Mizuno is latest athletic company to expand in Portland

Japan-based company hires former Columbia Sportswear, Nike exec to grow Running Center of Excellence.

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The Japan-based Mizuno hired former Columbia Sportswear, Nike executive Todd Lewis to grow the Running Center of Excellence in Portland.

In a release, Mizuno USA President Bob Puccini said: “Todd injects critical capabilities and enthusiasm to our global running footwear product team.”

From the Portland Business Journal:

It’s unclear how long Mizuno has had a Portland presence. The Oregonian previously reported that it’s had a small office on the east side since 2005. Plans for the Running Center of Excellence seem to have been in the works for several years. The presence of Nike, Adidas America and now Under Armour make Portland the epicenter of the athletic footwear industry. Some consider it the Silicon Valley of the sportswear industry for its robust collection of companies as well as legal, financial and educational resources.

“The Northwest is such a vital region to be in if you are in the running industry, so it was critical we find inspiration and talent locally,” said Mark Sheehan, vice president of product management, in a news release.

Lewis, who starts May 4, said in a release: “Mizuno is a brand that is always in the mix amongst runners, and I have always had a lot or respect for Mizuno product — the quality, the cushion and the ride — not to mention, Mizuno’s position as a specialty brand struck a cord.”

As Portland continues to establish itself as the hub for American sports apparel, the two biggest companies in the industry fight in court.

In the latest salvo between Nike and the three designers who spurned the company, the Beaverton-based company subpoenaed several Adidas executives.

North America head Mark King, as well as executive board member Eric Liedtke were both subjects of subpoenas.

Portland Business Journal writes:

Adidas is not a party to the lawsuit, but Nike has subpoenaed numerous Adidas executives in order to determine what, if any, information the designers disclosed. In addition to King and Liedtke, Nike also subpoenaed Adidas America general counsel Paul Ehrlich and one other executive. Nike subpoenaed two lower-ranking Adidas executives and global creative director Paul Gaudio at the start of the litigation in December, but the latest filing shows Nike has expanded the number of subpoenas in recent weeks to include the additional U.S. and global officials.

Seven Adidas executives are now subject to subpoenas which, if approved by a judge, could require sworn depositions and additional document production, such as emails about the former Nike designers. On Friday, Barran Liebman partner Paula Barran, who represents the Adidas executives, asked the court to reject the new subpoenas because they would impose an “undue burden or expense” on the company.

Barran, in a statement, said: “Adidas is not a party to this dispute. The lawsuit is not against Adidas. While it’s not a party to the dispute, the company has been cooperative and will continue to cooperate with every reasonable request from each side.”