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November 1, 2018

New Balance, one of Maine's largest employers, announces CEO change

Courtesy / New Balance
Courtesy / New Balance
Joe Preston, currently chief commercial officer at New Balance Athletics Inc., will replace longtime President and CEO Rob DeMartini, who is stepping down on Dec. 31.

New Balance Athletics Inc., which has 900 employees at its three Maine sites, announced Tuesday that President and CEO Rob DeMartini will step down effective Dec. 31. He'll be replaced by a New Balance veteran, Joe Preston, who currently serves as chief commercial officer.

New Balance has facilities in Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Norway, including more than 350 at its Norridgewock manufacturing plant.

DeMartini has led New Balance for 12 years, overseeing global growth of the athletic brand from $1.5 billion in 2007 to $4.2 billion in 2018, according to a company news release. During that time, New Balance regained its leadership in the specialty running category, expanded international sales to 65% from 30% and made significant strides in its apparel, retail and e-commerce business.

The company also had one of the highest growth rates in the industry in recent years, averaging an 11% compound annual growth rate. DeMartini championed the brand's long-standing commitment to owned manufacturing and played a key role in working with U.S. government and industry officials to secure implementation of Berry Amendment legislation for athletic footwear.

The announcement of the leadership change came a day after New Balance highlighted its first delivery of American-made athletic footwear manufactured at its plant in Norridgewock for the U.S. military under the Berry Amendment. The company's $17.3 million firm-fixed-price contract, awarded by the Department of Defense in March, is one of three contracts awarded by the Pentagon for American-made athletic footwear under the Berry Amendment provision.

Dave Wheeler, New Balance's executive vice president of global value chain, said in a statement that the 950v2 athletic shoes are made in Norridgewock using midsoles produced in the company's Boston manufacturing facility and materials from more than 15 U.S. suppliers.

He thanked U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine District 2, for their work in getting legislation passed that "supports the preservation and growth of U.S. footwear manufacturing jobs and ensured that our talented associates in Maine would have the opportunity to build quality athletic shoes for our country's military."

About the incoming CEO

Courtesy / New Balance
Courtesy / New Balance
New Balance's made-in-USA military athletic shoes are manufactured in Norridgewock.

Preston, currently chief commercial officer, began his New Balance career in 1995 as senior product manager, running and custom products. He was named vice president, international, Asia/Pacific in 2002, and vice president, international in 2005, and was promoted to executive vice president, international in January 2008. He was later named to lead the brand's global product, R&D and sports marketing.

"Joe is an experienced industry leader who knows our customers, partners and consumers well," DeMartini said. "He is a talented executive who embraces the brand's core values and is a great choice to lead New Balance into the future."

"I'm honored and humbled to take on this role and want to thank Rob for his leadership over the past 12 years," said Preston. "We have an incredible team of associates and partners around the globe and together we will drive even greater speed, agility and innovation in this modern age of retail and continue to build this iconic brand while strengthening our purpose-driven culture."

Boston-based New Balance owns five factories in New England and one in Flimby, United Kingdom. It has more than 8,000 employees around the globe, and in 2017 reported worldwide sales of $4 billion.

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