Interco Incorporated (Converse, Florsheim, Ethan Allen)
Intricately engraved antique stock certificate from Interco Incorporated dating back to the 1970's. This document, which carries the printed signatures of the company Chairman of the Board and Secretary, was printed by the American Bank Note Company, and measures approximately 12" (w) by 8" (h).
This certificate features a vignette of a pair allegorical angelic figures flanking the company logo.
Interco was organized in 1911 as the International Shoe Company (ISC) by the consolidation of Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company and the Peters Shoe Company, both of St. Louis, Missouri. The company built a reputation for manufacturing quality footwear in basic styles in the low-to-medium price range.
In 1921 ISC was restructured and chartered in Delaware. At that time it had 32 shoe factories in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky, and had recently acquired the three tanneries of Kistler, Lesh & Co. as part of the long-range goal to achieve full vertical integration. In May 1921 ISC acquired W.H. McElwain Company of Boston, with ten shoe factories, two tanneries, and four shoe-material factories, all in New Hampshire.
The acquisitions in 1952 of the Florsheim Shoe Company, a manufacturer of better-quality men’s shoes founded in 1892, and in 1954 of Savage Shoes, Ltd., the largest shoe manufacturer in Canada, were the last sizable acquisitions of shoe manufacturers until the mid-1980s. In 1958, however, ISC acquired its first offshore manufacturer, the Caribe Shoe Corporation of Puerto Rico. The firm was small, with a daily capacity of 3,500 pairs of juvenile shoes, but it foretold of the future.
Between 1964 and 1978 ISC acquired 21 separate companies, and with the exception of Central Hardware in 1966, all were apparel manufacturers or retailers. The acquired companies were given operating freedom, and some of these units went on to acquire additional firms in related areas of business, adding to the overall growth of ISC. The company was markedly successful in acquiring thriving firms with good product lines, and became a role model for other firms seeking to ensure profitability through acquisitions. In 1966 in keeping with its broader base as a diversified apparel maker, footwear manufacturer, retailer and department store operator, the International Shoe Company adopted the corporate name INTERCO.
A new direction was begun in 1979 when INTERCO agreed to the acquisition of Ethan Allen Inc. for cash and stock totaling $130 million. Ethan Allen, begun in 1932 as a home-furnishings jobber, was a fully integrated manufacturer and retailer of furniture and accessories.
A major addition to the footwear group was made with the acquisition in 1986 of Converse, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of athletic footwear founded in 1908.The largest acquisition in furniture and home furnishings came in 1987 when INTERCO gained control of the Lane Company at a cost approaching $500 million. Lane, based in Altavista, Virginia, was founded in 1912 as a maker of cedar chests, and through growth and acquisition expanded into a full-line manufacturer of furniture in the medium-to-upper price ranges.