STALLINGS – When Paul Anderson worked as a manufacturing engineer in Charlotte, he encountered a problem: his safety shoes never looked right with the rest of his outfit.
As a young professional, Anderson wanted to make a good impression, but could not find shoes that he could wear in both an office and the manufacturing floor.
When he worked in Mexico, he found a pair that gave him exactly what he was looking for.
“I liked them so much, I had to figure out how I could buy them in the U.S. because somebody had to be selling them in the U.S. because everyone’s having this issue,” Anderson said.
But no one in the U.S. sold them. Anderson met with the shoe manufacturer in Mexico. Later, he moved back to North Carolina and co-founded Oxford Steels, an American shoe company based in Stallings that combines fashion and safety.
At first glance, Oxford Steels look like normal dress shoes that anyone could wear to work. But on the inside, they feature all necessary protection required in safety shoes, including a steel toe.
While there is always an element of discomfort in steel-toed boots, Anderson said these are more comfortable than normal safety shoes.
“It will be the most comfortable pair of safety shoes you will have,” Anderson said.
Anderson said this feature can be attributed to a comfortable insole, which is being upgraded to be even more comfortable. He also said the shoes are made of high-end leather from Leon, Mexico, which makes the shoes water-resistant and breathable.
Along with an attractive appearance, safety features and comfort, Oxford Steels are also durable. According to Anderson, the shoes can last up to three years, although most manufacturers recommend getting new shoes after a year.
“Even if you wear them every day, they’re going to last you at least a year,” Anderson said. “We don’t see a need for our shoes to last much longer than the two to three-year mark. We’ve been open for two years now and we have customers who are still on their first pair. They still look great and they still wear them every day.”
Right now, Oxford Steels only makes four models of shoes for men, but Anderson said the company hopes to launch its first women’s model in November.
Oxford Steels are geared toward those in middle-management positions all the way up to CEOs. While most of the company’s customers work at the engineering level, Anderson also said the shoes are great for people in sales representative positions at manufacturing companies.
Moving forward, Anderson hopes to expand the company’s online business. He does not plan to open a storefront, but he hopes to be able to sell Oxford Steels through other retailers.