Geoff O'Keefe apparently doesn't like to be out of work very long.
On Friday, at the end of the day, we were copied on the following missive from O'Keefe to industry friends and Lowe Alpine staff as he ended his tenure as president of Lowe Alpine following the closure of Lowe's Boulder, Colorado-based office: " Our world is smaller these days and our outdoor industry was never all that big to begin with, so I'm confident we'll be seeing each other soon. I'm not a good enough guitar player to earn a living playing music and as a writer, I have severe cognitive and expletive lapses, so that's not a possibility either. I've done this outdoor thing now for twenty-eight years and I suppose I'll be buried with a free Gramicci coffee cup in one hand and a P&L from some outdoor company in the other."
Monday morning, as in today, we received official notification that Greg Thomsen, general manager of Pacifica, LTD, parent company of Golden, Colorado-based Mountainsmith and 105 Meridien, was relinquishing his president titles to both companies and turning them over to O'Keefe.
"Over the last year, I discovered that being in the Colorado offices only two days a week, and sometimes far less when I was on the road in Asia or making sales calls with our team, was not ideal," Thomsen told SNEWSÂ®. "I knew we needed leadership in here full-time, but we also weren't just going to go out and try to fill a position unless the right person came along, and it did with Geoff."
"I've known Geoff for over 25 years, so there is natural synergy. He is good for our customers, good for our team, good for me and hiring him made perfect sense," Thomsen added.
Effective immediately, O'Keefe will be responsible for all consumer products made under the Mountainsmith brand name, as well as all OEM products designed and produced by 105 Meridien.
"I am extremely excited by this opportunity," O'Keefe told us on his way to his first official day on the job. "This is a solid brand with history and authenticity and being Colorado-based does help us, I believe, in the eyes of the user community."
"In the specialty end of the business, product is still king and being a company that has innovative product that is competitively priced, looks good, helps dealers make money, and that is delivered on time is the name of the game, and we are that kind of company," said O'Keefe.
SNEWS View: An understandably energetic and inspired O'Keefe is jumping on board a train that has, in the last year, really picked up steam and is poised to do more than simply chug predictably along a fixed set of tracks. Year-end anticipated growth for both 105 Meridien (they design, manufacture and assist with financing private label products for many major retail brands) and Mountainsmith is at 15 percent. With O'Keefe, expect the company to eye European distribution within the next year, and to further develop new product lines targeted to give specialty retailers something a little different to sell than might be found on most mainstream retail shelves. On the surface, this does appear to be a marriage made in heaven as Thomsen, admittedly not the best people manager in the business, can turn over daily oversight of the team to O'Keefe, a proven leader with extremely strong and loyal industry relationships. That leaves Thomsen free to direct his full attention to what he does better than most -- develop international relationships, manage factory partnerships, establish stronger sourcing networks, and dream up new product categories and concepts for O'Keefe's team to execute.