Turner Opens Up About ASG Sale

LOS ANGELES — Former American Sporting Goods CEO Jerry Turner has some big plans now that he has sold his firm to Brown Shoe Co.: sleep.

“The sale proposition [of a company] is always a long arduous task,” Turner told Footwear News. “Frankly, by the time the thing is done, everyone on both sides in any transaction is just damn happy it’s done. The biggest thing [I did to celebrate] was just get a good night’s sleep.”

ASG had been on the market since 2005. Earlier this year, rumors surfaced that the company was in talks with Brown, which, in the end, purchased the firm for $145 million in cash, plus $6 million in assumed net debt.

For her part, Brown President and COO Diane Sullivan said the acquisition meshed perfectly with the firm’s goals. “It was such a great strategic fit,” she said. “We’ve been evolving our strategy over the past 12 months or so to really be focused on three macro trends that we think are important: family, contemporary fashion and the one that ASG really fit into, [which] is this whole concept and trend of healthy living.”

But even as Brown Shoe divisional president of wholesale Mark Lardie takes over the ASG brand portfolio and searches for a GM, Turner will remain on board for the next 12 months as a consultant.

“Jerry will be working with us over the next year as we make that transition, but we want to get a strong person in place to help guide these brands and help us understand how we can get them to their full market value and to the place they deserve,” said Lardie.

“I’ll play whatever role they’d like me to play,” Turner said. “The role I hope to play is as a facilitator to say, ‘Here are the mistakes I made, so don’t [you] make them. You can make some new ones, but don’t [repeat] the ones I already made.’ I can be a benefit to them in that way.”

Turner said he will likely spend the bulk of his time in product development and marketing and gradually decrease his time on the job, which he said will be a challenge for the self-described workaholic.

“This is my 52nd year in the business,” Turner said. “For a guy who has worked 70-hour weeks for my entire life, I’m a little panicked, to tell you the truth, [but] I’m sure my wife [will keep] me busy a year from now.”

In the near term, Turner said he plans to travel for a month in April to Italy and then to China.

Looking back on his years in the industry, Turner said he is most astounded by the many relationships he has maintained throughout the years.

“Where else in life can you say ‘I’ve dealt with this guy for 25 years, or that guy for 35 years.’ I’ve got some people in the industry I’ve dealt with for 50 years,” Turner said. “That’s unbelievable to be able to make that statement. It’s been a wonderful life experience.”

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