Keen names former Burton, Specialized Bicycles exec as new president

The Portland, Ore.-based outdoor footwear company named Mike Abbott as its new president, who will usher in Keen's second decade of business.
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After a yearlong search, Keen has a new president.

Mike Abbott

The Portland,Ore.-based outdoor footwear company announced Monday that Mike Abbott will help lead the brand into its second decade of business.

Abbott comes from Specialized Bicycles, where he served as chief operating officer since 2011 and general manager since 2009. Before that, Abbot was chief operating and financial officer at Burton Snowboards from 1999 to 2008.

Keen had been on the hunt for a new president since its former CEO and president James Curleigh left the company for Levi Stauss in May 2012.

The hiring of Abbott will fill the president’s role, while Keen Founder Rory Fuerst will hold onto the CEO position, which he had been serving on an interim basis since Curleigh’s departure.

Celebrating its tenth year in 2013, there will be quite a few new faces at Keen, along with Abbott, to meet at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Within the past year, the company saw its chief financial officer, vice president for marketing and vice president for design and development all depart.

Keen brought in new talent to its product teams, including Jeff Dill, previously of Salomon and Adidas, to lead Keen’s trailhead footwear category; Johanna Koeberle, previously of Sorel, to head merchandising of Keen’s casual footwear; and Catriona Shannon, formerly with Columbia and Nike, as Keen’s new socks product line manager.

With all the changes, it’s evident that Keen is moving in new directions as it expands in product and design beyond its well-known Newport sandals into more diversified watersports, hiking, lifestyle and work footwear categories. The company also recently moved into its new 50,000-square foot Portland headquarters, a building it paid $10.75 million for and spent a year renovating with sustainable practices.

Keen selected Abbott for his ability to help expand the brand globally and nurture the company’s unique and vibrant culture, Keen officials said.

“Mike has proven his ability to lead great companies through rapid growth while maintaining and fostering their authenticity, innovation and superior service,” Fuerst said. “He has worked for brands at the top of their industries and knows what it takes to lead.”

“Keen is the one of the most original and fastest growing outdoor brands in the world,” Abbott said. “I am honored to lead Keen at this very exciting time in its evolution and am looking forward to joining the great team to continue to excite and inspire Keen fans worldwide. My immediate focus will be to meet and understand the needs of Keen's fans, retailers, partners and employees around the globe. Based on this feedback, we will adjust and develop the company’s strategic vision to ensure we continue the momentum over the next ten years."

--David Clucas

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