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December article about Allen Edmonds + it's CEO

NorCal_1

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Grangaard fits in with Allen Edmonds

New CEO going back to classic shoe lines to help increase sales


Friday, December 5, 2008
Milwaukee Business Journal

Paul Grangaard didn't wear Allen Edmonds shoes to his post-college job interview with Morgan Guaranty in New York City, but he noticed who did.

"I was impressed that everyone wore Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue," Grangaard said referring to two classic Allen Edmonds business models.

That experience made a lasting impression on Grangaard as he built a career in the financial industry, including international banking, investment banking, retail stock brokerage and private equity. When Goldner Hawn, a Minneapolis private equity firm where he was a partner, acquired a majority stake in Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. for $123 million in July 2006, Grangaard and the Goldner Hawn team all donned well-worn Allen Edmonds shoes for their initial visit to the Port Washington-based men's shoemaker.

He jumped at the opportunity to serve as the investment firm's representative on the Allen Edmonds board. Then, when chief executive officer Mark Birmingham left Allen Edmonds in August, Grangaard was named interim CEO and then permanent CEO in October. Grangaard said he supported and worked with Birmingham, but declined further comment.

Birmingham, who had been the company's chief operating officer when he succeeded John Stollenwerk in 2006, could not be reached for comment. Stollenwerk, who is still a minority owner and chairman, attributed Birmingham's departure to "a difference of philosophy" with Goldner Hawn.

Grangaard's appointment represents a dream job for him. He has transitioned from providing financing and advice for businesses to where his passion now lies "” actually running one.

To Grangaard, Allen Edmonds is an iconic American shoe brand and manufacturer.

"Allen Edmonds is a great shoe and they never compromised any quality standards to cut costs and go after the mass market," Grangaard said.

Grangaard's assessment of Allen Edmonds when he joined the board: The firm had "a great product with huge potential" and needed to update its strategy. Grangaard believes Allen Edmonds misstepped somewhat on Birmingham's push into more casual models and also was too slow to react to the trend toward rubber-sole shoes in the professional world.

The 50-year-old Grangaard worked closely with Allen Edmonds product development director Michael Rancourt on creating the new rubber-sole shoes the company will introduce to retailers in February 2009 and bring to stores in fall 2009. The shoes will be priced at $199, or about $100 less than the company's dress shoes.

Grangaard also is recommitting Allen Edmonds to its classic dress lines, and bringing back the Fifth Avenue, which had been shelved in recent years.

Allen Edmonds will need to walk a fine line between its heritage products worn by bankers, attorneys and business executives and the casual trend embraced by men of baby-boomer age and younger.

Grangaard said the key is serving both audiences separately. The new line will be called "AE by Allen Edmonds" and the first models will be the "Crosstown Collection" with models named after trendy neighborhoods in Chicago, Boston, New York City and San Francisco.

Dresses like a banker
Grangaard still dresses more like one of Allen Edmonds customers in the financial industry. Before his stint at Goldner Hawn, he worked 19 years at Minneapolis investment banking firm Piper Jaffray, first as an investment banker looking for deals, then running that unit and finally shifting to president of Piper's retail stock brokerage.

Grangaard is a native of Minneapolis suburb Edina, where he lives today. He has no plans to relocate to southeast Wisconsin. He works at the Allen Edmonds headquarters three days per week and two days in the Goldner Hawn offices.

Allen Edmonds chief financial officer Jay Schauer, who has been with the company since 2000, said he's appreciated Grangaard's experience leading business teams and his collaborative management approach.

Marty Mathis, who owns Marty Mathis Direct shoe and apparel, a Minneapolis Allen Edmonds dealer, said Grangaard seems to be taking Allen Edmonds in a more focused direction after the company strayed into "ugly" casual shoes. Mathis believes the new rubber-sole line is "a great idea."

When Grangaard joined Allen Edmonds board, but before he became CEO, he visited Mathis' store and even spent a few hours there during an Allen Edmonds sale greeting customers and talking shoes, Mathis said.

"He's learning the shoe business and he asks questions," Mathis said. "For a guy coming from that position to ask a question is a sign of a good leader."

The company's sales declined an undisclosed amount the past two years, and the company announced in November that it was laying off 40 employees in Port Washington. The causes were the economy and some of its best customers reducing their inventory of dress shoes in favor of casual, he said.

He sees a silver lining in the slow economy.

"People tend to go to more classic things in a down economy," Grangaard said. "People are going to want to look like they're serious and they have a job."

http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee...08/story9.html


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NorCal_1

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Allen Edmonds unsure if Obama will wear its shoes

The Business Journal of Milwaukee - by Rich Kirchen

View Larger With just hours to go before Barack Obama's inauguration as president of the United States, executives at Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. still don't know whether he'll wear their shoes for any part of the ceremonies.

The Port Washington-based maker of upscale men's shoes sent the Obama team pairs of formal-wear shoes for wearing with a tuxedo. Allen Edmonds is calling the shoe the "Hyde Park" in honor of Obama's neighborhood in Chicago.

While Obama's size is 11.5 D, Allen Edmonds sent various sizes and widths for the best fit, said marketing director Colin Hall.

"Per requests from the folks in charge, it's a black patent leather shoe," Hall said Monday. "Our guess is that he will be wearing formal wear at the inauguration, or at the ball, or possibly at both events."

Obama would be the latest in a string of American presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan who donned the American-made shoes during inaugural ceremonies.

Allen Edmonds president and CEO Paul Grangaard said Monday that Obama's valets have received the shoes, but the company hasn't heard any confirmation of whether the new president will wear the shoes. Hall said Tuesday morning that he had yet to hear whether any of the pairs would be worn.

Because Obama and his handlers are being very secretive about his wardrobe choices for the inauguration, it is "very possible and probable" that the company's staff won't know whether he's wearing their shoe until they see him on television, Hall said.

"As it's a patent leather shoe (tux shoe) it may be difficult to tell if it's our shoe or not," Hall said. "We would need to see a close up."
 

teddieriley

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Although I don't own any AE, and may not in the near future, I hope they continue to do well.
 

Tarmac

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He didn't wear patent shoes at the inauguration, not sure what shoe he wore whilst juggling his balls.
 

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