Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's that time of year again.  Men everywhere are being asked what they want under the tree and they're stumped -- totally speechless.  They can't name a thing.  (For many of us guys, it's the only question all year that we can't answer with complete certainty, if not necessarily a statement of fact.)  My dad always used to answer the Christmas List Question with, "Peace and quiet", which he never got.  So here's some advice on what to ask for, or what to give, this year...

My #1 pick in our shoe line is the new Patriot penny loafer. It's just a great fitting shoe with a real masculine look.  For the football fan, the Patriot in real football leather is an especially good option.  Our friends at the Horween tannery in Chicago are the sole supplier of that leather for Wilson's "Duke", which is the football that the NFL has used for decades, and we've now put it into our Patriot options.  I've been wearing a prototype of the football shoe this fall and getting a lot of good comments, from both men and women.
Another good shoe idea could include one of his favorite AE styles in our new Bourbon calfskin color.  Brown is all the rage in both dress and casual shoes these days -- great for wearing from suits to jeans -- and this new brown hue is strikingly cool.  When we introduced it to our internal team earlier this year they were unusually impressed.

Or get him a Timeless Classic shoe with our new V-tread sole, which we developed for guys who want a little more cushion and all-weather wearability.  It's amazing how a rubber pattern this compact can really add softness to the sole without changing the formality of the look.  Similarly, if he's a golfer, our Honors Collection golf shoes with the SLV sole ("SLV" = spikeless versatility) are terrific for on and off course wear.
Finally, in shoes, think about a pair of distressed leather wingtips to wear with cords, khakis and jeans.   Our McTavish style has been out for a little over a year and is already our 3rd bestselling shoe style.  We've never had a style jump into the top five that quickly after introduction.  It's available in two brand new colors of leather that look great from business casual to totally casual, from college kid to still-active mature adult.  Really, the shoe crosses the age spectrum like few before.  It gives the younger man a little mature savoir faire, and the older guy a look of slightly-hip relevance.  At Allen Edmonds, we think we understand that most men like to look updated and relevant without looking like they're trying too hard to follow fashion.  The McTavish hits the center of that bulls-eye across an unusually wide demographic.
If his blue blazer is getting a bit tired from overuse, try out one of our curated collection of sport coats.  Chosen by our lead designer whose career has been spent completely immersed in professional men's attire, we have three very classy but contemporary looks - a great blue and black pattern wool, a brown and black checked wool and a rich brown suede.  All three styles have been picked by a lot of men shopping for themselves over the past few weeks.
My favorite apparel item for a really good look is our new brown suede vest.  It's leather front and back, meant to be worn solo over a colored shirt with jeans or dark pants.  I wore my prototype to a casual dinner a couple weeks ago, and my friends immediately ordered one for their college-aged son.  We've got shirts that go with it, too, especially the blue chambray shirt.  And we have a new scarf for colder weather that is my personal all-time favorite.  It's made in the great woolen mills in northern Scotland of merino wool (soft and much better than cashmere when it gets wet) and this one is a demur version of that  intense blue color we've seen all summer on the Golf Channel.  It brightens up a black or gray overcoat or a brown leather jacket. 

For smaller boxes that Santa could fit into a stocking (or that make great gifts for esteemed colleagues), try our cufflinks collection.  Really, a guy should wear cufflinks now and then, and they should say something about him.  My game-used MLB baseball cufflinks -- with the actual laces down the middle -- get "those are so cool" comments every time I wear them.  My dark blue Fenway Park box seat cufflinks work for the most formal of occasions, but they secretly remind me of my first game in that storied park as a visiting eighth-grader, sitting just a few yards away from the great Yaz (and a few feet from a drunk yelling obscenities).   I like the Chicago CTA and San Francisco cable car tokens because they remind me of my days spent in those two great American cities.  The East India Company coins and Mercury Head Dime cuff links are perfect for the history buff.  We also have bottle openers made from bats used in MLB games and some great leather-bound books about golf, cocktail recipes and collected classy toasts.  They make great smaller gifts.  Nice leather wallets are always good, too, and ours are among the few still Made in USA.

