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Rockport (company)

 

Rockport (company)

The Rockport "World Tour" model, the company's signature walking shoe from the late 1990s until 2015.
A Rockport Store in Newport, Rhode Island

The Rockport Company is a manufacturer of shoes based in Canton, Massachusetts. Founded in Marlborough, Massachusetts in 1972 by Saul L. Katz and his son, Bruce Katz,[1] the company produces footwear and operates stores in the United States and 66 other countries around the world.

Rockport shoes are generally manufactured in China, Vietnam, or other East Asian countries. The company currently does not manufacture footwear in the United States.

Contents

  • History 1
  • The Comfort Shoe 2
  • The Walking Shoe 3
  • Sale to Reebok 4
  • Sale to New Balance 5
  • Footnotes 6
  • External links 7

History

In 1930, Samuel Katz founded the Hubbard Shoe Company, which had its first factory in [4]

Saul Katz continued to run a surviving subsidiary spun off from Hubbard, called Highland Import. It operated out of offices in the old Diamond Shoe Company in Marlboro, Massachusetts and imported shoes from Brazil. Highland Import worked with American branded shoe companies to develop special products. One was a hand sewn heavy leather moccasin modeled after a shoe developed by Walter Dyer in Rockport, MA. When Saul Katz went to the tannery in Brazil he named the leather Rockport.

The 3,000 pairs of moccasins brought into Marlboro arrived too late for Highland’s customer and so the shoes remained in the warehouse for some months. Bruce Katz then began working with his father and travelled the East Coast from Boston to Washington, DC, selling these shoes in plain white boxes to small leather shops and shoe boutiques in many small towns. The shoes carried no name until Katz learned that others were beginning to copy the shoes and calling them “Rockport type” shoes. He subsequently returned to Marlboro and decided to start branding the shoes as “Rockport.”[4]

In 1972, Saul Katz and his son, Bruce, formed The Rockport Company from Highland Import.[1] The company was started with $15,000 and grew entirely by staying profitable each year. In 1986, shortly before the company was sold, Rockport’s sales were reaching nearly $100 million a year, having turned a profit every year since it was founded.[5]

The Comfort Shoe

Rockport’s first product was the Country Walker, introduced in 1973.[4] On the basis of the company’s subsequent RocSport shoe and those that followed, Bruce Katz is credited by the shoe industry monthly Footwear Plus with creating the "modern-day lightweight and technology-infused comfort shoe concept."[6]

Rockport shoes of this period were designed as alternatives to [4][7]

The Walking Shoe

Rockport is credited with inventing the walking shoe and popularizing walking as a form of exercise and a healthy alternative to running. Under the leadership of Bruce Katz, the driving force behind the walking shoe, Rockport invested heavily in design and “spent lavishly on advertising and marketing to create a strong brand name and carve out a market niche,” according to The New York Times. Rockport also invested in research into the biomechanics of walking to design its shoes.[5]

In 1984, Rockport sponsored an 11,600-mile walk across the country and traversing every state to promote walking as a popular form of exercise. Company-sponsored walkers participating in “Walk for the Health of It” included Robert Sweetgall, whose books helped popularize walking for exercise. Sweetgall and the other walkers wore Rockport shoes and their trek was documented in a film, Walk America! Largely as a result of the company’s promotional activities, Rockport shoes became closely associated with walking.[4]

In 1985, Rockport introduced the ProWalker shoe, which was described as “one of the first shoes ever created primarily for the fitness walker.” [4]

Sale to Reebok

In 1986, Rockport was preparing to go public when the family decided instead to sell the company to British athletic footwear giant Reebok.[10] Bruce Katz remained as president for one year before turning over the management to a new Reebok CEO. Saul Katz stayed on as part of the management team until retiring in his 70s.[2][11] Later Reebok was sold to German athletic shoe pioneer Adidas.[12]

Sale to New Balance

On January 23, 2015, Adidas announced that an agreement has been concluded to sell Rockport to Boston-based athletic shoe maker New Balance and Berkshire Partners for $280 million.[13] The Rockport brand will be assigned to the company's Drydock Footwear division, overseen by a former top Rockport executive.[13] New Balance's Drydock division also includes the non-athletic brands Aravon, Dunham, and Cobb Hill.

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b ) Rockport"Sic"Bruce Katz: The Man Who Build (. Footwear News. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Saul Katz, 95; Shoe Executive Reinvented Himself with Rockport Brand". The Boston Globe. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Reagan Expected to Drop Shoe-import Quotas". The Bangor Daily News. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kanter, Rosabeth Moss (1992). The Challenge of Organizational Change: How Companies Experience it and leaders Guide it.  
  5. ^ a b Butterfield, Fox (August 18, 1985). "Shoes that Sell—Made in America". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Dutter, Greg (June 1, 2012). "Follow the Leaker". Footwear Plus. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  7. ^ "Linkedin". Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Taylor, Sarah (December 3, 2001). "Marker’s Mark: Rockport Upholds the Same Values Today that Put the Business on its Feet in 1971". Footwear News. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  9. ^ McGregor, Lyndsay (December 2013). "Walk On". Footwear Plus. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Hoover, Gary (2002). Hoover's Handbook of American Business 2003. Hoover's. p. 1178.  
  11. ^ Abel, Katie (December 3, 2001). "By the Numbers; How Rockport Grew From a Small Family Operation to a Leading Men’s Casual Brand". Footwear News. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "Adidas agrees to buy rival Reebok".  
  13. ^ a b "Rockport's New Chapter," Footwear News, vol. 71, no. 4 (Jan. 26, 2015), pg. 18.

External links

  • Official website
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