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Zwiers' Peers Sound Off

His down-to-earth managerial style has turned Jim Zwiers' business associates into friends.

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David Labistour

Photo By Courtesy of Retailers

Ken Sung

Photo By Courtesy of Retailers

Robert Goldberg

Photo By Kyle Ericksen

David Labistour
CEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op; Vancouver, British Columbia

“I got to know Jim while serving with him on the Outdoor Industry Association board over the past four years. Jim’s an intelligent and thoughtful person who brings a great deal of peripheral vision to his business and the industry. He understands the complexity and changing nature of our businesses and does not get stuck in the past. I admire his open-minded approach and for being a stand-up guy. Jim’s served the industry through his [association] with OIA and has given profile to our industry via the Merrell brand.”

Ken Sung
Co-owner, Gazelle Sports; Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I know him well since we both live in Grand Rapids. We support [Wolverine] with a variety of brands carried in our stores. Jim has the titles, yet they don’t mean [much] when we talk. When I see him at the Merrell booth at Outdoor Retailer, he always makes it a point to come over and [talk]. We get together once or twice a year for lunch and have an honest conversation about what’s going on [in the business]. We’re both able to share perspectives we wouldn’t necessarily share with others.”

Robert Goldberg
President, Harry’s Shoes; New York

“The first time I met Jim, I was the young kid on the block, sitting in the back of the store with my father. Geoff Bloom (formerly CEO of Wolverine) came in with Jim and introduced us. It was an instantaneous, great meeting. Geoff and my father had been friends for a long time. Jim had made it a project to get Hush Puppies into our store. He laid the groundwork and made it happen. It was his professionalism, insight and ability to make us feel comfortable and at ease that made it happen. He’s a wonderful person, smart and intuitive. He’s one of those unique leaders who sees the whole ballfield. It’s a skill set that’s wonderful since it’s so unusual.”

Curt Munson
Partner, Playmakers; Okemos, Mich.

“Wolverine World Wide’s in our backyard, so we’d do some business up there. Jim would always weigh in and be available. He’s very down-to-earth, and we really appreciate that. I think he’s played a big part in Wolverine’s success. As I got to know Jim, I realized he’s really smart and engaging. You see how well he connects with people in the organization, as well as retailers.”

Justin Sigal
President, Littles Shoes; Pittsburgh

“I’ve known Jim since 2002. His best [attribute] is listening to consumers by having us relay [their input] about what they’re looking for [in their footwear]. He’s also good at listening if operational things are needed, whether it’s customer service-[related] or on the sales rep side. He’s easy to talk to and communicate with. If you have an issue, he’s very willing to listen. He understands it’s not to complain but help Wolverine [become even] better.”

Fred Mossler
SVP of merchandising, Zappos.com; Las Vegas

“[I remember] going out to visit Grand Rapids, and he took us on a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. I caught a 12-pound lake trout. It was the biggest fish I ever caught. He’s also super-personable and one of the nicest guys in the business, someone you enjoy being around. He really focuses on building more than a partnership — a friendship. He’s always open and honest in his assessment of the business and the opportunities. He’s a true partner in every sense of the word. He takes a long-term perspective on creating a successful business for both [parties].”

Jennifer Mull
CEO, Backwoods; Austin

“I’ve worked with Jim personally at OIA, although we buy the company’s products. And he’s been great to work with: He’s thoughtful, insightful, and certainly understands the industry well. He’s currently on the board of directors with me, and I value his opinion and call on him for his insightful guidance. He’s very level-headed but not afraid to take action when we need to.”

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