lacrosse manufacturing company Warrior and soon began sponsoring major league lacrosse all over the U.S.
NB has continued its standards to the present, their commitment to integrity, total customer satisfaction and teamwork to bring it all together being the basis on which their business is based.
NB is one of the very few companies that chose not to use celebrity endorsements to bring attention to their products in the 90s. New Balance did not feel that the messages and attitudes of the high profile endorsers were a match to their own philosophies and beliefs. They admit today that they pay runners to test their shoes, but this is an effort to ensure that their customers are paying for shoes that are right for them. They don’t believe that consumers should have to foot the bill for expensive endorsements. And many agree with them.
NB does involve athletes today by supporting their training, competitions, and using their expertise to help them create better products. They have also started using brand ambassadors, but these people must also share New Balance’s philosophies. In 2002, New Balance decided to try an endorsement contract, this time with Jenny Barringer, an Olympic and American record holder. NB will partner with Jenny to sponsor and support a program that encourages young girls to develop a healthier lifestyle and learn to respect themselves called the Girls on the Run Organization.
Where is the Company Headed?
NB recently released a new shoe line called Minimus, with design input from Tony Krupicka, an ultra-running champion. Although it seems to go against modern technology, these shoes will not be sold online initially. New Balance wants to ensure that consumers are given educational information about a slow transition to a more minimally designed footwear product. This is another example of New Balance’s commitment to customer satisfaction that will continue as the company continues to grow and introduce new and innovative products.
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