Déjà vu for ShoeWhen Red Wing Shoe won the 2011 manufacturer of the year award last year, the company was just coming off a year of record-setting revenue.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: This the third of five stories about the 2012 Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce award-winners.
When Red Wing Shoe won the 2011 manufacturer of the year award last year, the company was just coming off a year of record-setting revenue.
Fast forward one year, and not much has changed.
The Shoe just accepted the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce’s manufacturer of the year award for 2012. To top it off, President Dave Murphy said the past year beat out 2011 to set a new record high for revenue and earnings.
“Yes, we had a record year,” Murphy said.
Contributing to the company’s increased earnings was the launch of the Irish Setter Work line in early 2012 and the continued growth of the Shoe’s Heritage Business line, Murphy said.
Some of the Shoe’s sales beat company expectations. In August, Shoe representatives said they hoped to sell 700,000 of their flame-retardant garments specifically made for workers in the oil and gas industry.
Instead, Murphy said, the company ended up selling twice that amount.
“That’s very exciting,” he said. “That means that big customers that buy our work boots are starting to buy garments. We’re head to toe.”
That upward trend is something Murphy said he sees growing in the coming years as oil and gas industries around the world enact regulations requiring flame-retardant clothing and oil fields continue to grow in
“We expect both international and domestic sales to increase,” Murphy said.
But it’s not just sales and revenues that posted higher numbers for 2012. Murphy said employment is also up – 3.5 percent overall. Salaried employment – which doesn’t include most manufacturing jobs – was up 7 percent.
However, at the end of 2012, the Shoe officially closed the doors at its Danville, Ky., plant, which affected close to 70 employees, Shoe representatives said.
That closure was the completion of a plan set in motion in 2009 to consolidate manufacturing to the Shoe’s plants in Red Wing and Petosi, Mo. Those two plants added space and workers to absorb the Danville plant’s production.
Looking forward, Murphy said he expects 2013 to be another record-setting year.
Murphy said the company is adding what he calls “fundamentals” — building the company’s online capabilities to better work with customers and provide salespeople with better information, adding market forecasters to better predict customer demands and implementing a new training program to “make us a better team of employees,” Murphy said.
In addition, two months into the Shoe’s fiscal year, revenue numbers are already looking good.
“We’re ahead of last year at this time,” Murphy said. “It’s a good place to start.”
Winning the chamber’s award also seems to be a good place to start. And even though the Shoe has been nominated many times before and won it twice, Murphy said accepting the trophy isn’t getting to be run of the mill.
“It’s more meaningful every time,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve cared more about our relationship with the city. … We continue to feel the support of the community which is such an important thing.”