In his 28-year career steering footwear company Wolverine Worldwide Inc., Blake Krueger has grown the organization into a more $2 billion operation that spans the globe.
How did he do it? According to Krueger, the credit goes to many parties, especially to his wife, Mary.
“Without Mary, nothing would be possible,” said Krueger on the stage of the 2021 FN Achievement Awards, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “When you’re younger trying to start your career and you’re traveling the world and you’re buying brands and expanding, you need somebody that’s the rock of the family. You need somebody that’s the glue. You need somebody holding everything together. And that was Mary for me.”
Krueger also lauded his team at Wolverine and shared a piece of wisdom from his leadership philosophy. “I always thought I could be a success if I hired and promoted people better than me. So that seemed to work out over the years,” he said.
Another key aspect of his Krueger’s success has been his relationships in the footwear industry, where he has served as chairman of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America.
“I’ve seen the senior leadership [in the industry] set aside the competitive juices and focus on tackling an issue that was right for the entire industry,” he said. “All I can say is ‘thank you.'”
The current chairman and CEO of Wolverine Worldwide Inc. will be taking on the role of executive chairman next year as he hands over leadership to current president Brendan Hoffman.
Krueger’s journey at the Rockford, Mich.-based company began in 1993 as general counsel and secretary. By 2007 he was named CEO, where he oversaw its more than billion-dollar acquisition of Saucony, Sperry, Keds and Stride Rite in 2012.
The industry veteran joins a legendary group of footwear designers and leaders in the FN Hall of Fame. Other recent inductees include Steve Madden, Jimmy Choo designer Sandra Choi and Foot Locker chief Dick Johnson.
For 35 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2021 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Authentic Brands Group, FDRA, Informa, On and Wolverine Worldwide.