OPEI annual meeting recap

The OPEI annual meeting offers plenty of opportunities for networking and discussion – all in a relaxed atmosphere. Photos provided by OPEI

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) recently held its 66th annual meeting, focusing on messages of innovation and industry advancement.

“Our annual meeting is the premier opportunity for members, suppliers, vendors, and financiers to engage in a relaxed atmosphere, discuss the most important issues facing the industry today, and to do some business,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI president and CEO. “With more than 100 members, we have record levels of membership and engagement, and the annual meeting is the place where they come together.”

Chief among industry updates heard at the meeting, OPEI introduced its new statistics vendor, Vault Consulting, which showcased updates to the members-only program’s capabilities and categories. OPEI staff also shared the latest forecast update for key categories of equipment.

OPEI also rolled out a preview of a new television program sponsored by TurfMutt and produced in partnership with Hearst Television and Litton Entertainment. The show, which highlights the importance of lawns and outdoor space to families and pets, will debut this fall on the CW.

John Dunlap, OPEI consultant and former chairman of the California Air Resources Board, outlined the potential market impact of new regulatory schemes in California on the outdoor power equipment industry in the state and nationwide.

T. J. Landrum, Kohler; Greg Goings, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies; Joe Wright, Excel Industries; and Greg Knott, OPEI.

Keynote addresses from futurist Vivek Wadwha and NASA Mars Rover team leader Adam Steltzner highlighted the power of technology, teams, innovation, and exploration to advance companies and civilization.

The annual meeting also played host to the OPEI Propane Golf Classic, sponsored by the Propane Education Research Council. The top teams at the tournament this year were:

  • Joe Wright, Excel Industries; T. J. Landrum, Kohler; Greg Goings, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies; and Greg Knott, OPEI
  • Del Zhao, Loncin Motor Company; Jeff Plotka, Precision Work; Steve Fregneau, Precision Work; and Bob Byrne, Sheffield Financial

Bob Byrne, Sheffield Financial; Jeff Plotka, Precision Work; Steve Fregneau, Precision Work; and Del Zhao, Loncin Motor Company.

Planning is already underway for OPEI’s 2019 annual meeting, to be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah, June 18-20, 2019. Members are encouraged to contact association staff with suggestions for topics or speakers.

The OPEI Board of Directors met in conjunction with the annual meeting, installing its 2018-2019 leadership. The board bid a fond farewell to outgoing chairman Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO, Ariens Company, and welcomed incoming Chairman Tom Cromwell, group president, Kohler Power, Kohler Company.

The board also appointed Earl Bennett, president of Husqvarna Professional Products, to the board.

“Earl Bennett is a longtime advocate for the outdoor power equipment industry, and we welcome his perspective on the OPEI Board of Directors,” said Kiser.

The 2018-2019 OPEI Board of Directors comprises:

  • Chair: Tom Cromwell, group president, Kohler Power, Kohler Company
  • Vice chair: Bjoern Fischer, president, Stihl
  • Secretary/treasurer: Rick Olson, chairman, president and CEO, The Toro Company
  • Immediate past chair: Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO, Ariens Company


  • Earl Bennett, president, Professional Products, Husqvarna
  • Edward B. Cohen, vice president, government & industry relations, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
  • Tim Dorsey, president, Echo Incorporated
  • Tom Duncan, president and CEO, Positec USA, Inc.
  • Peter Hampton, president and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation
  • Jean Hlay, president and COO, MTD Products, Inc.
  • Tim Merrett, vice president, global platform turf & utility, Deere and Company
  • Lee Sowell, president, outdoor products, Techtronic Industries
  • Todd Teske, chairman, president and CEO, Briggs and Stratton Corporation
  • Mark Wagner, president and CEO, Club Car, LLC
  • Joe Wright, president and CEO, Excel Industries

OPEI’s 2019 annual meeting will be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, Utah.