Martin Berendsen will join Ellington as CEO. A seasoned executive in the footwear industry with an expertise in brand building, he brings more than 20 years’ international experience to the Portland, Oregon-based leather goods company whose bags, totes and belts are sold online and through retailers around the United States.

As president of Action Sports, a subsidiary of VF International SAGL in Lugano, Switzerland, Berendsen oversaw operations for the Vans®, Reef®, and Eastpak® brands.

“Martin is a visionary who builds brands and understands the importance of being true to your roots while you do it. He is perfect for our next stage,” says Alecia Elsasser, who co-founded Ellington in 1986. “We also appreciate his style of doing business: being direct, honest, ethical, and real.”

The move to Ellington marks a return to Portland for the Dutch native. From 1995 to 2000, Berendsen was CEO of Dr. Martens Airwair USA, where he spearheaded a restructuring that resulted in a highly profitable, wholly owned subsidiary. During his five-year tenure with the Dr. Martens, the company grew sales from $80 million to $280 million and increased profits by 400 percent.

“In Ellington I see a brand that has authenticity, a lot of credibility through its unique products and a stellar reputation with its customers.” Berendsen says. “The combination of all these factors makes Ellington a brand that has great potential for the future, and I am very excited to be part of the Ellington organization.”

Slated to start in October, Berendsen is the company’s first CEO in its twenty-year history. Ellington partnered with the Portland-based recruitment firm Generator Group on the important hire.

“We searched for someone with passion for growing brands, who thrives on building a team with a shared vision,” says Ed Elsasser, Ellington co-founder. “Another goal of ours was to find a CEO who can give our employees new opportunities. Martin is a perfect fit for us.”