Covering the Bases
The fifth-generation owners of Beck’s Shoes have four rules for selling the industrial work market.
Cover all the bases; make the process seamless; emphasize the after-market with socks and insoles, and take employers out of the shoe business. And it’s the last one — forging partnerships with local employers to outfit their workforce in the safety footwear they need — that’s set them apart.
Headed by cousins Adam Beck, CEO, and Julia Beck-Gomez, COO, the century-old retailer operates 11 (soon to be 12) stores across Northern California and Northern Nevada, as well as three mobile sales trucks. Work footwear is a critical part of their business, representing 44 percent of annual sales. Beck’s shops typically carry 175 to 250 industrial footwear SKUs from about 30 core brands, and stores aim for a 2.5-to-3-time inventory turn rate. But an estimated 45 percent of Beck’s industrial footwear volume is generated by its company contracts. Their partners range in size from 200 to 2,000 employees and cover warehouse distribution operations to municipalities, including a nearly $1 million annual business from a Reno, NV firm that purchases specialty electrostatic discharge (ESD) footwear for its employees.
To entice firms to partner with them on an employee purchase program — which generally means employees have either money allotted to spend on select footwear styles or free reign to choose a given number of styles from a prescribed selection — Becks emphasizes how easy they can make the process, for both the firms and their employees. The retailer uses its proprietary software for a paperless billing system, establishing customized portals for companies as needed and can set up a paper-free voucher program.