Daniel Verbruggen
1995 Grand Silver Cup Winner

Daniel Verbruggen of Fast Feet in Smyrna, Del. took home top honors in the 1995 contest. The Belgium native is the winner of Shoe Service magazine’s 1995 Grand Silver Cup.

“It feels great,” says the fifth generation shoe repairer. “Winning the Grand Silver Cup has been one of my goals in shoe repair.”

Verbruggen entered the contest for five years, winning several awards on his way to the top. His advice to other repairers is simply to enter the contest and follow the judges’ instructions. Scoresheets are returned with entries and, by studying the scoresheets, entrants can improve their work.

The shoe repair industry is a constant challenge according to Verbruggen. He started Fast Feet after coming to the U.S. 10 years ago.

“It has never been easy,” he says. “But as long as we do a good job and provide a quality service at a reasonable price, we will be okay.”

Fast Feet consists of four stores in Delaware, the newest store having just opened in April. That number is down from seven because Verbruggen’s biggest challenge is fmding quality employees. Were it not for that problem, he says, he would be expanding more.

Verbruggen is a proponent of modern shoe repair – using modern techniques and machinery. He made the switch to a new system about 20 years ago and says the differences between what has become labeled as “instant” and “traditional” shoe repair are misleading.

“You are spending the same amount of time repairing the shoes, but you are spending less time walking around,” he says. “With the old system, you pick up the shoes at least 20 times before you are done. Take the heels off, put them down. Sand them, put them down. Glue them, put them down. It never ended.”

“Doing it the new way is a lot easier,” he continues. “In the beginning, it was difficult. I made a big investment in machines and I felt like I had to work very fast. That is not correct. Just work at your normal pace and, before you put the shoes down, ask yourself why.”

This switch has made Verbruggen more efficient. His commitment to quality has put him at the head of the Silver Cup Class of 1995.