Find Your View
Frank Van Wezel was born and raised in the Netherlands. After graduating from Nyenrode Business University he served his National Service in the Dutch Air Force before returning to his study in London and Paris.
After finishing his further studies, he took a post with an agricultural-chemical company in Kenya where he spent ten years, including a period in Zimbabwe.
After his decade abroad Frank returned to the UK settling in a small town called Shoeburyness in southeast Essex. A keen squash and tennis player Frank spent his spare time playing at his local club.
Members would often remark on how unsuitable the footwear was, so Frank decided to create a light and comfortable squash shoe.
Building upon the first success of the shoe Frank soon set up HI-TEC Sports in 1974 but trying to get the shoes into North America proved somewhat problematic as the only time the Americans recognised squash was when they were eating it!
The squash shoes were not going to make it big in North America, but this did not stop Frank as he had heard that there was a large retailer looking for a lightweight hiking shoe and if you could make a lightweight squash shoe then you could make a lightweight hiking shoe, right?
Right! In 1978 HI-TEC ® was established in the USA bringing to the market the Sierra Sneaker, a sports shoe for the mountains.
In 1981 London held their first marathon, which took place on Sunday the 29th of March. Around 20,000 people applied to enter the race, 7747 applications were accepted and 7055 of these took part. Nearly 25% of these runners were wearing the new HI-TEC Silver Shadow as there was no better all-purpose training shoe on the market.
In 1989 HI Tec brought out a hybrid trail and road shoe to combat the infamous Badwater ultra-marathon. Describing itself as the ‘toughest foot race’ this colossal marathon takes participants from 282 feet (86m) below sea level in the Badwater Basin in California’s Death Valley where the temperature can reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit, to an elevation of 8360 feet (2548m) at Whitney Portal, the trailhead to Mount Whitney.
The race is ultra, even amongst ultra-marathons and needed a shoe that up for the challenge. By 1990 the BW infinity had become that shoe. The breakthrough in innovation design came from the Air Ball Concept – ABC. The ABC sole was a patented pressurised cylinder, which was concertinaed, allowing maximum pressure on impact, providing, not only, outstanding shock absorbency but also positioning the heel to optimise motion control and energy return.
The Air Ball design soon became a feature in many sporting shoes, such as tennis, basketball, squash and running shoes.
The 1990’s saw Hi Tec high flying. Nelson Mandela had left prison wearing a pair of Hi Tec, Hi Tec were the official sponsors of Wimbledon, The Altitude IV had become the number 1 hiking boot across the USA and 52 of the newly formed Premiership footballers league players were wearing the new, bestselling Kings Cup boots.
In 1988, Hi Tec was floated on the stock exchange, in 2000 Frank van Wezel bought the company back.
By the 2000’s Golfer Padraig Harrington had secured 3 major championship wins wearing Hi Tec’s CDT, technologically advanced Golfing shoes. The V lite technological breakthrough of a shoe so light and yet so incredibly high performing had been debuted. The RollinGait System (RGS) was another breakthrough in innovation, this time in collaboration with VIBRAM, which created a midsole and outsole that supported the foot, thereby reducing muscle fatigue.
In 2011 Ed van Wezel became the CEO and the global headquarters was moved to the van Wezels country of origin. The Netherlands.
In 2018 Hi-Tec launched their first range of apparel and accessories in the US and the company continues to grow. Launching their Comfortable anywhere range they have cemented their position as the owners of the Outdoor Crossover category.
The company employees over 500 workers worldwide and generates global sales of more than $250 million.
In 1998 Frank was elected a Life Vice President of the UK Squash Rackets Association and for his services to the UK and Global Sports Industry he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the British Sports Trade.
In 2024 Hi Tec will be 50. It remains committed to its core mission, to get the World outside. Offering up to date technology, versatility and a made to last quality. Hi Tec, can take you from the city to the trail whenever you are ready to find your view.