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Footwear Innovators Building Global Lifestyle Brands from Flagstaff

     According to Deckers Outdoor Corporation’s third quarter report, the Flagstaff-based e-commerce division handled $8.7 million worth of sales. The Flagstaff office conducts e-commerce services for the international outdoor and casual footwear company, including web design, Internet marketing, returns processing, human resources and a full service call center.

     “I am responsible for Deckers web- sites globally,” explained vice president of e-commerce John Kalinich, who is based in Flagstaff. “We have developers and designers, both internally and from outside agencies. In Flagstaff, we bring it all together and have our people develop the sites that reflect each brand.” Deckers Outdoor brands include Teva, Simple Shoes, UGG Australia, TSUBO and Ahnu.

     Teva sandals, known for their unique patented strapping system, were invented by a Flagstaff river runner, Mark Thatcher. Teva was purchased by Deckers in 2002. Since then “the brand is evolving beyond just sandals. We are offering more products relevant to winter sports,” said Kalinich. “Here in Flagstaff, we have approximately

     50 regular employees with average salaries on the north side of $70,000 per year.” Kalinich describes the Flagstaff team, which includes seven programmers who keep web- sites running, as a group of highly educated, talented professionals.

     Recently, Deckers e-commerce hired an additional 50 seasonal employees to process calls from customers worldwide. “These employees are trained with a lot of product knowledge. They have to distinguish between 150 different models of shoes, plus apparel – gloves, hats, scarves,” explained Kalinich.

     Deckers Outdoor third quarter net sales increased 21.7 percent over last year. According to Kalinich, the record sales had little to do with increased hiring in Flagstaff. “That is a component of it. The company has very strong brands; we anticipate continued growth. As brands get bigger, it takes additional resources to support the growth. … as our brands grow, we plan to marginally increase headcount [in Flagstaff],” predicted Kalinich.

     “I attribute our success first to the very talented employees around the globe, in places like the UK, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Flagstaff. The second thing is that we have very strong brands [that] mean something to the consumers. And we have great products on top of that. The brands are popular because the products work.

     “UGG Australia is a big piece of our success. It is very well-known, popular brand around the world,” said Kalinich.

     UGG brand sales increased 20.2 percent, to $255.8 million versus $212.8 million last year.

     Deckers has been manufacturing and selling UGG Australia boots since purchasing the company from Brian Smith in 1995. Smith, an Australian who had a love for surfing, saw the value in bringing to market a high-quality brand of sheepskin boots that surfers could wear after a long day in the cold water.

     Angel Martinez, Deckers Outdoor president, chief executive officer and chairman of the Board of Directors, said, “The global response to our fall collection has been very encouraging, with sell-through rates accelerating as we’ve moved into the fourth quarter.”

     Kalinich, who lives in Flagstaff and travels to Asia, UK, Chicago, New York and California for business, has a global view of the local economy. “I think the challenge for Flagstaff is recruiting talented employees for the 21st Century. How do we find employees that can work in social media, search engine marketing, affiliate marketing and web design? They don’t teach a lot of these skills in college. On top of that, we need the experience. Someone coming right out of NAU can’t find workplaces in Flagstaff to gain that kind of experience.

     “For Flagstaff employers, it is important to find people that want to live in Flagstaff. If you find a qualified candidate in the Bay Area, how does Flagstaff recruit? In Flagstaff, there is a need to shift to modern-day economy.

     “Our talented employees are dedicated and strong. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without them,” added the vice president.  Outside Magazine named Deckers Outdoor one of 50 Best Places to Work in 2009. FBN

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One Response to Footwear Innovators Building Global Lifestyle Brands from Flagstaff

  1. James Major January 7, 2011 at 5:27 PM #

    Mr Kalinich and his treatises on the burgeoning talent of himself and his apparently talented staff appear somewhat self delusional viewed from here in the UK.
    Clunky, unfriendly websites that fall over and lose orders after CC details are disclosed. Customer telephone services that  answer in the name of Teva before putting customers on hold for twenty minutes.
    Calls eventually answered (on poor quality lines) informing customers they have called Ugg Australia then struggling operators whose first language is clearly not English curtly accusing them of dialling incorrectly.
    Perhaps Mr Kalinich could better serve Deckers by spending his time perfecting his firms poor ecommerce services than pre-emptively trumpeting its success to the media.
    I wonder if Mr Martinez is aware of the less than burnished service over which his VP presides?

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