Australia’s oldest boot maker, Baxter Boots, recently celebrated the 100 year anniversary of manufacturing boots that were worn by the AIF troops as they fought on the beaches of Gallipoli and in France.
The boots are still manufactured with the traditional designs and methods at Baxter’s Goulburn factory, with current customers including the Royal Military College, Duntroon and the Australian Federation Guard.
During World War I and WWII, the Baxter Boots’ production line was at full capacity producing 1,000 pairs of boots per day, employing 120 craftsmen, to keep our armed forces on the march through extreme weather conditions.
Keeping both family and business at the forefront
The fourth generation Managing Director of the wholly owned Australian family company, Marshall Baxter, proudly said “Baxter Boots continues to supply our troops and police, as my forefathers did 100 years ago.”
“We also supply saddleries, rural merchandisers, government departments and the consumer market, as well producing footwear for iconic movies, including Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, Phar Lap and Breaker Morant,” he added.
Baxter Boots is also expanding its product range to include premium dress shoes, while continuing to be a leading provider of riding and work boots in Australia.
Being a family company, the boot maker has a strong emphasis on the culture of family. Marshall revealed that his personal assistant has worked with him for 25 years.
Also, one of the employees, Gordon Pooley has worked in the factory for 61 years, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather (who started in 1899) who both worked there too.
How has Baxter Boots managed to last so long?
On the secret behind the longevity of his company, which dates all the way back to 1850, Marshall told Anthill that Baxter Boots has survived by confronting change in all areas of business.
In the 1940s it was about gearing up production for WWII. Factory, staff and training within a very short lead time.
In the 1950s it was about sliding down the production process and people whilst maintaining morale in a small country town.
In the 1960s it was all about maintaining market share, with increased competitors.
In the 1970s with tariffs protecting the TCF industry, the major concern was quality.
In the 1980s it was reduction in tariffs and high interest rates. This necessitated moving a large percentage of the business off shore, in order to remain competitive.
In the 1990s being in a mature market, customer service became paramount to maintaining market share.
Now in the 2000s it’s all about the digital era and global markets.
Marshall revealed than in the next eighteen months, Baxter Boots will once more have to change with the times, and this will be reflected in a new flagship store in the Sydney CBD, and adapting to the digital era of internet sales both locally and globally.