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FJ Classics Update
Last week we had to make one of the toughest decisions in FootJoy’s 152-year history; the decision to close our Classics manufacturing facility in Brockton, MA.Link to this entry!!!!
FJ Classics Update from Jim Connor
Last week we had to make one of the toughest decisions in FootJoy’s 152-year history; the decision to close our Classics manufacturing facility in Brockton, MA. As a result of the plant’s closure, the company will eliminate 103 manufacturing and support positions over the coming weeks. We informed our trade partners last week and have been listening to the trade, consumer and industry feedback ever since. I hope that the following information will help you better understand why we were forced to make the decision, as well as our plans for the FootJoy brand going forward.
To understand how we got to this point, one must look back. As the FootJoy brand grew in the rapidly expanding golf footwear category during the ’60’s,’70’s and early ’80’s, the factory and company prospered as well. Even as late as 1985, the Brockton plant was turning out nearly 400,000 pairs of leather soled, welted shoes and employed over 260 workers. It supplied a substantial portion of FootJoy’s worldwide sales.
In the late ’80’s and early 1990’s, new construction techniques were perfected in Asia that produced lightweight, flexible, and most importantly, highly waterproof golf footwear—- and the market rapidly moved in this direction. Major competitors launched similar new categories in golf footwear and FootJoy was in a struggle for supremacy in this new competitive realm.
The shoes produced in this factory were, by their very construction and use of materials, at a considerable disadvantage in weight, water resistance, and cost. We began what became a twenty-year struggle to maintain and then slow the demise of this unique, but fading product called FootJoy Classics. We tried just about everything:
1. We heavily subsidized the cost of the Brockton products to the trade and consumer.
2. We attempted new lightweight soles and waterproof techniques.
3. We offered an abundance of styles and colors and kept heavy inventories in attempt to keep the factory busy.
4. In 2004, we even invested over $1 million in capital equipment/refurbishing in a last ditch effort to make the factory more efficient with smaller volumes.
Unfortunately, none of these efforts and investments could slow the declining demand for this old method of shoe making—- our production volumes would have dropped well below 50,000 pair this year, making it impossible to support even the 100 workers that we had left.
I made this decision. I have been with FootJoy since 1987 and have led it since 1990. I know most of the workers who will lose their jobs over the next six weeks and know how difficult their futures will be in this economy. We do not take this decision lightly —- it is the most difficult a manager can make, and it has taken us almost twenty years to arrive at this point of no return. We did all we could to save this craft shop (which is a much better definition of the facility than a “factory”). These men and women were true crafts people that took great pride in every pair of Classics they made. FootJoy is concluding, painfully, an era of shoe production that does not have sustainable demand in today’s market.
Rest assured, we are in no way sacrificing our position as the #1 Shoe in golf, nor are we abandoning the premium performance footwear segment or the highly stylized patterns and colors that FootJoy Classics have come to represent.. Our product development team has been working diligently for the past few years with the understanding that this day may come and we must be prepared. As you read this, Tour players around the world are being fit into our new Flagship product. It will provide features and benefits that embody “The best of FJ”:
1. Finely tailored upper designs that include traditional and contemporary patterns
2. The most premium performance materials
3. Fashionable calfskin leather detailing
4. Performance-infused spiked and spikeless outsoles
5. Customization that allows for a seemingly endless amount of design and size options.
The FootJoy golf footwear business will continue to lead the industry in almost every market around the world; at every price point and construction; and serve every golfer, regardless of skill or style preference. It’s in our DNA.
While the closing of our Brockton factory after fifty years of operation is a painful closing of a long and important chapter in our 150 year history, we are compelled to move on. The FootJoy brand was founded on the principle of being the best product with unsurpassed quality and performance and its sole purpose is to enhance enjoyment of the game. This hasn’t been compromised or altered now, nor will it be in the future.
It is who we are.
President - FootJoy