gman-17

Super Member
1,434
Gentlemen (and there may be a few ladies here as well so I want to include them): Like many of you, I have a very indulgent spouse. She puts up with my endless discussions of style points and obsessive compulsive nature with regard to my clothing. On some wreckless occasions she even indulges these peculiarities. This year she offhandedly asked me what I would like for Father's Day and my brithday. I said I wanted only one thing - "I want a pair of special order Allen Edmonds Mora's in Merlot with a combination heel." Her response, "Really, is that all?" Now she knows enough about me that 1) nothing else is going to fit the bill and 2) it has to be exact. She agreed--or relented I can't remember how much arm twisting I needed to do.:icon_smile_big:

Anyway, I called Brenda Depies in Customer Service at Allen Edmonds, and we began working on the order. As we spoke, she gave me her full attention and didn't hurry me. She answered all my questions. I felt like the guy in the credit card commercial, how about this? Yes. How about that? Yes. Finally, "Gerard, you can have your shoes any way we offer shoes. Any soles with any heels any color." Now confusion set in. I was sure about the merlot, but I really like the walnut. CHOICES, ugh. "I will send you both samples," came the response. They came in the mail with the special order form. Brenda and I exchanged e-mails, and then I sent the form in sticking with my original choice. The double monkstrap Mora in Merlot with the combination heel.


Then, as I am want to do, I got to thinking--some may view this as the point where danger enters the thread--"hey, Paul Grangaard, AE CEO, is an AAAC member and :idea::idea::idea: maybe I could get myself a factory tour out of this. Better yet, maybe I could go up and see my shoes being made. So one night, while inbibing a nice red with my wife--Barbera not Merlot--I got my courage up and shot Paul a message. I explained to him that I had just placed the order, and I would really like to see them being made. I quickly got a response back--"Absolutely. We would love to have you"--quite obviously he doesn't know me.:icon_smile:

After this exchange, Brenda contacted me and arranged the details. Despite being an attorney, most of my professional life has been working for U.S. manfucaturing companies. I love to see the processes and enjoy the making of the product as much as, in this case, the wearing of the product. What follows, and I wll post this over the next few days, is my journey through the 280 - 290 steps of watching my special order shoes being made. To all of the AAAC members here, I hope this is entertaining and --as it was for me--educational. I also hope you stick around because I am going to show you some new shoes that AE has coming out this fall and I believe these are the first pics here of those. Enjoy!

Tuesday, morning my son (because he always wanted to go watch shoes being made--yeah, right) and we get to Port Washington WI and see our first glimpse of Mecca. :icon_smile_wink:



After getting through reception, we met the lovely Brenda.

Allen Edmonds had made up the tops of the shoes prior to our getting there. Brenda had those plus my special order paperwork.


I can tell you all of the customer service people are very nice and very well versed in their shoes. They don't look like much here--but wait.



What I didn't know is the shoes actually begin wiht the footbed. Hmm. Also, take a look at the inside of the leather top. It is (I believe the correct word is scived) conditioned for manufacturing and the wearer's comfort.




I think Brenda was begining to get wary of me--but a woman who knows this much about men's shoes is special. :icon_smile_wink:


Brenda is saved by the appearance of the CEO, Paul Grangaard.


The tour begins. Although I don't have a picture of him at the beginig of the tour, Jim Kass, VP of Operations joined us as we moved through his operation. Jim is very knowledegable. He has been with AE for 17 years and he has worked his way through the organization from sales. Jim is as passionate as all of us about shoes and his knowledge is outstanding. Besides all that, he is a great guy who just wants his customers to be happy.

The tour begins with my son by my side.



Allend Edmonds rolled out the red carpet. The big screen, which shows the shoes they are making in the different manufacturing cells, flashed the company's core values, and then a special message of welcome.





Yes. Paul is a very tall guy. He is also a very inteligent and committed businessman. He is passionate about Allen Edmonds manufacturing in the U.S. and making a quality product. He kept saying to me --"Gerard, we are committed to providing the exact same quality as we did when the company was started." Clearly some of the manufacturing methods have changed, but the processes have not. The changes are always aimed at making a more repeatable process, and, therefore, delivering a higher quality product.

This is all I can do for today. Tomorrow I will really post much more of the manufacturing of my shoes. Two things really stick out: 1) The shoes are "machine made" but the amount of labor, actual hand labor, is very high and the workers are extremely skilled. 2) Paul, Jim and Brenda really gave me their time I was struck by how willing they were to just talk. See you tomorrow.
 
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jst

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
196
Czech Republic
Jihomoravsky kraj
Brno
Really very interesting post. I start to think about buying AE shoes ......
 

Roikins

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
394
Wow, what a great start... I can't wait to read the updates. I have a few A-E shoes, but all bought RTW. I actually didn't know about their customization program, being so wrapped-up in going after bespoke shoes and such; I definitely have to look into it.
 

Peak and Pine

Honors Member
4,128
United States
Maine
Mars Hill
The AE Holtons I'm wearing have just clicked their heels in delight with all this. Thanks, Gerard.
 

127.72 MHz

Advanced Member
2,761
United States
Oregon
Portland
Very Cool GMan!

Even though I can't be there to watch my new shell cordovan "Sheltons" come off the line now I can imagine the process.

I'm looking forward to more pictures.

Thank you.
 

Lawrence Connor

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
231
I know this may or may not relate to your shoes from them,
because I don't know if you are having calfskin or cordovan
made for your AE shoes, but this video is still about shoes
made at AE. It starts at Horween and then it goes on to AE.

http://vimeo.com/4814754

It has been posted before, but I thought this a good place to post it, too.
 

Kingstonian

Super Member
1,884
UK
Surrey
Chessington
Interesting that AE spell 'shoe centre' the English way.

It seems a modern factory compared to Northampton's Victorian buildings.

The double monk is one of their better-looking shoes along with cordovan longwing and blucher.

It is good to support your home factories if you can. AE and Alden do not have much of a presence in the UK market.
 

gman-17

Super Member
1,434
I know this may or may not relate to your shoes from them,
because I don't know if you are having calfskin or cordovan
made for your AE shoes, but this video is still about shoes
made at AE. It starts at Horween and then it goes on to AE.

http://vimeo.com/4814754

It has been posted before, but I thought this a good place to post it, too.
Excellent video. No my shoes are not Cordovan, they are calf. The video shows much of the process the shoes go through. It also shoes you why cordovan cost so much more--the yield is very poor per animal. I will post more the pics tomorrow. You will see those (my son thought they looked like turtles, so we began calling them turtles) turtles turn into real shoes. By the way the guy in the video is Jim Kass and he really is very passionate about his shoes. More tomorrow.

Edit: Thanks for the kind comments everyone. I had a great time at the factory and I believe Paul and Jim have a great deal of respect for the views of the people here at AAAC. From begining to end the experience was great, Brenda, Jim and Paul treated me as if I was the only customer they had.
 
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