Blog
The FJ Blog features news from the tour, product launches and insights, tips, corporate announcements and more.
 

FJ Classics Update from Jim Connor

Login to post a comment
  • Comments 72

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


  • I must say I was sad to hear that the Brockton Craft Shop will be closing its doors. It is truly a piece of American History, and I was lucky enough to see the work that was done there a few years ago when I was able to take a tour of the shop, and meet the fine people that worked there. I bought my first pair of Classics almost 10 years ago and still wear them and they perform like they are brand new. The "MADE IN THE USA" labor that went into these shoes was the reason that I bought them. I know it is cheaper to make a product overseas these days, but I took pride in wearing shoes that were made by hard working Americans. I guess I can only hope that the Classics that I now own can last me until another great American shoe is made because I feel that I need to support companies that support American workers at this time.

    Best of Luck Footjoy and I hope you reconsider you plan.

  • DON'T CLOSE!

    I am going to tell every guy i know to go and buy 2 pair this upcoming weekend! Please... everyone pass it along.. go buy a pair of classics! I'm buying 3 pair online right now!

    If we get everyone to buy out the current stock is there any chance you might stay open?

    any plans to offer classics in the future? I'm going to do my best to help! I wish you all the best.

  • I am sad to see the Classic shoe from FootJoy go away. The product was so good they would last for years. I guess that is part of the problem. Every tournament I played in and every tournament I won, I won in FootJoy Classics. The Classic shoe was the only shoe my father wore. Raise the price, I will pay it. Remember fads come and go. Remember the orange ball? Its gone. Please don't let the FootJoy "Flagship" go away.

  • Hear, hear!!

    I just mailed two letters, one to FootJoy the other to Acushnet, expressing my sadness and disappointment with this decision.  I also pledged to buy two new pair this summer.  These shoes have been there with me for, literally, every step taken in more than 2000 rounds of golf over the last 20+ years including meeting, first date and proposing to my wife on the 18th during a round, and my two holes in one!  FootJoy Classics are an iconic American product, please find a way to keep this from happeneing!

  • I just happened to come to the web site this afternoon to look for a new pair of classics. When I read the news I felt like a family member had died. I am sitting in my office in complete stunned disbelief. I would rather play in bare feet than not have my classics. I am now praying for a miracle and hoping that this is an early April Fools joke. Say it aint so! I too hope that you will reconsider.

  • Anybody home upstairs?

    In my mind there can be no soul in FootJoy if there are no Classics.

    Even if you would sell half of the shoes you do today, take the money from your marketing budget. Without the Classics, the whole FootJoy brand will deteriorate into a mediocre shoe manufacturer that sells golf shoes like all the others. How do you distinguish yourself?

    I wonder how I will play golf on a hot summer day in 20 years? I can not dream of wearing any other shoe than a pair of Classics. I hate plastic shoes and there is no alternative to a pair of Classics. The craftsmanship behind the shoe is so superior I would pay double the price for the shoe.

    There are many products that call themselves "classic," but there is only one product in golf that deserves the attribute. Sad that you do not appreciate what managers and employees have been establishing over such a long time.

    I was in shock when I read the announcement the first time. Good luck to the employees that have produced a dream of golfshoe.

    All the best to the classics people. I will try to get my fingers on several pairs this year.

    For people with class there is only one golfshoe.

  • Certainly sorry to see these products discontinued.  I have genuinely loved the craftsmanship that FootJoy gave the golfing world with these shoes.  I have two pairs of Classics Dry Premiere / Tour in the locker, eight pairs (that have never been on the ground) in boxes in the closet at home and three pairs of Country Club Casuals in boxes at home .... I bought ahead out of fear that this day might come, and I am sad to see that it's here.  The style, quality, and workmanship associated with these shoes was the best I've ever seen.  To those who have moved on to other shoes, you don't know what you left behind.  To the people who sat at the bench and made them for me, thank you!

  • Mr. Bertucci:  You raise some interesting points.  Let me try to respond to them as best I can.

    Your comment regarding the brand halo effect is of concern to all of us here.  While Classics categories were of very small volume, they had a disproportionate impact in terms of brand image and use on the world tours.  While other FootJoy categories such as DryJoys and Contours have their own devoted following, our Classic franchise was a very loyal and influential group of golfers.

