Pittsfield’s Globe Manufacturing acquires Maine companyBy BENJAMIN C. KLEIN
Union Leader Correspondent
January 06. 2014 8:19PM
PITTSFIELD — New Hampshire-based Globe Manufacturing Co. announced Monday that it has acquired Maine-based Falcon Performance Footwear in a move company officials hope will greatly expand its marketshare of the firefighter apparel market.
Globe Senior Vice President of Marketing Rob Freese said he expects the acquisition to result in Globe hiring more people, and that Globe is already looking to hire more employees for the now former Falcon manufacturing facilities in Auburn, Maine.
“We have an 8 percent growth opportunity here, and I hope this does affect our employees because I hope it means we grow, and our projections are for continued growth,” Freese said.
With roughly 300 employees in New Hampshire and 50 in Oklahoma, the acquisition of Falcon brings Globe’s total workforce to just north of 400 people.
“We work hard to manufacture as much of our equipment in America. That is a core principal of ours,” Freese said.
Globe, which is a fourth-generation family-owned company based in Pittsfield, was started by Freese’s great-grandfather in 1887 when he invented new turnout gear for firefighters.
At the core of the business, Freese said, is to sell clothing for firefighters that makes it safer for them to operate under any conditions.
“It has been phenomenal working with firefighters all these years. We work with firefighters in all 50 states and 52 countries around the world,” Freese said.
While specializing in manufacturing jackets and pants for firefighters, Freese said that after 9/11 the company began to actively look into expanding its offerings to firefighters. To that end, Globe contracted with Falcon to develop boots under the Globe name about seven years ago.
“We looked around, and Falcon really fit the bill with what we were trying to provide. The materials they use for the soles make them less likely to slip. There is no steel — only composite materials — so they are better insulated. After a while we figured it would just be best to buy Falcon and make our own,” Freese said.
While Falcon manufacturing will continue to make boots, the Falcon name itself will be eliminated. Freese said that the boots Globe makes are very expensive, about $350 a pair, but that the key in a safety-first business is not to be the cheapest, but to be the best.
“We feel that if we can get customers to compare products, we can’t lose,” Freese said.
He added that of all the apparel companies that supply to firefighters, Globe is the only one that controls the manufacturing of its own firefighter boots.
“And that is all part of the path we set out on. Even during the economic downturn we grew, we didn’t have to lay anyone off, “Freese said. “We just finished hiring 28 new people for our Pittsfield location, and with a lot of firefighters throughout the country converting to new equipment, we feel there is a lot of room for growth.”