The legacy of the Maxeco boot from Lemaitre

The legacy of the Maxeco boot from Lemaitre

Across construction sites, mines, farms and factories, almost 10 million pairs of Maxeco boots have helped realise the dream of a stronger South Africa by protecting the millions of workers who built it.

Every legacy has to start somewhere. For Lemaitre and their iconic Maxeco boot, it began some 30 years ago when the brand was introduced to South African shores. It’s a story based on the recollections of the innovation manager at the time, Cedric Novis: “In the late 80s Bagshaw Footwear successfully bid on an 18-station dual density direct injection machine at an auction in Babelegi (some 30 minutes north of Pretoria) even though we had very little knowledge about dual density footwear.

“We had a very strong range of military footwear, but now had to consider how best to utilise this machine. After much consultation it was agreed to introduce dual density to the safety footwear market – a first in South Africa,” he adds.

“We decided that we needed to manufacture under licence, and contacts at the SABS pointed us in the direction of a French company who had expressed interest in the South African market. During the first half of 1990 we initially went to Lemaitre, in Strasbourg, and met the MD and owner, Jean-Michel. Our meetings culminated in a signed licensing agreement for Lemaitre safety footwear.”

Novis notes that it was decided to position the brand as European styled, technologically advanced and comfortable; and they went to market with the premise of “Why you deserve to wear a better safety boot”.

“It was a great campaign and something that the industry had never done before. It worked and the workforce started to demand the Lemaitre Maxeco, which was the only model we launched. You could have them in any colour you wanted, as long as it was black or tan!”

He says that the focus on the people actually wearing the boots is still central to the Lemaitre brand in South Africa. “In hindsight, we introduced the right product at the right time at the right price and managed to launch possibly the most successful selling safety shoe of all time in the South African market.”

And hence the Lemaitre Maxeco was introduced towards the end of 1990 – the first ever locally produced direct injection dual density PU sole on a safety footwear style. From humble beginnings the Maxeco has since become the number-one selling safety footwear style in the history of our country. It ushered in the era of dual density safety footwear, and is still the most popular style of sole in the safety footwear industry today. That’s no small feat.

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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