DC Shoes, Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on DC Shoes, Inc.

1333 Keystone Way, Unit A
Vista, California 929801-8311

Company Perspectives:

DC Shoes' primary focus is designing and manufacturing the highest quality footwear, specializing in skateboarding shoes, snowboarding boots, Active Terrain footwear, women's and children's casual footwear, along with complementary apparel. The quality of our products is matched by the integrity of our business practices and employment environment. DC takes pride in its cultivated relationships with the media, suppliers, clients, customers, team riders, and employees. DC Shoes' commitment to excellence deepens with the company's continued expansion.

History of DC Shoes, Inc.

DC Shoes, Inc. produces footwear for extreme sports, specifically skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, motocross, and BMX. Two million pairs of DC shoes were produced in 2001. The company also sells shirts, pants, jeans, shorts, jackets, caps, backpacks, and other accessories. DC Shoes experienced explosive growth during the mid-1990s and remained one of skateboarding's top brands. It has been able to successfully gain nationwide, mall-based distribution while keeping hard-core skateboarders loyal by offering exclusive designs through skate shops only.


In 1989, at the age of 22, Ken Block, a snowboarder, began creating a line of screen-printed T-shirts that would become the Eightball brand. He honed his computer design skills at Palomar Community College in San Marcos, California, where he met a skateboarding schoolmate, Damon Way, in an algebra class a few years later. Way helped find stores to sell Eightball clothes. Way's brother, Danny Way, became one of the first pro skateboarders to endorse the line.

Block's parents had loaned him $10,000 to expand Eightball, according to Agents of Change: The Story of DC Shoes and Its Athletes, enabling the operation to move into a rented 750-square-foot warehouse. Way and Block contracted another fellow student, Aaron Lovejoy, to screen-print T-shirts.

Eightball's unique designs proved instantly popular with skate shops. They turned to a friend's father, Clay Blehm, for advice in financing their explosive growth. Blehm was then an unemployed accountant who had launched several businesses during his career. These included a childcare center and Christmas tree business. As the company grew, Blehm was named chief financial officer. Block was the company's president and CEO.

The success of Eightball led to the creation of the Droors ("drawers") brand of jeans in 1992. Eightball/Droors moved into a 3,300-square-foot facility in Carlsbad, California in January 1993. On October 3, 1993, the business was incorporated as Circus Distribution, Inc. Revenues for the year were more than $1.5 million. The Eightball brand was retired (at least in the United States) after someone else claimed ownership of the name in 1993.

DC Shoes Launched 1994

In 1994, Way launched a footwear line, DC Shoes, named, according to one version of the story, after the first initials of Danny Way and that of another pro, Colin McKay (another version has it standing for "Droors Clothing Shoes"). The company contracted Vans, then Etnies to produce the first shipments of shoes before settling on a Korean manufacturer, the Samil Tong Sang Company.

Yet another brand, Dub, was introduced in the fall of 1994 on a line of weatherproof outerwear for snowboarding. Snowboarding was a natural extension. Half of skaters snowboarded, according to a survey by market research firm Board-Trac cited by the San Diego Tribune, and 40 percent rode BMX bikes.

In October 1994, the business moved to a still-larger, 16,000-square-foot facility. Blehm became a partner in the company with Block and Way in January 1995. Revenues were about $7 million in 1995, more than double the previous year's. The company had about 35 employees. Circus ended 1996 with 50 employees and revenues of $21 million.

DC Shoes was one of the first skateboard shoe companies to make extensive use of professional endorsements. In 1996, DC's skateboarding team had grown to eight pros who went on a world tour in 1997. Motocross and surf teams were assembled by the end of the year.

DC garnered tremendous coverage from its promotional events designed to showcase its pro's talents. One of the most notable was when Danny Way jumped ten feet from a helicopter to a ramp adorned with DC Shoes logos. The growth of extreme sporting events such as the X Games further increased DC's exposure.

Droors and Dub were sold off in 1997, eclipsed by the DC Shoes brand's triple-digit growth in the mid-1990s. In 1998, Circus Distribution was renamed DC Shoes, Inc.

DC produced its first television advertising in the summer of 1999. A line of children's shoes debuted in the fall of 1999. Revenues dropped slightly to $43 million for the year but rose again to $60 million in 2000.

A Hot Property in 2000 and Beyond

The DC brand was a hot property. During 2000, the company settled a lawsuit against an alleged counterfeiter and closed a dealer it said had resold products to unauthorized stores. At the same time, DC was offering graphics kits in conjunction with One Industries for labeling dirt bikes with the DC logo.

The number of skate shoe brands proliferated from six to 30 during DC's first six years, reported Sporting Goods Business. By this time, DC was shipping product across the globe. Its shoes were already being marketed in mall-based stores. Many footwear companies found to their peril that their core consumers frowned on brands becoming too mainstream or reaching too many non-skaters. However, DC Shoes was able to successfully expand its distribution in the late 1990s to chains such as Pacific Sun, Copeland's Sports, and Nordstrom. As the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, DC kept hardcore skaters happy by reserving certain styles for mom-and-pop skate stores and regional surf and skate chains.

Giant footwear companies such as Nike and Reebok were attempting, with limited success, to enter the skate shoe market. As the Los Angeles Times noted, DC had itself looked to the athletic footwear industry for design and marketing inspiration.

By 2002, DC's administration and distribution facilities in California encompassed 150,000 square feet of space. DC had


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