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It’s been nearly four months since Jerry Stritzke resigned as REI’s CEO and president following an internal investigation that uncovered his “personal and consensual relationship” between him and a leader of another organization in the outdoor industry.
But now, the co-op has a new leader.
Eric Artz, who has served as interim CEO since February, was chosen by the board of directors to lead the co-op after a national search. Board chair Steve Hooper shared the news at the company’s annual meeting on Monday at its flagship store in Washington, D.C.
“It is such a great honor to serve this organization,” Artz said Monday. “REI is so much bigger than a single person. 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.”
Artz has been with REI for seven years, most recently as chief operating officer and before that as chief financial officer. Artz and his team recently reported 2018 as its strongest year on record, with earnings of $2.78 billion and year-over-year revenue growth since 2003.
He is also the vice chairman of the board of the Outdoor Industry Association and sits on the board of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Washington. He is also an advisor to Earth Lab, part of the University of Washington’s College of the Environment. Previously, Artz was CFO at Urban Outfitters and spent 17 years at VF Corporation.
REI is a retail giant in the outdoor industry: It’s opening new locations across the country, growing its member base of more than 18 million, reinvesting more than 70 percent of profits in the outdoor community and sustainability, and crossing the $100 million mark in philanthropic giving this year.
“Our purpose at REI—our reason for being—is to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors, for all,” Artz said. “Because if we can’t help people to be connected with nature, how can we expect them to care for the long-term health of the planet?”