Tell us a little about the history of your company.
Steel Blue launched its first products in 1995 with the goal to manufacture and market the most comfortable safety footwear in the world. Steel Blue is Australia’s leading safety footwear brand, and we just celebrated our 20th anniversary. The company was founded by five directors with more than 100 years combined experience in the safety footwear industry. We grew from a small team of eight staff based in Western Australia, to almost 100 employees spread around the globe working across two manufacturing sites and four warehouses.
What has been your company’s business strategy to gain market share?
Steel Blue does not sell direct to the consumer, instead we focus on building strong long-standing relationships with distributors and retailers of premium safety footwear. Our dedicated and highly skilled sales team are constantly on the ground assisting our distributors and visiting the end users of our products, like mine sites, construction sites and manufacturing plants. We also focus on building relationships with leading industry bodies and are the only Australian work boot brand endorsed by Australia’s peak physiotherapy association. In addition, we are very proud of the funds and awareness raised for breast cancer, prostate cancer, depression and anxiety through our pink, purple and blue boot programs.
Describe the core branded products of your company.
Steel Blue has established itself as Australia’s most comfortable premium footwear brand. Our core products are our safety work boots and we differentiate ourselves from other brands through our 100% comfort guarantee and innovative boot technology. Our patented Tri-Sole Comfort Technology (TCT) ensures our consumers experience the best in underfoot comfort, by cushioning the feet, knees, hips and lower back from day-to-day fatigue and reducing the overall risk of stress related injuries. All of our safety boots use our innovative comfort technology, making them suitable for most industries including the oil and gas, mining and service industry, security, landscaping, surveying, gardening and emergency and trades services. We stand behind our 100% comfort promise with a 60-day money back guarantee.
How do distributors contribute to your success in the marketplace?
Each of our distributors is committed to providing premium comfort and safety footwear and are essentially an extension of the Steel Blue brand. They provide an important connection to the marketplace and keep us engaged with our consumers’ evolving needs.
Do you offer them training? What other value-added services?
Our dedicated and highly skilled sales team is constantly on the ground assisting our distributors and visiting the end-users of our products. Our distributors are trained by our sales team on how to choose the best boot for a consumer, as the correct size and style makes all the difference when it comes to comfort. We also support our distributors by offering them extensive point of sales materials to encourage in-store and online purchases. Point of sale materials in Australia also include the use of our boot finder iPad application to assist the purchase decision in-store.
We offer our end-users, such as mining companies or manufacturing plants, an opportunity to trial our different ranges so they can make sure they choose the safety footwear that best suits their work environment and provides the most comfort to their employees.
Steel Blue occupies a premium space in the market and we are able to offer our distributors attractive margins.
What business characteristics do you look for when selecting to work with a distributor?
When matching up with new distribution partners, we look for retailers who have experience selling premium brands, a strong location footprint, trained staff and a marketplace reputation for providing the best in service and quality.
Do you have any recent news about new facilities or new personnel to report?
To coincide with our imminent entry into the U.S. market the VP of Australian sales has relocated to the U.S. Warehouse facilities are being established in Texas as we plan to carry ample stock to meet our anticipated demand in the market.
Describe your current financial picture.
Being Australia’s leading safety footwear brand has led to strong growth over the past five years. The recent introduction of women’s safety footwear and tailored products for the emergency response services industry and the oil and gas industry has driven our increased market share.
What should distributors know about your company’s future, in terms of short- and long-range plans?
Steel Blue is entering the U.S. market and we are looking for distribution partners. We are committing to a long-term strategy in the U.S. market and believe our product range will be a great addition to numerous industries and provide a commitment of 100% comfort in the workplace.