Finally, if your recipient is often wearing some unflattering dime store reading glasses, get him a pair of stylish Eye-Bobs with some pizazz.  Most men over-40 don't realize (or want to admit) how much time they now spend wearing those things, or how the flimsy metal glasses say "I'm heading over the hill and fast".  He should spruce it up with Eye-Bobs, maybe a couple different pairs for variety.  They're affordable and it's not the end of the world if they get lost or crushed, as reading glasses often do.  If he's not a dime store kind of guy -- he shouldn't look like one across his face in every meeting.

So toggle between this blog and our website, or print it out and hand it to your family, or take it to one of our 40 stores across the U.S. and energize your festivities this year.

From all of us at Allen Edmonds ... we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday Celebrations of All Kinds, and Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity in the New Year!!!

Warm regards,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO

Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Monday, November 5, 2012

Greetings Allen Edmonds Family and Friends:

On October 4th in Milwaukee's Uihlein Hall, we celebrated Allen Edmonds’ 90th anniversary of its 1922 founding by Elbert Allen. It was quite an evening! Over 1500 people - including current and retired co-workers and their spouses, business partners, customers, school-aged musicians and the public - came from far and near to enjoy the festivities and a special performance of great American music by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The Governor even officially proclaimed October 4th as "Allen Edmonds 90th Anniversary Celebration Day".

Reaching 90 years as an independent company and an American manufacturer is an incredible accomplishment, especially considering that over 98% of the shoes sold in America today are made overseas. All of us at Allen Edmonds are so proud of our unique heritage and of the fact that in the past two years we’ve hired more than 200 new employees in our manufacturing plant and headquarters in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Provided below is a link to a short video of the event. For those of you who were able to attend, we hope the video captures some of the fun and memories. And, for those who could not make the evening, we hope you gain a sense of the overwhelming commitment and enthusiasm throughout Allen Edmonds in being your Great American Shoe Company.

Thank you for your support. Here’s to the next 90 years!

Warm regards,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Monday, September 24, 2012

One of Shakespeare’s most quoted lines is: “What's in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet." It’s from the famous  balcony scene in the Act II of Romeo and Juliet, of course.

 With all due respect to Shakespeare’s brilliance, I’m especially proud of the name of our fall sales event -- the “Rediscover America Sale”-- because it fits the occasion so well.  In addition to deep discounts on 13 shoe styles (one for each of the original colonies), we offer 14.92% (yes, that’s 1492) off all Allen Edmonds branded products in the store and on-line.  That includes belts, socks, silk ties, cotton shirts, shearling leather coats, and leather wallets, briefcases and carry-on bags.

 We’ve been doing some rediscovering of America on our own and have found U.S. manufacturers to make these products in partnership with our design team.   As you would expect from Allen Edmonds, and from American manufacturers, the quality is first rate and the value is unequaled.  We’ve eliminated the middle man by going directly to the manufacturers to develop these products – passing the resulting savings on to you.  So, in addition to the superior shoes and great belts you’ve come to expect from Allen Edmonds, check out the other products before the sale ends on Columbus Day.  You won’t be disappointed in the quality, the styling or the price.

There’s more good news in Rediscover America.  Apparel and leather goods production capacity is returning to our shores.  When we held the first Rediscover America Sale three years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much buzz about “Made in USA” in the apparel business as there is today, or as many producers to choose from.  Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a growing and continuous trend.  We intend to do our part to support American manufacturers as we grow our product line into apparel.  Our expanded plans for 2013 are taking shape and I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.  It’s both fun and gratifying to sell great products that also build American jobs through their success. 

So, sorry Juliet – names do matter, at least sometimes.
Best Wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Saturday, June 2, 2012

You’ve probably noticed the outbreak of bright colors in clothing trends this spring.  Catalogs, email blasts and store windows are loaded with eye-grabbing arrays of royal blues, lime greens, bright oranges and even brighter yellows.  This trend, which has been a couple years in the making, stands in stark contrast to the “black is the new black” dogma that ruled the past.  Colors that two years ago only Rickie Fowler could wear are now commonplace in every Sunday grouping on the PGA Tour.  That certain intense blue and its orange cousin are the most popular colors at golf courses across the country.  Black-on-black and even traditional white-on-black combinations have moved to the back shelf.

