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Stompin’ Grounds

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Q: Dayton Boots has been producing top quality leather footwear in Vancouver since 1946. How have you been able to remain local for 65 years?

We have a great following. We have people who are now third-generation Dayton buyers. They have always been happy with the kind of quality and durability that we’ve made. Dayton Boots has become synonymous with making rugged, tough boots that people can depend on for their livelihood. I would say all of this is attributed to two things: a loyal customer base and a company tradition in making a great quality product.

Q: What is your opinion on outsourcing?

I think that for some companies it’s the only strategy to survive. For companies that are long-term focused, I think it’s a mistake.

Q: Why have you decided to keep Dayton Boots local?

If we outsourced, we would lose something. We would not only tarnish our reputation for being stubbornly Canadian, but I think we’d lose something in the product quality. And certainly we would take something away from the soul of this brand. Our customer base has always trusted us to make an honest, high-quality boot that would be made here from the people who work here. Outsourcing really loses the spirit, the soul and the integrity of the brand.

Q: How has staying local had a positive impact on your business?

One of the things that resonates with our customer base is not just the product, but the fact that it’s made here. I think Canadians and Americans that come into the store love the fact that the product is made in Canada. I think that it’s beginning to resonate that products being made domestically cost a little bit more, but ultimately, it makes sense. If you can make things here or buy things here, those jobs tend to stay here and I think it enhances the economy.

Q: Has staying local had any negative effects on your business?

The only real negative effect is cost. We pay our people in the factory a living wage that is somewhere between 15 and 19 dollars an hour. In China, that’s probably what they make in a day, at most, in some higher-paid factories.

Q: What advice would you give to local companies considering outsourcing?

I think that ultimately people chase low costs and wages, but outsourcing is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Companies lose control of the product and they lose control of the quality. It requires them to stretch financially because these factories in China and other parts of Asia require enormous minimums. I think what they give up is the quality of the product, the integrity of the product, and the company’s flexibility. There are a lot of billion-dollar companies out there, but they don’t have the bones that Dayton Boots does.

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2011 Cover of Pacific Rim. Image of David Y.H. Lui and three ballerinas.

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