New Balance Formerly New Balance Arch Support CompanyType PrivateIndustry FootwearFounded 1906; 112 years ago (1906)Founder William J. RileyHeadquarters Boston, Massachusetts, USAKey people Jim Davis (Chairman)
New Balance Athletics, Inc. (NB), best known as simply New Balance, is an American multinational corporation based in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The company was founded in 1906 as the "New Balance Arch Support Company" and is one of the world's major sports footwear manufacturers.
New Balance maintains a manufacturing presence in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom for the European market, where they produce some of their most popular models such as the 990 model—in contrast to its competitors, which often manufacture exclusively outside the USA and Europe. As a result, New Balance shoes tend to be more expensive than those of many other manufacturers. To offset this pricing difference, New Balance claims to differentiate their products with technical features, such as blended gel inserts, heel counters and a greater selection of sizes, particularly for very narrow and/or very wide widths. The company has made total profits of approximately $69 billion since 1992.Contents
In 1906, William J. Riley, British emigrant, founded the New Balance Arch Support Company, manufacturing arch supports and other accessories designed to improve shoe fit in the Boston area. His first product, a flexible arch support, was designed with three support points to provide greater balance and comfort in the shoe. It is believed that Riley came up with the name "New Balance" by observing chickens in his yard and demonstrated the way his arch supports worked by keeping a chicken foot on his office desk. He explained to customers that the chicken's three-pronged foot resulted in perfect balance. In 1927, Riley hired Arthur Hall to be a salesman. In 1934, Hall became a business partner and found his niche by marketing to 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.
Eleanor and Paul Kidd continued to sell mainly arch supports until 1960, 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" was given a big boost through the YMCA programs in which it became the unofficial shoe. College track teams such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University and Boston University adopted the New Balance Trackster for their cross-country teams, soon to be followed by other colleges and private high schools around the country.
Marketing was mostly word-of-mouth or local sports fairs. Sales languished until 1972, when current Chairman Jim Davis bought the company on the day of that year's Boston Marathon. At the time, the company consisted of six people making 30 pairs of shoes daily and selling products mostly through mail-order with a few U.S. retailers. Jim committed himself to uphold the company's traditional commitment to individual preferences, customer service and quality products. His future wife Anne, who joined the company in 1978, focused on building a distinct culture for New Balance employees and customers. Their timing was perfect, as the Boston area became a center for the running boom that struck the U.S. in the 1970s. Their product line expanded and sales grew rapidly once the shoes made its way to Washington, DC in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was at this time that the shoe became a staple in shoe stores sold around the city for track runners and Moes alike. The company prospered, and the Davises looked to expand New Balance into a global company. The company is now run by Rob DeMartini. DeMartini's background includes Procter & Gamble and Gillette Shave Company. Today, 30 percent of the New Balance shoes sold in the European market are manufactured at the New Balance facility in Flimby, England.
In February 2015, the company announced its entry into the global soccer (association football) market. New Balance had started its soccer business through its subsidiary Warrior Sports in 2012, punctuated by a $40 million-a-year sponsorship deal with Liverpool, but made the move to rebrand based on the global reach of the parent brand.
During 2016, New Balance opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership and condemned the Obama administration's support for it, arguing that it would hurt their domestic shoe manufacturing (while Nike, which does not manufacture in the US, supported the TPP). Matt Lebretton, the company's Vice President of public affairs said in April 2016 “I would say that when Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump all agree on something, then it has to be given a closer look; and they all agree that TPP is not the right policy.” After Donald Trump won the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Lebretton told a reporter “The Obama administration turned a deaf ear to us and frankly, with President-elect Trump, we feel things are going to move in the right direction." Some news outlets reported that an ad-hoc boycott campaign was created out of an interpretation of Lebretton's remarks as supportive of Trump. Owner and Chairman Davis donated almost $400,000 to the Trump Victory Committee in September 2016.New Balance Numeric
In 2013, New Balance launched a skateboarding shoe brand dubbed "New Balance Numeric" that is distributed by Black Box Distribution, a company founded by professional skateboarder Jamie Thomas. Following the announcement of the partnership in December 2012, Thomas stated in an interview with the TransWorld Business publication, "I am most hyped about the positive energy this partnership creates for the future of our distribution as well as how this partnership enables us to further support skate retailers with a new brand they can trust and depend on."
The Numeric brand is overseen by Brand Manager Sebastian Palmer, who was formerly with skate shoe brand eS, while Mike West, of Westlife Distribution and snowboarding brand 686, is Creative Director. West explained at the launch event, "I myself was a sponsored skateboarder back in the late eighties, so, for me, skateboarding is always at my heart, it's something that I bleed in. Same with running, before skateboarding, so it kind of just all came to what we are today, which is New Balance Numeric skateboarding." Palmer explained further at the same event:
New Balance is about doing things right. They are about doing things they wanna do, and following those through. We saw the chance to do something really authentic in a youthful culture that they hadn't really had a presence in before. More than that, they saw an authentic culture that they wanted to be a part of.
The brand also consists of a sponsored team that is co-ordinated by professional skateboarder John Rattray.Team
The company debut on the Olympics stage, dressing the Olympic Council of Ireland and the Chilean Olympic Committee at Rio 2016.Football national teams Europe
From 2013, New Balance has considerably increased the number of athletes it sponsors. Noticeable athletes signed by the company include Olympian Stephanie Twell and since 2015, they have sponsored the young rising star Trayvon Bromell. New Balance also sponsors athletics teams such as New Zealand and the Antigua and Barbuda national team.Basketball
The company previously partnered with Matt Bonner of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s San Antonio Spurs, providing him with shoes over a period of several years. James Worthy from the Los Angeles Lakers also used New Balance shoes. During the 2010–11 NBA season, Bonner was sent a prototype for a signature shoe that he was developing with the brand, but the shoes fell apart at the beginning of the game that he first wore them in. After Bonner was informed that the prototype shoes were not meant to be worn, a representative informed him that New Balance was ceasing its sponsorship of basketball.Cricket
Following the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, New Balance signed a deal with Cricket South Africa that includes the national cricket teams of South Africa. From 2017, New Balance signed a deal with the England & Wales Cricket Board, to become kit supplier to the England teams. New Balance also sponsor international cricketers: Pat Cummins, Steve Smith, Adam Zampa, Matthew Wade, Joe Root, Grant Elliott, David Miller, Nic Maddinson, Gary Ballance, Aaron Finch, Mitchell Santner, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Dale Steyn, Colin Munro.Cycling A member key for the New Balance Hubway system in Boston.
Following the official launch in July 2011, New Balance is the primary sponsor of Boston's bike share system, the New Balance Hubway. New Balance began a partnership with American professional cycling team EF Education First–Drapac p/b Cannondale in 2011, providing the team kits as well as their "exclusive off bike athletic footwear" sponsor.Rugby
New Balance produce playing kits for many Rugby League teams.Tennis
A class action lawsuit against New Balance filed in 2011 alleges that the company's toning footwear touts unproven benefits. In support of its claim of false advertising, it cites a University of Wisconsin–La Crosse research study on Toning Shoes that has been funded and published by the American Council on Exercise.
Researchers reported that there were no "statistically significant increases in either exercise response or muscle activation" as a result of wearing the Toning Shoes. There was no statistically significant difference between participants wearing special "Toning shoes" and controls wearing normal sneakers. The researchers concluded that there is "simply no evidence to support the claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or improve muscle strength and tone." However, it was noted that "These shoes may be encouraging a fair number of people who probably wouldn’t put on a normal pair of walking shoes and go out and walk."See also