WHO WE ARE
At Diba Imports, we are a family. We are family-owned for over 30 years, have a family of fashion footwear brands for women and men, and provide service that makes our retailers and customers feel as if they are part of our family.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
When our founder, Joe Butrus, was working as a high-level footwear merchandiser at one of the country’s largest retail corporations, his division closed unexpectedly and he lost his beloved job. With a wife and three children to support, he knew he had to chart a new course – quickly. He decided to pour his experience and passion for the footwear industry into his own company. In 1988, he struck a handshake deal with a mentor to bring a cool, never-before-seen Netherlands brand, Bronx Shoes, to the United States.
The company got off to a bumpy start, literally. The first batch of shoe samples from Brazil tumbled out of the back of the delivery truck on its way to Joe’s house in St. Louis, MO. He and his daughter Suzanne scrambled onto the highway, darting in and out of traffic to retrieve every shoe they could. The two got the samples cleaned up enough for Joe to stuff into duffle bags and bring to buyer meetings in New York City. Every one of those first seven buyers bought shoes. With a company headquarters in his basement, Joe’s business was officially on its way.
The Bronx shoes, manufactured in Italy, were an immediate hit among American customers. Such a hit, in fact, that competitors started copying and selling the styles. Joe decided that he would do the same – for a much more appealing price. He duplicated the best-selling styles in Brazil and sold them to large US retailers and independent shoe stores. He dubbed the new label “Diba,” an acronym for Dutch design, Italian artistry, Brazilian manufacturing, and American ingenuity.
As Diba Imports grew to include more brands, Joe enlisted the help of family and trusted friends. His wife wrote orders at trade shows and handled invoices. Longtime friend and former colleague, Kurt Hibler, managed the reproduction of the Bronx styles. Suzanne and her husband Steve focused on sales. Footwear industry veteran Jon Wagner oversaw synthetic shoe production in China. His oldest daughter Diane came in as Chief Operating Officer, and his youngest daughter, Michelle, assisted with sales to online companies. Joe’s grandson Nick joined the team in 2018 to manage partnerships with up-and-coming companies for third party logistics (3PL). Today, Diba has over 30 employees, a majority of whom have been with us for 20 years or more.
Diba is now a global footwear company. We sell to some of the biggest retailers in the world. Our footwear has appeared on television, in fashion shows, at international trade shows, and in major print publications. Our brands appeal to women seeking shoes to meet real-life needs, women climbing the corporate ladder, and men looking for stylish, comfortable shoes and boots. Our 3PL services allow us to share our expertise with startup fashion brands in the US as well as international fashion brands ready to start US distribution. What began in a basement is now housed in a 45,000 square foot facility.
We believe we would not be where we are without the loyalty and support of our retailers, customers, and employees. No matter where you are on your journey - whether you are an established business, an emerging company, a small boutique, or a customer looking for a fashionable pair of shoes - we are with you every step of the way. Our mission remains the same: to offer the best footwear styles, with the highest quality materials, at the best value.