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Retail & Distribution: Lewiston footwear distributor to step up its hiring

BY Renee Cordes

1/7/2019
Photo / Courtesy of M. Leonard International
Photo / Courtesy of M. Leonard International
Matt Tracy, founder and president of M. Leonard International Inc.

Lewiston's M. Leonard International Inc. plans to step up hiring after adding a Danish clog brand it's distributing exclusively for Sanita Denmark A/S.

The shoe wholesaler recently increased its warehouse space in Lewiston by fivefold and opened a new office in Scarborough where it employs six people, with plans to hire up to five more.

“We need good creative people to handle all aspects of the business,” Matt Tracy, the company's founder and president says while sifting through 50 resumes that came in within 24 hours of an ad on indeed.com.

He attributes the interest in part to having a nationally known consumer brand and says he's noticed more applications from people with varied backgrounds, “which I think is good.”

M. Leonard began shipping its first pairs of Sanita shoes in October, taking over from a previous distributor in Texas earlier than planned.

“We had everything in place,” Tracy says, “and now we're trying to play catch-up with our staff.” Another priority will be to attend consumer fairs and other events to reach end users and not just store buyers, he adds.

Tracy founded M. Leonard in 2006, setting out to import woolen slippers and shoes made by Austria's Giesswein, which it now carries for retail customers nationwide, including Renys and Selby Shoes Etc. in Maine.

Though M. Leonard does not disclose revenues, Tracy projects 2019 volume at close to 200,000 pairs, with Sanita clogs — used in various professions — making up three-quarters of that. With the new account, it expects to be busier throughout the year since clogs are less seasonal than slippers.

“This is certainly going to keep us busy for the next 12 months at least,” Tracy says. “After that we may look at adding another brand.”

M. Leonard employs two full-timers at its warehouse in Lewiston and hires up to 10 during the peak season. It also has a 12-strong independent sales force nationwide and expects to stay at that number.

While Tracy had thought about moving the whole business to the Portland area, the Lewiston native chose to keep its base in Lewiston in part because of a better labor pool and real estate availability.

The company recently increased its warehouse space from 8,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet at the Roy Hill Mill Complex, where it will lease an entire floor vacated by another shoe distributor. “It's a great space for all kinds of businesses,” he says.