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SSIA Articles

Baltimore Convention a Success

by Dana Huval, Huval's Boot and Shoe Repair,

Crowley, LA

See more photos from SSIA's Baltimore convention.

SSIA held its annual convention in Baltimore in mid-July. What a great show! More than 165 shoe repair shops attended the seminars and suppliers displayed their goods to show us how to improve our businesses.

Saturday morning started off with a seminar from Blase Knabl, with Shoe Systems Plus, giving us tips on machinery. He provided simple suggestions to keep our machinery in great shape for many years.

Blase Knabl educates repairers on machinery maintenance.

In another room 1987 Grand Silver Cup winner Robert DiRinaldo was giving us great suggestion on how to repair shoes and boots that we would have thought were not repairable. Later Mitch Lebovic, from the Baltimore area, gave a great presentation on how to create and maintain a website so customers can find us and use our services even though they do not live in our area.

Lenny Gershater, with Point of Sale System Computer Company, showed how a point-of-sale system can improve the way we run our shops. It can make customer transactions quicker and help us keep track of the repairs in our shop, either unfinished or finished.

Finishing the seminar section was a very interesting presentation from Silver Cup winner and C-Ped, Jim McFarland. He explained the different kinds of Renia glues and how they can be used on different soling materials. He made it easy to realize what glues are best to use with the different types of shoes.

Sunday also had seminars starting with Blase of Shoe Systems Plus. He went into great detail on keeping finishers problem-free with a little upkeep.

Next we had the Excellence in Shoe Repair with the Silver Cup seminar. Past Silver Cup winners, Robert DiRinaldo, Jim McFarland, Chuck Bolinger and Gino Genitle gave tips on how they prepared their shoes to win the wonderful Silver Cup showing their perfection in repairing shoes in our trade.

The final seminar of the show was Tauer and Johnson Shoe Company telling about how custom-made shoes can be a profit center in your business.

Right in the middle of our Saturday Seminars we had a brunch meeting. We are thankful to the Brunch sponsors:

Gold Sponsors – Vibram / Quabaug

                          Kiwi / Sara Lee

Silver Sponsor – Foam Tex Solutions

Bronze Sponsor – Surefoot Corporation

Now to the favorite part of the show. The suppliers were plentiful and had lots of goodies to offer us. They were:

Angelus Shoe Polish, Santa Fe Springs, CA, Paul Angelus. At his booth, customers were interested in the leather paint and his white-ace products. New items included Roll-Call for military edge, All Purpose Cleaner and Blue Gel Cleaner. Samples were provided. Angelus also has a full line of shoe care products, cleaners and dyes for our shops to use as well as sell. If you would like to view more information on Angelus, check out their website -  

Roberta Diamond and Paul Angelos talking to a shoe repairer about Angelus products,

ArbelSoft Inc– Long Island City, NY, John Parker, Chong Johnson & William Kang. Arbelsoft is an old pro when it comes to their dry cleaners software system. That is what their computer system was created for, but they were approached by one of the busiest shoe repair shops in New York in hopes of adjusting their system for shoe repair. They have created the “Shoemax” shoe repair system for our shops to have a easy and professional way to take in and track the work we do. This system can text or e-mail your customers to let them know their repair work is ready. For more information, check out their website


Cobblestone's Jeff and Randy Lipson watch John Parker demonstrate how their computer system works.

Boris Shoe Components Supply, Inc. - San Francisco CA, Boris Zhitnitsky, Tatiana Zhitnitsky & Nina Zhitnitsky. Boris was very pleased with the turnout in Baltimore! He was a wholesaler in the Baltimore/DC area for 12 years, so I am sure he saw quite a few familiar faces during the show. Knowing that repairers are looking for good quality heels, soles and soling sheets, he has a great selection for us to choose from when ordering from our wholesaler. One of his new items is the MAGNA super quality dowel lift and the really interesting EVA rubber that is two-ply, which will make a perfect bottom for soles and leg-length discrepancy build-ups. The magna dowels are made from one of the best materials used in the shoe repair industry. I am so excited that he gave me a sample of the two-ply EVA-rubber soling sheet that he will be able to make in any thickness or color for any job we run across. These sheets are very light in weight along with being very durable for our customers to achieve long wear. This would be a “must have” item for any shoe repair shop doing a lot of orthopedic work. You may see these items on Boris’s website