Similarly, we’re seeing more and more novel applications of color in shoes, creating a bunch of new impressions.  Our NEUMOKS – soft, unconstructed wingtips in blue, green and red leathers – are selling so fast that we can’t keep them in stock.  Colored shoelaces are a pretty new item for our stores, and we’ve had to re-order them at a blistering pace.  Our RIDGEWAY,  a fully structured wingtip with matching  colored laces, stitching and welts – offered as a WebGem on our website in April -- sold, in just three weeks, as much as some of our decent-sellers did in all of 2009 (the cognac brown version with the orange accents was the by far the most popular).

So, when our product development team concocted some new beef-roll penny loafers using combinations of blue, red, green, light brown and coffee for our Spring 2013 line, well – we immediately moved them forward to this year. 

Introducing the SEDONA (pictured below).  It’s the perfect summer combination of upbeat colors, sturdy leathers, and lightweight comfort on a Vibram sole.  Rarely has a shoe come off our line that so many employees are already planning to get for themselves.  Even Ed Pawlowski, our usually understated expert shoemaker whose hands touch every pattern we design, is planning on getting the red version for himself.  I’m going for both the green and blue and the red and blue (I think I’ll wear the green and blues most of the time but have the red and blues for the lake).  Specially priced at $149 for Father’s Day, they make a great gift.

Why this move away from serious black as the overwhelming choice?  I think the bright color trend stems from the recovery from the 2008 Great Recession – frustratingly slow as it has been.   Although not yet at the level anyone would like, it’s springtime in America again with the economy growing, manufacturing jobs heading back to our shores and a renewed commitment to building the country.  Despite all of our continued political frustration, we just got tired of being grim.  People generally have brighter outlooks now and black-on-black doesn’t fit that mood – colors do.   Also, in shoes specifically, men are looking for a way to add some personalized style and differentiation in their dress and, without a necktie to do it anymore, they’re looking to shoes to play the role.  Whatever the reason, Elvis would be proud that blue is again a shoe color of choice – just make sure nobody steps on them.
Happy Fathers’ Day!

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It’s a true honor and thrill for us at Allen Edmonds to work with Jack Nicklaus.  As you’d expect of the greatest golf champion of all time, he’s exacting and uncompromising – just as we like it.  He’s also refreshingly approachable, and genuinely interested both in Allen Edmonds and in us as individuals.  I’ve always admired him, having inherited the golf bug at a very early age from my dad.  The more important aspect of golf that I got from my dad was how to behave on the course (a tossed club was grounds for a long, lonely walk back to the car) and what it means to be a good sport.  Jack, a gracious champion whether winning or finishing in second place, was always at the top of my dad’s very short list of “approved sports idols.”

Like many guys my age, I consider the greatest and most memorable golf victory of all time to be Jack’s 1986 win at the Masters.  In growing excitement and disbelief, I watched it all unfold, stroke by stroke, on the back nine that Sunday (CBS didn’t show the front nine in those days).  For the first hour, I thought Norman, Watson, Kite or Ballesteros – accomplished players in their primes – would pull away from 46 year old Jack.  The opposite happened – each of them faltered as Nicklaus charged to his record 18th professional major victory (20th, including the 2 U.S. Amateur wins).  He shot 65 for the round with an amazing 30 (6 under par) on the back nine that epic day.  The win made him the oldest winner ever of the Masters, and Golf World called it the “greatest final round in major championship history.”

By April of 1986, Nicklaus hadn't won a major tournament in six years.  In 1985, he had tied for sixth at Augusta, but then missed the cut at both the U.S. and British Opens and tied for 32nd at the PGA Championship.  Some golf writers had pronounced his career all but finished, except for the farewell sunset tour.  In fact, one article stating as much had appeared in March of ‘86 and Jack had it taped on the refrigerator for motivation.

Jack’s son Jackie was his caddy that week – a perfect sentimental backdrop for any fan whose dad was the reason that he ever started chasing a small white sphere across acres of otherwise valuable waterfront, suburbia or farmland.  Jack started the final round back in 9th place and shot a routine even par over the first eight holes.  A missed birdie putt at the par 3 sixth hole could have derailed another golfer’s train.  As Jackie described it, “There were so many important golf shots that day. One that I recall that was never written about was the par-3 6th green.  I want to say Dad hit a 6-iron in there to the back left and hit an incredibly good shot in there, I want to say two feet from the cup, and then he missed the putt.”  To add more pressure onto that miss, Ballesteros and Kite both made eagles at the uphill, blind approach Par 5 8th hole a few minutes later.  The roar from the crowd on 8 caused Jack to step away as he readied his birdie putt on the 9th hole, having missed another birdie opportunity himself at the 8th: “We better get going if we are going to do something,” he had told Jackie while walking to the 9th tee.  And, when he stepped back to the ball, he drained it and thus finally began the momentum that he’d take to the back nine.

