Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Memorial for Mo-vember

No matter how lucky you’ve been in your family and friendship circles, you can’t avoid having lost loved ones to the evil of cancer.  It strikes me as so very fitting that the same month in which we celebrate Thanksgiving is the month that we now draw attention to battling that pernicious disease in men.  I say this contradiction because I’m incredibly grateful for so many close friends who have fought off their cancers and are again healthy today; and also for the men who made an indelible impact on my life, fought the great fight and ultimately left us, including my dad who died in 1999.

Kent Dorrell
This month, I’m thinking especially of Kent Dorrell, our LA-based wholesale rep and one of our most popular colleagues.  Kent and I started at Allen Edmonds within a few months of each other.  He had an incredible eye for style, quality and new product direction, and I learned a great deal from him.  Kent passed away on September 30th, having miraculously survived a brutal bout with leukemia several years ago but then battling liver cancer since 2011.  He definitely fought a strong and courageous fight all the way to the end, as valiant as anyone can.  He even did a trunk show at a customer’s store just a few days before his passing.

Kent’s perspective from his previous victory over leukemia, and his naturally gregarious and positive personality, gave him a lovably upbeat approach to life and to all who knew him.  It was infectious -- a gift he gave freely and unsparingly.  Whenever I traveled with him to visit customers, the affection between them was inspiring.  Kent taught all of us how to live, how to treat friends and strangers alike, and how to see the best in everything and everyone around him.  We will truly miss Kent Dorrell.

Here’s to Kent Dorrell and to all the Kent Dorrells in your lives.

Be healthy, wear sunscreen and have a good Mo-vember.

Best wishes,


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our next step

Greetings again!

I’m often asked why I fall behind on my blog.  This time I have a decent excuse, beyond the normal one … my day job. 

Our majority shareholders since 2006 – Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison, a private equity firm in Minneapolis -- have been nearing the end of their investment time horizon.  Sometime this year or next was going to be a good time for transition, which can always be a bit nerve-wracking for employees as well as concerned customers.  Thus, for the past several months, our CFO and I have been traveling coast to coast, telling the Allen Edmonds story to potential new investors and searching for the right new partners.  We’ve had some great views from conference rooms overlooking Rockefeller Plaza in NYC, the beachfront park in Milwaukee plus a huge expanse of Lake Michigan on a gorgeous August day, and a glorious panorama of San Francisco Bay from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. Still, my favorite view remains the AE factory floor in Port Washington, Wisconsin, where our people are handcrafting STRANDS and all the other great shoes we’re doing these days.  Staying “full speed ahead” as an independent company is just one reason why I’m so thrilled with the outcome of this “strategic alternatives” process.

The link below is to a press release that describes the transition in ownership of Allen Edmonds Corporation to Brentwood Associates, an investment firm from Los Angeles that is an expert in consumer products and retailing.  Brentwood is a really excellent partner for us.  They’ve helped a number of impressive companies reach greater levels of achievement, and they will be excellent sounding boards and stewards of Allen Edmonds.  The partners of Brentwood also are our kind of people – there’s a strong cultural fit between our two organizations.   

Allen Edmonds’ commitment to Made in USA manufacturing, our leadership team, our product development people, our customer service team and philosophy --- none of that changes now with new ownership.  We will, however, benefit significantly from Brentwood’s experience and insights as we continue to build this 91 year old American success story.   It’s an exciting time at Allen Edmonds.

Thank you for all of your support.  Without our incredibly impressive customers, we wouldn’t be here.  Know that we appreciate your business and interest a great deal.

Best wishes,