Cadillac Shoe Products  – Brighton MI, Steve Shoop. Steve showed his products at the SSIA show for the first time this year. He was pleased to see all the attendance from the manufacturing side of the business. He felt most repairers and finders were looking for promotional items that they can "add" on to their sale and provide a better value to the consumer.  We've all talked about maintaining pricing in this economy and when we can't, we have to provide better service to our customers. If you’re not selling Cadillac products in your shop now, you should look in to their cleaners, conditioners, Esquire Instant Leather Colors, suede and nubuck cleaners and water sealers. They also offer boot scrubbers, if you have cowboys or hikers who do not want to track mud in their houses, along with shine brushes, cream and wax polishes, insoles and shoe laces. For more information, check out their website

Del Toro Suelas - León, Guanajuato, México, Marco Flores & Fernando Villegas. This was the first time Del Toro Suelas showed their leather items at a SSIA show. They offer a great selection of double shoulder leather, bends, straps of leather, leather welt, leather heels, combination heels, boots counters, sole leather and leather hat ribbon. We welcome them to our association and hope to see them at future shows.

Del Toro Suelas Company shows the leather welts, soles and heel bases they offer.

Fix-A-Zipper  - Downers Grove, IL -  Boy Bischot. This innovative discovery of the ZlideOn gives you’re the possibility of adding a slide to a zipper in three seconds rather than changing the entire zipper. I saw it. It is one of the neatest things I have ever seen. If you have this product and a customer brings in a broken slide, all you do is remove the old slide with a pair of cutting pliers, open the ZlideOn that will be the replacement, click it together and you’re finished. They offer a Zlide On display kit or a Zlide on toolbox for the complete set of items they offer. If you see a lot of zipper work, this would be a huge time saver for you. You can go to their website to see this product for yourself

Foam Tex Solutions Corp. – SILVER Sponsor of SSIA Brunch Cleveland OH, Alan, Don, Maggie, & Marcie Abshire. Their motto is; “Let our solution be your solution.” Foam Tex offers a blue foam cleaner that magically cleans any suede, leather, vinyl, nubuck or canvas items whether it is needed for shoes, boots, purses or even your favorite chair. I highly recommend their foam bottle. It is easy to use and works very well. The Abshires can be reached at 216-889-2702

The Foam Tex guys filling in products to show how good their products are to repairers.

Guard IndustriesSt Louis MO, Neil Dotzenrod & Jim Barnes. When it comes to shoe repair, Guard products are your best friend! A “must have” for every shop is their OLFA shears. They come in two sizes. I highly recommend the large shears which will make all of your patch leather cuttings clean without fuzz. Guard is famously known for the heel plates they have manufactured in the USA since 1965. Mostly their business is focused on the shoe repair and retail trade while also offering orthotic and prosthetic supplies. Another highly popular item is their AVANTI premium dowel tip. Neil and Jim gave a sample pack of an assortment of sizes and colors they offer. Guard is always happy to see all the attendees who want to see what is available so they can demonstrate all of the JT Foote accessories, heel and toe plate, metatarsal pads, level walkers, tongue pads, tassels, leather bag strapping, Trail Creek long-lasting hiking laces, cabin insoles. (If you do not stock the orange pack of athletic insoles, you are missing a great insole. They not only add comfort but also take up room in a loose fitting shoe.) Along with offering leather hides, they also make the pre-cut heel pads for us to use. You can see all of their products on their website

Guard’s Neil Dotzenrod and Jim Barnes ready to show all of the products they offer whether we are in need of retail or repair items.

Next Month, I will continue to tell you the remainder of the suppliers who showed us their goods in Baltimore.

See more photos from SSIA's Baltimore convention.

  © 2005 Shoe Service Institute of

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