The conventional wisdom is that the Masters can be lost before the last nine holes, but it is won on the back nine on Sunday.  Here is an account in Jack’s own words, with a few comments tossed in by a certain longtime fan…

Hole 10 (Camellia) 485 yards, par 4“I hit my drive to the right of fairway and into the gallery. It hit a spectator but left me with a 4-iron to the green. I holed a 25-foot putt for another birdie.” He would go to 4-under-par and trail the leader Ballesteros by four shots.  It’s said that the TV doesn’t do justice to the changes of elevations at Augusta.  It’s really true, and the 10th hole is the most dramatic example.  The 10th fairway would make a nice ski run, with its steep downhill slope from the tee all the way until about 100 yards from the green.  Jack’s natural fade doesn’t set up so well for this right-to-left dogleg.  A power draw down the steep hill can add 50 yards to the tee shot and leave anywhere from a 6-9 iron into the green.  So, a four-iron approach to still make birdie on a multi-sloping green is incredible.

Hole 11 (White Dogwood) 455 yards, par 4 – A solid drive to fairway followed by a strong 8-iron brought Jack a 20-foot putt that he drilled for birdie 3.  This hole, with its narrow green and the pond to the left, is usually played conservatively to the right to avoid kicking into the pond and posting a big number.  Jack’s third birdie in a row here suggested destiny’s hand at work.  Now, he was within two shots of the Ballesteros lead.  He was greeted at the 12th tee - the beguiling par-3 in the middle element of Amen Corner - with a standing ovation.

Hole 12 (Golden Bell) 155 yards, par 3. "I hit a firm 7-iron over the green. I chipped it well, but my par putt hit a spike mark. It sounds silly but it got me going.” Jack bogeyed and fell back within four shots of the leaders, who made birdies on the previous holes.  But, again, his quote says everything about the mind of this champion.  How many times have we seen today’s pros stomp a foot and bang down a spike mark after a putt doesn’t go in?  For Jack, it just “got me going.”

Hole 13 (Azalea) 465 yards, par 5. “From experience, I knew that I didn’t need to hit a driver – the ball was going a long way. I hit a 3-wood around the corner, 3-iron and nearly made the 3-foot putt for an eagle.”   He moved to three shots off the lead, but it should have been an eagle.  Again, no stomping, wincing or putter flipped onto the bag.  He still looked like he was enjoying the action.  Oh, and how many times since then have we seen pros pound a driver into the trees beyond the fairway?   Hitting 3-wood was a very smart play.

Hole 14 (Chinese Fir) 405 yards, par 4. "I took another 3 wood and hit the fairway. My 6 iron stopped on the back fringe. I have had that chip 100 times.”   He hit six --this was the era before multi-layered, perfectly-tuned golf balls.  Today’s pros bomb it about 300 yards up the steep hill, and then hit one of their four wedges into that hole.  I’m more impressed by a six iron, personally, but by now you know I’m a golf traditionalist.  Jack chipped to one foot and made the par putt. He was 4 strokes behind as Seve posted his second eagle of the round at 13.

Hole 15 (Firethorn) 500 yards, par 5. "I absolutely nailed the drive and had 202 yards left into a touch of a breeze.” His 4-iron rested 12 feet from the cup. He sank the putt for an eagle 3. Jack was now within two shots of leader Ballesteros. “I knew I had a chance,” Jack thought. CBS Golf analyst Ben Wright concurred: “Yes sir! The battle is joined. My goodness. There is life in the old Bear yet!”

Hole 16 (Redbud) 170 yards, par 3.  His 5 iron was on the flag. With the ball in flight, Jackie implored it to "be right." His father answered calmly, "It is.” It was hit absolutely stiff, but left a 3-foot putt “with a nasty break of about 18 inches.” Jack rolled it in for birdie to Jim Nantz’s call: “And there is no doubt about it, the Bear has come out of hibernation.”  Jack was suddenly within one shot of the lead.  Here’s a tip of the hat to CBS, whose commercial-light Masters coverage is always so well done.  Tom Weiskopf -- who followed Nicklaus with a brilliant collegiate career at Ohio State and was the first of many men burdened with the moniker, “the next Nicklaus” -- was in the booth above 16 in 1986.  When Ben Wright asked him as Jack waggled over his “be right” tee shot, “What’s he thinking right now?”, Weiskopf responded wistfully, “If I knew that, I would have won this tournament a couple of times.”  A great line.

