Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp. sold to investment group

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison Incorporated, a Minneapolis-based private equity firm, on July 20 announced it had purchased Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corporation, a Port Washington, Wis.-based manufacturer and retailer of luxury, branded men’s footwear and accessories for men. Terms of the investment were not disclosed, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper, citing sources, put the deal at more than $100 million.


According to a 1987 profile on the company, John Stollenwerk and two partners bought the company in 1980 for approximately $1.3 million. The Journal-Sentinel reported that Stollenwerk had owned about 99 percent of the company's stock. He and company executives will retain around a 10 percent stake in the company.


Goldner Hawn will partner with the current owners and management team of the privately held company. According to the Journal-Sentinel, Stollenwerk will remain with the company and retain the role of chairman of the board, while chief operating officer Mark Birmingham will succeed Stollenwerk as chief executive officer. Stollenwerk, Birmingham and manufacturing manager Jim Kass were keynote speakers at Noria Corporation’s international “Lubed, Reliable and Lean” conference in Columbus, Ohio, in May.


“The quality behind every aspect of Allen-Edmonds made the company very attractive to us,” said Michael T. Sweeney, managing director, Goldner Hawn. “Our philosophy is to invest in established middle-market companies located in the Midwest with strong management and help them grow to the next level. Allen-Edmonds is a perfect fit.”


Sweeney envisions big growth for Allen-Emonds.


"It's a $100 million revenue company, but I think it's a $500 million brand," he told the Journal-Sentinel.


“Bright days lie ahead for Allen-Edmonds,” said John Stollenwerk, chairman, Allen-Edmonds. “Goldner Hawn is an ideal partner based on their demonstrated success in taking privately held companies to the next stage by devoting the talent and resources to grow brands while maintaining strong cultures of quality and customer service. Our management team looks forward to this next chapter of Allen-Edmonds’s rich history.”


Founded in 1922 in the small Wisconsin town of Belgium, Allen-Edmonds has earned a reputation as one of the world’s premier manufacturers of men’s footwear and accessories. Crafted in the United States using only the finest materials, Allen-Edmonds shoes have become the gold standard in men’s footwear. Many of the company’s shoes have become instant classics. In addition to style, the company’s unique, more than 200-step manufacturing process allows Allen-Edmonds to create impeccable shoes that last longer and require little to no breaking in.


Beyond footwear, Allen-Edmonds manufactures cedar storage products for shoes and markets accessories such as belts. The company employs approximately 700 people in manufacturing facilities in Port Washington, Wis., and Lewiston, Maine; and in 26 company-owned stores. Allen-Edmonds also has relationships with many leading retailers such as Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field’s.

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