By Liz Murtaugh Gillespie
(This book is a history of Brooks running shoe company.)
Runners know Brooks as the company that makes high quality running shoes. Most of us didn’t know that the company started out making ballet slippers and bathing shoes in Philadelphia in 1914. From then through the last 100 years, Brooks has had some good times, and a lot of bad times. Certainly, as Running Through the First 100 Years shows, they’ve been through a lot of change.
Brooks made the first ice skates that came with blades already attached. They also had the first roller skates with rubber toe stops. In 1924, the company produced 17,500 pairs of baseball shoes. They made basketball shoes, football shoes, bowling shoes and tennis shoes. They even made military shoes: “At one point, the company converted 60 percent of its Hanover production line to combat boots and dress oxfords for the military.”
Brooks has had their share of controversy, with Nike usually being involved. One time, a professional football player who had a contract with Nike admitted in court to wearing “swoosh-doctored Brooks shoes because Nikes made his feet hurt…” Another time, Nike accused Brooks and Runner’s World Magazine of conspiring to manipulate the magazine’s shoe rankings. (According to the book, by the way, they hadn’t.)
If you like history, and are interested in business, particularly running related business, then you’ll enjoy this history of an innovative company that not only makes a great running shoe, but seems to care more about running and runners than profit.