REI has named its latest CEO and the 81-year-old company’s eighth leader.
Eric Artz will assume the roll of president and CEO immediately for the outdoor apparel and gear retailer. Artz has served as interim CEO since February 2019, following the resignation of Jerry Stritzke over a perceived conflict of interest.
"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 Hooper said. "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."
Hooper shared the news at the co-op's annual member meeting, held at its flagship store in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Artz has served REI for seven years, joining REI in 2012 as CFO. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2014. In his tenure at REI, he has overseen departments including digital retail, finance, corporate strategy, and IT. Previously, he was CFO at Urban Outfitters. Before REI, he held leadership roles at Urban Outfitters and spent 17 years at VF Corporation (which includes brands like The North Face, Smartwool and Timberland).
In remarks given at the member meeting, Artz underscored the co-op's commitment to putting purpose before profit, getting more people outdoors, operating sustainably, protecting and creating access to outdoor places and uniting people in local communities from the District of Columbia to Washington state.
"It is such a great honor to serve this organization,” Artz said. “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 emphasized that the co-op—which is more than 18 million members strong—will focus on making an impact for the communities it serves. He said the co-op will redouble its effort to connect new people with the outdoors, highlighting that in 2019 REI will cross the $100 million mark in philanthropic giving.
"Our purpose at REI—our reason for being—is to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors, for all. 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?" said Artz.
He is vice chairman of the board of the Outdoor Industry Association and sits on the board of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Washington State. He is also an advisor to Earth Lab, part of the University of Washington's College of the Environment.