The Endicott Johnson Corporation, known for
decades as the manufacturer of good, sturdy
shoes, is now a "with it" company.
But that new watchword of EJ, as the residents
of the company's triple home towns of Bingham-ton,
Endicott and Johnson City, New York, call
it, has evolved through some recent hard times
for the nearly century-old corporation.
Now Endicott Johnson, a company that five
years ago reported an annual operating loss of
more than $4 million, has a new image—the
image of a footwear manufacturer that puts out
a shoe styled to compete in fashion design with
any in its medium price range; boasts an advanced
marketing system through what EJ considers
the most sophisticated electronic data
processing system of any shoe company; and has
pioneered a new type of sport footwear.
The new image has given a new look also to
the company's financial statement, changing the
print from red to black and showing a $1.5 million
profit in the company's interim report for the first
half of 1968.
Until it was forced by a changing society that
wanted style plus comfort in its shoes, Endicott
Johnson was a company as homey as its product.
It was a company guided by one of its co-founders
George F. Johnson—a man who planned and
built homes, parks and swimming pools for his
workers and designed an 18-hole employee golf
course that, he said, "had to be level so that men
and women who have been busy at machines all
day won't have to climb the tough hills that make
a course sporty."
In its early years EJ claimed many firsts in the
shoe industry. It was the first shoe company in
1903 to sell its output directly to dealers rather
than through jobbers and later the first to open
its own retail stores. Only forty years old in the
early 1920's, the company had become the most i
highly integrated shoe manufacturer in the industry.
Ten years later it had become the industry's
second largest shoe producer with a capacity of
45 million pairs of shoes in 28 plants.
Yet in 1960 the company, after experiencing
some earlier shaky years, recorded its first loss
—a loss of $1.5 million—and was fighting for its|
life against a New York City-based holding com-i
pany that was trying to gain financial control. •
Endicott Johnson began to sink because it continued
its old pattern of distribution to rural populations
while the United States urban popula-