Celebrating American Manufacturers, Secretary of Labor Acosta Pays Gordon Sign a Visit

After being selected to showcase their signs as part of ‘Made in America’ week, Gordon Sign continues to receive recognition from the White House!

On the heels of representing the State of Colorado at the White House last week, our client, Gordon Sign, received a visit from United States Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, who toured the country’s oldest sign company as a continuation of the White House ‘Made in America’ celebration.

(Gordon Sign White House blog: http://brandiron.net/gordon-sign-represents-colorado-white-house-made-america-product-showcase-event/ )

The timing could not have been more perfect, either. Secretary Acosta was headed to Colorado as part of his tour of American manufacturers to discuss how the Trump Administration can support domestic manufacturing in Colorado and the nation as a whole. Major discussion topics included strategizing how US manufacturing can become more competitive as well as developing a more extensive training program to educate employees.

After sitting down with  Gordon Sign to discuss how it can support manufacturing in Colorado, Secretary Acosta toured their 25,000 sq ft. main production facility in Denver. He met and talked with employees and learned firsthand how they make their award winning neon signs. For Gordon Sign, it’s not only about what they can do, but how they do it. It was a great honor for our client to have the opportunity to share their remarkable process and story with the US Secretary of Labor.

   

Secretary Acosta’s visit comes after Gordon Sign’s revitalization, compliments of Max Fulton and Tom Kim, who acquired the company from a private equity firm after the recession had taken its toll on the sign industry. The business needed new leadership and direction along with some extra attention, love, and capital. With the new ownership group and leadership from Fulton and Kim, 2016 was Gordon Sign’s best year in some time, and 2017 is poised for similar success.

Last week was an amazing opportunity for Gordon Sign and their employees to shine while showcasing some of their remarkable work on a nationwide scale. Their signs come from strong values and produce great brand expression that have stood the test of time. Brand Iron salutes the entire team at Gordon Sign for the exceptional work they create!

 

Media References:

Denver 7: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denvers-gordon-sign-is-colorados-featured-company-at-white-house-made-in-america-show

USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/07/17/cheerwine-crab-pots-and-shotgun-chaps-50-made-america-products-head-white-house/485050001/

FOX Business: http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/07/17/trump-s-made-in-america-showcase-these-products-made-list.html

Market Watch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-each-states-made-in-america-product-highlighted-by-the-white-house-2017-07-17

NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/18/537897405/white-house-highlights-made-in-america-products-from-each-state

BizWest: http://bizwest.com/2017/07/17/colorado-sign-company-showcased-white-house/

White House Blog: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/07/17/made-america

Gordon Sign’s new sign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w60A2SZpFDM

Gordon Sign Represents Colorado at White House ‘Made in America’ Product Showcase Event

To kick off ‘Made in America’ week at the White House, President Donald Trump revealed a list showcasing the top products from each state that are made in the USA…

Brand Iron is excited to announce that our client, Gordon Sign, was chosen to represent Colorado at ‘Made in America’ week at the White House!

President Trump invited Gordon’s CEO, Max Fulton, and President, Tom Kim, to be honored at the White House on Monday where companies from all 50 states represented the great effort and commitment businesses put forward to source their products locally. President Trump signed a proclamation and spoke about the importance of sourcing locally: “We want to build, create and grow more products in our country, using American labor, American goods, and American Grit. When we purchase product in the USA the profits stay here, and the jobs stay right here in the USA.”

                                  

Gordon Sign is a Colorado – based company that has been designing, building, and installing custom brand expression for more than 110 years. Their innovation and attention to detail in building custom brand expressions are distinguishing factors that set them apart from competitors. The White House specifically chose to showcase Gordon’s striking neon lighted signs. These have made a huge impression all over the country and can be seen throughout the state of Colorado. Some of their best work includes United Artist Theatres, 1st Bank in Evergreen, and Duffy’s Cherry Cricket.

In 2016, with the expertise of the Brand Iron team, Gordon Sign underwent a complete rebrand, revitalizing their look and giving them the tools to become an industry leader. We understandhow easy it can be for older companies to get stuck in traditional ways of branding; Gordon Sign is a great example of what a new breath of life can do for a brand.

A completely new look, including a newly designed logo, website, and updated sales materials, was exactly what Gordon Sign, the oldest sign-making company in the country, needed to gain and maintain customers. Recently, they have completed designs for several big clients including Sports Authority Field at Mile High (the home of the Denver Broncos), Wendy’s, and many more.