Heading to the 17th tee, Jack heard "an unusual sound" coming from the 15th hole as Ballesteros hit a heavy 4-iron into the pond fronting the green and made bogey where Nicklaus had recently made his eagle.  Ballesteros’ body language suggested that he knew that he had just blown his chance to win.

Hole 17 (Nandina) 400 yards, par 4  “I drove to the fairway, and made a good swing with a pitching wedge that landed 10 feet from the pin.”  Jack asked Jackie to read the putt and he saw a break in it that Jack knew from experience was an optical illusion. Jack knew the putt broke the other way, toward the creek, and he hit it exactly along his read.  Verne Lundquist made the call as Jack already was raising his putter now famously in the air (see the picture above): “Maybe...YES SIR!” as Jack drilled it into the hole to take sole possession of the lead for the first time in the tournament.  I saw this putt replayed yet again this weekend as CBS advertised this year’s Masters broadcast, with Jim Nantz’s now trademark line over the visual—“The Masters.  A tradition like no other.” 

Hole 18 (Holly) 405 yards, par 4. I’m sure there were countless people who, like I did to my wife that day, shouted to somebody in the house, “Hey, you gotta come watch this!  Jack Nicklaus just took the lead and might win the Masters.”  To which her response was, “What?!  Really?!”  I moved a lot closer to the TV screen and to the edge of my chair.

Jack again left the driver in the bag to keep the fairway bunkers from being in play. His bombed 3-wood tee shot absolutely split the middle of the fairway. He hit a 5-iron to the green -- ok, again, a 5 iron, not 7, not 8… 5.  It faced a sudden gust of wind and stayed on the lower level, 40-feet from the hole.  I thought to myself, “This is going to be a tough two-putt with the tournament on the line.”  Coolly, confidently, Jack putted it firmly and, having read the break, the grain, and the pace perfectly again, sent the ball 39 feet 8 inches up over the ridge, leaving just 4 inches for a tap-in par.  Then Jack waited in the Jones Cabin to see who might catch him.

Ballesteros three-putted the 17th to fall two shots back. Tom Kite missed a makeable putt that would have been a tying birdie at the finishing hole.  And then Norman, who amazingly had made four consecutive birdies to catch Nicklaus, and with almost all of the patrons now lining that 18th fairway, fanned his approach to 18 into the masses, far right.  His pitch was impressive, but left him about a makeable 20 footer for the tie.  It rolled by, he made bogey and the Nicklaus father-son team was shown in the cabin in subdued but clearly personally emotional celebration.

Nicklaus was a nine-under 279 champion, seven of those nine shots under par came on the last 10 holes … at age forty-six, hitting  4, 5, and 6 irons hit into incredibly beguiling greens.  Amazing. 

The win also gave him a record six Masters victories -- his first was 23 years earlier in 1963.  His first professional major win was the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont, in Arnold Palmer’s backyard. The 23 years between Masters victories and 24 years between majors are also records.

“You can’t really rank them,” Jack has said, “But I think it’s obvious that that one stands out, simply because most of the other ones were during the bulk or the basic part of my career, and I expected to win.

I guess nobody really expected me to be in contention at that point in my career, particularly even me. I had not really prepared all that great for it that spring. But once I got myself in contention, muscle memory and knowing how to play golf came back.

It was an amazing event and a special golf tournament. My mother, my sister being there. All the things that went on that week as a family are far more important and what I remember more than the golf."

In his recent book, “The 1986 Masters: How Jack Nicklaus Roared Back to Win,” John Boyette, the sports editor of The Augusta Chronicle, quoted Nicklaus saying as much.

