150 Years of American Craftsmanship
It's 1866 and the American Civil War has drawn to a close. Men on both sides are hardened, weary and hopeful after years of bloodshed. They begin to make the journey home to mend our fractured nation. Two of those men, Peter and Abram Minor, start the long trip back to Interlaken, NY - a small village north of Ithaca, NY. While on the road home, the brothers have long talks about the war, the new world which has started to arise and the future. They decide that the family business of agriculture isn't for them - that they want something new and exciting to invest their time and talents into; a business that will help people and make a lasting impression on the country they fought so hard to defend. Having served in the infantry for the Union Army, they experienced first-hand how important a soldier's boots were to their survival - how these seemingly simple items played such an important role in victory and defeat of armies, and more simply, the survival of a soldier on the battlefield. This experience changed both of them forever.
1867 - 1885
The brothers arrived back in Interlaken determined to set their own course in the world. It's now 1867 and the brothers have found that there's a market for well crafted, stylish, and comfortable women's boots and shoes in America. Shortly thereafter, Minor Brothers Boots and Shoes is born with 20 employees determined to make the finest women's boots and shoes in the world.
1885 - 1889
The company is now well established and the business is beginning to grow rapidly. It's at this time that Abram sells his stake in Minor Brothers to Peter and opens up a hardware store in Interlaken. Peter decides to move their fledgling, but growing firm to Springville, NY - a village south of Buffalo - to further increase their production and market reach. It's here where Frank Minor, Peter's son, first joins the business as the 2nd generation Minor in the company. He quickly develops into Peter's right hand man.
The move to Springville proves to be a major success and the brothers decide to expand operations to a second plant, located in Batavia, NY, in some extra manufacturing space at the E.N. Roxwell Box Company. Peter brings his son Frank further into the business by renaming the company P.W. Minor and Son.
It's now the turn of the century and the fertile business soil of Batavia has allowed P.W. Minor and Son to grow significantly. The decision is made to build a new factory at 33 State Street - right in the heart of this growing community. During negotiations with the bank, Peter and Frank are advised to "tread easy" with this decision. Knowing the risks, Peter and Frank go ahead with construction and in the process, a new brand name is born, Treadeasy. Treadeasy women's shoes quickly becomes P.W. Minor's best-selling line of women's comfort shoes and boots. After construction of the factory is completed, Peter Minor decides it's time to retire and hands control of the company to his son and right hand man, Frank Minor.
Frank guides the company through the first two turbulent decades of the 20th century and successfully navigates P.W. Minor to profitability during the chaotic years of World War I. In the spring of 1920, Frank's nephew, Henry Minor, Sr., son of Abram Minor, purchases P.W. Minor and Son from his cousin Frank. Henry was a successful executive with the Dunn & McCarthy shoe manufacturer located in Binghamton, NY and along with his brother, Morris Minor, begin the next chapter of the P.W. Minor and Son story.
1920's - 1930's
Henry has instant success with the launch of the Ming Toy sandal. The sandal is so successful that the company finances and pays for a 30,000 square foot addition to their State Street factory in one year. This success plants the seed for the future of P.W. Minor. In 1921, P.W. Minor & Son introduces their first "Orthopedic" shoe to accommodate deformities of the foot and other foot maladies. The line is made with soft kidskin and welt construction and has a patented "arch cookie," a predecessor to the modern arch support inlay, included in every shoe. P.W. Minor and Son enjoys tremendous success with their new orthopedic and established women's footwear lines. It's at this time that the P.W. Minor brand has become synonymous with quality and value, but their success has bred a new generation of competitors.
P.W. Minor weathers the Great Depression, showing modest profits each year leading up to World War II. Rationing is put in place throughout the war on many everyday items, including footwear. The durability, construction and value of the P.W. Minor & Son shoe endears the brand to the public and the company again successfully navigates the uncertain years during world war. In 1946, Henry Sr. retires and his son Henry "Bud" Minor Jr., takes over as President of P.W. Minor. Bud is the third generation Minor to run the company and is faced with growing competition in their once dominant orthopedic shoe lines.