                                    

Since the event at the White House on Monday, July 17, Gordon Sign has been receiving a lot of news coverage following their accomplishment. Denver 7 News, USA Today, FOX Business, Market Watch, and many more have been following the stories of the American-made companies chosen for the event. The list includes big-hitting companies like Campbell’s Soup from New Jersey as well as smaller businesses like Heath Crab Pots from Maryland.

It truly is a huge honor for Gordon Sign to have represented Colorado in the Made of America showcase. Congratulations to our client whose hard work and dedication to their brand has paved the way for such an accomplishment.

 

Media References:

Denver 7: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/denvers-gordon-sign-is-colorados-featured-company-at-white-house-made-in-america-show

USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/07/17/cheerwine-crab-pots-and-shotgun-chaps-50-made-america-products-head-white-house/485050001/

FOX Business: http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/07/17/trump-s-made-in-america-showcase-these-products-made-list.html

Market Watch: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-each-states-made-in-america-product-highlighted-by-the-white-house-2017-07-17

White House Blog: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2017/07/17/made-america

Gordon Sign’s new sign: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w60A2SZpFDM

 

Newton Running: a Case Study in Brand Revitalization

Last week, we talked about the importance of brand revitalization during challenging times and how companies must address obstacles head-on and manage their brand on a proactive basis in order to maintain their desired perception in the marketplace.

Brand Iron recently helped Newton Running, the innovative, Colorado-born running shoe company, do just that. Working as a team, with some tactical planning and preparation, we set out to show what Newton has done to reorganize and restructure themselves as a company. As part of that effort, we helped develop the brand and public relations strategy and messaging for several different publications, including an article in Runner’s World Magazine that announces the Newton brand revitalization to the world. The message is simple: “we’re thriving, and we are are going to get back to our entrepreneurial roots disrupting the running shoe space.”

Here is the article in full:

Newton Running Reorganizes Without its Original Visionary
The company promises to return to its focus on serious runners who want to run more efficiently.

Newton Running, the innovative shoe company that made a big splash when it launched 10 years ago, has undergone a major reorganization in recent weeks. As a result, visionary cofounder Danny Abshire is no longer with the company and the brand has closed its flagship retail store in Boulder, Colorado.

Jerry Lee, the company’s cofounder and original investor, has come back to lead the brand, which made its name with brightly colored shoes, unique forefoot propulsion lugs, the promotion of more efficient running form, and online-only sales.

Lee returned as CEO and the company’s primary shareholder on April 6. Newton was under the management of private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners, which is no longer involved with the brand.

Lee said Newton will return to its roots and offer a narrower product line while focusing on being a strong but small company. At its peak, Newton Running employed 47 people—and Lee credited the brand’s current viability to the work those individuals had done—but it is now operating with a staff of 15, he said.

The retail store that Newton operated on Pearl Street in Boulder closed in late March. Independent running stores that carried Newton shoes once numbered about 600, but that total has dropped to about 100 in recent months.

Lee is confident the brand will achieve profitability soon by selling direct to consumers online and also through those specialty running retailers that have served the brand well through the years.

“I have always believed in the technology and the impact it has had on so many thousands of runners,” Lee said. “The outpouring of letters and emails from our key retailers and some of our best customers is really what brought me back. When we started the company, I never dreamed of having people tell us their life experiences, and we have had thousands of those kinds of testimonials.

“Financially, I didn’t have to do this. But I looked at all of those people that we created these passions with and it would be unfair if that brand just went away. The people who are invested with me believe strongly in Newton and in me, and so it’s here to stay, without a doubt.”

Newton will primarily focus on its performance shoes and its slightly more accommodating models going forward. Lee said the company will market mainly to discriminating customers concerned with running better and more efficiently.

The company will also go forward without Abshire, and his wife, Jennifer, who was part of the original start-up team. Both were assigned to handle operations at the store and taken out of the core management team a few years ago. They were let go when the previous management team decided to close the Pearl Street store.

Jennifer Abshire posted an item on Facebook on April 2 about their departure. That post garnered a lot of support, but it also raised questions about the fate of the brand.

“I am honored to have worked side by side with my husband, business partner and running buddy,” Jennifer wrote next to a photo showing the company’s launch 10 years earlier at the Ironman 70.3 race in Oceanside, California. “We worked with a great family of co-workers, met a lot of amazing people, travelled the country and helped runners and triathletes of all levels. Our journey with Newton Running has come to an end but we are excited to see what new adventures lie ahead.”

