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Martin Berendsen to join Ellington as CEO

Formerly the president of VF Corporation’s Action Sports, Berendsen brings 20 years’ experience to lifestyle bag company poised for growth

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Ellington announced today that Martin Berendsen will join the company 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.”


Based in Portland, Oregon, Ellington is a lifestyle bag company. In addition to creating products sold under the Ellington brand, they also do extensive private label work. Ellington’s products currently include totes, wallets, purses, travel bags, organizers, briefcases, portfolios, satchels, and duffels—bags that are designed to make life’s daily journey easier, whether it is for travel, everyday, working out or going out on the town. Its products are available through specialty retailers in the United States and online retailers, as well as being featured in many of national catalogues such as Sundance, Smith & Hawken and Sahalie. The company also operates a company store in Portland, Oregon, and their products can be found on the company website,