Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Central Ohio Engineer Makes Unique Job Transition

It’s not every day that someone makes a transition from civil engineering to marketing men’s pantyhose as a career path. When Steve Newman, a longtime resident of Hilliard, Ohio received word that he was among a group of engineers and technicians being laid off at the firm where he worked, he was understandably upset by the news. The word from friends and colleagues was that the market for civil engineers in Central Ohio was pretty grim for the time being. Despite that assessment, he did not let any grass grow under his feet.

Having been a longtime customer and advocate of ActivSkin Legwear for Men—headquartered in Granville—and well acquainted with Mr. Steve Katz, the owner of the firm, Mr. Newman called him the following day to see if there was a need he could fill. ActivSkin, the world’s first company to sell legwear designed specifically for men, just completed their best year in sales ever—no mean feat in today’s economic climate. Mr. Katz needed someone to take charge of marketing this emerging trend, to free him to manage product development and overall operations. The needs of the two intersected, and Mr. Newman was hired immediately as director of marketing and publicity.

The market for men’s legwear has grown by leaps and bounds since the company first opened for business in 2000, yet has not quite broken into the mainstream consciousness. In his role with ActivSkin, Mr. Newman’s mission will be to capitalize on the surge in publicity over the past year or so and move men’s legwear from the edges of public awareness into the realm of full acceptance. The company believes the trend to be near the tipping point, where large gains in product sales can be realized. ActivSkin is currently the only firm in the U.S. selling men’s legwear—among at least seven overseas companies so engaged—and thus is poised to gain the lion’s share of this emerging market.

ActivSkin’s target audience includes men who experience problems with leg circulation (the initial reason for Mr. Newman’s acquaintance with the company), athletes, outdoorsmen, and others who have come to realize that form-fitting legwear is not inherently a masculine or feminine garment. That also depends on the context in which it is worn. Among the obstacles hindering ActivSkin’s growth in the early years were lingering stereotypes that associated tights and sheer hosiery with women’s wear, despite the fact of originally belonging to the male domain prior to the past hundred years or so. After that, they were adopted by women and abandoned by men during the 20th Century. That is now changing, as evidenced by a steady and growing stream of media publicity since the year 2000 and beyond.

The public perception of men wearing legwear is rapidly shedding misplaced associations with cross-dressing and other negative images. More than a few men have boldly begun to allow their legwear to be seen, by wearing them with shorts on occasion. Given his responsibility for publicizing ActivSkin Legwear, Mr. Newman can be counted on to lead by example. “How can I expect other guys to give this a try if I’m not willing to show that it can be done while still maintaining a masculine look. Of course, you have to be confidant in who you are to be one of the ‘early adopters’, but that’s one of the reasons I took this job.”

For more information on ActivSkin, check out the website at www.activskin.com
NOTE: This was written for potential publication in local media. Thus far it has not been published.

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