What is the secret ingredient behind a successful business? The answer is simple; great owners with a tenacious team behind them. Fleet Feet Rochester and Buffalo are owned by two legends in the industry: David “Boots” Boutiller and Ellen Brenner, who started their business in 2004 with one location. Over the years their business has grown, evolved, and expanded – the expansion included multiple locations as well as a race management company (YellowJacket Racing) creating more events throughout Rochester and Buffalo.
When starting up a business, most owners tend to think about first-year profit goals, customer base growth… the list goes on. Boots and Ellen were different in this regard. They started the business because they just wanted a store to couple with their love for endurance sports. Boots was an All-American cross-country runner and a Duathlon World gold-medalist. Like Boots, Ellen was an accomplished cross-country runner and completed many triathlon and duathlon races. Their hard work on the roads, trails, and track carried right over to their work ethic in the business world. This has shown over the last 15 years as they have expanded into three locations and a race management company.
Their success in managing the business is apparent, but their biggest success is in the relationships they have developed in the Rochester and Buffalo running communities. Boots and Ellen take pride in what they have done to help both communities live a healthier and more active lifestyle. Many of their runners met in the store(s) and now have a life-long friendship. Without Fleet Feet Rochester and Buffalo, these communities would not be the same.
Lastly, it’s not only building a business or bringing the community together for Boots and Ellen, but it’s also about giving back. They are both very generous in giving back to the community through different charities and partnering up with vendors to help carry out a large charity mission. For the past two years, they have partnered up with Mizuno’s ProjectZero initiative to help bring one in eight to zero in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer. Another project that comes to mind, is when they started the First Responders Special Treatment Agency in 2018. This organization was designed to provide PTSD support for first responders in the greater Rochester area and its surrounding cities.
The list goes on and on, but the key take away I learned from working with Boots and Ellen is to work hard, do the one percenters, remove limitations, and to give back.
Learn more about their story in the video below.