Dan Templin, the chief financial officer for VF Outdoor, added another title to his resume as of July 21 -- chairman of the Outdoor Industry Association's board of directors. Templin will serve as the chair through Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2011.
SNEWS® chatted with Templin recently, to find out just what he sees as the opportunities and challenges in the months ahead for OIA.
"OIA is playing an increasingly important role in representing and providing leadership in government affairs and policy, market research and development, industry services and consumer outreach," Templin told us. "I look forward to my work in furthering the board's goals to continue strong sales growth for the industry through facilitating greater access to outdoor spaces and increasing awareness of the benefits of an outdoor lifestyle.
"Central to all of that is my belief that the board is here to ensure that the association is healthy and strong, so it can fulfill its mission and core purpose to ensure the growth and success of the outdoor industry -- and principle to that success is the health and well being of the specialty outdoor retailer," Templin said.
Templin pointed out that he believes if OIA can help not only specialty retailers, but also manufacturers, with an eye to the smaller, independent brands, with tools and support to make it through this economic downturn, then we will all be in a better position to take advantage of the potential that is unique to the outdoor industry.
"I am a strong believer in business as a force for good and the outdoor industry as a unique, successful and powerful business model," Templin told us. "I believe we can, through OIA, help improve our business model and make sure it flourishes to benefit all and make the world a better place for everyone."
We asked Templin what he felt the big opportunity for the outdoor industry was that we needed to be prepared for.
"You just have to look at the big macro trends going on in our society -- people want to simplify their lives and get back to things that have meaning to them. And they are expressing things more and more by going into outdoor activities and we see that in our participation data," said Templin.
As an example, Leisure Trends' data indicates the sales of family camping tents are up, which relates to increases in family camping activities being reported at state and national parks.
"Those data points are leading indicators of more positive activities folks want to do. What we need to do as an industry is make sure we are recognizing these are gateway or entry-level points for pulling more and more people into our world," added Templin.
There is a need for focus, though. Templin acknowledges that while there are many things which OIA might want to do or other folks want it to do, he will be keeping the team's focus on four areas: industry data collection and management; best business practices including eco-index; trade issues; and lobbying efforts on behalf of the industry in local, state and federal levels.
One area that Templin said he feels OIA can have a very real cost-savings impact for the industry is in the realm of coordinating compliance manufacturing. "If we have five companies all vetting out the same factory for similar work, then it makes great economic and resource strength to ensure that only one company is performing the study, and then sharing the findings with everyone," said Templin. "I believe OIA is very well positioned to be able to facilitate that kind of resource and information gathering and sharing."
Of course, an association is only as strong as its membership, and Templin told us the board is acutely aware of that fact. As a result, it will be focusing energy on ensuring the majority of revenue OIA relies on comes from the membership and not from trade show or other funding sources.
"The key element for funding must be the membership, and we will work tirelessly to ensure the membership encompasses the entire outdoor industry, particularly retailers," Templin told SNEWS. "That is the way OIA will maintain its relevance and strength as a trade organization for the long term."
Templin is a graduate of New York University with an MBA in marketing and international business. He has held senior positions in finance and operations for LVMH Moet Hennessey, Louis Vuitton, and spent a decade at Nabisco Brands International, including a two-year assignment in Paris. In 2000, Templin joined The North Face as its CFO. Since then, he has executed several key acquisitions (including Eagle Creek, Reef, Vans, Kipling and Napapijri), a process that led to the formation of VF Outdoor which includes The North Face, JanSport, Eagle Creek, Eastpak, Reef, Napapijri, Vans and Kipling.
SNEWS® View: Templin also said something that we at SNEWS applaud and want to yell "thank you" for from the mountaintops -- that as an industry and as members of OIA, as we look at all the data points from myriads of reports and contemplate opportunities, we all need to be more open to working with other groups by inviting them into our stores, our businesses and our lives more than we have been before -- like the RV community, hunters, fishermen and women, and anyone that enjoys recreating in the outdoors. Yes, even off-road folks. Together we can accomplish much. Separately, we are just perceived as competing factions each looking at the same slice of pie with slightly different colored lenses.
It has been fun for us to watch the progression of OIA board chair leadership through the years. Each board chair, from Sally McCoy to Steve Barker to Lee Fromson to Kim Coupounas to Mike Wallenfels and now Dan Templin has brought something special to the association. With Templin, we see opportunity for focus (yes, OIA has seemed a bit scattered at times lately) and opportunity for open arms and thinking. Templin is absolutely right -- OIA is uniquely positioned to help the industry. Now, we just have to enable the association by becoming members and putting shoulders to the wheels of progress -- it cannot do what we need it to do without all of us on board. Are you a member? If not, why not?