Lee initially backed Abshire’s innovative running shoe designs in the late 1990s. Abshire, a self-taught footwear guru, took the insights he learned from improving the fit of ski boots and later from building custom footbeds for elite triathletes like Paula Newby-Fraser and Michele Jones to developing his first running shoe prototypes in the late 1990s.

Abshire had a vision to build shoes that promoted more efficient running form via a mid-foot running gait and better running posture. His shoes came at a time when most brands were putting new technology and materials into thickly cushioned heel crash pads.

The brand was one of the first to trend toward a zero-drop or level platform and also helped spur the development of lightweight shoes and premium pricing of $155 to $175 per pair. It also offered running form clinics and coaching certification to further its message about efficient running form.

Lee and Abshire first brought the brand to market in 2007 at triathlon race expos and through direct-to-consumer online sales, selling 5,000 pre-orders before its first bulk shipment of shoes reached its warehouse.

“I won’t be part of Newton going forward, but I’m still very proud of what we did with the brand,” Abshire said. “When we started it was Jerry’s money, but it was Jennifer and I who created the grassroots movement. I really enjoyed all of the things that we created. We really stirred the pot and contemplated how to be different.”

The Fireman equity group originally backed Newton in 2011 with a reported $20 million investment, hoping to take it from a fledgling start-up to a major player in the running footwear industry. The brand grew by leaps and bounds from its inception through about 2013 and sponsored elite pro athletes like three-time Hawaii Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander. That group also tried to help it grow among recreational runners

But slower growth, some distribution and manufacturing challenges, and increased competition led Newton to a plateau, Lee said.

Newton achieved double-digit to triple-digital growth for several years, Lee said, before competition from other innovative brands—including Vibram, Hoka, and Altra—slowed its progress a bit. A major industry shift from more minimally designed shoes to well-cushioned models also affected the brand, Lee and Abshire said.

“A lot of things happened after we launched that were out of our control,” Lee said. “When we started, it was just us and the bigger boys like Nike, Brooks, ASICS and New Balance. We kind of opened the door for a whole bunch of other brands to come in.”

Fireman Capital Partners tried to sell the brand, but a deal never materialized, opening the door for Lee to step in with new investors to assume control of the company.

Kris Hartner, owner of three Naperville Running Company stores in suburban Chicago, was the second retailer in the U.S. and the third in the world to sell Newton shoes. He said the innovative technology, the brand’s messaging about running better, its bright fluorescent color palette, and overall quality helped it get off to a flying start in 2007.

But Hartner’s stores backed away from the brand in 2015 after the first reorganization resulted in the layoff of 14 people from its Boulder office and the elimination of most of its outside sales rep staff.

“They kicked ass right off the bat,” Hartner said. “To be honest, I don’t know if any new company has come to the table with as good as the shoes they had. They were impressive. We would have stuck with it, but they eventually kind of went in the opposite direction of how they originally presented themselves.”

Although Abshire says he was disappointed and a bit confused about how it all came down, he insists he’s not bitter. He says he and Jennifer will maintain their Active Imprints custom orthotics business in Boulder and that they already have a few new projects they’ve been working on.

“It’s not the end of the world,” he said. “It’s the end of a business or a relationship and whether it was a great one or a bad one, it doesn’t even matter. Things are constantly changing and as we accept that, the better we are able to move on and do the next best thing. If Jerry is taking over the company again, good for him. I wish him the best of luck.”

The article addressed some growing concerns in the marketplace about Newton Running and dispelled any negative rumors about their ability to stay in business and ship their products. Due to this coverage, we were able to help Newton ease potential fear and hesitation regarding their retailers and incite a spike in sales and excitement in the marketplace. This is only the start in helping to revitalize the Newton Running Brand.

If you and your company have gone through challenging times, don’t just sit there, take action and develop a strategy for getting back to achieving your company’s goals and objectives. Learn how Brand Iron can help.

Brand Iron Client Makes National Headlines

attentionLongtime Brand Iron client, Lariat Partners, made national headlines this week in backing their partner company, LaMi Holdings, in the acquisition of ATA retail services. The new merger adds ATA’s retail, distribution and workforce resources to the LaMi merchandising efforts.

Brand Iron played a major role in focusing the spotlight on this new private equity acquisition. Through in-house PR expertise, Brand Iron was able to craft a press release that focused on getting the word out to the private equity industry. The press release was picked up by the leading private equity community news board, PE Hub, as well as Yahoo Finance, Reuters, and various other publications.

An integral piece of the branding experience, Public Relations is all about precision, timing, and promotion. Is your brand saying what it needs to say at the right time? When you need headline-grabbing attention for your company, make sure Brand Iron is your first call.