08 May Keen Names Leaders for Utility and Kids Businesses
Keen welcomed seasoned footwear veteran Chris Heffernan as general manager of Keen Utility and Erin Simons’ promotion to kids business unit director. Heffernan brings multiple years of brand management experience and more than 16 years in various leadership positions within the footwear industry. Simons has doubled the size of Keen’s Kids business over the past five years. With the increased focus on Keen Utility and Kids, the brand will continue to bolster its leadership, product innovation, and fan growth across these channels.
“At Keen we are focused on building our connection to fans who live, play, and work outside,” said Keen President, Steve Meineke. “We are excited to have these key new leaders in place to drive growth in both our Utility and Kid’s businesses. Chris joins a strong team on our Utility business and will bring his strong business acumen skills and brand building experience to help further accelerate growth. Erin has done a tremendous job with our Kids business and we’re excited to elevate her role and bring even more depth to this growing segment of Keen.”
As GM of Utility, Heffernan will oversee strategic long-range planning, sales leadership and product development management, expanding the American Built collection, and aligning targeted marketing strategy. His direction will help drive sustainable business growth for Keen Utility and inspire product innovation, design, and development.
Prior to joining Keen, Heffernan spent three years at Honeywell International Inc. where he was the GM of Safety Footwear and VP of Global Product. At Honeywell, he was integral in the launch of new industrial and safety footwear brands in North America – Oliver and Muck Boots – and led the post-acquisition integration of three substantial safety footwear business units, with a collective portfolio of more than 20 footwear brands across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Indian, and Asian regions.
Heffernan also spent seven years at Timberland as Global Brand Manager and Director of New Product Development where he helped build Timberland PRO, and led a team that developed key new product initiatives and technologies for the industrial and service footwear industries that are still in the market today.
“I am extremely excited to be joining Keen and the Utility Team,” said Heffernan. “In just a few short years they have achieved tremendous growth in the safety footwear market and I am looking forward to working with this talented team to develop a superior understanding of our consumers’ safety footwear needs and uniquely deliver innovative new products that further define and enhance the Keen brand.”
In addition to new leadership in the Utility category, Simons’ promotion to Kids Business Unit Director will elevate Keen’s connection to its core kid’s line consumer – moms. In her new role, Simons will analyze market landscape and identify growth opportunities with core demographics, drive leading-edge design and development, support retail sell-in and sell-through, and manage top-and-bottom line category growth. The multi-functional category includes sandals, hiking shoes, winter boots, and lifestyle shoes for young adventurers and explorers.
“What makes Keen a special place to work are the people and team I interact with daily; having this opportunity to further grow the kid’s category is very exciting,” said Simons. “As a mom, I know that kids are always finding and inventing new ways to play, and Keen is perfect fit for their every adventure.”