#178: New Balance Story – How Innovation and People Helped Double Revenue

In this episode, we explore the journey of Dave Wheeler, the Chief Operating Officer of New Balance, a renowned sports apparel corporation. Having gained valuable experience as an electrical engineer during the peak of the Cold War, Wheeler’s transition from defense to apparel marks an intriguing career shift. Throughout this episode, we explore his formative years, strategic career transitions, and the operational excellence that defines his current role at New Balance.
Dave Wheeler’s operational strategies encompass not just process efficiency but also master data management, advanced analytics, and systematic integration. From fine-tuning legacy systems to overseeing a unified product development process, he underscores the strength of a systematic, fact-based approach. With Wheeler at the helm, New Balance’s operations have been streamlined to optimize efficiency, facilitate growth, and solidify the brand’s position in the athletics and apparel marketplace.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Dave Wheeler is the Chief Operating Officer at New Balance, headquartered in Boston. He strongly identifies with the company’s Fearlessly Independent culture and adheres to its core values of Integrity, Teamwork, and Total Customer Satisfaction. In his role, Dave oversees end-to-end operations, encompassing a wide array of functions, including Product Development, Strategic Sourcing, Global Distribution, Manufacturing, and Quality Assurance.

Before his tenure at New Balance, Dave held a key leadership position at Cintas Corporation (CTAS) in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was head of Global Supply Chain and Fleet Management. Throughout his career at Cintas, Dave demonstrated remarkable leadership, rising through various roles and eventually leading the transformation of the company’s Global Supply Chain. His expertise in Six Sigma methodologies, coupled with his adept problem-solving skills and successful implementation of SAP ERP systems, significantly contributed to revenue growth and seamless integration during mergers and acquisitions.


Questions I Asked:

  • What were some of the inflection points in your career that led you through different industries?
  • What were the key factors that influenced your decisions behind each of the three career shifts you’ve made?
  • How did you relate your career shifts to broader horizons and better leadership skills?
  • When was the decision made within New Balance to adopt the current organizational structure, and what factors contributed to that decision-making process?
  • What strategies would you employ to address individuals already accustomed to the established structure?.
  • What advice would you offer to young individuals starting their careers based on the insights and experiences that have been most influential in your journey to the executive board or a C-level position?

Show notes:

  • [1:53] What were some of the inflection points in this career that has spanned quite a few different industries, from defense to transportation to CentOS, a combination of services as well as a product, and now apparel?
  • [6:41] What kind of factors led you to make the shift in your career? Why did you make the shifts?
  • [12:39] We discussed offline case studies about your most impactful projects in New Balance’s global operations. You mentioned that although the systems and backbone were established, there were still opportunities to enhance efficiencies and analytics. Tell us a little bit about that aspect.
  • [20:10] You mentioned that, in the big picture, a lot had to do with setting the right tech processes and organizational structure, and even deeper than that, there were more specific aspects. Are there certain elements that stand out as having a disproportionate impact compared to others?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
  • [25:25] When was the decision made within New Balance that this structure makes sense? And what led to that decision? 
  • [28:08] In an organization structured with procurement on one side, manufacturing on another, and a third area of responsibility, all reporting to one of the executive board members, how would you navigate this structure to effect change?
  • [31:34] For young individuals starting their careers and listening to this, what advice would you share that made the most difference for you in reaching the executive board or a C-level position?

Quotes from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:


About the Host:

What an inspiring conversation with Dave Wheeler! I am your host, Radu Palamariu, Managing Director of Alcott Global for APAC and Europe, working on C-level and top management executive search assignments with Top Fortune 500 companies and local conglomerates in value chains for manufacturing, logistics, transportation, supply chain management, and e-commerce and also the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”.

Alcott Global provides Executive Search Solutions for key positions at all pillars of the end-to-end value chain: planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, and overall supply chain operations.

Meet us in Singapore on April 18 and Zurich on May 16 at the Makers & Movers face-to-face events. These events bring together value chain executives to connect, collaborate, and innovate—a forum focused on business value creation.

You can nominate supply chain leaders you admire for the 2024 edition of the Leaders in Supply Chain Awards until April 4, 2024. We look forward to celebrating and awarding the Top 30 Leaders in Supply Chain of 2024 for their achievements in digitizing operations, decarbonization, sustainability, and creating a diverse and equitable environment for supply chain teams to thrive and excel.

Related Episodes:

#175: Journey to CEO, AVON’s Omnichannel and Value Chain Development

#176: Geopolitics, Green Economy, the Monkey and the Money

#177: Building Kenvue, Cross Industry Success and People




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