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2013 business highlights: Shoe Co. has leadership transition

Bill Sweasy, Red Wing Shoe Co. CEO, officially retired at the end of February from the company his grandfather helped develop more than 100 years ago.

Sweasy said he started working part time at the Shoe when he was 14 years old during his summers off from school.

Dave Murphy took over as CEO when Sweasy stepped down and said he considers it an honor that Sweasy entrusted him with the leadership of the company.

Sweasy remained a part of the Shoe as chairman of the board after his retirement, which allows him to direct the company in a broader capacity than when he was CEO, he said.

“It’s all about being custodian of the brand and image as opposed to doing the work,” he said. “It’s more the architect than the builder.”

Other 2013 highlights

• Scott Gillmer announced at the beginning of November his intentions to sell Red Wing Pottery by the end of December or close. On Dec. 27, Bruce and Irene Johnson, who had purchased Red Wing Stoneware Co. in November, closed on Red Wing Pottery, combining the two brands for the first time since 1967.

• The Nesbitt family, owners of Oasis Eatery at Nesbitt’s Nursery near Prescott, bought Red Wing Confectionery from Kathy Boos and took over June 1. Boos planned to stay on as an employee of Nesbitt’s to train staff in chocolate making and help the transition go smoothly.

• S.B. Foot Co., owned by Red Wing Shoe Co., was named 2013 Tannery of the Year for the Americas Region by World Leather Magazine. S.B. Foot was the first tannery in the United States to win the award.

Representatives from S.B. Foot and Red Wing Shoe Co. accepted the award at a ceremony in Hong Kong.

• Red Wing Ignite, part of the national program US Ignite, debuted in Red Wing in January. The program is aimed at developing next-generation Internet applications and services. US Ignite highlights communities with high-speed broadband connections and encourages new applications for the technology. There are 12 service providers in 25 cities across the country participating in the project.

DTMS and Chamber annual meetings

Downtown Main Street will have its annual meeting Friday Jan. 31.

The Red Wing Chamber of Commerce will have its annual meeting and awards banquet Monday Jan. 27 at Treasure Island Resort & Casino.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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