The Suave Shoe Corporation
was founded in Florida in 1960 by David Egozi (whose printed signature appears on this piece as the company President) and Eugene Ramos. In the late 1950’s, Egozi and Ramos fled their native Cuba to avoid jail after Fidel Castro's regime found them guilty of being "capitalistic." That charge was, and is, eminently justified.
Within months after their arrival in Miami, the two friends, barely able to speak English, decided to take their chances in the field they knew best: shoes. The dapper Egozi had been a top salesman for his father's shoe company, which Castro confiscated; Ramos had been a shoe manufacturer. The pair pooled $30,000 they had smuggled out of Cuba, borrowed another $25,000 from Egozi's father, leased a small garage in Miami and started the Suave Shoe Corp. Almost from the beginning the firm flourished by pricing low and selling hard.
During the 1970’s, compared with the down-at-the-heels state of the U.S. shoe industry, which was beset by cut-rate foreign rivals, Suave's performance was all the more remarkable. The firm concentrated on producing low-priced leisure footwear like sneakers and slippers for such chain stores as Woolworth's and K mart to sell under private labels. Prices of Suave products, were competitive with imports. The firm managed this by using only the most modern and efficient equipment and paying its nearly 2,000 workers (all but 25 of them Cubans) an average of $2.30 per hour v. the $2.80 averaged by shoe workers in Massachusetts. Suave also benefited from its highly motivated salesmen, many of them also Cuban. "We look for young, hungry men who want to make money," said President Egozi, who insisted that a heavy accent can be a selling advantage. "If a salesman has one eye or one arm or can't talk good English, you remember him," he said.
As demand grew, Suave opened one small plant or warehouse after another; eventually the firm was spread over 17 locations. To raise money for consolidating the facilities, Suave went public in 1969.
Suave still operates today, following the same business plan that has allowed it to prosper for over 40 years.Certificate:
Convertible Debenture Bond, issued in the 1970’sPrinter: Federated Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: FL-Florida Subject Matter: Shoe Companies Vignette Topic(s): Animal Featured
| Stylized Modern Condition:
Vertical fold lines, punch hole and machine cancels in signature areas and body, and some toning and edge faults from age.