Allen Edmonds is an upscale shoe manufacturing and retail company based in Port Washington, Wisconsin. The company was established in Belgium, Wisconsin in 1922. Allen Edmonds operates 32 retail stores in 17 states. It manufactures many of its shoes in the United States, also utilizing Italy and the Dominican Republic for some production. It is one of roughly 7 American shoe companies, along with E. Vogel, Oliver Moore Bootmakers, Alden, Johnston & Murphy, Rancourt & Company, and Esquivel that still make men's dress shoes domestically. The company delivers numerous collections of men's shoes, including dress shoes, dress casual shoes, casual and golf.
In 2006, 90% of the shares in the company were bought by Minneapolis-based investment firm Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison for $100 million. In 2013, the company announced that it would be acquired by the private equity firm of Brentwood Associates.
Allen Edmonds gained much of its following after providing shoes to the Army and Navy during World War II, with many of the recipients of the shoes being loyal to the brand for the rest of their lives.
Allen Edmonds is a moderately expensive brand of shoes that men typically wear for a very long time and repair rather than replace. The company offers recrafting services, rebuilding a pair of shoes for a fee, replacing soles and heels, creating a new cork base and strip, and reapplying the finish.
With about 98.5% of shoes sold in the U.S. produced overseas, Allen Edmonds is in a small minority of companies continuing to produce many of their shoes domestically. Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corporation's retired chairman (and former owner), John Stollenwerk, once expressed a commitment to keep manufacturing in the U.S. In 2003, the company invested $1 million or 1.1% of the company's sales in a refitting of their factory intended to save 5% on the cost to produce each shoe. The factory has replaced assembly lines with teams of people working in groups where each employee does several different jobs. This new system reduces overtime, makes it easier to fill in for absent employees, reduces the time spent picking up and putting down shoes, and cuts down on the number of spoiled shoes.
Allen Edmonds pays their workers well, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. Wages, benefits, government regulations of the workplace, emissions permits, taxes, and health care costs are all significant costs that could be drastically reduced by locating production overseas in a developing country. Stollenwerk remarked that moving the operation to China could save as much as 60%, but expressed concern that such a move could lead to a decline in quality. He has also expressed concerns about social problems brought on by globalization, such as low wages and factory closings in the U.S.
In 2006, concerned with rising manufacturing costs and looking to compete more directly with the boat shoe and handsewn market, Allen Edmonds made the decision to discontinue their Lewiston, Maine manufacturing and moved the handsewn production to their new, company owned, factory in the Dominican Republic. Currently shoe uppers for the Allen Edmonds handsewn collection are cut and sewn in the Dominican Republic . The raw materials are sent there from the U.S., where the uppers are sewn together, then shipped back to the factory in Port Washington, Wisconsin, to complete their construction, thus allowing them to be considered "Made in the USA." Alternatively, styles from the ae by Allen Edmonds collection are produced entirely in and sold as Made in the Dominican Republic. In addition to their handsewn collection, Allen Edmonds also utilizes the Dominican Republic factory to cut and sew the uppers of their Goodyear welted collection of shoes. Similar to the "American Made" handsewns, these welted uppers are shipped back to the factory in Wisconsin where the remainder of the lasting, welting and soling are completed.
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