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Why Pierre is adding a new executive job

By Tiffany Montgomery
February 25, 2008 6:38 AM

Sole Technology announced internally this morning it is creating a new executive position for its Etnies brand.

I asked Sole Tech owner and CEO Pierre André Senizergues this weekend about the new position, why he's doing this now at a tough time in the skate shoe market, and why Sole Tech stays independently owned. The industry's biggest customer, PacSun, told vendors last month it was cutting closed-toe footwear from its 900-plus stores. Other retailers have noted that sales of skate shoes have slowed.

Mike Regan will become Etnies brand director, responsible for planning, direction and coordination of all global activities including product, marketing and sales. Previously, Mike was director of international sales, a position the company will now look to fill. Overall, the company is adding head count cautiously these days after years of rapid growth but is still adding positions when needed, Chief Operating Officer Paul Migaki told me at ASR in January.

Here's what Pierre had to say:

Why are you creating this new position now?

"The most important thing that is driving us right now is the need for focus. This new position will drive focus and create more momentum and synergy to etnies."

Was it a tough decision to invest in this new position and other promotions at time when your largest customer has cut back on closed toe shoes?

"With challenging times, we believe that the best thing is to invest more into the market, take more risk and distinguish ourselves -- that's why we're investing in the right people -- regardless of the economic shifts that are happening in our market, we're standing strong and moving forward. Have you checked out the two new additions to the etnies skate team? (Skateboarders) Mikey Taylor and Sean Malto -- this should speak to where etnies is and where we're going for the future -- these two guys are amazing!"

With lots of competition and a tough economy, how are you making Etnies stand out?

As you've seen from covering us over the past several years, we've always been about defying convention. Whether it be introducing the first performance skate shoes back in the late 80s, pushing the trends of skate footwear, taking the leadership in technology by creating the first and only biomechanics lab (Sole Technology Institute) or embarking on the first public/private partnership with a city to build a skatepark (etnies Skatepark of Lake Forest), we always have been committed to standing out and leading the way. Even with the economic slowdown, we don't stop -- we invest more because the market needs more.

Do you ever consider taking on outside investors or going public?

NEVER! We remain private because it is the ONLY way to preserve the spirit of skateboarding. We don't want to answer to shareholders or investors, we want to answer to the needs of skateboarders. Our advantage today and for the future is what has been our advantage since etnies was created -- skateboarder owned, skateboarder operated! It not only is the right way to do things, but it also has proven profitable with no need to reach into any investor pockets.

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