OPEI board discusses key issues at meeting in Sarasota

The board of directors for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) braved East Coast snowstorms to meet Jan. 24-26 in Sarasota, Fla., where they welcomed recently appointed board members, discussed issues central to the industry’s health and well-being, and made plans for 2016.

“It’s evident we have a lot of new energy within the OPEI board of directors,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “We have an involved and dedicated board to guide the outdoor power equipment industry forward in 2016.”

The OPEI board of directors is chaired by Lee Sowell, president – outdoor products, Techtronic Industries, N.A., Inc. The vice chair is Tim Merrett, VP, A&T Global Platform – Turf & Utility, Deere & Company. The Secretary/Treasurer is Daniel T. Ariens, CEO, Ariens Company. The immediate past chair is Paul Mullet, chairman, president & CEO, Excel Industries.

OPEI welcomed a new board member: Jeff Hohler, president, consumer brands division, Husqvarna Professional Products.

Continuing their service on the OPEI board of directors are as follows: Edward B. Cohen, vice president – government & industry relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.; Thomas G. Cromwell, group president – power, Kohler Company; Tim Dorsey, president, Echo Incorporated; Tom Duncan, president & CEO, Positec; Marc J. Dufour, president & CEO, Club Car, LLC; Bjoern Fischer, president, Stihl Incorporated; Peter Hampton, president, Active Exhaust Corp.; Jean Hlay, president & COO, MTD Products Inc.; Michael J. Hoffman, chairman & CEO, The Toro Company; Todd Teske, chairman, president & CEO, Briggs & Stratton Corporation; and David Withers, president, Jacobsen, a Textron Company.

The January board meeting agenda included discussions about proposed changes to California’s emissions regulations and attacks on the managed landscape from the drought in the West. Also discussed were the expansion of OPEI’s TurfMutt environmental stewardship and education program, created in partnership with Scholastic; recent developments on ethanol and fuel pump labeling; and OPEI’s consumer-based ethanol education program, Look Before You Pump.

“We are the voice of the outdoor power equipment industry, which is increasingly facing new challenges,” said Kiser. “Green space is under assault in drought-stricken areas, and there are increased regulatory requirements evolving in California and in other areas. We also remain concerned about consumer confusion over proper fueling because we’re seeing greater ethanol fuel blends enter the marketplace supply, nationwide.”

OPEI is also taking advantage of new opportunities for the industry, such as with the “Lucky Dog” television show, which airs on Saturday mornings on CBS.

Kiser added, “’Lucky Dog’ is now featuring tips from TurfMutt for yards and helping viewers learn about having a living landscape for their pets at home. We’re also launching a new curriculum for our TurfMutt environmental education and stewardship program with Scholastic later this month.”

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