Episode 59 (Featuring John Stollenwerk)


That number represents the percentage of shoes that were manufactured in the United States in 1980, the same year that John Stollenwerk purchased Port Washington, WI-based shoe manufacturer Allen Edmonds.

Just over 20 years later, that number dwindled to 1.5%.   Chief among those remaining few companies: Allen Edmonds.

Despite the obvious trends heading in the opposite direction, Stollenwerk made “Made in the U.S.A.” work, thanks to not only a high end product that has been found on the foot of every U.S. President since Ronald Reagan, but also to a commitment to his people.  When he decided to improve the efficiency of his operation by moving his plant to Milwaukee (about 25 miles away from Port Washington) in 1997, he also purchased a bus to transport his employees back and forth, rather than require them to drive themselves, a task that can be especially daunting during a typical Wisconsin winter.

Now retired from his position as CEO and President, after having sold the company in 2006, Edmonds joins Raja this Sunday to discuss his time at Allen Edmonds, his commitment to American manufacturing at a time when most of his competition isn’t on the same page, and what he feels a leader needs to do in order to make his or her company successful.