Three friends who met while attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte founded our company Oxford Steels. With our Mechanical Engineering Degrees in hand we were all driven to pursue jobs in the Manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is a tough world, where real hands on problems from the production floor, clash with business meetings and customer conferences. A good-looking pair of dress pants and dress shirt is not too hard to come by. However, a good-looking pair of dress shoes that meet the strict safety guidelines of a shop floor are.
In January of 2017 Paul moved to central Mexico for work. During his time in Mexico he discovered a company making oxford style dress shoes that adhered to the safety standards required on manufacturing floors. Noticing the opportunity, and a few email and phones calls later Paul had arranged a dinner with the owner of the shoe manufacturer, Proxon. After some negotiations it was agreed that we would bring these sophisticated yet practical shoes to the US.
Paul’s vision of safety and style was brought to the U.S. where friends Jacob and Nick joined the team. Jacob holds a regional role where travel is constant. He loved the idea of a dress shoes that he could wear on a plane and step off into a manufacturing plant without hassle. Nick holds a management position and can easily move from meetings with executives to trouble shooting on production lines. In 2017, with the combined vision of the three, Oxford Steels was born and is ready to distribute hand crafted versatile dress shoes to hard working Americans. It is our goal to provide the highest quality safety shoes to the American market and look good doing it!
Risks and challenges
Outside of the normal risks of starting a business, safety shoe manufacturing provides several risks that need to be addressed.
ASTM F2413-11: Although these shoes already meet the safety standards required in their country of origin, Mexico. We must ensure these shoes meet the rigorous safety standards in the US. This requires a series of tests to ensure customers are properly protected. The three of us have much experience in adhering to standards because our day jobs require us to do so. With creative engineering, adhering to safety standards and maintaining style can be achieved.
Inventory and Manufacturing: Low inventory helps keep costs down. Shoes are challenging in this aspect because several sizes (including half sizes for proper fit), colors and models must be kept in stock in the event of a customer order. Reduction of stock can be achieved through working closely with the manufacturer and analysis of customer orders. We plan to keep our inventory low through advanced order analysis and working with the manufacturer to synchronize our needs and their manufacturing flexibility.
Marketing: There are very few products similar to ours available in the US market today. We truly believe we have found a sizable niche market in the shoe industry. Our marketing strategy is simple. Begin selling by word of mouth. We all have exposure to many direct and indirect manufacturing connections. Approximately 4 months after our 1st official sale, we will use SEO to increase our online exposure (where we see a majority of our sales). After approximately 8 months after our 1st sale, we plan to begin to attend trade shows. Our ultimate sales goal is to become a preferred suppliers of safety shoes to manufacturing plants, offering bulk discounts on our shoes after plant sells a predetermined quantity of shoes.
Shoes for Women: Our most common feedback we receive is "When are you going to make women's shoes?" We absolutely are passionate about developing stylish women's safety shoes. There are an enormous amount of women who work in industries where safety equipment is required. A quick internet search will reveal these women don't have much to choose from and we want to change that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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