I am honored to serve as the Chair of the REI board of directors, and on behalf of the entire board I want to thank you for your continued support and patronage of your co-op. Inspiring, educating and outfitting you for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship is our reason for being. All of us at REI take this purpose to heart, and we strive to provide you with products and services that help you create lifelong memories in the world beyond walls.
In reflecting on the state of the co-op, I am struck by the remarkable events of the last 12 months. Early in 2013, REI’s CEO, Sally Jewell, was nominated and confirmed as the United States Secretary of the Interior. This is a true testament to the positive influence the co-op has had on our shared responsibility as a nation to steward public recreational lands. We wish Sally well as she navigates the mix of perspectives and expectations for how to steward the millions of acres of public lands and wilderness in the U.S.
With Sally’s departure, the board undertook one of its most important duties – selecting a new CEO. In the 75-year history of the co-op, there have been only a handful of CEOs, and nearly all were promoted from within. This time, we knew we would be hiring from the “outside” and the board approached the work with the exceptional care and thoughtfulness worthy of the trust placed in us by co-op members and employees. We believe our work brought a remarkable leader to REI in the form of Jerry Stritzke.
I’d like to thank my board colleague Cheryl Scott for her steady, measured leadership as the chair of the CEO search committee. By day, Cheryl is a senior advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She brought energy, wisdom, and experience to her leadership role and we are enormously grateful to her.
Jerry Stritzke’s first day on the job as the 7th CEO of REI was October 1, 2013. He combines a keen retail intellect, extensive experience in retail operations, and superior brand-building skills with a genuine personal passion for the outdoors. In the increasingly dynamic and competitive retail marketplace in which REI operates, Jerry has the experience, energy, and judgment to lead the co-op to continued success. You can read more about Jerry’s background here.
While REI is in strong shape financially, we are looking to Jerry for progress in several areas: first, to expand the reach of REI’s brand to outdoors enthusiasts across the U.S.; second, to enhance the shopping experience for members in our stores and on rei.com; third, to bring you a compelling assortment of gear and apparel for your adventures; and, finally, to enhance and expand REI’s stewardship efforts.
As we welcome Jerry to the co-op, we also bid farewell and say thank you to the Board members whose terms are ending. We’re grateful for the many contributions made by Michael Smith and Jesse King, who complete their service on April 28, 2014. Their voices and perspectives added significantly to the success and well-being of the co-op.
Thank you for your patronage and engagement with REI, and I hope we can help you get outside soon for another adventure. Please know that your board of directors is committed to ensuring REI’s health, relevance, and vitality now and for many years to come.