Skechers: Michael Greenberg

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Even as a kid selling door to door, Michael Greenberg, co-founder and president of Skechers USA, always dreamed of running a business, just like his father, Robert Greenberg, founder of L.A. Gear and co-founder of Skechers. Now, the younger Mr. Greenberg's own 5-year-old son wonders whether there are any other shoe companies around besides Skechers.

"That's my marketing philosophy," stresses Mr. Greenberg, 38. "To create and market a product to fit every area of a person's lifestyle."

After just five years with L.A. Gear, he'd landed the national sales manager post there in 1989. Mr. Greenberg and his father started Skech-ers in 1992, and by 2000, the lifestyle footwear company had raked in more than $675 million in sales in one year.

Negative word on the street following an initial public offering in the summer of 1999, as well as declining sales at the time, make Skechers' recent 110% boost in stock price even more stunning.

Mr. Greenberg's brand-building strategy: reinvest 8% to 10% of sales back into marketing. Through its in-house agency and media buying division, Skechers targets consumers via top magazine and TV outlets as well as company-owned retail stores, a mail-order catalog and Web site (skechers.com).

Now Mr. Greenberg has wooed Britney Spears to reach teen girls internationally, while Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe of NBC's "The West Wing" will represent the men's dress casual line, Skechers Collection.

Assures Mr. Greenberg, "The ones that make it for the long haul build brands with a distinct personality and image, and keep refining it year after year."

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