Vista, CA -- VF Outdoor Inc., a subsidiary of VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), today announced a new leadership structure for the Eagle Creek® brand, the number one maker of adventure travel gear, luggage, day travel bags, travel accessories and packing solutions for active, adventurous souls.Steve Barker, founder and President of Eagle Creek, will transition to consultant for the brand and advise on strategic projects, while maintaining his seat on the Conservation Alliance board.Effective immediately, Michael Millenacker, formerly Vice President of Sales, will succeed Barker as President.
In his new role, Millenacker will be responsible for developing global brand strategy and execution of the long-term growth plan for Eagle Creek. Millenacker, who joined Eagle Creek in 2000, will report to Steve Rendle, President of VF OutdoorAmericas.
“Michael has a deep understanding and passion for adventure travel and the Eagle Creek® brand’s DNA. His track record of developing category leadership in line with overall brand positioning makes him ideal to lead the continued expansion of the brand,” Rendle said.
Rendle credited Steve Barker and his wife, Nona Barker, who has served as Operations Manager, for playing an integral role in establishing the Adventure Travel Gear industry. Nona Barker, co-founder of Eagle Creek, will depart in late January to devote more time to outside interests. Her original designs and innovations helped define the Adventure Travel Gear category.
"More than 34 years ago, Steve and Nona Barker founded the Eagle Creek® brand with the vision of proving that adventure travel could be made easier by creating convertible backpacks, durable lightweight luggage and organized packing accessories for the adventure traveler," Rendle said. “Since then, their careers have spanned three decades, designing and producing quality travel gear for the Eagle Creek® brand. Steve’s contributions to the industry have been significant, We are grateful for his leadership and look forward to carrying the vision forward to the next generation of travelers.”
In addition, Ricky Schlesinger, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, will transition to a brand advisory role and will be departing Eagle Creek at the end of June. Schlesinger has been the brand’s architect and marketing leader over a span of 30 years.A highly recognized leader in both the Outdoor and Luggage industries, most recently servings as Chairman of the Travel Goods Association, Schlesinger is known for defining and communicating an entirely new category of product now known as Adventure Travel Gear.“Ricky’s tireless efforts and passion for the brand were instrumental in creating a category leader,” Steve Barker said.
Candyce Johnson will join Eagle Creek in the newly created position of Vice President, Merchandising and Marketing. Johnson has an impressive portfolio of apparel and equipment experience in merchandising, buying and product management and a proven track record of leading, growing and inspiring teams of creative people.Most recently, she served as Director of Merchandising for REI.
Thomas Ryll will oversee the brand’s international business, including current licensees. Ryll joined Eagle Creek in 1995 and has been instrumental in leading the brand’s sales and marketing efforts in Europe.
In addition to their business achievements with Eagle Creek, Steve and Nona Barker developed a strong a culture of giving back to the local community; their commitment and involvement in charitable organizations has been significant. Both Steve and Nona are longtime volunteer firefighters in North San Diego County, and Steve founded The Escondido Creek Conservancy, which has been instrumental in preserving thousands of acres of open space in San Diego County.Throughout the years they have also supported the North San Diego County Food Bank, raising thousands of pounds of food annually to help needy families in their community.
About Eagle Creek
Founded in 1975, California-based Eagle Creek, Inc., invented the adventure travel gear category, introduced the industry’s first convertible backpack on wheels, and is revolutionizing the way travelers pack with its Pack-It® folders, cubes, sacs and toiletry kit organizing system. Visit www.eaglecreek.com for more information.