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Charlie Clifford

Co-Founder — Tumi Inc.

Charlie Clifford is the co-founder of Tumi Inc. and served as CEO for many years before finishing his career heading up Tumi's international business.

 A true entrepreneur, Charlie launched Tumi in 1975 with a partner as an importer of leather bags from Colombia with a total investment of $10,000. Today, Tumi is a leading international brand of premium luggage, business cases, and accessories, and has a dedicated following among frequent travelers, including many international executives, famous athletes, and celebrities. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 and was recently purchased by Samsonite.

 Charlie graduated from Indiana University in 1965 with a BA in English and earned his MBA in marketing from the Kelley School of Business in 1967. He then spent two years in Peru with an experimental Peace Corps program designed for MBAs, working as a consultant with small businesses and assisting government agencies with economic-development projects.

 In 1975, after working as a marketing director for an industrial equipment subsidiary of a large food retailer, he started Tumi and named the company after a Peruvian pre-Columbian god that was the symbol of the region, where he lived while serving in the Peace Corps.

 Since his retirement from Tumi in 2004, Charlie has consulted with various companies in the leather goods sector and is a principal at Compass Partners International, a management firm which partners with international brands, who want to develop their business in the U.S. market.  He is on the board of directors at Knomo, a London brand, which is known for its everyday work bags and business accessories.

 He currently serves on the President’s Circle of ACCION International and the Dean’s Council of the Kelley School of Business.  Charlie is a former member of the board of directors at Aid to Artisans, a non-profit organization that helps artisans around the world to build profitable, sustainable businesses inspired by handmade traditions. He also served on the board of directors for the Travel Goods Association from 1996 to 2003 and was recognized in 2005 for excellence and outstanding contributions to the travel goods industry, the industry’s associations, and the community.  In 2009, he was named as the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year by the Kelley School.  

 Charlie and Cricket (his wife of 50 years) divide their time between their home on Cape Cod and an apartment in New York’s Greenwich Village. They have two grown children: Mark, who lives with his wife and two daughters on Cape Cod; and Tara, who lives in West Concord, MA with her husband and three children.

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