Original Footwear Co. is ready for its close-up.
The 20-year-old Morristown, Tenn.-based footwear manufacturer announced today its acquisition by private equity firm Brand Velocity Partners, which has plans to incorporate financial support with significant branding and marketing efforts to boost OFC’s reach.
While OFC is formally announcing the deal today, CEO Kevin Cole said the partnership became official last month and was the culmination of several months of conversations between Original Footwear and other potential suitors.
“We talked to a lot of private equity firms and the difference with BVP was the tie-in with their ad agency and all of what they refer to as their [marketing] accelerators,” Cole said. “BVP came at with a full marketing plan: They put together a team of experts in web design, social media and [they have] a roster of national companies that they represent and they packaged that together.”
Family-run OFC, parent to Altama, Original S.W.A.T and Smith & Wesson footwear, hadn’t previously invested heavily in advertising. Instead, it relied on grassroots marketing, which can eventually hit some limitations. “Through word-of-mouth, we’ve grown at pretty significant rates over the last 10 years,” Cole noted. “But this was an opportunity to take BVP’s expertise in marketing and [accelerate] our growth.”
Since its inception, OFC has been making footwear primarily for the military and law enforcement. But as it charts its post-acquisition growth strategy, the company is debuting a new collection for the Altama brand, which will include a lighter weight and more casual consumer version of its top-selling Maritime Assault boot. The new iteration will be called Urban Assault, in keeping with the brand’s military theme.
Looking ahead, OFC has plans to showcase several other new styles in an expanded collection to include more “off-duty” styles aimed at crossing over into mainstream fashion. For the first time, the company will also participate in the popular Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show in Denver this June.
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