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09 Apr 2014
Helping new balance compete with the big boys They pay the biggest stars in sport to wear their shoes and clothing. You do not. Against this lessthanpromising background, liam burns has the task of persuading brandconscious youngsters and adults, for that matter to buy his product. Fortunately, working for new balance has helped give liam nimble footwork.He manages to turn the fact that cristiano ronaldo, usain bolt and the rest of the planet sporting elite do not wear his brand into a selling point. People buy sports shoes, a lot of it is not about how good the product is.It about who wearing it, says liam, who lives near wetheral with his wife sandra. Wear our shoes because they good, not because we pay them.We would rather put our money into the product and into supporting a community or a team rather than give it to individuals who are already wealthy.Ronaldo himself would be proud of that sidestep. Despite maybe because of its marketing strategy, new balance is the world fourthlargest sports brand.Liam manages its european business development team. Usbased new balance is the only major sports shoe company with a factory in the uk.Its flimby plant produces about 1.3m pairs of shoes a year and employs more than 200 people.Keeping them in jobs has liam travelling the world and wracking his brains in search of new markets and marketing methods. So how can he compete with the likes of nike?By not standing toe to toe with them. Not trying to be nike, says liam.Not trying to be the biggest.We familyowned.We started life as an orthopedic shoe company 102 years ago.We about function, not fashion.So many people wear the wrong shoes because they pick them for the wrong reasons.We a shoe for serious runners.A cheerful, friendly chap but this comment sounds like a dig at bigger companies whose success owes much to their products being wrapped around famous feet. Not that liam complains when he sees photos of paul mccartney, bill clinton and gordon ramsay jogging in his brand.Liam wrote to gary barlow and sent him more shoes when he saw the take that singer training for his charity ascent of kilimanjaro in new balance. Two Cheap Flower Girl Dresses Australia weeks ago liam was in london with major phil packer;The soldier who completed the london marathon on crutches.Packer was told he would never walk again after being badly injured in a rocket attack in basra.He started the marathon with 35, 000 other competitors on april 26 and crossed the finish line on may 9, after walking two miles of the 26.2mile course every day for 13 days, hoping to raise for soldiers charity Help For Heroes. Saw phil on tv and noticed he was walking in new balance shoes, says liam.Days later i was at his house in london with some shoes that were made in cumbria the day before. Was privileged when phil invited me to walk the last day with him.I took down a pair of shoes we made for him with his name and on the back.He was quite emotional and i came away feeling very inspired and humbled.Liam the experience bordered on perfection:A heartwarming tale with a business backbone.Had these shoes on for bbc breakfast news the monday after.On itv news they focused on his feet for a few seconds.It was great coverage.With the giants marketing budgets demands such innovation, especially in these challenging times. Liam looks beyond the conventional path of selling sports shoes to sports shops.He is taking the brand to where people work and play, setting up for work days with organisations including ibm, rollsroyce and cumbria county council, analysing how people walk and run and finding the trainers to suit. He is working with sport england to help improve the nation fitness with measures like walking to work.Small steps, hopefully taken in new balance shoes. And liam is hoping to secure a contract to make military footwear at flimby.He has helped set up a house of commons reception for june 3, hosted by workington mp tony cunningham to highlight new balance uk production and push for government contracts.The military one could be worth 500, 000 pairs of shoes a year. Don expect to be given preferential treatment, says liam.We expect the decision to be focused on quality as well as cost.Everybody perception is that all sportswear is made in the far east.But labour is only 15 per cent of the production cost.Than half of the shoes made at flimby are exported to europe and beyond.In japan, in england is a serious selling point. Liam travels wherever the shoes go.Last year he had meetings in sweden, poland and france.He was in istanbul with the uk army at the nato games. There are meetings in london and visits to new balance hq in boston.While liam enjoys the buzz, he also needs the peace of home. Try to make sure i get back up to cumbria for the weekend.I like to have a pint in the wheatsheaf on a friday night.When the train pulls out of euston at the end of a busy, hard week, it the most satisfying feeling.Like a true cumbrian, but liam appreciates the place more for having spent his first 23 years elsewhere.He moved to carlisle in 1990 from his hometown of bolton, working at the city council before joining the probation service, moving to the home office, then running asdawalmart human resources section in the north west. He joined new balance in 2007.Look for an organisation that tallies with my personality.Enthusiastic.Positive.Down to earth.For someone who always been keen on sport, i found my ideal place.Balance might not shovel money at millionaire sports stars but the company does back more humble competitors.The players of carlisle united, warrington wolves rugby league team and lancashire county cricket club all wear running shoes made in cumbria. A keen cricketer, liam is a lancashire fan and there a childlike glee when he talks about meeting the players. Other one for me that would be nice to have would be bolton wanderers.[Bolton striker] Kevin Davies gets a lot of stick but he hardworking and honest, down to earth, gives his all at all times.Very underrated and understated.Like new balance, liam would say.And much like a sporting legend from cumbria who liam met at the recent runner world awards. Was talking to jos naylor and i discovered that he wears new balance.I said gives you them?He said do you mean?I go to the factory shop at flimby and buy them.Was embarrassed.I said any more you don i putting some in the back of my car and taking them round to his house.


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