“I think what it did was put an exclamation point on my career,” Nicklaus told Boyette. “I think I obviously had a pretty good career prior to that, and then to turn around at 46 and be able to finish a golf tournament, people said, ‘Hey, he can still play golf.’ ”


Thursday, February 23, 2012

While our company and much of the American economy has recovered from the depths of the Great Recession of 2008-09, millions of people around the world still struggle without the basic necessities of life.  For the past few years, we've been pleased to partner with Soles4Souls®, an international charitable organization that collects footwear to distribute to the estimated 300 million children and 1.5 million adults across the world who are without a single pair of shoes.  To date, Allen Edmonds and its customers have donated over 16,000 pairs of shoes to the crucial Soles4Souls mission.  We are also proud to say that we have sent Allen Edmonds representatives to both Haiti and Africa to help distribute shoes to victims of natural disasters, war and extreme poverty who have no protection for their feet.

But 16,000 pairs is just a beginning for us, and we're eager to do more together.  From February 21st through March 4th, our customers and friends can donate ANY brand of “gently worn” men’s, women’s or children’s shoes at any Allen Edmonds store, as well as any of our participating AE dealers (for a list of participating dealers and our own stores, click here).  As a thank you, you’ll receive a $35 discount off your same day shoe purchase of Allen Edmonds business or casual shoes.  There is no purchase necessary, so it's a worthy reason to start your spring cleaning a bit early this year and clean your closet of some unneeded shoes.  If you would like to make your donation online, we are adopting a pay-it-forward "Honor Code” concept this year.  Simply enter the word “honor” in a promotion code box at checkout to recieve the $35 thank you discount.  When shipped, your order will contain a pre-paid shipping label and instructional card for you to send back gently worn shoes directly to the Soles4Souls distribution facility.

Thanks very much for your support of Allen Edmonds, and of our efforts with Soles4Souls® to help those in need.
Warm regards,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Thursday, February 16, 2012

While some people may be bogged down by the Mayan calendar, 2012 for all of us at Allen Edmonds brings a great celebration as we mark our company’s 90th Anniversary.   Yes, for 90 years non-stop – in direct contrast to prevailing industry trends toward off-shoring – our shoemakers have been making men’s shoes right here in the U.S.A.!

We’ve planned several exciting ways throughout the year to celebrate our 90th with our customers, employees, suppliers, communities and friends.  The first event in the line-up is a Shoe Design Competition among some of the best design students in the world.

Specifically, to honor our Made in USA heritage and support design education, we’ve partnered with the premier American art and design school – The Parsons New School for Design in New York City – and challenged students there to reinterpret today’s classic American men’s street shoe.  Other than explaining our 90 year history and our great American heritage, we encouraged them to be as creative with style, materials, textures and details as they wanted to be.  We’re offering three scholarship prizes to the winners of the contest, so we’ve had amazing participation among the student body.  And “fun” doesn’t do enough justice to the invigorating experience we’ve had working with the passionate students and their leadership at Parsons!

Now, here’s where we could really use your insight and participation…  The six designs that made the cut into the semi-finals are online now and waiting for your vote!   Please go to our voting page at to pick your favorites among the six.  On March 1st, we’ll tally the votes and along with an expert panel of judges -- including Nick Sullivan the men’s fashion guru of Esquire Magazine, Simon Collins, the Dean of The School of Fashion at Parsons, and Noel Traum our own young shoe designer who graduated from the Milwaukee School of Fine Arts – we’ll narrow the field down to three finalists.  Those three finalists will work with our shoe craftspeople to turn their designs into actual prototypes.  The prototypes will again be on-line for your final voting starting March 26th with a winner selected during the first week of May.

 All three finalists will be featured at the big Parsons Fashion Benefit on May 1st and we’re very much looking forward to that evening.  In addition to the individual scholarships, we plan to feature the winning shoe design as part of our line next season and to make a donation to Parsons to help students in financial need.

Please join me in voting for your favorite designs before the end of the month, and watch the styles move from idea, to CAD drawing to prototype over the next few weeks.  Your input will be key to the contest’s success, so thanks very much!

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Friday, February 3, 2012

At Allen Edmonds, we’re as deeply committed to providing superior customer service as we are to manufacturing superior products. No place is the combination more evident than in our Recrafting service, where each year we make about 60,000 pairs of shoes look nearly brand new, for a fraction of the cost of a new pair. “Planned obsolescence” is something we definitely don’t believe in here, obviously.

I’m often asked two questions by astute businessmen: 1) How can you sell enough new shoes to survive when you do such a great job Recrafting worn-out AE shoes? and 2) Is Recrafting profitable?

