Keen (shoe company)

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Industry Footwear
Founded Alameda, California (2003 (2003))
Headquarters Portland, Oregon (2006), U.S.
45°31′36″N 122°41′05″W / 45.52672°N 122.6846°W / 45.52672; -122.6846Coordinates: 45°31′36″N 122°41′05″W / 45.52672°N 122.6846°W / 45.52672; -122.6846
Key people
Rory Fuerst, owner
Products Shoes, boots, clothing, bags
Revenue (est) $240 million (2011)
Number of employees

KEEN is an American footwear and accessories manufacturing company based in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 2003[1] by Rory Fuerst and Martin Keen, KEEN products are now available in retail locations throughout the United States, and are distributed worldwide.[2]


KEEN’s Brand Values are:

  • Quality – Create quality products, services and brand experiences
  • Integrity – Build trust through products, actions, and relationships
  • Health – Believe that healthy living starts with products that promote a healthy lifestyle
  • Caring – Strive to reduce impact on the environment, protect the places where we play, and give back to communities in need
  • Pioneering – Look for innovative and resourceful ways to do things and have fun along the way


In 2003, the first KEEN shoes were invented to answer the question, "Can a sandal protect your toes?"— and they featured a signature thick black toe bumper. [3]KEEN found a ready market in sailing and other outdoor and water activities, and now offers products for many outdoor activities as well as lifestyle shoes.

KEEN has been a fast-growing company since its inception. The company was named 2003's "Launch of the Year" by the shoe industry's leading trade publication, Footwear News, which also identified it as a hot brand to watch.[4] As KEEN has grown, there have been many changes, including the addition of a variety of styles, casual and cold-weather footwear and a line of bags, socks, and clothing.

In reaction to the 2004 Asian tsunami, KEEN joined the relief effort by pulling their entire $1M advertising budget and diverting it to disaster relief. This pivotal moment in KEEN's history has shaped a brand culture of giving back and doing the right thing. [5] [6] This gesture turned into their long-term Hybrid.Care program, where they partner with organizations whose vision they share, including The Conservation Alliance, 1 KG More, Leave No Trace, and Big City Mountaineers.

In early 2006, the company relocated its headquarters from Alameda, California to Portland, Oregon. Located in the historic Pearl District, KEEN now calls a restored five story building their home. [7]

In 2009, the company had estimated sales of $130 to $140 million. For a brand founded with a toe-protecting sandal, growing into safety work footwear just made sense, and thus the KEEN Utility Tacoma work boots were born. [8] Since then, KEEN Utility has been “Putting Good to Work” through its non-profit partnerships within the Project Build program. From helping put veterans back on their feet, providing protective footwear for those in need, to supporting conservation corps work across the country.[9]

[1] The company opened a plant in Portland in 2010 to begin manufacturing some footwear in the United States using materials sourced from around the world.[1] KEEN's Swan Island factory is less than five minutes from the KEEN headquarters in downtown Portland. This is where their American Built collection comes from, which is assembled with pride and tireless attention to fit, quality, and comfort.

For 2011, revenue had grown to approximately $240 million.[10]

In 2012, KEEN purchased the Pearl Building in Portland's Pearl District for $10.8 million to serve as company headquarters and also host their retail store.[10][11] They had three goals for the 60,000 foot, five story renovation: 1) Restore the building to its natural character 2) Make the building exude the KEEN brand 3) Make a bold environmental statement. They succeeded by repurposing almost all existing materials within the old building, and the renovation was completed with less than one dumpster of waste instead of the normal 20-25 if approached the typical way. [12]

KEEN's innovation team set out on a mission to disrupt and defy our manufacturing status quo. In 2014, they achieved this goal with only “two cords and a sole” and the UNEEK sandal was born. The UNEEK sandal offers a one of a kind fit to every wearer by eliminating the tension points often found in traditional shoes.

In 2015, KEEN hopped on a bright yellow ’76 GMC RV and embarked on a journey to protect the places we play and to ensure that five incredible landscapes remain as they are today, forever. They crisscrossed the United States on a great American road trip, clocking 10,000 road miles through 27 states, collecting 50,000 signatures, and convening dozens of meetings on the US Capitol. During the Live Monumental movement, they celebrated the creation of Boulder White Clouds Wilderness, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Gold Butte National Monument.

The KEEN Effect: Values in Motion[edit]

As a brand born for life outside, KEEN feels a responsibility to protect and preserve the places where we live, play, and work. Since 2003, they have donated more than $15 million to nonprofit organizations and causes around the world. [13]

KEEN seeks to be a change engine for good business, as cause leaders and difference makers in an unapologetic pursuit of their values. They are working to leave the world a better place than they found it. They approach this in three basic ways: 1) Giving Back, 2) Taking Action, and 3) Reducing Our Impact [14]

1 Giving Back: KEEN's giving back efforts always begin with the end in mind. They use the power of their global business to support local causes that align with their values. This means supporting grassroots nonprofit partners around the world through grant-making, board service, and shoe donations. [15]

2 Taking Action: KEEN activates communities to protect and preserve the places where we all live, work, and play. They advocate for our shared interests by growing and fostering the next generation of planet stewards. [16]

3 Reducing Impact: KEEN seeks to elevate transparency in their business practices and to innovate within how we manufacture their products. Their goal is to exceed the highest levels of social and environmental standards. While there may not be a clear finish line, they commit ourselves daily to taking steps in the right direction. [17]


In 2006, Kirk Richardson joined the company as its president after a 27-year career in management at nearby Nike, Inc.[18] In 2008, Richardson began leading KEEN's corporate social responsibility efforts and James Curleigh became CEO [19] after 12 years as CEO at Salomon Sports North America. In 2014, Steve Meineke was named the company’s president. Meineke was previously CEO at Accell North America and president of Raleigh America, Inc [20] [21]

Environmental and Social Initiatives[edit]

In reaction to the 2004 Asian tsunami, KEEN took its entire marketing budget and donated it to relief efforts. This gesture turned into the Hybrid.Care program, where the company partners with like-minded organizations including The Conservation Alliance, 1 KG More, Leave No Trace, and Big City Mountaineers. In 2013, the company launched the KEEN Effect program, which awards grants to organizations dedicated to responsible outdoor participation. In 2015, KEEN started the Live Monumental campaign to rally support for national monument designations for 3 million acres of public lands. [22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Brettman, Allan (December 11, 2010). "KEEN counters conventional wisdom, returns some manufacturing to Portland". The Oregonian. Retrieved 12 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Brevetti, Francine (February 7, 2006). "KEEN Footwear to leave Alameda". The Oakland Tribune. Retrieved October 16, 2008. [dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ Rifkin, Glenn (March 4, 2004). "These shoes are really keen". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
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  6. ^ "KEEN Footwear website". Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
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  10. ^ a b Brettman, Allan (February 28, 2012). "It will be only five blocks, but KEEN's new headquarters show how far the company has traveled". The Oregonian. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Culverwell, Wendy (February 28, 2012). "KEEN footwear to make Pearl Building its home". Portland Business Journal. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
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  18. ^ Murphy, Todd (July 25, 2006). "Strength comes in numbers". The Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  19. ^ Julie Atherton McFadden (March 10, 2008). "KEEN, Inc. Appoints James Curleigh to the Executive Team As President & CEO". Outdoor Industry Association. Retrieved 2008-10-21. [permanent dead link]
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  21. ^ Julie Atherton McFadden (March 10, 2008). "KEEN, Inc. Appoints James Curleigh to the Executive Team As President & CEO". Outdoor Industry Association. Retrieved 2008-10-21. [permanent dead link]
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