Today, Brooks is making its mark as the leading supplier in the specialty running shoe market. At the same time, it is making an impact by leading efforts to support sustainable lifestyles and practices.
So what’s the story behind this premium-quality, eco-conscious brand? Let’s take a look.
A game-changing move
To start off, did you know Brooks has been around for over 100 years? Yes, the company celebrated its centennial year in 2014.
And as with any business, it has had its share of ups and downs. In the 1970s and 80s, for instance, Brooks was one of the hottest brands, selling a range of shoes and gear for running, football, basketball and tennis. But a lot of other companies were playing the same game and fared better at it.
Seeing that Brooks needed a new game plan when he came on board in 2001, CEO Jim Weber narrowed the company’s lineup to just running shoes and apparel. It turned out to be a winning strategy.
Great and green
Deciding to focus on running was one thing. But to succeed, Brooks had to step up its R&D initiatives and come up with high-quality designs for everyday to elite runners.
And they did exactly that, introducing high-tech features and materials based on runner needs and biomechanical principles.
Take the Men’s Adrenaline GTS 15. This best-selling model has a DNA midsole cushioning system that adapts to a runner’s size and speed, a progressive diagonal rollbar for added control and stability, and a moisture-managing mesh to keep feet cool and dry.
The lightweight Women’s Glicerin 13, another top favorite, incorporates a segmented crash pad for smooth transitions and omega grooves in the forefoot for extra flexibility.
The bonus: Brooks is big on environment-friendly innovations. On most of its performance running shoes, the midsole is made of BioMogo. Standard midsoles use EVA, so they last up to 1,000 years in landfills. But BioMogo midsoles, thanks to a natural additive, degrade up to 50 times quicker in anaerobic conditions.
Plus, of all materials used for each shoe, 75 percent are post-consumer recycled. Those gillies, laces and webbing? They are made entirely of post-consumer recycled materials, as are the shoe boxes.
Manufacturing-wise, the company taps Compression Molded Preform for the midsoles, a process that generates 50 percent less waste than the traditional punching method. All adhesives are water-based and the colorants and dyes non-toxic.
An ultra-energy-efficient home
The company’s dedication to helping and saving the environment doesn’t end there. Case in point: its global headquarters in Seattle.
The new facility is not just LEED Platinum certified. It is the first project under the Seattle’s Deep Green Pilot Program, which calls for contributions to the site’s ecology and public realm. So what’s the building like? It’s five stories high—four office flours and a retail store at street level—and spans 120,000 square feet. Yet it manages to pull off 75 percent savings in terms of both water and energy consumption.
Here’s one way how. Water from the facility, as used in sinks and showers and in planting beds and storm drains, flows into a cistern for storage and is later re-used for on-site irrigation.
The building also benefits from its high ceilings, which allow for maximum daylight exposure, and a highly efficient air-conditioning system that adjusts to changes in outdoor temperature and indoor occupancy levels. For real-time tracking of energy and water consumption, mobile dashboards are installed throughout the facility. Even cooler are the kinetic flowers at the main entryway. This “living” art piece is connected to the power grid and programmed to blossom or wilt every 10 to 15 minutes. So you’ll see the flowers bloom if the building is operating efficiently and conversely wilt if energy use is too high.
The Brooks headquarters scores extra points for finding a way to inspire people to run and be active. The facility is actually located just across the Burke-Gilman Trail, the city’s longest running trail. To encourage the use of clean transportation modes among employees, the company had a bike locker and plug-in stations for electric vehicles constructed.
Also on the company’s list of sustainable-lifestyle solutions: programs promoting fair labor and community engagement.
Brooks keeps close tabs on the working conditions at its partner factories via regular visits, inspections and third-party audits. On top of this, it organizes training and capacity-building courses for suppliers.
The company also donates products to individuals, events and organizations via its Run B’causeprogram, and grants employees eight paid hours each year to participate in a community or charity project.
From the way it cares about its customers, employees, suppliers and community to its commitment to minimizing the environmental impact of its facility, manufacturing practices and products, Brooks is on top its game. A game that’s not just about delivering top-notch quality and performance, but also about providing sustainable-lifestyle choices.