New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. originally started life under the name New Balance Arch Support Company. The company was founded in 1906 by William J. Riley, a then 33 year old Englishman who immigrated to the US, migrated to Massachusetts, and started the brand in his new hometown of Boston.
It’s unclear exactly how the New Balance name originated but according to myths Mr. Riley came up with the name after observing a group of chickens and taking notice to how the animals had superior balance thanks to their three legged foot with three points of support. Riley went on to develop a flexible arch support using the same anatomy of the chickens foot, incorporating three points of support in a triangle and creating an entirely new balance for footwear.
In 1927 Mr. Riley hired a man by the name of Arthur Hall as a salesmen. Having a gift for pitching a product and knowing where his market was, Hall was able to get the arch supports Riley was manufacturing into the hands of people who needed them most. People who had jobs which required them to be on their feet for majority of the day. With Hall having such an impact on the company and improving sales, Riley made him an official business partner of New Balance in 1934.
After the passing of Riley, Hall took full control of the New Balance Arch Support Company. When it was time to hang up his hat, Hall sold the company to his daughter Eleanor and her husband, Paul Kidd in 1954. For the next 6 years Eleanor and Paul did exactly what the brand had been doing best since 1906, manufacturing arch supports. However, the two were also working on a running shoe unlike anything else on the market.
In 1960 Eleanor and Paul introduced the Trackster, the worlds first high performance running shoe produced with a ripple sole and available in a variety of widths to suit the needs of athletes of all sizes. The Trackster had a huge impact on the track and field industry and was adopted by cross-country college teams such as MIT, Tufts University and Boston University, and could be seen on the feet of high school athletes around the nation. The introduction of the sneaker was the key turning point in New Balance making a name for themselves in the industry and helped expose the brand to a much larger audience thanks to all those who endorsed it and wore the New Balance name with pride.
A free ride can only last so long though, and soon sales began to plummet. Eleanor and Paul really didn’t have much of a marketing campaign going on and would depended on word of mouth to get the company name and products out there, which wasn’t going over to great at the time. With things not looking on the up and up as they once did, Eleanor and Paul decided to move on to greener pastures. In 1972 they sold the company to Jim Davis, the Chairman at the time who purchased the company on the same day as the 1972 Boston Marathon.
Jim continued to build the New Balance empire until selling it to Robert DeMartini on July 30th, 1997.
New Balance Company Quick Facts.
- Founded by William J. Riley in 1906 as the New Balance Arch Support Company
- Arthur Hall becomes business partner in 1934.
- Arthur sells the company to his daughter Eleanor and husband Paul Kidd in 1954.
- Eleanor and Paul introduce the Trackster in 1960, the first running shoe with a ripple sole and available in a variety of sizes and widths.
- Eleanor and Paul sell company to Jim Davis in 1972.
- Jim Davis’ wife, Anne Davis, joins the company in 1978.
- Jim steps down as Chairman and sells company to Rob DeMartini in 1997.
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