    I don't agree with your indictment of the Classic decline as "self imposed" (nor would you expect me to, would you?).  Here's my rebuttal to your comments on that subject:

    1.  If we had not developed new products such as DryJoys, Contours and other lighter weight, waterproof footwear in the '90's, FootJoy would not be the category leader that it is today.  We may not have survived into this century.  While there is a devoted following for what Classics delivered, there is an equally loyal golfer community that demand what our new performance categories deliver.

    2.  We marketed Classics with a far greater budget than their sales volume would support.  We attempted extensive stocking programs with our green grass customers and largest off course golf stores alike; subsidized their costs to both the trade and consumers; and carried extensive inventories and styles that were far beyond our sales needs to attract new customers and keep our small, loyal following.  Our offerings exceeded 30% of our total styles, while generating less than 3% of our business --- not a successful business model in any industry.

    3.  For years we chased the mens dress shoe business in channels of distribution far from the pro shop.  But since we didn't offer the extensive collections and price points of dress shoe competitors (we could only make one category of dress shoe construction), we lost shelf space and sales to those who were focused on it.  We were a golf shoe company and had to focus on that business in a highly competitive world.

    4.  As late as last year, we promoted our dress shoes with every pair of Classic golf shoes.  A brochure was included in the box, highlighting our limited offerings of dress shoes.  This strategy did not produce results.

    5. We have no plans to make a Classic welted golf shoe in another country.  We don't believe that kind of craftsmanship can be replicated elsewhere.  When we close the factory, we will move on to other designs and construction to produce the finest golf shoes in the world --- but there will be no more Classics as we know them today.

    I wish there were answers to this dilemma.  We have worked hard for the last twenty years to find a solution to rapidly declining sales and costs that outpaced our meager profit margins.  We tried many techniques and plans to reverse the trend (including all those you suggested in your post), but were not successful.  It is that simple and that sad.  I'm sorry.

  • I am sad to hear the news that the factory will be closing.  I, too, had the privilege of touring the factory a year or two ago, meeting folks on the floor and witnessing these hand-crafted shoes.  I will not forget the experience and was very proud to be American on that day.

    For anyone who has not had the opportunity, you can see a virtual tour here:

    www.footjoy.com/factorytour

    I know this decision wasn't entered into lightly.  There is much to admire in Jim Connor for taking personal responsibility for such a difficult decision at a time when so many hide behind committees.

    I also trust that if the pendulum swings back where consumers recognize the value of American-made, hand-crafted products, FootJoy will heed the call.  After all, the decision wasn't really made by Jim Connor or FootJoy at all, but by  golfers who took Classics for granted.

  • This must be a sad day for you, because I know it is for me.  I currently have 2 pair of Classics and one in the mail as we speak.  I had to jump all over the opportunity to have another pair of the best golf shoes in the world before this day came...Seriously...if you don't have a pair of Classics, order them now...you don't know what you're missing...Thanks for the great work and I'm looking forward to the new products that are going to be introduced, though I know they'll never be the same!

  • I have a pair of those new shoe designs, they

    suck.

    There is no shoe like the Footjoy Classic. The

    stablity of the heavier sole is nowhere to be

    found. Why don't you "see" and market the

    unique features of this shoe.

  • To all the "Classics" fans that took the time to post here - I work at the Brockton plant. I lace and top spray your shoes. At least I will for a few more days. I wanted to thank you all so much for your devotion to Classics and shoes made in the USA. It is extremely difficult for all of us to get through this tough time. Those of us still working have a great many years invested in FootJoy. Our futures are very shaky now - like so many others, we don't know how we will get by. It is important to me to take this time to thank you all so very much for your concern and kind words. Thank you all!

  • Mr Connor,

    It truly is devastating that due these trying times,you have to close the Brockton plant.  Since 1969 I have been a PGA golf professional and the only shoes that have graced my feet have been Foot-Joys.  All the people who have done such a magnificent job all these years, THANK YOU.  Hopefully, in the not to distant future, the Classics will return.

    Good luck to all and again Thank You

  • Thank you and your colleagues Deborah.

    If there is anything we can do to support your cause and to revoke the (mis-)management decision, please let the community know. There must be a place in the world for such a top notch product.

  • I must admit when i found out, i was very sadened to hear this news. I cant help but to think about all of the great people who made these great shoes for me. I have purchased one pair of Classics every year for as long as i can remember as a treat for the start of the golf season.  It will be a very empty feeling on the first tee this year without my Classics. Good luck to all of the craftsmen and women in the Brockton Plant.