April 28, 2009

Manufacturing shoes in the U.S. these days requires a special commitment, and great craftspeople. Today, we stopped production at our Wisconsin plant at 10:00…to celebrate 25 years of service from Darlene Barnes, who is retiring. We had cake and coffee, gave Darlene an inscribed watch and thanked her for her long career with Allen Edmonds.

A bit about Darlene. She works at a machine in our insole preparation area, applying the tape rib to the insoles that creates the foundation of the shoe. In the picture you can see Darlene’s hands at work. Similar to laying the cornerstone of a building, it’s onto this ribbing that we sew the welt, which then allows us to bring the shoe parts together on the last. Amazingly, in the past 25 years Darlene has missed a grand total of 2 days! That’s probably a company record. Darlene plans to spend time on her vegetable garden in retirement, so those skilled and careful hands will stay busy.

During the celebration, our marketing director asked me, “When was the last time you attended a retirement party for anyone?” Good question. In today’s society it’s rare to find 25 year tenured employees, and that got us to thinking about Darlene’s efforts at Allen Edmonds. In her years of sewing here, it is likely her hands helped create the foundation for 6.8 million shoes – possibly including the shoes you are wearing as you read this blog.

It was a nice feeling for our company to celebrate Darlene’s accomplishments and I suppose it was an even greater feeling for her. Darlene, from all of us at Allen Edmonds, thank you for your hard work, your dedication to quality and for being part of our family!

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation