An east coast blizzard led to a flurry of west coast success in the footwear industry for Skechers founder and CEO Robert Greenberg. The Boston native always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started dreaming of living in Los Angeles after stops there on travels to Asia. He made the move with his family after a snowstorm crippled his hometown in 1978. A visit to a shoe fair in Long Beach, California led to his launch of L.A. Gear. Then, in 1992, he started the Skechers brand that has grown to immense popularity. His impact in creating two iconic brands led to Greenberg’s election in the Class of 2020 of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame. Greenberg was in the roller skating business when his interest turned to footwear. L.A. Gear had modest beginnings with one style that came in 10 colors, but grew to a publicly traded company in 1986 that was worn by stars such as singer Paula Abdul and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But the brand fell on hard times and Greenberg was forced to change directions.
Greenberg and his son Michael began a successful distribution of boots and Robert saw even greater opportunities. About a year later, he launched his own utility boot and Skechers was born in 1992. The new name was a family affair as two of Greenberg’s kids suggested it since the word “skecher” meant a cool kid who has lots of energy. Skechers resonated with the public and the company expanded into the running, walking and golf categories that are part of its successful Go performance division. It was a prime example of what has made Greenberg successful – a willingness to act without fear since the creation of the Go division was the response to an idea that didn’t work out. Greenberg was honored by Footwear News with its Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. Skechers’ growth and success has continued as the $4.64 billion global brand has a presence in more than 170 countries with more than 3,100 company-owned and licensed retail stores.