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FJ Classics Update from Jim Connor

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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.

Jim Connor President - FootJoy


  • What a sad time in golf. Footjoy IS golf. Footjoy has walked with me almost everytime I've played golf in the last 52 years. I remember when it was Footjoy, Bowen and Joyce and Etonic. All were worn by those who wanted to be in the best, most comfortable shoes money could buy. Even my street shoes are Footjoy. You've never let me down, and Mr. Connor I know this was not the way you wanted your business to go, nor supporters of your brand name to end up. If you could somehow let your employee's know that I will continue to support Fooyjoy. My best to all of you, for you and your employee's have made walking more than just slipping on a pair of shoes. You enhanced my golf game and enhanced my wardrobe. I've traveled a long way and you have been with me,all the way.  God speed!

  • It comes as a great sadness to learn of your decision to close the Classics plant. I guess it is partly becauseI recently purchased a pair of Classic Dry Premiers. This is the first pair ofClassics and joins my  other pair of DryJoys. I have golfed for over 45 yrs. and FootJoy has been my silent partner for all those years. Please  extend to all  those who strove to give us a great product our best and

    let them know how much we golfers appreciated their dedication to giving us a great product.

    I personally will remain a customer and supporter of FootJoy as long as I golf.

  • A sad day indeed....

    The end of an era!

  • I love the Classic line. In the past 10 years I have owned more than 50 pair of them, and worn them all. My very first pair were all white with pebble grain leather. My wife always thought I was nuts with my shoe collection. While I will miss the classics line, I look forward to what FJ will offer in the future.

  • Too bad. I had a pair of Classics 30 years ago when I was 16. Saved a lot of money for those. Played hundreds of rounds in those shoes. The spike anchors ended up rusting. Tried getting them re-soled by a cobbler - never the same. Wish I could afford to buy one last pair. Still wear nothing but FJ to this day. Good luck to those losing their jobs...

  • Seeing the decline of Classic sales in my shop in recent years I can understand the descision. While i never like to hear of plant closings and job losses, I think Footjoy can better invest their dollars in other areas.

  • Dear Mr. Connor

    It is with deep regret that Foot-Joy is closing out the Classics.  I have been a golf professional since 1969 and the only shoes I have worn have been Foot-Joys.  My feet won't know how to react without that Classic feel.  Hopefully the quality and the product will survive and future generations will continue to enjoy your fabulous products.

  • It is most regretable to hear of the demise of Footjoy Classics made in America!  I do understand your reasoning, but when are N. American consumers going to wake up to the fact if you don't support your local industry, you are going to lose everything!

  • I've worn Classics from the Brockton plant since I was a kid. My father wore them, my brothers wore them. I also wear the dress shoes. These products helped to create the equity the FootJoy brand enjoys today...

    Poor move from a brand halo effect...

    The reasons for the decline were self imposed in my opinion...

    1) Your lower end shoes (DryJoys, GreenJoys, ect.,  cannibilized the volume from the Classics. You traded the consumer down with good, not great, much lower priced product.

    2) You never really marketed the Classics beyond greenside shops and country clubs. Never marketed the traditional "Made in the USA" shoe.

    3) Dress shoes....never looked for distribution beyond a proshop catalog. Increased volume from doing this would have helped to absorb overhead.

    4) Creativity...should have promoted the Classics with the dress shoes...creating an appealing offer... conservative, American, traditional...non duplicatable by the knock off artists.

    Don't believe the numbers that Classics Made outside the US will sell as well...you can lower the price, but then you'll be no different from the rest.

    You should reverse the decision.

    Some thoughts....

    Mike

  • YOU CANT DO IT. OPEN IT BACK UP.

    It's akin to redesigning St Andrews.

    Classics are golf.

    The new shoes are great, but they are not Classics.

    DO SOMETHING...!

    Everybody who reads this order 2 pairs right now, and we might save a craft and the craftsmen who ply a trade that should never be allowed to die.

    GOVERNMENT BAILOUT...!

    Something must be done...

    What am I supposed to be buried in now?

  • From my European point of view, a wrong and sad decision - I don't like and don't buy faceless brands and products, and the Classics have been the face of FootJoy...

  • I have been a 25 year Golf Professional, learning the business from the elder statesmen of our industry at true classic golf clubs such as The Royal Ottawa and Mount Bruno C.C. It is unbeleivable to think that I will not be able to continue wearing Classics.I currently own 40 pairs including customs, Ostrich and Eel skin, my members and those that I play with in Pro-ams and such, are attracted to the FJ brand because of the Classics I wear, true they do not purchase many Classics(premium price point)but when they see the styling of these shoes they want something from FJ shoe line. Bad call Foot Joy!!!

  • You're basically saying someone in a third world country outsmarted you and closing the plant means you gave up.  I'll always love FootJoy shoes and my heart goes out to the workers who put everything they had into making a product that was being led down the wrong road all along.

  • What a sad day to hear of the closing of the Brockton Plant.  I'll never forget the plant tour I took in the 80's and still talk about until today.  They cut shoes with their eyes, nail with a mouthful of small nails, and craft like artists.

    How many steps have I taken in FJ Classic dress, teaching and golf shoes?  All of them.  Daily, I can't think of anything I wear that is more important then my shoes.  I will walk where ever Foot Joy takes me.

  • What next, concrete over the old course to build a supermarket? Maybe build a new airport on top of Augusta? Some things are more important than the bottom line, Footjoy Classics are a fundamental part of the game. So the profit margins are not high enough, fine put the prices up, we will still buy them. Please reconsider this decision. From a long term English customer.