Bud decides to re-invest in the Treadeasy line of women's shoes and in 1956, P.W. Minor introduces to the world its latest innovation, the Ripple Sole. This rubber outsole is significantly more comfortable than the traditional outsoles of the day and the line instantly grows to 25% of the company's sales volume. The Ripple Sole is so successful that P.W. Minor & Son decides to, for the first time, manufacture a men's shoe. It's now 1957 and P.W. Minor purchases the assets of respected Rochester, N.Y. shoe firm Wilbur Coon, and production jumps dramatically following the sale. Shortly thereafter, P.W. Minor & Son purchases another shoe firm, Marshall, Meadows and Stewart, adding another line to their already robust portfolio. P.W. Minor now has full men's and women's lines of casual, dress and orthopedic shoes.
P.W. Minor's next game changing innovation comes in 1963 with the introduction of the Xtra Depth™ 1/4" removable inlay designed to accommodate different types of foot disorders. This innovation puts P.W. Minor back at the top of the orthopedic shoe market for both men and women and sets the stage for further innovation into the orthopedic shoe market.
In 1972, after 4 years of negotiation and construction, P.W. Minor bids farewell to their original factory at 33 State Street and moves a few miles down the road to their brand new 60,000 square foot state of the art manufacturing facility in the Batavia Industrial Park. Their new address, 3 Treadeasy Drive.
1981 sees the retirement of Henry "Bud" Minor, Jr. and Missy Minor Shaw takes over as President of P.W. Minor. Missy is the company's 4th generation President and its first female Chief Executive. With 70% of the employees at P.W. Minor & Son female, the advancement was met with a warm welcome.
One year later, in 1982, P.W. Minor introduces "Thermold" technology which is the world's first instantly moldable orthopedic shoe. Designed for individuals with diabetes, arthritis, and severe foot deformities, the "Thermold" shoe modifies its shape to the individual's foot through applied heat. The shoe was an instant success and propelled P.W. Minor & Son into the forefront of the emerging new field of "Pedorthics."
1998 comes and Henry "Hank" Minor, III, son of Henry "Bud" Minor, takes over as President of P.W. Minor & Son. Hank brings along his cousin Travis Minor and shortly thereafter, Mike Minor joins the company as the 5th generation Minor. At the same time, the company establishes the Xtra Depth™ University. This training program is created to train dealers on how to develop their Pedorthic business skills as well as providing continuing education to Certified Pedorthics, a growing specialty within the orthopedic industry. It's a smashing success and reinforces P.W. Minor's position as the leader in the orthopedic footwear industry.
In 2000, the company opens up a second plant at 6 Treadeasy Drive to make its brand new line of "Treadeasy" foot care products, inserts, and other orthopedic products. P.W. Minor is now a well-established international brand, with distribution to Asia, Europe, and Australia, along with its core North American business.
P.W. Minor Today
The 2008 recession had devastating effects on P.W. Minor & Son. Production fell dramatically and the global business suffered as competition from Asia forced the company to expand its own Asian manufacturing to stay competitive. The business continued to decline despite management's best efforts and the firm declared bankruptcy in April of 2014. Days away from closing its doors after 148 years, the company was purchased by Western New York based entrepreneur, Peter Zeliff. Pete immediately pledges to keep P.W. Minor & Sons open and to revitalize the once proud business. This effort saves 95 jobs and injects a true sense of optimism into the battered company. He changes the name to "The New" P.W. Minor and commits to American craftsmanship by bringing back all off shore manufacturing to P.W. Minor's manufacturing facility in Batavia, NY.
In 2016, management drops "The New" from P.W. Minor and relaunches the P.W. Minor brand with a new logo and a fresh perspective. The company launches its first truly new product line in years, The Airloft Collection. This Women's Comfort Casual line of shoes is designed on P.W. Minor's new "Cloud" last and is for women who have minor foot difficulties or need a supremely comfortable shoe for their day-to-day activities.
The Future of P.W. Minor
The future is bright for P.W. Minor. As the oldest women's shoe manufacturer in the U.S. and the second oldest overall, we're committed to developing and manufacturing all products at our manufacturing facility in Batavia, NY as we believe that American craftsmanship is second to none in the world. With a full product development pipeline, a network of 4,000+ dealer partners throughout the U.S, Canada and Australia, and a new eCommerce website we're actively planning on the next 150 years to be as successful as the first 150. We're sure that if Peter and Abram were around today, they'd be proud of the company's past and excited about its future.