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OPEI Welcomes New Board Member, Hosts 66th Annual Meeting

June 29, 2018

2018 OPEI Annual Meeting

BONITA SPRINGS, FL — The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute held its 66th Annual Meeting recently, focusing on messages of innovation and industry advancement.

“Our Annual Meeting is the premier opportunity for members, suppliers, vendors, and financiers to engage in a relaxed atmosphere, discuss the most important issues facing the industry today, and to do some business,” says Kris Kiser, OPEI President and CEO. “With more than 100 members, we have record levels of membership and engagement, and the Annual Meeting is the place where they come together.”

Chief among industry updates heard at the meeting, the trade association introduced its new statistics vendor, Vault Consulting, which showcased updates to the members-only program’s capabilities and categories. OPEI staff also shared the latest forecast update for key categories of equipment.

OPEI also rolled out a preview of a new television program sponsored by TurfMutt and produced in partnership with Hearst Television and Litton Entertainment. The show, which highlights the importance of lawns and outdoor space to families and pets, will debut this fall on the CW.

John Dunlap, OPEI consultant and former Chairman of the California Air Resources Board, outlined the potential market impact of new regulatory schemes in California on the outdoor power equipment industry in the state and nationwide.

Keynote addresses from futurist Vivek Wadwha and NASA Mars Rover team leader Adam Steltzner highlighted the power of technology, teams, innovation, and exploration to advance companies and civilization.

The Annual Meeting also plays host to the OPEI Propane Golf Classic, sponsored by the Propane Education Research Council. The top teams at the tournament this year were:

  • Joe Wright, Excel Industries; T. J. Landrum, Kohler; Greg Goings, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies; and Greg Knott, OPEI
  • Del Zhao, Loncin Motor Company; Jeff Plotka, Precision Work; Steve Fregneau, Precision Work; and Bob Byrne, Sheffield Financial

Planning is already underway for OPEI’s 2019 Annual Meeting, to be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City, UT, June 18-20. Members are encouraged to contact association staff with suggestions for topics or speakers.

The OPEI Board of Directors met in conjunction with the Annual Meeting, installing its 2019-2019 leadership. The board bid outgoing chairman Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO, Ariens Company, a fond farewell and welcomed incoming Chairman Tom Cromwell, Group President, Kohler Power, Kohler Company.

The Board also has appointed Earl Bennett, President, Husqvarna Professional Products, to the Board.

“Earl Bennett is a longtime advocate for the outdoor power equipment industry, and we welcome his perspective on the OPEI Board of Directors,” says Kiser.

The 2018-2019 OPEI Board of Directors comprises:


  • Mr. Tom Cromwell, Group President, Kohler Power, Kohler Company

Vice Chair

  • Mr. Bjoern Fischer, President, STIHL


  • Mr. Rick Olson, Chairman, President and CEO, The Toro Company

Immediate Past Chair

  • ¥ Mr. Dan Ariens, Chairman and CEO, Ariens Company


  • Mr. Earl Bennett, President, Professional Products, Husqvarna
  • Mr. Edward B. Cohen, Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
  • Mr. Tim Dorsey, President, Echo Incorporated
  • Mr. Tom Duncan, President and CEO, Positec USA, Inc.
  • Mr. Peter Hampton, President and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation
  • Mrs. Jean Hlay, President and COO, MTD Products, Inc.
  • Mr. Tim Merrett, Vice President, Global Platform Turf & Utility, Deere and Company
  • Mr. Lee Sowell, President, Outdoor Products, Techtronic Industries
  • Mr. Todd Teske, Chairman, President and CEO, Briggs and Stratton Corporation
  • Mr. Mark Wagner, President and CEO, Club Car, LLC
  • Mr. Joe Wright, President and CEO, Excel Industries

About OPEI
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program, OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces. For more information, visit

Media contacts/Image Requests
Ami Neiberger-Miller, Four Leaf PR on behalf of OPEI, 703-887-4877,
Debbi Mayster, Four Leaf PR on behalf of OPEI, 240-988-6243,