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Driscoll to retire at Xero after 44 years in industry

BROOMFIELD – After more than 44 years in the global footwear and sporting-goods industry, Dennis Driscoll is retiring in September as chief product officer at Xero Shoes.

During his tenure at Xero, Driscoll transformed the brand’s minimalist footwear line into more than 40 performance and casual styles of shoes, boots and sandals, expanding beyond the flagship DIY sandal kits that Xero featured on television’s “Shark Tank.”

Michael Pao will replace Driscoll as chief product officer. He previously worked in global product management and merchandising with Puma, Crocs, Clarks and Timberland.

From Driscoll’s start in 2012 to 2022, Xero Shoes grew 58% to $48.7 million in net revenue. Driscoll was the sole product designer and developer for his first six years and the line builder and merchandiser for his first eight years.

Dennis Driscoll

Xero Shoes, the trade name for Feel the World Inc., was founded in 2009 by husband and wife Steve Sashen and Lena Phoenix. The company has been on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies twice, as well as Colorado Companies to Watch, Top 100 Colorado Women-Owned Companies twice, and the BizWest Mercury 100 Fastest Growing Boulder Valley Companies five times.

“When I think of all the lucky things that have enabled Xero Shoes to become what it is today, at the top of the list Is our chance meeting with Dennis,” said Sashen, Xero’s CEO, in a prepared statement. “He has been a mentor, a sounding board, a creative inspiration, a trusted friend, and the backbone of our product. There are now more than 1 million people worldwide who have benefited from what Dennis has done. They, and we, are forever grateful.”

Phoenix, Xero’s president, added that “we can’t thank Dennis enough for choosing to share his wealth of wisdom, experience and guidance with Xero Shoes as we grew our tiny brand into a real footwear company. We are incredibly grateful for the solid foundation of product DNA he created and look forward to continuing to build on that foundation. We are proud to be a part of Dennis’ storied footwear legacy and wish him all the best in his well-earned next chapter.”

Michael Pao

Driscoll started in the footwear industry in 1978. He co-founded Avia Athletic Footwear, which sold to Reebok. He held global positions at brands including Wilson Sporting Goods, Converse, Doc Martens Footwear, and Crocs. He served seven years in senior product roles at Converse.

In retirement, Driscoll plans to travel, create art, keep fit with outdoor activities, continue as a master gardener and landscape architect, and spend time with his children and grandchildren.

Source: BizWest