Once a unit of Justin Industries, Justin Brands two-stepped away, returning to its cowboy roots. The firm is best known as a maker of western boots under the Justin Boots, Nocona Boots, Chippewa Boots, Tony Lama, and Justin Original Workboots brands, but it also makes and markets work, safety, and sports footwear. Its western boots come in a variety of exotic leathers, including lizard and ostrich. Justin Brands sells its footwear through department stores, shoe chains, specialty stores (Academy, Cavenders Boot City), catalogs, and online (Zappos.com). It also caters to cowboys and fillies who want to learn more about the West through its Northland Publishing unit. Justin Brands is owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
Justin Brands has manufacturing facilities in Cassville and Carthage; Missouri, El Paso, Texas; and Brewer, Maine.
Sales and Marketing
Justin sells its boots through a network of some 5,000 retailers. The company has outlet stores for factory seconds and discontinued lines. Justin Brands leverages Facebook, and Twitter to market itself. The boots manufacturer launched its Justin Bent Rail line through the social networking channels and, as a result, sales exceeded the company's goals by 30%.
Not one to miss a chance to make a buck, Justin's boots are sold at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting presided over by Buffet himself. At the meeting in 2013, shareholders purchased 1,062 pairs of Justin Boots in just nine hours.
In recent years, Justin Brands has partnered with icons and relied on product placement to peddle its products. The company offers a boot collection under licensing agreements with country singers George Strait, Brad Paisley, and Jason Aldean. Justin Brands also markets its brands through product placement in films such as Ocean's Thirteen, No Country for Old Men, and American Gangster.
Mergers and Acquisitions
In May 2013, Justin Brands purchased Highland Shoe Company, a made-in-America footwear manufacturer in Brewer, Maine. The purchase added a fourth factory to Justin's US operations. Highland, which produces more than 400 pairs of hand-sewn shoes a week, was founded in 2003 and makes shoes for Yuketen, Red Wing, Oak Street Bootmakers, and Sperry Top-Sider.
The 135-year-old boot maker was acquired by billionaire investor Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway in 2000 for about $600 million when it bought Justin Industries. It has operated as a stand-alone, wholly owned subsidiary based in Fort Worth, Texas, ever since. Berkshire Hathaway's other footwear businesses include H.H. Brown Shoe Group, and Brooks Sports.