TONY CHAPMAN CHATS WITH
What started on a shoestring became the biggest shoe brand in the world. Joe Foster and his brother Jeff come from a family of athletic shoemakers. After doing time in the service, they both came back to Northwest England to work in the family business, only to find their Dad and their Uncle spending more time fighting than building. Joe and Jeff decide to leave to create their own running shoe company. Borrowing equipment and leasing a decrepit factory, which also acts as a home for money-conscious Joe and his wife. The Fosters begin trading as Mercury Shoes, but copyright infringements force a name change. They picked Rhebok, based on a type of African antelope, and changed the spelling to Reebok. Competition is fierce as Adidas owns the European soccer market, so Joe set his sights on the Americans; growing obsession with running. Ten times Joe bangs on the American market before getting a foothold. As orders start to come in, he hears about a new craze in California called aerobics, led by Jane Fonda. Joe turns his business on a dime to create gear for women, and in doing so, he catches his two competitors - Nike and Adidas flat-footed. Reebok passes its competitors in sales, and Adidas buys the shoe company built on a shoestring for $3.8 billion. So many life lessons- family, business, marketing, and sales- are woven into a fantastic story of achievement. Para-athlete, Meghan Hines, the President of Power Hockey Canada, joins the show to discuss why sports matter and what it means to compete internationally for your country.