We had the opportunity to talk with Romina Bongiovanni, the Head of Global Communications at New Balance, about how the brand's reaction to COVID-19 further bolstered its commitment to "do good."
What obstacles has New Balance faced during this time (particularly from a production perspective)?
At the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, one challenge was the immediate need to tap into our domestic manufacturing capabilities and transition from producing footwear to urgently needed PPE. We were able to lean into the brand’s 100+ year history of producing domestically and our relationships with domestic suppliers as well as health and educational institutions to design, develop and manufacture general-use face masks for the healthcare community within days. At the height of production, New Balance was manufacturing an average of 150,000 masks a week at two of our domestic manufacturing facilities in New England – and ultimately reaching 1 million masks produced and distributed.
How has New Balance adapted to those obstacles and to COVID-19 more holistically?
New Balance has been focused on the safety and well-being of employees, customers and the community and then on positive direct, economic and social impacts. We are proud of our response over the past few months and our ability to not only adapt to new regulations and processes, but to then shift our focus to problem solving, innovating and helping others. In addition to putting our manufacturing expertise to work to produce more than 1 million masks for the healthcare community, the New Balance Foundation donated $2 million to support local organizations and we partnered with our athletes to donate $1 million worth of footwear to the medical community.
Are there other things people should know about New Balance in 2020 (i.e. cultural shifts or morale)?
There was, and still is, immense pride in the company, our unique capabilities and the increased appreciation for American manufacturing. COVID-19 reinforced how important company culture is to the resiliency of a business and brand. The entrepreneurial spirit at New Balance kept us working collaboratively and empowered us to think in creative, innovative and strategic ways – not only in the production of PPE, but in all aspects of business. New Balance is taking a deeper look at the cultural moments and causes that we are passionate about, fit with our Fearlessly Independent ethos to allow the brand to continue to “do good” – contribute in a meaningful way, both internally and externally. The same applies to our collaboration partners. We are working with pinnacle brands that hold the same values and drive the industry forward.
Shop the New Balance Face Mask v3 here.