The board of directors of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute announced new leadership with the appointment of The Toro Company President and CEO Rick Olson as chairman. The board also elected several new executive committee members to the 2020-21 roster.
Olson takes on chairmanship duties during an unprecedented time in the association’s history, including the canceling of its spring annual meeting; the postponement of GIE+EXPO, the international landscape, outdoor living, and equipment exposition, to 2021; and the Oct. 1 launch of GIE+EXPO ToGo, a new, free online portal meant to connect the outdoor power community.
“Change and creativity are the watchwords of OPEI this year,” Olson said. “No one could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, but the association is ready to tackle the challenges ahead from how we meet and connect with one another to reassessing our priorities. We’ve learned through this pandemic just how important our outdoor spaces are to our mental and physical health.”
“Rick is the right person to lead us through a tumultuous time and genuine uncertainty,” OPEI President and CEO Kris Kiser said. “Toro is a significant player in the business, and the company has had a longtime leadership role at OPEI. We are very fortunate to have him as chair.”
OPEI’s 2020-2021 officers and members include:
Chair: Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Toro Company
Vice chair: Tom Duncan, Executive Board Member, Positec USA, Inc.
Secretary/treasurer: Joe Wright, President and CEO, Excel Industries
Immediate Past Chair: Bjoern Fischer, President, STIHL
GIE+EXPO Show Chairman: Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO, Ariens Company
Tim Dorsey, President, Echo Incorporated
Peter Hampton, President and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation
Robert McCutcheon, President, Husqvarna North America
Brian Melka, Group President — Power, Kohler Co.
Tim Merrett, Vice President, Global Platform Turf & Utility, Deere and Company
Rob Moll, CEO, MTD
Lee Sowell, President, Outdoor Products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment
Will Walton, III, Business Unit Head, Vice President, Honda Power Equipment
The OPEI Board also rounded out its executive committee with two additional members. Ariens has joined as GIE+EXPO Show Chairman, which will be a permanent position on the executive committee due to the importance of the event and the impending changes that will take place in coming years. Wright also joins the committee as secretary/treasurer.
“The board, long used to meeting together, may have been forced into revised operating procedures around meetings,” Olson said. “But the work of the association goes on and is gearing up for a larger GIE+EXPO in 2021 with new and more educational offerings.”