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Doing Just IT! (The NIKE Story)

Doing Just It
The Nike Story

Bill Bowerman. A man prospered by God – not by seeking profits but by caring for people. A man who truly cares is a man God can truly use.

Sometime in the mid-‘50s, a track coach at the University of Oregon met one of his best middle-distance runners groaning on a bench as he massaged his legs. The pain was something the coach could relate to as he had suffered those foot injuries before. And he knew it was due to wearing the wrong kind of running shoes. Or, wearing shoes not for running.

While ensuring that his athletes were in good shape, Bill Bowerman was also concerned that his school had a good reputation. The championship games were nearing and the NCAA crown had to be won.

For days and nights, this caring coach would stay up late designing the right shoes for his athletes’ maximum comfort and use. In those days, track people didn’t have much of a choice in sports footwear. Except for the makers of tennis shoes, the only athletic suppliers were two large foreign firms whose products were not meant for runners.

Bill showed the suppliers his specialized shoe designs and explained the need for a special kind of track shoes. And there was only one response: “No” – for two reasons. First, the two companies could not accommodate the new design, and second, their products were already “good enough.” If he insisted, they would say “Coach, we don’t teach you how to run, so don’t teach us how to make shoes.” Discouraged, Bill wanted to forget the whole idea. But the picture of his athletes in excruciating pain would not let him.

As coach of his track team, Bill not only trained them to be physically fit, but also exhorted them with Scriptures. His favorite is understandably a particular portion common to Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Corinthians that pertains to running: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Bill would say, “I want you to do your very best, not just for the prize, but also for what the very trying will do for you. Winning is doing the best you can. And even if you lose, you will have learned something.” These words spoke to him personally and made him decide to produce the shoes himself. So…

Off he went to his shoe-repairer friend and took a crash course on shoe making. Using kid leathers and nylons, he made his own track shoes and asked his athletes to try them on. On of his best runners, Phil Knight, tested the shoes and said that it was the best pair of track shoes he had ever worn. The tailored-for-runners shoes were considered instrumental in Oregon University’s bagging the NCAA crown that year.

In the meantime, Bill’s top-notch athlete Phil Knight took a postgraduate trip to Japan and presented Bill’s shoes to prospective Japanese investors. Knight went home with good news for his coach – Japanese businessmen would market them. With $500 coming from Bill and Phil, some Japanese businessmen would have distribution rights in the United States.

In the early part of 1963, their first shipment arrived in Oregon. Phil Knight, himself a marketing genius, asked college athletes to see the shoes – loaded in their car trunks – to coaches and other runners across the state and beyond. As these athletes gave their own inputs to further improve on the product, Bill’s shoes evolved into one of the best, if not the best, running shoes in the world.

In 1971, one of their office secretaries suggested an emblem tha later became the company logo, the “swoosh.”

Today this company has grown into a multibillion-dollar sports accessory enterprise and has mushroomed into a comprehensive manufacturer of athletic equipment and sports apparel.

The company? NIKE – of which….
Phil Knight is the president and chairman of the board.

In 1998, Christian coach Bill Bowerman moved on from designing running shoes for Nike to developing shoes for the handicapped – shoes that may help the disabled walk. Or even run!

Businessmen, how about that as a mission statement for our enterprise?

Want to be used by God? As long as it comes from a heart that cares, never mind the opposition. As the Nike ad says: JUST DO IT!


  • cramnhojcramnhoj Member PEx Rookie ⭐
    You might want to look into the business book "Built to Last", it shows throughout this century how companies who even though were even disadvantaged at their startup ended up being tremendous successes simply because unlike their competitors they really try to fulfill their mission statement.

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