Todd Dalhausser is ready to take Altra into a new era. The industry vet and former SVP of sales for Saucony North America was named as brand president to the performance running and outdoor brand last November, part of a suite of changes that began when Altra was acquired by outdoor powerhouse VF Corp. last June. In the months since, Altra has started a relocation that will bring it from its current headquarters in Logan, UT, to the hub VF is creating in downtown Denver, CO. We caught up with Dalhausser to talk opportunities, what drew him to the brand and living life in airports.
TD: “There’s no doubt the reason why the brand has been successful is because of how it approaches the business. [The founders] approached it from working in a run specialty store and seeing consumer after consumer walk in the door and say ‘I have a problem, I’m not able to run right now;’ it was founded in providing solutions to the consumer, and on this really special, unique identity providing a more natural approach to footwear. What we provide as a consumer goods company is listening to the end user, really keenly listening to where they are and meeting them and providing them solutions.”
TD: “We need to continue to drive brand awareness, and part of that is that we need to convert at a greater rate with female consumers. One of our innovations has been around building a last that’s specific to the female consumer’s foot shape, and that’s where our proprietary Fit4Her technology and how we’ve built the shoes comes into play. We’ve already got this tremendous direction, but we need to grow faster with the female consumer. Beyond the actual fit of shoes we’ve signed on some ambassadors and elite athletes who are going to help us tell the story, and we have Kara Goucher now as one of our athletes. Kara is a legend in the running community, and we couldn’t be happier to have Kara to be part of the family.”
TD: “We’ll actually start moving people this month already, believe it or not, with the anticipation that everyone is going to be there by the end of June full time. We have a beautiful building right downtown, across from Union Station, but it’s in the process of being redone completely, so we’ll be located in a temp space outside of Denver for a little less than a year. Obviously with any significant geographical relocation of a company, you’re going to have attrition, people who are from that area originally, who have families, and most of those people have made their decisions. VF has been an incredible partner and just been so accommodating to all of the families and employees. They’ve been first class, first class in the way that they’ve treated everyone. I’ll move my family officially when the kids finish the school year, which in New England is the end of June. But I’m commuting right now — I live on airplanes. I’ve mastered the ability to have like only two outfits but have them last 8 days. But no, it’s been great.”
For more insight into Altra’s outlook, the VF transition and the state of the market, see our full interview with Dalhausser in the upcoming March/April issue of Footwear Insight magazine.