This is a sponsored post.
Last Thursday I attended a tour of the New Balance headquarters in Boston and their factory in Lawrence, MA.
The first part of the tour was at the 250,000 square foot headquarters in Boston at Boston Landing where there are plans for a lot more development–including a Boston Bruins practice facility, retail space, apartments and more. (Read more on Boston Globe here).
My favorite part of the headquarters was checking out some of the history of how the shoes evolved and improved and also the history of the company. One fact I didn’t know about New Balance was that the chicken was the main inspiration behind New Balance’s first product–the flexible arch. The three clawed foot and shape of the triangle foot resulted in the perfect balance–a NEW balance.
Seeing the headquarters was interesting but I was especially looking forward to checking out the factory in Lawrence, MA. When I had first thought about making some sort of career change, working for a running shoe company had actually crossed my mind. It was fun to have the opportunity to get an even more insider look to see what that could have been like. I also found a lot of the tour bringing back memories from my past and reminding me of my roots in engineering and running. How so? Read below…
At the factory, I saw Lean implementation at it’s finest. I had first learned about Lean my junior year of high school at my internship and more throughout college and my first job as a mechanical engineer. The whole point of lean is to be efficient, eliminate waste and create a high quality product. New Balance is achieving that.
The Smash Room
After seeing a shoe make it from a roll of fabric to the finished product in a box to be shipped, we headed to their testing and innovation labs. One room was called the “Smash” room because there are a few machines that perform tests that help impact the materials in different ways. The labs brought back college memories of my material science class but this seemed so much cooler because it was on a running shoe. The photo below is of a hydraulic machine that can be used in various ways to perform durability tests on different materials and parts of the shoes.
Testing with Pressure Plates and Sensors
Another testing tool that hit a sentimental spot for me was the pressure plate and special sensors similar to the ones that video game creators use to capture human movement. When I went to the Spaulding National Running Center, they used some of these sensors on me and I had run on a pressure plate. They used this data to help me transform my running gait. New Balance uses these tools and many more to create the tests that they need to test prototypes and transform their products. An example they showed us was how they designed a special cleat for soccer players based on different movements they had. I am impressed with how much thought and care goes into the design of the bottom of a cleat!
Overall, it was a fun experience and I was excited to learn a bit more about the inner workings of New Balance. If you ever get the opportunity to tour the New Balance facilities–take it! You will get to meet people who are very passionate about what they do and get to see what the latest technologies are being used to create the next best thing!
Disclaimer: I was sponsored by New Balance to participate in the New Balance Reach the Beach Ragnar Relay race. I received a race–free entry, travel, accommodations and New Balance gear. All opinions are my own!