Plastics Blog readers in Wisconsin know the story of Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp. The 90-year-old Port Washington, Wis., company has a pretty good business making $300 shoes for men -- a tough sell, when you consider all the guys who would prefer to pay $35 for a cheap pair of dress shoes from the discount chain. So while it's not a plastics-specific story, I thought I'd share a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how the company is continuing to adjust its strategy to compete in a world filled with low-cost competitors. The story, "Allen Edmonds 'recrafts' its business model," notes that the company expects record sales of $120 million this year, up 20 percent from 2011. The company didn't cut costs or move work overseas to accomplish this growth. In fact, its U.S. workforce has expanded to 570, from a low of 365 in 2008. And here's the kicker -- this fall, Allen Edmonds plans to open its first store in China, in Shanghai. CEO Paul Grangaard says the company is able to succeed because it was able to reduce its debt -- like many plastics companies, Allen Edmonds has been through a leveraged buyout. But just as important, it has paid attention to key trends in the shoe business, and it makes sure to give customers what they want. "We are able to be very flexible and very responsive to trends in the marketplace and demand from customers because we're right here," Grangaard told Journal Sentinel reporter Paul Gores. "We're not waiting six months for a product that we designed to go through a process where it gets delivered in bulk and cargo loads from China or India. We can sell and make shoes one at a time." Check out the story, I think a lot of North American plastics company readers will be inspired by the company's success. The story comments are particularly worthwhile -- how many other U.S. manufacturers would inspire comments like: "I have three pairs of Allen-Edmonds shoes in my closet right now. One pair is easily 10 plus years old, and have been totally rebuilt once by the company. American made equals long lasting quality, unlike that throw-away Chinese crap. Full price or purchased at Allen-Edmonds half-price tent sale, you will NEVER have regrets spending those extra dollars......you will save lots of money in the long run as they will out last several pairs of the throw-away ones."
How Allen Edmonds does 'Made in America'
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Plastics News would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor at [email protected]