Home Archives August 2007 VIP: Kirk Richardson, CEO Keen Footwear

VIP: Kirk Richardson, CEO Keen Footwear

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, August 01, 2007

ViP

Kirk Richardson, CEO Keen Footwear

KirkRichardson.jpg
Photo by Michael G. Halle.

In khaki shorts, a short-sleeved red shirt and, natch, Keen sandals, there’s nothing monastic about Kirk Richardson’s getup. But there’s something about his close-cropped hair (more monk than military) steady gaze and measured tone that gives off an air of piety.

For example, when talking about the reason that Keen Footwear chose to relocate its headquarters from California to Portland last spring, he launches into a mild-mannered rant about the impact of two men — Nike founders Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman — and the gravitational pull they had on talented designers that in turn pulled in the likes of Adidas, Merrell and now Keen.

“I’m flabbergasted that people haven’t figured it out yet,” says the intense 54-year-old. “It is completely, undeniably traceable to those two geniuses.”

Of course, Richardson — who stretches as he talks, working out the kinks from a recent 20-hour climb up the steep face of Mount Garfield in Washington — is not without bias on this topic. He spent 27 years at Nike, most recently as general manager of its outdoor division. He confesses that when he answered the call from Keen co-founder Rory Fuerst about taking over the CEO spot when the company moved north, his closet didn’t contain any Keen footwear. Born in 2003, Keen is still a young company, though its signature round-toed shoes and sandals are in hot pursuit of ubiquity.

In Keen, Richardson has found a place that better suits his passion for the outdoors. Richardson talks at length about Keen’s growth prospects in Europe and Asia and the expansion of its brand on bags and socks, but he is most proud of Keen’s generosity when it comes to being a steward of the Earth. Nudged by the acute need exposed in Asia after the tsunami disaster, company officials formed the Keen Foundation in 2004, which has given away $1 million to organizations that, among other good works, preserve land for open space and provide care for refugees.

“They were generous before they were rich and famous,” Richardson says. “That inspires me.”

— Christina Williams


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

The 2014 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon

News
Friday, February 28, 2014

100best14logo ThumbnailThe 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Barrister bands

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
IMG 4691BY LINDA BAKER

An intellectual property attorney by day, 48-year-old Stoll Berne attorney Tim DeJong is a singer and guitarist by night.


Read more...

Buy the book

News
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
2 03.25.14 thumb bookshopBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Oregon is home not only to many fine writers but also several accomplished small publishers.


Read more...

Revolution in print, pixels and passion

News
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
RyanFrankNewsBY MARK BLAINE | OB BLOGGER

The publisher of the Emerald Media Group moves on, leaving a cutting edge media group that depends on business acumen for its survival.


Read more...

Banishing oil burners reaps benefits for schools

News
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
04.02.14 thumb co2schoolsBY APRIL STREETER | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Three years ago, PPS set out to begin to convert the 1930s-era boilers from diesel/bunker fuel to cleaner-burning natural gas. Oregon’s largest school district has realized impressive carbon dioxide emissions reductions, setting an example for public and private institutions.


Read more...

Leader's bookshelf

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 14, 2014
02.06.14 BooksBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Five books that will make you a better leader.


Read more...

Q & A with Chuck Eggert

News
Thursday, March 06, 2014
03.06.14 thumb pacfoodsBY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER

The founder of Pacific Foods talks about why his company has flown under the radar in Oregon, how saving a family-run chicken hatchery has helped his bottom line and why he thinks organic food is anything but elitist.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS