After Jerry Stritzke announced he would resign as the CEO of REI amid an internal investigation in February, the co-op today announced a new CEO.
The outdoor industry lit up with speculation after REI’s CEO Jerry Stritzke announced a sudden resignation earlier this year.
Speculation swirled after Stritzke and the co-op revealed an internal investigation had uncovered a “personal and consensual relationship between the REI CEO and the leader of another organization in the outdoor industry.”
But just as much buzz hovered around who would fill Stritzke’s shoes. In just 5 years, Stritzke was widely seen as an innovative leader. He helped spearhead REI’s popular #OptOutside movement and accelerated the co-op’s growth.
Today, REI announced that interim CEO Eric Artz received board approval to become the official president and eighth CEO in the company’s 81-year history.
“After a thorough national search, it was clear to us that the best person for the job was already leading the co-op,” REI board chair Steve Hooper said at the co-op’s annual member meeting in Washington, D.C. “To his core, Eric believes in the purpose and impact of the co-op. Anyone who knows him well will tell you that above all, he cares deeply about the power of the outdoors to bring people together.”
REI Names Eric Artz as New CEO
Artz joined REI in 2012 as the chief financial officer, then rose to chief operating officer in 2014. An Army veteran, Artz formerly served as CFO for Urban Outfitters and spent 17 years at VF Corp, parent to The North Face, Altra, Smartwool, and other outdoor brands.
“It is such a great honor to serve this organization. REI is so much bigger than a single person,” Artz said at the REI Co-op gathering.
“You need to know that I am here to serve you. What you all do, each day, as employees and members of REI, makes a difference in people’s lives. My job is to help you reach more people. The fight for life outdoors starts right here at REI.”
To be sure, Artz has big shoes to fill. We will update this story as it develops.