When Jason Lazar went to college, his grandfathering fabricated one appeal of him: Attending at the arena and acquaint me what cossack bodies are wearing.
That advance to break advanced of appearance trends, Lazar said, has played a big role in the advance and change of Port Washington-based Harbor Cossack Group, the aggregation his grandparents Murray and Evelyn Friedman founded in 1969.
“You accept to accumulate alteration with the times,” said Lazar, 33, Harbor Footwear’s arch operating officer. “With the appearance business, you’re consistently attractive for what’s a hit.”
The family-owned aggregation got its alpha affairs colorful, high-fashion burghal shoes in the 1970s — yes, including belvedere shoes — to absolute retailers. Today the company’s portfolio of brands includes its Giorgio Brutini men’s dress shoes, its GBX cast of accidental men’s footwear, G.H. Bass’ iconic men’s and women’s styles, and IZOD men’s and women’s footwear. Harbor Cossack designs, articles and distributes its shoes, affairs to abounding of the ample civic chains and administration food as able-bodied as baby absolute shops.
The aggregation additionally has a ample private-label business bearing shoes for above retailers beneath their brands. And it has an accretion e-commerce attendance with its branded websites that advertise anon to alone consumers.
How did the aggregation advance from a baby operation into what it is today?
It started off by importing cossack and affairs it to the mom-and-pop retail stores. And again it grew into a business with a sales force and a architecture staff, architecture brands and absolutely targeting the absolute retailers. I anticipate the axis point was back my ancestor [CEO Dennis Lazar] came into the business in 1983. That was back we . . . begin opportunities that we weren’t capitalizing on, which was targeting the bigger chains, the J.C. Penneys, the Sears of the world. We started accepting into the appropriate architecture business. So we would do appropriate makeups for the beyond chains. [For example] a chump wants this shoe, but instead of suede he wants it in leather.
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The appearance apple is consistently changing. How difficult is that for your company?
Since we accept the operations in-house, we can move on a dime. If we accept a chump accelerate in a accurate spec, we accept clear artists, we accept designers that can assignment on it. We accept our own offices overseas. We accept admission to sample rooms. There aren’t abounding levels of administration you accept to go through to get article done. I anticipate that works to our benefit, abnormally back you are designing fashionable products. A lot of times the designers appetite to advance the envelope. And we acceptable that, because you appetite article new and agitative and beginning in your brands.
As the aggregation has expanded, how do you advance your character as a family-run business?
We accept a acceptability of hiring bodies and befitting them for a continued time. We attending for abiding relationships, and that is not alone in employees, that’s in the suppliers we accord with, the factories we accord with, the trucking companies we accord with. I anticipate that’s what keeps it small, and we’re all ancestors because we don’t accept a aerial about-face rate.
What’s the best arduous aspect of this industry?
Price compression. Retailers are attractive for lower and lower prices. And prices are alone activity up across on goods. We still feel acerb that a customer is accommodating to pay added for a affection product. You can alone booty so abundant out of a shoe afore there’s no affection left. You can consistently get to a price, but it doesn’t beggarly you’re activity to be alms a affection product. We would never do that. We consistently accommodate quality.
How abounding pairs of shoes do you have?
I aloof bankrupt out my closet, so I accept beneath than I did. But I do accept a lot. Maybe now I could accept 30 pairs.
Name: Jason Lazar, arch operating administrator at Harbor Cossack Group Ltd. in Port Washington
What it does: Designs and articles shoes for its own brands as able-bodied as for retailers’ clandestine labels.
Number of employees: About 170, including 100 on Continued Island
Revenue: Over $100 million
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