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How a defunct shoe polish (Shinola) revitalized Detroit

Jack Craven

I really enjoy reading INC. magazine.  The articles spark my creativity and often inspire me as I learn the stories behind a company's success.  In the April 2016 issue, they interviewed the reclusive Tom Kartsotis.  Never heard of him?  He grew Fossil watches into a $2 billion dollar brand.  His next chapter?  A bigger vision - and not in dollars.  It started with a desire to build a brand with a purpose.  He would bring manufacturing back to the U.S. starting with Detroit.  He paid $1M dollars to buy a long defunct shoe polish brand (Shinola), and transformed it into the name of a luxury brand that makes everything from hand made watches to leather goods to bicycles. Many of its employees formerly worked for the Big Three automakers.  He has put $100M of his own money into the company and raised over $100M from outside investors.  Here's my favorite quote of the article, "We are losing millions right now, and I'm ok with that." He has bigger aspirations to grow the Shinola in multiple product categories.  He also has an interest in creating manufacturing jobs in other forgotten cities across the country including the South Side of Chicago and the Bronx.  Kartsotis believes that "a city's struggle is its greatest asset."  What is your company's greater purpose?

Jack Craven
Jack Craven is an executive coach to business leaders, and the teams and companies they lead.

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