REI’s Stritzke Resigns Amid Controversy

REI president and CEO Jerry Stritzke has resigned for failing to disclose a relationship with the head of another organization in the outdoor industry. REI officials at the Kent, Washington, headquarters said Tuesday that Stritzke will leave March 15.

The company says Stritzke resigned after an outside investigation into “a personal and consensual relationship.” Officials also say the working relationship between REI and the partner organization, which has not been identified, found there was no financial misconduct.

“The board of directors has a significant responsibility to REI, however, and the conclusions of the investigation were clear,” Steve Hooper, chair of REI’s board of directors, write. “Errors of judgment were made, and Jerry and the board agree that it is time for a new leader to take the co-op forward.”

Stritzke became CEO in 2013. He said in a letter to employees that he was sorry he didn’t disclose the relationship.

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“I love REI and I believe fiercely that the work that the co-op has done for 80 years has had an unmatched positive impact on the outdoors. I feel incredibly fortunate to have led this organization. REI is full of amazing people and I am grateful for the role the co-op has played in my life, even in the toughest times,” Stritzke said in the statement. “I regret few things in life but I am sorry that I did not disclose the relationship, and it’s time for the co-op to have a new leader. The last thing I want is to damage REI and I deeply regret that any of this could impact the co-op. You deserve better. Even so, the co-op is in a great place and I have enormous confidence in Eric and the leadership team and the thousands of employees of REI to get REI to next.”

REI’s chief operating officer Eric Artz will become interim CEO.