Milestone: Insight From the Inside

Kevin Orr
Regional director of sales

Tenure at company: 38 years
Fondest memory: “It is probably the day we broke the $1 billion mark in annual sales for the very first time. It was something we had worked toward for many years and looked forward to with anticipation. Hitting that number spoke volumes to the fact that we not only arrived and survived but that we’d become and would remain a leading branded family footwear store.”

David Krueger
SVP of corporate real estate

Tenure at company: 14 years
Fondest memory: “There have been so many great accomplishments and milestones for Famous Footwear, but the most memorable are all related to the talented and dedicated people I have been fortunate to work with over the years.”

Dave Willett
Regional director of sales

Tenure at company: 22 years
Fondest memory: “Twenty-plus years is a long time to work at one company. It’s an incredible testament to the environment we work in at Famous Footwear. I continually gain inspiration from the creativity of those individuals I work with and the passion they have for their business and, most important, the people who drive their business. One of my fondest memories is when the executive team of Joe Wood, John Mazurk and Rick Ausick joined the company in 2002. You knew from that first meeting, when they brought the organization together, that exciting changes were on the horizon. But what I remember most from that first meeting was the energy they created by seeking input from everyone in attendance. This really led to every person attending feeling empowered.”

Catherine Ketler
Health and wellness buyer

Tenure at company: 14 years
Fondest memory: “I came to Brown Shoe when they acquired Mil-Mar Shoe Co. One of my great memories would have to be the first vendor meeting in 2001, when Famous Footwear introduced the new executive team. It was the start of a new focus on our customer, the look of our stores and the way we did business.”

Vanessa Abanathy
Corporate facilities coordinator

Tenure at company: 14 years
Fondest memory: “I remember the day when I came to work for Famous Footwear. I was impressed with the friendliness of everyone from day one. It was like I was a member of a family. I always felt like a contributor. I am proud to be a part of Famous Footwear and grateful for the people who have mentored me during my journey.”

Jon Grander
VP of asset management

Tenure at company: 13 years
Fondest memory: “Within the first week of joining Famous Footwear, I knew I’d made my best career move yet. The most dramatic shift I’ve seen over the years is our unwavering focus on the customer. We listen to her and everything we do is based on fulfilling her needs. I feel fortunate to be part of such a great company.”

Felix Artemus
Director of retail asset & revenue management

Tenure at company: 11 years
Fondest memory: “I’m really glad to have had the experience of working in [the Madison, Wis., office] with former Famous Footwear President Brian Cook. I’m also fortunate to have witnessed the transitioning of leadership from Brian to former President Joe Wood and now current Famous Footwear President Rick Ausick. Leadership has made Famous Footwear a reputable brand and an employer of choice. On a personal note, Famous Footwear gave me the opportunity to develop my professional skills and encouraged me to give back to the community. If I needed to take the time to be involved at a local charity or mentoring disadvantaged youth, the company has supported me 100 percent. No other organization in my past has inspired me to grow as a professional or as a civic-minded leader like Famous Footwear.”

Denise Lind
Director of allocation

Tenure at company: 9 years
Fondest memory: “Famous Footwear was in the midst of establishing the Merchandise Planning & Allocation organization when I joined the company. Many significant milestones have been achieved since then, one being the 1,000th store opening in the spring of 2007. Overall, the most significant change was being part of the Madison office relocation to St. Louis in the summer of 2008.”

David Rodgers
Director of real estate, lease audit

Tenure at company: 11 years
Fondest memory: “My best personal memory of the company centers around the general attitude and environment at Famous Footwear. Unlike other retailers where I worked prior to joining Famous, the employees take real ownership in the company. This was especially evident back when Famous Footwear’s operations were centralized in Madison. When sales were good, everyone was invited to join in the celebration. When times were lean, everyone rallied to maximize profits by keeping expenses low. Although some of the efforts were merely symbolic and wouldn’t materially impact the bottom-line, that sense of pride and ownership down to even the entry-level staff was something I found very unique to Famous Footwear.”

Greg Schumacher
Director of men’s planning
Tenure at company:
11 years
Fondest memory: “There was a great sense of pride in hitting the $1 billion in sales. It was nice to have Ron Fromm, [chairman and CEO of Brown Shoe Co.], come to Madison to acknowledge [the milestone] and to thank everyone for their efforts. He could have just sent a congratulatory message, but he took the time to fly to Madison, to acknowledge the accomplishment in person. This meant a lot to the associates and was another example of what makes Brown Shoe a good company to work for.”

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