Thursday, July 20, 2006

Allen-Edmonds Sold to Private Firm

AP Business Writer

MILWAUKEE — The president and chief executive of Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp., one of the few remaining domestic shoe brands, has sold his majority stake to a private investment firm from Minneapolis.

John Stollenwerk sold his stake in the fashionable men's shoe manufacturer to Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison Inc., in a deal announced Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Goldner Hawn said it would partner with the current management team and keep leaders in place at the company, which is based in Port Washington, 25 miles north of Milwaukee.

"The quality behind every aspect of Allen-Edmonds made the company very attractive to us," said Michael T. Sweeney, managing director of Goldner Hawn.

Stollenwerk will become the company's chairman, while Mark Birmingham, the chief operating officer, will take over as president and CEO. Stollenwerk said the company's management team looked forward to working with Goldner Hawn.

"Bright days lie ahead for Allen-Edmonds," he said.

Allen-Edmonds, which prides itself on its materials and crafting standards, was founded in 1922 in the town of Belgium, just north of Port Washington. It received a military contract to outfit American soldiers with shoes during World War II and found that soldiers wanted to continue wearing the brand after they returned home.

Besides shoes, the company also makes belts and cedar shoe trees, which are inserts for storing shoes. It employs about 700 people at its manufacturing facilities in Port Washington and Lewiston, Maine, and at 26 company-owned stores.

Earlier this month, President Bush toured the factory in Port Washington and received a pair of custom-made leather wingtips in red, white and blue. The company said this week it would not make any other pairs of the patriotic shoes.

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