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OPEI holds annual meeting in Wisconsin

Members of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) gathered in Kohler, Wisc. in late June for their annual meeting to discuss the challenges ahead for the outdoor power equipment industry and also its potential for growth.

“With growing regulatory issues, potential economic upheaval ahead and shifting attitudes about lawn care and landscaping, our industry and members are seeing new challenges, even as they face a period of growth and innovation,” said Dan Ariens, incoming chair of the OPEI Board of Directors. “The annual meeting is a key part of the industry’s preparation in handling those changes.”

At this year’s OPEI Annual Meeting, speakers provided both insight and advice on today’s unprecedented climate.

Ben Saunders, World Record-Breaking Polar Explorer, opened the event with his advice for “achieving the impossible.” Dr. Alan Beaulieu, award winning economist and author of “Good Days Ahead!” warned the audience of a potential 2030 global economic collapse and encouraged attendees to “prepare for it.” But he also noted that there is much opportunity ahead in the next twelve years.

Ann Marie Buerkle, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), discussed the changing regulatory climate. She assured the audience of her commitment to “following the data” during decision-making around rules and regulations.

Political pundit and managing editor of Bloomberg Politics & TV Host, Mark Halperin, regaled the audience with stories of “Good Trump” and “Bad Trump,” and noted that the political climate remains in flux for now.

Other speakers included Margaret O’Gorman of the Wildlife Habitat Council who encouraged the audience to remember that “every act of conservation matters” and that “it doesn’t take a lot of space to make a big difference.”

“If there was a theme at this meeting, it’d be this: prepare for a decade of ever-increasing uncertainty but don’t miss the opportunity around you. Our line-up of speakers certainly gave the industry some serious food for thought,” said Kris Kiser, OPEI’s CEO and President.

OPEI’s 2017-2018 officers and members of its Board of Directors were also elected during the annual meeting. They are:

OPEI Chair: Daniel Ariens, Chairman & CEO, Ariens Company

OPEI Vice Chair: Tom Cromwell, Group President – Power, Kohler Company

OPEI Secretary/Treasurer: Bjoern Fischer, President, Stihl Incorporated

Immediate Past Chair: Tim Merrett, Vice President, Global Platform –Turf & Utility, Agriculture & Turf Div., Deere & Company

The other members of the OPEI Board of Directors are: Edward B. Cohen, Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, Honda North America, Inc.; Tim Dorsey, President, Echo Incorporated; Marc J. Dufour, President & CEO, Club Car, LLC; Tom Duncan, President and CEO, Positec Tool Corporation; Peter Hampton, President, Active Exhaust Corporation; Jean Hlay, President & Chief Operating Officer, MTD Products Inc.; Jeff Hohler, President, Consumer Brands Division, Husqvarna Group; Paul Mullet, President & CEO, Excel Industries, Inc.; Rick Olson, President & Chief Operating Officer, The Toro Company; Lee Sowell, President – Outdoor Products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment; Todd Teske, Chairman, President & CEO, Briggs and Stratton Corporation.

The meeting was held at extraordinary The American Club in Kohler, home to OPEI member Kohler Engines. Members were fortunate to meet Herb Kohler, Chairman and CEO of Kohler Engines at the opening reception.

The premier sponsor for the OPEI annual meeting was TCF Inventory Finance. The Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and Kentucky Venues sponsored the Welcome Reception and the Whistling Straits Reception and Dinner. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) sponsored the OPEI Propane Golf Classic for attendees. Other sponsors included TD Retail Card Services, Wells Fargo, Gates and Husqvarna Group.

Next year, OPEI will hold its annual meeting at Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Key Largo, Fla.

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