OPEI Board Of Directors Appoints New Leadership


The Board of Directors of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) have announced new leadership at the helm, with the appointment of Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Toro Company as Chairman. The board also elected several new executive committee members to the 2020-2021 roster. OPEI is an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, portable generator, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.

Rick Olson
OPEI Board of Directors Chair, 2020-21

Olson takes on chairmanship duties during an unprecedented time in the association’s history, including the canceling of its spring annual meeting and the postponement of GIE+EXPO to 2021. “Change and creativity are the watchwords of OPEI this year,” he says. “No one could have predicted how 2020 would unfold, but the association is ready to tackle the challenges ahead from how we meet and connect with one another to reassessing our priorities. We’ve learned through this pandemic just how important our outdoor spaces are to our mental and physical health.”

Adds Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI and the TurfMutt Foundation: “Rick is the right person to lead us through a tumultuous time and genuine uncertainty. Toro is a significant player in the business, and the company has had a longtime leadership role at OPEI. We are very fortunate to have him as Chair.”

OPEI’s 2020-2021 officers and members of its Board of Directors are:

Chair: Mr. Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Toro Company
Vice Chair: Mr. Tom Duncan, Executive Board Member, Positec USA, Inc.
Secretary/Treasurer: Mr. Joe Wright, President and CEO, Excel Industries
Immediate Past Chair: Mr. Bjoern Fischer, President, STIHL
GIE+EXPO Show Chairman: Mr. Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO, Ariens Company

Other Directors

Dan Ariens
GIE+EXPO Show Chairman
  • Tim Dorsey, President, Echo Incorporated
  • Peter Hampton, President and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation
  • Robert McCutcheon, President, Husqvarna North America
  • Brian Melka, Group President — Power, Kohler Co.
  • Tim Merrett, Vice President, Global Platform Turf & Utility, Deere and Company
  • Rob Moll, CEO, MTD
  • Lee Sowell, President, Outdoor Products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment
  • Will Walton, III, Business Unit Head, Vice President, Honda Power Equipment

The OPEI Board also rounded out its executive committee with two additional members. Dan Ariens has joined as GIE+EXPO Show Chairman, which will be a permanent position on the executive committee due to the significance of the event and the impending changes that will take place in coming years. Also joining the executive committee is Joe Wright as Secretary/Treasurer.

“The board, long used to meeting together, may have been forced into revised operating procedures around meetings,” says Olson, “But the work of the association goes on and is gearing up for a larger GIE+EXPO in 2021 with new and more educational offerings.”

In 2022, OPEI moves into a restructured ownership model of GIE+EXPO as sole owner.