On March 1, Hi-Tec Sports USA acquired the Falcon Shoe Manufacturing Company located in Lewiston, Maine. Magnum USA, a division of Hi-Tec, will be managing the factory, company President and CEO Paul Brooks told SNEWSÂ®. Terms of the deal were not made public.
Until Hi-Tec stepped up, the historic Lewiston factory had been in a steady decline toward oblivion -- an ignominious end for a factory that once produced Timberland boots.
With the purchase, Hi-Tec ensured that the 26 remaining employees (out of a once-proud 500 strong workforce) would have job security and immediately boosted the employee numbers to 40. Hi-Tec has also committed to leasing the 48,000 square feet of space the factory currently utilizes in the Continental Mill, as well as an additional 37,500 square feet to accommodate planned expansion.
"We hope to have as many as 80 working in the factory by the end of the year," Brooks told us.
Hi-Tec also changed the company name to the Falcon Footwear Company that Brooks said was more in line with a company that makes boots and performance shoes for tactical outdoor wear.
Hi-Tec, which has been producing its footwear exclusively in China until now, purchased the factory so that the company could provide "made-in-the-U.S.A. footwear" and give it an opportunity to compete for lucrative military and government footwear contracts.
"We are already well appreciated by the folks who wear uniforms from police and firemen to postal workers, but we had a demand for our brand that we could not meet because we did not have the means to offer them footwear other than by direct purchase," Brooks said.
With the acquisition, Brooks expects Magnum to quickly become competitive with the likes of Rocky and Wolverine for federal law enforcement and military contracts that are regularly up for bid.
Beyond the ability to bid for federal contracts though, Brooks told us Hi-Tec is also keenly interested in pursuing design and development projects for high-end backpacking, hiking and even golf footwear.
"Having a U.S.-based factory will give us the ability to be much more hands-on as we work through development and sampling and as a result our turnaround time will become much quicker in the development process," said Brooks.
Brooks also pointed out that as long as the Euro remains strong, Hi-Tec will have a strong incentive to start exporting made-in-the-U.S.A. shoes to Europe.
"There is a very positive image regarding quality of products made in the U.S. and that is something, that combined with the strength of the Euro, we believe we will be able to make the most of," Brooks said.
SNEWSÂ® View: We've heard from locals in the Lewiston area that Brooks is somewhat of a celebrity for saving the factory. No doubt. In fact, from what we have learned, the PR that Hi-Tec has generated from saving a factory and in some ways, a town's economy, has more than paid for the actual purchase price of the assets of the factory. Now that is a good deal. And in a switch, it is nice to see a company that started manufacturing overseas bring production stateside. We have little doubt that this will prove to be a very strong move and play for Hi-Tec and will only serve to strengthen its position not only in the United States, but as long as the Euro keeps kicking the poor dollar around, it will give the company increased strength internationally as well.