Going to the Nike Factory today was something I was very excited about. It seems everywhere we look, the loyalty to the Nike brand is prevalent. Just walking around the Gonzaga University campus, it seems just about every student wears something with the famous “Swoosh”. If they don’t own it, they are sure familiar with it. Our sports teams have all of their practice jerseys, accessories, casual clothes, and game clothes made by Nike. We all wear it, see it, and hear about it, but none of us really knows and understands the process that goes into it.
Today, we had the opportunity to visit the Dean Shoes production factory. The two hour bus ride there filled the bus windows with many different sights and an inflow of Chinese culture. Leaving our hotel, we were immersed in tall buildings filled with lights that blinked and attracted attention from everywhere. Once we got on the freeway, our views quickly changed. It seemed to go from a densely populated city to very rural. There were no tall buildings and things looked more worn down. Also, I noticed more honking than anywhere else in my life. It seems that people honk on the road just for fun. Anytime any change occurs, a little honk is let out to let everyone on the road know.
After arriving to Dean Shoes production line, we learned so many things. Not only are Nike shoes produced there, but so are Hurley brand, Converse, and Jordan. These are some of the top brands for younger people, and all of them have a production line within the Dean Shoes production company. Most of the products manufactured within the company is produced and exported globally. The examples we were given of Nike, Converse, Hurley, and Jordan, we see daily in America. I was interested in the fact that Nike was started by a man who was a Track and Field coach, someone who invested time and energy into wearing shoes especially made for running. Another key player in the company is Mark Parker. He is the president and the CEO of Nike. He is beneficial to the company because he not only runs it smoothly, but he doubled sales after being appointed.
Dean shoes has a few locations world-wide. The one that we went to today, known as XE headquarter, has 15,000 employees on the campus. They have 15 buildings in which production occurs, as well as many dormitories for their employees to live for little cost to them. In 2004, production for Dean began to boom. Between the four factories they have in the world (JE, Indonesia, XE China, VL Vietnam, and VE Vietnam), they produce 60 million products. That has risen over previous years, finally making it to 60 million in 2016. For XE, the key models produced are the performance running shoe and Nike Sports ware. The performance running shoe makes up 70 percent of production while Nike Sports ware makes up 20 percent. A specific key model produced by Nike is the Pegasus shoe. World-wide, 50 million Pegasus shoes are produced. Of that 50 million, Dean produces 80 percent of that. As we found out today, many different processes go in to the creation of a Nike shoe. There are various components and steps that must happen to get the shoe from long strips of fabric to the retail store. The basic steps are cutting, pre-fit and no-sew, stitching, simplify components, sock-fitting, quality-check, and packing and shipping. Although there are small factors that play into each step, each one of those whole steps must be followed to achieve the shoe. After the process is completely over, about 400 employees have their hands on each shoe. The workers work 9 hours a day and six days a week. We saw on a sign it has been 415 days since their last on-floor injury. It would seem in a factory that many people would get hurt based upon the tools they use and repetitiveness that they go through. Stepping into the factory, we were all hit with an intense heat wave. We could not help but notice there was no air conditioning anywhere throughout the factory. There were a large amount of fans to keep the employees cool, but it was still more than many of us were able to handle. Although the heat conditions were tough to handle, I think that we were all surprised in a good way with the working conditions of the workers. There have been famous headlines in the news in the past about negative working conditions for Nike employees. Although they were tough at times, the conditions were not nearly as bad as possibly expected. Each employee has a good amount of space surrounding them and were allowed to wear their own personal clothes which I thought was interesting. When I picture a factory, as well as seeing the factory after the Microsoft visit, it was common for all the workers to be wearing the same thing. There were hairnets, coats and pants, and shoe covers. It all seemed very orderly and coordinated. At the Dean Production factory, everyone was wearing their own clothes, only covered by a light layer on their front. From the back, we could see each individual’s style. There were even a few women who chose to wear skirts and heels to work. Another thing fascinating to me was the number of women that populated the work campus. There were noticeably more women working on the production line than there were men. Not only on the production line, but also in the office, there were many more women than men on the computers and wandering through the office. Although I am not sure of their specific job titles, it was interesting to see how women were not a hidden factor in the workforce and held jobs and big companies.
Overall, the visit today was an interesting one. I was so fascinated with all of the people and components that go into the creation of our shoes we own and see so frequently. When wearing the shoes, most people do not think about what goes into them and who controls all of it, I know I never have. Seeing it unfold before my eyes today shifts how I see the production of the shoes that I wear every day, and the brand that is behind it.