Outdoor Research restructures exec leadership, hires Jordan Wand

Outdoor Research readies to celebrate 30 years of life by restructuring the executive team, bringing in Jordan Wand, and setting a course for recognition as a strong international brand from 2011 onward. Only SNEWS has the inside story and interview with Dan Nordstrom.
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As Outdoor Research nears the celebration of its 30th anniversary at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011, the company’s executive team has made the decision to add a fourth vice president position that will link both marketing and product development into the same position. Filling that new role is Jordan Wand, who began jockeying a desk at the company’s Seattle, Wash., headquarters on Oct. 4.

Wand brings more than 20 years of experience to his position after working at Merrell Apparel, Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren.

Dan Nordstrom (photo - right), president of Outdoor Research, told SNEWS that he felt the company was at a critical juncture…one that would require dramatic internal change to continue to manage the quality and innovative expectations of retailers and consumers. Since he acquired the company in 2003, following the death of owner and founder Ron Gregg (click here to read our story), Nordstrom told us the company has nearly quadrupled in size.

“As the team and I were going through strategic planning and other exercises, it became very evident that where we wanted to do more, we were limited in some ways simply by challenges in execution of developing product well and communicating effectively about that product,” Nordstrom told us.

During numerous brainstorming sessions, Nordstrom told SNEWS that it was Clark Campbell who floated an idea to combine design and marketing because he’d seen it before.

“Essentially, the idea behind the linkage is that who and what the brand is more fully drives the development of new product to a point that new products get developed in tune with a compelling story behind them,” added Nordstrom. “It is the opposite of what we so often do in this industry of creating a product and then tossing it to marketing to have them try to find something creative to say about it.”

But to pull off the addition of a new vice president, the existing executive team would have to be willing to give up parts of their job responsibilities. Nordstrom left it up to the team to decide.

While it is not often SNEWS has encountered members of a company leadership team uniformly willing to each give up control of a part of their daily jobs, the Outdoor Research executive team did just that. It was done in order to ensure the company, we were told, was structured for longevity in a shifting marketplace.

Wand (photo - left) told SNEWS, “Initially, when the opportunity presented itself, I found it very telling of the culture of the brand and the quality of Dan’s leadership team to have them make such a selfless decision. You do not often find cultures where leaders are willing to give up territory, but if it is done for the right reason, it is indicative of a unique corporate culture and a place I wholeheartedly wanted to work.”

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Alex Kutches, formerly vice president of sales and marketing, is now vice president of sales. This will allow him to more fully focus on the global sales arena, an increasingly full-time job, Nordstrom told us.

Clark Campbell, formerly vice president of design and operations, has become vice president of operations. He will focus more completely on the supply chain and manufacturing side. It is a critical job for any company, especially for Outdoor Research with so much manufacturing being performed in Asia. 

Nordstrom told SNEWS that Wand will assume oversight of all product development and marketing for the company, linking the two in a way that more fully engages Outdoor Research’s DNA as a company that develops products first and foremost based on needs identified from the field. Although Outdoor Research is well established in Asia and Europe, there is an expectation that this new structure will allow the company to begin the shift to being recognized as an international brand, and not just a U.S. company selling in international markets.

The only position that did not shift functions is vice president of finance and administration, where Audrey Hicks will still retain that title and all the pressure that comes with it, Nordstrom told us.

Outdoor Research has also retained Verde PR, which will work closely with Wand and the executive team to communicate the brand message to a diverse and broad audience.

--Michael Hodgson

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