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