New Balance Athletic Shoe runs on its everyman (and everywoman) appeal. Besides making and selling men's and women's shoes for running, cross training, basketball, tennis, hiking, and golf, the company offers fitness apparel and kids' shoes and owns leather boot and shoe maker Dunham. Other brands include Aravon shoes for women; PF Flyers lifestyle shoes; and Brine and Warrior Sports lacrosse, field equipment, and apparel. It sells its footwear in its own stores and those of specialty retailers. Founded in 1906 as New Balance Arch Company to make arch supports, it's known for its selection of shoe widths.
About 25% of New Balance's US footwear shipments are produced at New England facilities located in Boston and Lawrence, Massachusetts; and Norridgewock and Skowhegan, Maine. Other locations reside in Michigan, Missouri, and New York.
Through 4,100 associates around the globe, the shoe maker is able to cater to some 120 countries.
In addition to the company's namesake and Dunham brands, New Balance's products portfolio includes PF Flyers footwear, Aravon shoes for comfort performance, Warrior hockey wear, and Brine, a leader in soccer, field hockey, volleyball, and lacrosse. New Balance also makes apparel and accessories through licensing deals with the likes of J. Crew, Moretz Sports, Eyewear Designs, Fitness Quest, and Hickory Brands.
Toning shoes, which promise to burn calories and tone muscles as you walk, are the latest craze to hit athletic footwear. While the estimated $1.5 billion market is dominated by Sketchers and Reebok, New Balance launched its own line of True Balance toning shoes for men and women in 2010. The company is promoting them with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign. The toning shoes fall under New Balance's "wellness" line, which also includes yoga apparel and accessories.
While the jury is still out on whether toning shoes deliver on their promises, they are helping to drive sales in the otherwise sleepy athletic footwear market. Indeed, in early 2011 New Balance was hit with a lawsuit alleging that it deceived customers by claiming its toning shoes created more sculpted legs than ordinary walking sneakers. Several other major companies are facing similar lawsuits over toning shoes as well.
Unlike its rivals, the footwear firm shuns celebrity endorsers. By spotlighting lesser-known athletes, New Balance claims to emphasize substance over style. The approach attracts Boomer jock clients who are less fickle than the teens chased by its rivals. While the company does not enlist the help of high-profile celebrities, New Balance regularly sponsors races, teams, youth sports, and track and field events.
New Balance is run by chairman Jim Davis, who bought the company on the day of the 1972 Boston Marathon.