Toro’s Olson named chairman of OPE Institute; Ariens chairs GIE+EXPO

The Board of Directors of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has announced new leadership at the helm, with the appointment of Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO of The Toro Company as Chairman. The board also elected several new executive committee members to the 2020-2021 roster.

Olson takes on chairmanship duties during an unprecedented time in the association’s history, including the canceling of its spring annual meeting; the postponement of GIE+EXPO, the international landscape, outdoor living, and equipment exposition, to 2021; and the Oct. 1 launch of GIE+EXPO ToGo, a new, free online portal meant to connect the outdoor power community.

Rick Olson

“Change and creativity are the watchwords of OPEI this year,” Olson said. “No one could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, but the association is ready to tackle the challenges ahead from how we meet and connect with one another to reassessing our priorities. We’ve learned through this pandemic just how important our outdoor spaces are to our mental and physical health.”

Added Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI and the TurfMutt Foundation: “Rick is the right person to lead us through a tumultuous time and genuine uncertainty. Toro is a significant player in the business, and the company has had a longtime leadership role at OPEI. We are very fortunate to have him as Chair.”

OPEI’s 2020-2021 officers and members of its Board of Directors are:

  • Chair: Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Toro Company
  • Vice Chair: Tom Duncan, Executive Board Member, Positec USA, Inc.
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Joe Wright, President and CEO, Excel Industries
  • Immediate Past Chair: Bjoern Fischer, President, STIHL
  • GIE+EXPO Show Chairman: Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO, Ariens Company

Other Directors

  • Tim Dorsey, President, Echo Incorporated
  • Peter Hampton, President and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation
  • Robert McCutcheon, President, Husqvarna North America
  • Brian Melka, Group President — Power, Kohler Co.
  • Tim Merrett, Vice President, Global Platform Turf & Utility, Deere and Company
  • Rob Moll, CEO, MTD
  • Lee Sowell, President, Outdoor Products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment
  • Will Walton, III, Business Unit Head, Vice President, Honda Power Equipment

The OPEI Board also rounded out its executive committee with two additional members. Dan Ariens has joined as GIE+EXPO Show Chairman, which will be a permanent position on the executive committee due to the importance of the event and the impending changes that will take place in coming years. Also joining the executive committee is Joe Wright as Secretary/Treasurer.

“The board, long used to meeting together, may have been forced into revised operating procedures around meetings,” Olson said. “But the work of the association goes on and is gearing up for a larger GIE+EXPO in 2021 with new and more educational offerings.”

In 2022, OPEI moves into a restructured ownership model of GIE+EXPO as sole owner.

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