Original Footwear Co., producers of Original S.W.A.T. footwear, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
The Modesto, Calif.-based company produces tactical footwear for law enforcement, military and public safety professionals, as well as a collection of hunting boots under the Original T.R.A.C. label.
“The anniversary is a milestone in itself,” said CEO and President Terry Mackness, a veteran of Hi-Tec Sports who launched his own firm in February 1999. “The statistics are against startups lasting 10 years.”
Mackness was instrumental in creating Hi-Tec Sports’ Magnum line of tactical footwear, and the product ultimately drives his business now. But because tactical footwear isn’t a discretionary purchase, Mackness said, the company is not as affected by economic conditions. Conversely, if the economy booms, “We don’t get much of that either.”
Today, Original S.W.A.T. is experiencing strong international growth, he said, with the brand now distributed in 70 countries. While he expects U.S. business for 2009 to be up in the single digits, he expects international sales will see an uptick of about 30 percent.
“Our distributors are getting a bigger stronghold in their markets,” he said, a result of the company’s ability to customize product for markets that include the Middle East, Europe and Asia. “As we have gradually worked with [distributors], we’ve done product for their individual needs, not just American product.”
Also contributing to strong overseas sales is better pricing due to products being shipped directly from factories rather than the U.S. Mackness said, “It’s both cost efficient and time efficient.”