"After a thorough national search, it was clear to us that the best person for the job was already leading the co-op," Hooper said. "To his core, Eric believes in the purpose and impact of the co-op. Anyone who knows him well will tell you that above all, he cares deeply about the power of the outdoors to bring people together."
Artz joined REI in 2012 as Chief Financial Officer and in 2014 became Chief Operating Officer. In remarks given at the member meeting, he underscored the co-op's commitment to putting purpose before profit, getting more people outdoors, operating sustainably, protecting and creating access to outdoor places and uniting people in local communities from the District of Columbia to Washington state.
Standing beneath the words "Outside for all," on Monday, Artz said, "It is such a great honor to serve this organization. REI is so much bigger than a single person. You need to know that I am here to serve you. What you all do, each day, as employees and members of REI, makes a difference in people's lives. My job is to help you reach more people. The fight for life outdoors starts right here at REI."
Artz and his leadership team take on a healthy business that recently reported 2018 as its strongest year on record. The co-op recently reported earnings of $2.78 billion in 2018, and has reported year-over-year growth in revenues every year since 2003. Those results are helping REI do more for the outdoor community, like expanding the co-op's used gear and rental programs, reinvesting more than 70 percent of its profits in the outdoor community and advancing sustainability across the industry.
Artz emphasized that the co-op—which is more than 18 million members strong—will focus on making an impact for the communities it serves. He said the co-op will redouble its effort to connect new people with the outdoors, highlighting that in 2019 REI will cross the $100 million mark in philanthropic giving.
"Our purpose at REI — our reason for being — is to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors, for all. Because if we can't help people to be connected with nature, how can we expect them to care for the long-term health of the planet?" said Artz.
Artz is vice chairman of the board of the Outdoor Industry Association and sits on the board of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Washington State. He is also an advisor to Earth Lab, part of the University of Washington's College of the Environment.
In his tenure at REI, he has overseen departments including digital retail, finance, corporate strategy and IT. Previously, he was CFO at Urban Outfitters. Before REI, he held leadership roles at Urban Outfitters and spent 17 years at VF Corporation (which includes brands like The North Face, Smartwool and Timberland).
His connection with the outdoors began in rural Pennsylvania, where he grew up. He's an Army veteran who has traveled and worked all over the world. Today, you'll find Eric and his family — his wife, his two daughters and his dog Chet — spending time outside in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
About the REI Co-op
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer headquartered near Seattle. The nation's largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 18 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 154 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. If you can't visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn't just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI's active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.