The answer to the first question is that we have to stay on top of our game in both casual and dress shoe product development, so that we inspire our core customers to wear Allen Edmonds all week long, including weekends, and so that we grow our market share significantly with a broader swath of American men. We believe no other shoe company offers the quality and value formula that we do – we just need more men to realize what a great investment AEs are compared to the disposable offshore alternatives that last only a year or two. Recrafting is a huge part of that value formula. We calculate that a man can save hundreds of dollars over a 15 year period by buying a pair of AEs that last all 15 years (including Recrafting), compared to continually buying less expensive competitor shoes that last a couple of years. If you somehow add value for the aesthetics of styling, comfort and elite leather quality into the equation, it’s an even wider advantage and smarter investment.

The answer to the second question is “not so much.” We Recraft because of our commitment to superior customer service. It’s much easier and more efficient to make new shoes. Below is a link to a video of the Recrafting process. You’ll notice that there isn’t much leather around sides of the shoe to work with, once the old sole and the welt strip have been sliced off. When we make a new shoe, the sides of the upper extend down half an inch more and the excess needs to be trimmed. In Recrafting, we’re working with the bare minimum extension of the shoe upper as we attach the new welt and sole. If the shoe has been Recrafted before, that part of the shoe might have hundreds of stitching holes in it, weakening the leather. So, the degree of difficulty in Recrafting is quite high to get to that “like brand new” look, comfort and durability.

We last raised prices for our Recrafting service in 2001. That’s right, over a decade ago. Costs of soles and labor, not to mention shipping, have risen significantly since then and we now need to raise prices for Recrafting roughly $25 per service level. We’re also introducing price increases in our new shoes for the first time since 2006. In our commitment to Premium Value in all that we do, these increases have been kept to a minimum. We know men are still watching their family budgets in this economy and we want to remain – or become – their “go to” shoe company, now and for their entire lives, so we’ve held the increases (effective February 1) in check.

60,000 Recrafted shoes is a lot of customer service commitment. We’re proud of that commitment at Allen Edmonds, but we’re most proud of the men who choose to take advantage of it. Having customers want to renew the same product for years and years is the best testimonial of all. If you like your AEs that much, please tell a friend, a son, a colleague or just some random guy on the airplane (I’m writing this blog on the plane and you should see the shoes the guy next to me is wearing!)…

Thanks for your support,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Friday, January 27, 2012

2011 was like two different eras at our home again last year. By that I mean we started in January with a high school senior in the house -- still with a curfew, “May I please use the car?”, 11:00 calls with his whereabouts, and all those “last grasps of control” things. By December, he’d become a University of Wisconsin “junior active” at a fraternity… providing no idea about where he was during most of Winter Break, when he’d be home or if our car had been stolen from the garage. Even though it was our third trip through this transition, it was still a bit hard to get used to. A few blocks away, our friends were going through the exact same thing with our son’s best golfing buddy, only their son went half a continent away to the University of Oregon (but joined the same fraternity) for his next four years.

It was a lucky coincidence, then, that both boys – er, sorry, men – found their schools' football teams in the Rose Bowl. My friend and his son decided to go to the game and offered to let our son join them (frats, it seems, are good places to get an extra ticket for dad at regular cost). I travel all year long, so I stayed back to watch the game from the best seats (the couch at home).

Jim Kass, our always can-do and fun-loving head of production at Allen Edmonds and a Wisconsin alum, knows both of these guys and was eager to make the trip even more entertaining. He had been finishing development of our Spring 2012 “Neumoks” – the first “unconstructed” wing tips ever brought to market. They have a normal, butyl-soaked leather sole, but the upper of the shoe is made with soft leathers and no lining or other “stiffening” materials. As a result they’re especially light and comfortably form to your foot like a moccasin, despite their dressy look (in normal colors).

So Jim made the shoes in the picture for the guys. Note their team emblems on the sides. What you can’t see in the picture is the Rose Bowl logo embroidered on the opposite side, or the “Stomp on the Badgers” or “Stomp on the Ducks” that Jim had laser-engraved on the soles of their respective shoes. They were quite the conversation piece in Pasadena. Unfortunately for Badger fans, they brought last minute luck to the other team (the Duck shoes were just a little faster). Wait ‘til next year!

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation