Outdoor Research didn’t have to go far to find its new president and chief operating officer.
The Seattle-based outdoor brand looked a down the road to Cascade Designs and saw Ken Meidell, vice president of sales, marketing and product development, as the perfect fit.
"We’re a mile apart, so I already knew a lot of people at Outdoor Research, and Dan and I have talked for years," Meidell told SNEWS in an exclusive first interview. "I wasn’t looking to leave Cascade Designs — they’re in great shape — but this was an opportunity to help another great brand grow."
Meidell, who will start his new job Sept. 6, will take over day-to-day operations at Outdoor Research, while CEO Dan Nordstrom, who previously held the president title, will focus on broader brand-building and long-range planning initiatives.
"My time is best spent working with retailers, buyers and customers,” Nordstrom said. “I love to be on the road working with floor staff and sales training. They’ll see more of me and there will be deeper brand story telling. Ken will keep the trains running back home."
Systems and processes are Meidell’s strengths, something he worked on for a dozen years at Cascade Designs’ family of brands, including Therm-a-Rest, MSR and Platypus. At Outdoor Research, he’ll only have one brand to concentrate on, but that doesn’t make the job any easier, he said.
“The stakes go up when it’s a single brand, because every product has to deliver on the promise, history and expectations of the brand," he said.
Outdoor Research’s four vice presidents — Jordan Wand (product and marketing), Alex Kutches (sales), Clark Campbell (operations) and Audrey Hicks (finance) — will report to Meidell, who in turn will report to Nordstrom. Kutches served a brief role as Outdoor Research president starting in 2011, before returning to his VP role earlier this year.
Meidell doesn't plan on any immediate changes at Outdoor Research. The company is looking for organic growth. The biggest challenge will be learning new patterns and rhythms and then seeing where there might be room for improvement, he said. Meidell will also have a new commute in Seattle — one less mile.