Alumni Spotlight

Bart Nydish '65

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When Bart Nydish ’65 decided to attend Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (PCT&S), his decision to major in business was rooted in his desire to be an entrepreneur like his grandfather who had migrated to the United States as a teenager and in later years built a chain of supermarkets named Star Markets. When his grandfather sold the company during Nydish’s time at PCT&S, it shocked him. “I was completely lost as to what I would do with my career,” Nydish said.

Unbeknownst to Nydish at the time, was that he was about to embark on a 40-year career as a successful business owner in the shoe manufacturing industry, producing more than three million shoes a year.

During his time as a commuter student at PCT&S, Nydish was first introduced to textile engineering in an elective course. “I didn’t expect to, but I really enjoyed learning about design,” Nydish said. He explained that having never traveled more than a trip to Florida, he was so impressed with the international student population at the college, most of whom moved to Philadelphia to study textile design and engineering. Nydish began to realize that this was a lucrative industry that spanned the world, and that excited him.

However, it wasn’t immediately after his college graduation that he became the owner of a leading shoe manufacturer for premier apparel labels that he is known for today.

His first job was working for a relative in the home-building business. “I was going nowhere,” Nydish explained. “I had friends who were continuing their studies in graduate and medical programs, and here I was in a job that I knew was not for me.”

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This all changed in the early ’70s when Nydish began working at a wholesale and retail shoe company owned by his father-in-law. “There are a lot of importers in the wholesale business. I would work with one importer in particular and was in awe of his lifestyle of traveling the world to import shoes,” Nydish said. “And then one day, he asked me if I would like to try it.” Both Nydish’s wife and father-in-law were supportive of his decision, and he took the job.

Nydish spent several years as an importer traveling the world to facilities in China, Taiwan and Brazil where he learned the ins and outs of the manufacturing industry. Nearly a decade later, Nydish worked with two business partners to launch their own shoe company called Bellini that specialized in women’s footwear.

Bellini was eventually sold in the ’90s, which led him and his partners to start the Titan Group. The company’s first client was the Gap. Nydish believes working with the Gap added to his integrity in the business. “Credibility is important in this line of work and with Gap as our first client, we were able to have a reputation as a premier mid-tier importer Nydish said.

This reputation opened the door to work with clients like Tommy Bahama, American Eagle, Lily Pulitzer, Kenneth Cole and J. Crew to design and manufacture shoes.

However, substantial success in the shoe manufacturing industry isn’t all that is listed on Nydish’s impressive resume. Around the time the Titan Group got started, Nydish noticed a need for affordable and well-made kids’ shoes. From this, the company launched  a private label called KIDS Brigade, a children’s shoe line that sells in retail stores nationwide.

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Just as he  noticed a specific need in the market at that time, Nydish recently began to notice the trend in online shopping about three years ago. Simultaneously, Nydish began a new business venture with his son and a partner to develop another company called the Oxford Trading Intl., with a focus on men’s shoes.

The company’s most recent project has been to launch a new men’s shoe collection called Cobble & Hyde. According to the brand’s website, the company’s goal “is to translate our passion and love of footwear combined with artisan craftsmanship and exquisite leathers into affordable footwear that you will appreciate and fall in love with for years to come.”

“The timing was right [with Oxford] to launch a direct-to-consumer brand because that was our market for this particular product,” Nydish said.

Nydish explains the company was looking to develop a brand with a British feel, hence the name. “The brand’s name is a combination of ‘Cobbler’ and ‘Hyde Park’ in London.”

While the eighteen months of the brand’s launch has not seen exponential growth, Nydish explains it’s been a great learning experience.

“I’ve met a lot of interesting people along the way,” Nydish said. One of these interesting people is Malcom Jenkins, safety for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins owns his own menswear clothing line and has collaborated with Cobble & Hyde on several recent occasions to market the shoes, including the 2017 ESPY Awards and the 2017 NFL Draft.

Now in his 70’s, Nydish still works full-time for The Titan Group and Oxford Trading and follows a busy international travel schedule to his various factories. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Margie, their two adult children and grandchildren. Their oldest son, Sandy, works full-time for the Titan Group and Oxford Trading managing the day-to-day operations of the companies.

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Looking back to his time as a college student, Nydish believes it has taken real-life experiences to appreciate the value of his education. “I don’t think I knew at the time that the skills and education I was receiving would have a big impact on my career,” Nydish explained. “But, there have been many times when I have drawn on lessons I’ve learned from professors in my courses when making big business decisions.”

Nydish has no plans of retiring anytime soon. “Without my business schedule, I’d be afraid to lose my sharpness as i’ve seen a few people who have retired,”  Nydish said. And with his manufacturing companies thriving and Cobble & Hyde just getting started, his schedule doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime in the near future.

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