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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


  • I only wear Classics, your other shoes are not my cup of tea.  I will have to look for another shoe I guess.

  • Thank you for sharing more information with us.  As many others I was saddened with the news.  Not only with the loss of a great product but also with the loss of 103 jobs.  Best of luck with the new product.  Hopefully you will be able to do customs in the new product like you did with the Classics.  All of my Classics were custom made for size, PLEASE continue to offer this on the new shoe.

  • I am sorry to hear about the Classics line. The higher end shoes at FJ are exactly what made FJ what they are today. I would rather see the lower end DryJoys and SYNR-G shoes go away. I had my first pair of FJ's given to me by a friend 15 years ago who wanted me to start golfing with him and I have never owned  anything but a Classics shoe since. I am now forced to explore other styles and thats not going to be an easy thing to do. Are the consumers going to have a chance to order their last custom shoes or at least place orders for what they need to take them through the next 40 years? Is there still time for me to order 15 pairs of my shoes? I have to special order size 14's so is that going to be a problem? What if I did not come to the site to read this? How would I have known? Please tell me you are going to warn the entire world of this tragedy??? Thats would be the right thing to do. Also, can you please tell us now (!!!) about the new shoe coming out?! The ones that the pros are testing that's supposed to be the best thing yet?

  • Jorg, I wish I could tell you that there is something we could do. Acushnet Co. is our parent company and they are content to let China take over the FootJoy manufacturing (much cheaper I assume). We at the Brockton plant took many a day and weeks off unpaid to help the cause, but we were not given the chance to do so again. I think the last nail is in the coffin.I will pass your comments on to my coworkers. I'm sure it will help to know that others care. Thanks again!

  • Hi Sean,

    Thank you for your comment. As Jim mentioned above, this was not an easy decision nor one we ever wanted to make.

    Unfortunately, we cannot accept new orders for Classics at this time. Only orders placed as of February 26 are being manufactured. However, knowing this day might come, we ramped up production towards the end of last year to increase inventory so hopefully you can find the shoes you're looking for through authorized retailers. Again, we apologize for this situation. We assure you we will provide information on the new shoe line as soon as it's available.

    Regards,

    Chris

  • I am sorry to hear the news of the discontinuance of the Classics line.  I have two pairs of spikeless that I wear to the office and a couple of pairs for the course.  They are timeless in my mind.  Not many pairs of shoes are as timeless and classy as Classics.

    For this future line, it probably won't be the same, but don't stray too far from the look and style of Classics. Additionally, please continue to offer a spikeless "shop-shoe" version that can be worn away from the course.

  • Jorg-will you please let me know is my post appears? I am only writing the truth and my company knows this.I will always have pride in my work at FootJoy!

  • Jorg,I responded to you earlier,but now I find my post deleted-imagine that!!What I will keep on trying to say even if I have to call the Brockton Enterprise is that our parent company is the Acushnet Company and they are content to let FootJoy shoes be manufactured in China-the cheap way.We were told that the China plant is only working four days a week. Sorry,I can't sympathize.We at the Brockton plant took many unpaid days and weeks off to help the situation.We were not given the option now.So it seems the nail is in the coffin.I wish to thank you very much and will pass along all the kind words and wishes to my co-workers. It means a lot to all of us!

  • My post was here,then missing,then it was back! So sorry if two similiar posts appear!Thanks again to all you!

  • Jorg, I wish I could tell you that there is something we could do. Acushnet Co. is our parent company and they are content to let China take over the FootJoy manufacturing (much cheaper I assume). We at the Brockton plant took many a day and weeks off unpaid to help the cause, but we were not given the chance to do so again. I think the last nail is in the coffin.I will pass your comments on to my coworkers. I’m sure it will help to know that others care. Thanks again!

  • I really can still not believe that the BIG manager from Acushnet are not able to market a superior product and the product that is preferred by all tour pros around the world. If they ever have been able to spell the word marketing this must have been an accident :-(

    Since I would like to know more about the situation please feel free to contact me directly through the facebook mail. I simply use my name as prfilname there.

    I really would appreciate a dialog.

    Thanks in advance and all the best to all of you.

    Sincerely Jorg

  • If you are closing the Brockton factory, exactly where are your other factories located?  In the USA?  I can not seem to find this information on your website.

    Tonight I saw a very sad story about this town on ABC News and could not believe that your factory will be closed.

    Will any of your shoes be made in the United States of America?

    I am so sorry for the employees that are losing their jobs.  Unless I see made in the USA on my next golf shoes I will not buy them.

    Susan

  • I pray you keep the look of the "classic" golf and the spikeless kiltie and tassel style, there "classics" !!

  • Hi my name is Steven Samaniego and I am a salesman for the PGA Tour Superstore. I am so sorry to hear that the classics are no longer going to be available for consumer purchase. I know from a business aspect that the course taken is a correct one because at store level we did not sell very many due to the fact that our customers are more about wanting to puchase and take home on the same day. Today I had to tell a customer that we were not able to assist him in a special order for a pair classic premier's he had a letter from achusnet to go to any footjoy retailer and have us order his replacement pair. When I explained the situation about the classics to him he was not to happy about it. We tried to call the 1-800 number but it was already after hours because it was 3 oclock Arizona time when it was already 6 oclock Mass. time. He said he wou;d call tomorrow during the day to Footjoy's 1-800 number. We support your decisions during these times as we have to tighten down ourselves on the retail store level as well as we do not have any classics for the store to even display.

    Sincerely

    Steven Samaniego

    Golf Shoe Sales Associate

    ThePGATourSuperstore

    Chandler,AZ

  • I have been using FJ Classic shoes since I started playing golf and I used to purchase them at the FJ store in Manhattan. In my whole golfing life I have only used FJ shoes and among them all I have always found Classics the best ones, since they are the most breathable and comfortable ones on the market.

    It is very sad to hear they will not be available anymore. I am not interested in any new "lightweight, flexible, and most importantly, highly waterproof golf footwear." FJ Classics are not lightweight - and not vey flexible the first time you wear them -  but they are breathable and the more you use them the more comfortable they get. About the waterproof, it's true the old Classics were not, but the Classic Dry before and the Classic Dry Premiere after, ARE WATERPROOF, and as far as you provide a proper maintenance with FJ lotion and weatherproofer, in terms of overall performance, they are better than any other shoes on the market.

    At the end, my thoughts are for all the men and women who have worked all these years at the Brockton FJ facilities. Thanks for your fine work! Thanks for letting me enjoy the game I love the most, while walking with the most comfortable and fine shoes (FJ Classic)!!!!