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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

  • mr.connor

    rubbish!there was no marketing plan for classics hence no buyers. why make an expensive classic in the USA when you can make a shoe overseas where production costs are lower so profits are higher. this was a decision made for $$$$$$$$$$$ pure and simple.I have purchased 11 pair of classics in the last 4 years.

    george dahl

  • i think FJ should make new dryjoys..

  • Dear Jim:

    I read with great interest your decision-making process vis-a-vis the FJ Classic and the lament expressed by your loyal customers at its demise.  One constant is the reality that this change is causing stress.  I honor the empathy you have for your employees in Brockton and their families and the understanding you expressed for the opinions of your customers.  The FJ Classic story is a microcosm, a wave of change in an economic sea change that is happening throughout the world.

    We are all experiencing the effects of destructive stress due in no small part to these changes.  The FJ products have always been associated with an emotion incorporated in its name: "Joy".  What if you could increase joy by providing the buyers of your shoes with an ancient technique that enhances pleasure, reduces destructive stress and enables sleep?  I call this technique "The Now Sound".  My book, "Peace and Par - Enjoying Golf in the Now" (www.amazon.com) describes The Now Sound and how it brings the mind away from its proclivity to go to stress producing thoughts of the past and the future and into the present. (aka "the zone")in a few breaths during a round and in life. Not only will laid off workers, and present customers benefit from the Now Sound but FJ could attract a burgeoning demographic called LOHAS, "Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability" which is estimated to be 26% of the population of the US and of course includes golfers.  It would be my pleasure to share "The Now Sound" with you to assess its relevance.

  • As one of the laid off workers,I can tell you it will take more than your"THE NOW SOUND" from your book(sold at Amazon.com ,right?)to reduce my stress and enable sound sleep.Mr.Shingleton,I am sure you mean well,but are you trying to profit from what happened to FJ Brockton? I certainly hope not!

  • This is a very sad day when the best shoe in golf will no longer exsist! I'm very sad..... Tim

  • If you limited the number of shoes given to Tour pros, perhaps these products would be more cost effective.

  • Mr. Connor,

    I wanted to echo the comments from many other Classic lovers and add a point I hope you take note of: I am a relatively young Classic enthusiast - 34 years old.  I have worn nothing but Classic Dry premiers for the last 10 years.  I feel like there are many other golfers like me who have grown up seeing our fathers wear Classics and when we get to a stage in life where we can afford the best we graduate to Classics ourselves.  Style and welted construction are really what make Classics unique.  How about sending all the comment contributors in this forum an invitation to come to Brockton and buy the remaining inventory at prices for loyal enthusiasts?

  • Footjoy was an AMERICAN icon. I've seen this a hundred times. Bean counter calculates an increased profit margin by moving manufacturing overseas. Said bean counter fails to calculate that by doing so makes the product no different than the competition. CEO cannot understand why sales continue to fall; company is purchased by competitor and is flushed down the toilet; gone!

    What do you call a Classic style footjoy made in another country? A PHONY!

    No offense Mr. Connor, I'm sure this decision comes down from Acushnet and I believe that you are just as saddened as us.

    I have friends that are deeply saddened by this news and they DON'T EVEN GOLF let alone wear your product. What does that tell you?

    Good luck and may god help us all.

  • I reside in South Africa, I been wearing classics for many years and very sad to hear that they no longer available.is there anyone who has classics availabe as discontinued stock or closeouts that I could purchase, please send resonse to tmiller@multichoice.co.za.

  • I have been wearing the same pair of classics for nearly 8 years.  Unfortunately I did not realize that they are no longer being made.  I had a pair of dry joys before and they didn't come close in comfort and performance to the classic.  I have been searching Ebay, the internet, and golf shops for the past 2 years.  Does anyone know where i can purchase new or slightly used classics?  Are any left?  If so i would be willing to pay money for enough classics to last the rest of my life along with a couple pairs for my future children.  Thanks for any help.  If this isn't possible does anyone know of an alternative shoe made of leather not plastic.  thanks for any help.

  • What a great write up from the man who had to make one of the toughest decisions in FJ's history.  I am glad to know that FJ is still #1 and I can't imagine seeing another brand on my feet.

  • Okay, I'm late to the game, but have to throw out my two cents.  I just bought a pair of Footjoy Classics (Style 51123)on Ebay (never worn) for $92.00 (great steal!).  Slapped them full of neatsfoot oil, and it's like slipping my feet into warm butter.  I also, purchased a pair of 2012 close outs (new) for $110.00.  Both pairs arrived within a week of each other (personal Christmas gifts to myself).  One pair (flawless construction) says "Made in the USA", the other pair (same construction) says "Made in China".   Question:  Do you manufacture any Footjoy Shoes in the USA anymore?  I'm sorry, but there's something to be said about the quality of workmanship and as a consumer, knowing they were hand made in the USA vice on some machine across the Pacific.  The "new" shoes I bought fit fine (albiet they would need to be broken in a little more and surely didn't have that "warm butter" feel, than the Classics), but I already know, I'll be wearing my "new but never worn" classics before I'll put back on the other pair.  Sure wish I wouldn't have known years ago you'd be closing your plant.  I would have ran out and bought more than just one pair.  Now I'm relegated to Ebay to find what WAS, "the best shoe in Golf".  Now you're just like all the rest (and Nike has been working with China a lot longer than you...)  Maybe I'll go with Allen Edmonds, at least I know I'm getting a quality handmade leather shoe.