Barely six months after welcoming Jim Baumann as CEO and president of American Recreation Products, parent company Sun Capital has announced another change in leadership. Effective immediately, Baumann is out and Dale Philippi is in as the new president and CEO.
Baumann took over for George Grabner, who had been at the American Rec helm for 15 years until his unexpected resignation on Sept. 30, 2008 -- click here to read our Oct. 6, 2008, story, "George Grabner is replaced by Jim Baumann at American Rec."
Philippi has held executive positions at Electrolux/Eureka, Inland Steel, Ernst & Young/Cap Gemini, and Black & Decker. Most recently, he was general manager of Price Pfister. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in 1991.
Chris Metz, managing director of Sun Capital Partners (www.suncappart.com), said in a company release: "We are very excited that Dale Philippi will be leading American Recreation Products. Dale is a proven leader with a thorough understanding of how to partner with customers to develop great products and brands. He brings the right blend of experience to American Recreation Products to further its growth and enable the company to maximize its potential." Metz added, "I would like to thank Jim Baumann for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors as he pursues personal interests."
SNEWS® View: Though no one at American Rec was talking on the record, and our April 6 call and email to Baumann went unreturned, one wonders about the reasoning for the sudden departure. You don't just up and leave a position after only six months unless you (a) are fired (which did not occur here), (b) don't like where you are working (which insiders tell us did not seem to be the case at all), or (c) have another job you want more than the one you now have (now there is a possible scenario).
In early March, SNEWS fielded several calls from folks connected to the Washington, D.C., political scene, surprising us with news that Baumann was leaving American Rec to become the new CEO and president of the National Park Foundation. We called American Rec for confirmation, and no one would talk on the record. However, insiders confirmed to us that they had heard Baumann was likely leaving for the NPF, but did not know if anything was final. We sought confirmation by phone and email from the National Park Foundation on March 6, and again on April 6. On April 6, we received the following email from Anne Marek, director of media and public affairs for NPF, "The National Park Foundation is in the midst of a confidential search for its next President and CEO. We are unable to comment on possible candidates or the search in progress." Why we did not receive such an email on March 6 is unknown, but it does appear to confirm the search by NPF for a new leader is back on -- if it was ever off to begin with.
It's not clear whether Baumann resigned his pursuit of the job at NPF, the job ended up not working out, or if he was even in the running to begin with. What is clear is Baumann is a very nice person who we at SNEWS wish very well. He took on a challenging job at American Rec and is, unfortunately, leaving at a quite critical juncture for the company -- the beginning of an extremely important selling season with a new rep force for the Boulder Outdoor Specialty Group and a less than stellar economy. We hope that Philippi is a very quick learner, and asks a lot of questions of both Kenny Ballard, president of BOSG, and Geoff O'Keefe, vice president of operations for American Rec. Just because Philippi has no outdoor industry experience to speak of doesn't mean he won't be successful -- as long as he realizes the companies he is now leading are not manufacturing commodity items that can be sold at price point in department stores.