baby polo hats ready to step up sales by expanding in the US market
Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post StandardDAVID BINNS, owner of Aurora Shoe Co., stands in the middle of the production room at the factory along state Route 90 south of the village of Aurora in Cayuga County. market.
Aurora, NY A decade ago, if you wanted a pair of Aurora Shoe Co. shoes, you went to the pole barn factory on Route 90 south of this Cayuga County village.
The quirky business model worked well for the owners and employees. The shoes based on styles dating back to the Middle Ages became popular here and overseas. Actors Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson owned Aurora shoes.
“Over time, the demand for the overseas business continued to grow,” said David Binns, the shoe company’s new owner.
The company continued to make a profit even as it started dropping domestic accounts to satisfy the overseas demand, he said. “It came to a point where the overseas wholesale business was 100 percent of what they were making here,” Binns said.
For the past three years, all of the factory’s shoes went overseas. So if you wanted a pair of the shoes well, you had to go to Japan.
Binns, 26, grew up nearby in King Ferry. Dann, one of its founders. retailers.
Binns is a mechanical engineer with a degree from Clarkson University in Potsdam. After college, he worked at a Georgia Pacific plant in Plattsburgh,
managing 75 people.
The privately owned shoe factory is an about face from Georgia Pacific, where he sometimes was on call around the clock, said Binns, who lives with his wife, Andrea, in King Ferry. The couple are expecting a baby in July.
Stephen D. Cannerelli / The Post StandardPhyllis Cooper, of Aurora, works for the Aurora Shoe Co. on State Route 90 south of Aurora. One of her jobs is beveling the front and back of a shoe.
Aurora Shoe employs eight people who have a combined experience of 85 years in shoemaking. Together, they make 50 pairs of shoes a day from raw materials that come from the United States supple leather from Chicago and sturdy soles from Massachusetts. The machines they use are 50 or more years old.
“It still is a relatively laid back atmosphere. We have three cats and two dogs that are here on a regular basis,” Binns said.
He’s just learning the shoemaking business. “I think there is some room for technology improvements. The work here is really handwork and that’s important. The high quality product we put out requires a human touch,” he said.
One of the first technologies introduced when he took over was the computer that sits on an old wooden desk in one corner of the insulated pole barn factory. He also added a fax machine. Prior to that, Aurora Shoe was a paper only business, Binns said.
“I want to double sales over the next two years. Some of that will be through hiring more people and some of it will be through streamlining processes and improving efficiency,” he said.
But the relaxed company culture will remain, Binns said.
The company will grow as it re enters the domestic market, he said.
“The demand is still here. It’s just a matter of making enough shoes to reach the markets here,” Binns said. “It was a relatively easy to deal with one customer. That’s part of why it became the way it was.”