Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We have a strong culture among our employees at Allen Edmonds. We work very hard together in common pursuit, and there’s a lot of good natured fun and camaraderie along the way. Those who think work is a stifling place, where people become only vaguely acquainted and cordon off their personal lives, just wouldn’t understand our shop.

I’m blessed with a truly exceptional team, as evidenced by much of what you see in the marketplace, in our products and in our customer service. You can also read it in the newspaper: the Milwaukee Business Journal just named our lovable Senior Vice President and CFO, Jay Schauer, “CFO of the Year” this August. Jay is completely deserving of the honor. He not only tracks every number with a keen CFO skill set, he also has excellent business acumen and knows all about shoe production, Allen Edmonds’ history, our strengths and challenges and our customers. We wouldn’t be where we are today without Jay’s outstanding work and guidance.

August was a big month for Jay. It started with the CFO of the Year award, and ended with a much-anticipated golf outing. Jay hadn’t nearly as much golf experience as the others included in the group. He was a bit nervous about playing a top ranked course with this group, so he took a couple lessons and practiced consistently during the summer. The work paid off as he laced his drive—ok, it was his third drive -- big down the middle on the first hole. The rest of the round, Jay took what I call the “Johnny Miller Philosophy for Businessmen’s Golf” to a higher level than I’d ever seen before.

During a conference years ago, I heard Johnny Miller say that he sees so many amateurs with families and full-time jobs take the game as seriously as PGA Tour players who practice hours a day and have pro golfer talent. We curse ourselves when we hit bad shots and then angrily say, “It’s about time!” when we hit a good shot. Johnny suggested that we have it all wrong -- we should accept bad shots as inevitable in our crammed lives, and say, “All right! Hooray for me!” when the ball ends up where we wanted it to go. As someone whose game took a drastic turn southward a number of years ago, I’ve been trying to heed Johnny’s advice… but it’s easier said than done.

Jay, by contrast, would make Johnny proud. Sure, Jay had his bloopers, but he remained just plain thrilled to be out there. His attitude was really fun and infectious. Then there was his “Hooray for me!” The first time Jay’s foursome came to the Par 3 Seventeenth, the others missed the postage stamp green while Jay hit it to four feet and, after stepping away to slow his racing heart, MADE THE PUTT! The next time around the course, Jay flew that green (maybe too much adrenaline after his earlier birdie?) and had a tough lie. He chopped it out of the gorse and incredibly HIT THE PIN! The ball dropped within gimme distance. Jay whooped and hollered so loud he could be heard in the adjoining State. I was on the 16th green in the second group at the time and we thought he had either just won the lottery or else was trying to start a buffalo stampede. At the post-round lunch, Jay declared himself good-naturedly, “King of Seventeen”. We’ll never forget it (and Jay will make sure we don’t).

Congratulations, Jay! “King of Seventeen” and “CFO of the Year” all at once… Nice month!

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation