In Person: Thoughts From the Brown Shoe Family

Rick Ausick’s colleagues praise the Famous Footwear chief’s ability to inspire, motivate and lead by example.

Diane Sullivan
President & CEO, Brown Shoe Co.

“Rick is one of the most data-driven merchants I’ve ever met. He looks behind the numbers for reasons why things are happening. He is able to translate all the micro trends [emerging to] make sure he is placing bets on bigger ideas. He’s also a calculated risk taker. He saw an opportunity for [Brown Shoe] to own the family footwear [retail] space and moved Famous Footwear from being just a retailer selling shoes to one connecting to families.”

Michelle Mackin
VP & DMM of women’s non-athletic & accessories, Famous Footwear

“Rick genuinely recognizes and values everyone’s contributions. He connects with his team. They’re motivated by his calm, confident and passionate leadership. Famous Footwear evolves daily under his leadership. He has high expectations and a strong vision for the future, and he leads by example. Rick is a true merchant who loves what he does, and that filters down through the company.”

Will Smith
Chief marketing officer, Famous Footwear

“Rick has a pragmatic approach to business. He cuts to the chase while bringing extensive knowledge and bonafide leadership experience to running both retail and wholesale operations. He has increased our focus on [attaining] great brands we [previously] had minimal access to. He has a keen sense of how to mine opportunities and cultivate meaningful growth among our core franchises while minimizing risk.”

Daniel Tea
VP & DMM, Famous Footwear

“Rick brings a passion to succeed and [always] delivers on his promises. He’s open to new ideas and points of view. He’s passionate about supporting his [staff], empowering them to make decisions and supporting those decisions. His strategic vision is always focused on what is right for the long-term health of the business. He’s never distracted by the lure of short-term wins. He remains steadfast on carefully planned objectives and targets that can sustain positive long-term growth.”

Tim Meyer
SVP of retail finance & real estate, Famous Footwear/Brown Shoe Retail

“Rick brings out the best in people. He empowers everyone to make decisions and grow in their jobs while cultivating a team approach. He’s great at acknowledging accomplishments, and more importantly, he ensures the team maintains a positive outlook [even] if business is challenging. He’s a consummate merchant who constantly challenges [his] team to identify ways to improve customer engagement at every touch point.”

John Mazurk
President of Healthy Living brands, Brown Shoe

“Rick and I started at Famous [around the same time] almost 12 years ago. We usually agree on most issues, but when we don’t, it’s always a great discussion that brings the business to a better place. He has a wide range of experience and understands all aspects of the industry, bringing simplicity to complex issues. Rick leads with professionalism, intelligence, fairness and consistency. He maintains an unrelenting focus on the consumer. Every investment is measured by its success with the customer.”

Martin Fink
SVP of store operations & merchandise planning, Famous Footwear

“Rick always makes time to interact with associates at all levels of the organization. He provides confident guidance to help [our staffers] come to the right decisions, even if they don’t coincide with his original point of view. We know our opinions will be heard and valued, and that we will be empowered to make [things] happen. He makes sure that clear thinking and clarity of vision always drive the process.”

Jason Short
VP & DMM, Famous Footwear

“Rick’s vision [early on] was to streamline the structure of Famous Footwear. He created an organization with fewer layers and one that [emphasizes] idea sharing and collaboration. It’s been a key factor in Famous Footwear delivering an elevated consumer experience. You can’t help but be inspired by his passion for retail.”

Ron Fromm
Chairman, Brown Shoe

“Rick has had a tremendous influence on the positioning of Famous Footwear. He is [the steward of the brand]. It really [shows] in everything he does. People follow Rick because he has character. They know he’s in their court and that he sincerely cares about the success of the company, as well as [its individuals]. He inspires people to work and he allows [them] to lead. He has worked in the industry for a long time and he’s now part of the fabric of [our company].”

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