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While major athletic-shoe marketers cope with flat sales, Brooks Sports is gaining at a smooth pace.

In 1995, Bruce Pettet-who had been representing Brooks through his manufacturers' representative sales agency Performance Sales West-joined the sportswear marketer as VP-sales and marketing with a definite strategy.

"We had to refocus the brand-on running," says Mr. Pettet, 34.

"For the first time [in 1998] we brought together all the elements-outdoor, print, events, athletes, podiatrists, techs, events-everything we look for in a grass-roots effort and made it count with retailers."

Mr. Pettet says his strategy was a strong counter to the trend of big-name athletes as spokesmen. It relied on locally competitive runners as brand ambassadors and sent out teams of retail techs to educate store clerks on feet, shoes and running through special training clinics.

In addition, in 1997 Brooks expanded its line of running shoes to include running apparel.

Mr. Pettet says Brooks continues to post sales increases and in 1998 saw a 26% increase during a tough year for the industry and is ahead by about 30% for 1999. Recently, Mr. Pettet stepped into the shoes of president-CEO-previously worn by Helen Rockey, president-CEO of Just For Feet.

This year Brooks is sponsoring the "Muddy Buddy" an event that gives a nod to adventure racing but doesn't require the athletic prowess of some extreme events. Mr. Pettet says it combines a trail run with a mountain bike race and requires a team of two athletes. Mr. Pettet says Brooks won't be seeking Olympic spokesmen.

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