Sole Survivor

Making sneakers in America is so yesterday. How can New Balance do it--and still thrive?

For a forward-minded executive, Jim Davis is an old-fashioned guy. Sitting in a conference room at New Balance headquarters in Boston, he jokes that he still employs a third of the work force he inherited when he bought the company in 1972. O.K., so it consisted of six folks back then, stitching 30 pairs of running shoes a day in the back of a store. Two of those workers are still with him, he points out, even as New Balance has long since hit the big leagues. In the U.S. sneaker wars, the company took the bronze in 2003 with 11%...

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