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OPEI annual meeting highlights big changes coming for everyone

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI’s) 67th annual meeting, open to all association members, was recently held in Park City, Utah, where attendees got a peek into the future of the economy, technology and issues impacting the outdoor power equipment industry. 

The closing dinner at the OPEI Annual Meeting brought together friends and colleagues (Left to right: Warren Sellers, president, Sellers Expositions and GIE+EXPO show manager; Karen Williams, president and CEO, Louisville Tourism; Kris Kiser, president and CEO, OPEI; Cleo Battle, executive vice president, Louisville Tourism). Photos provided by OPEI.

The speakers included Dr. Lior Zoref, a Ph.D. in crowdsourcing, best-selling author, and TED speaker who has spoken at The White House, Google, MIT Media Lab and LinkedIn; Dr. Alan Beaulieu, president and principal at ITR Economics and a senior economic advisor to numerous U.S. and international trade associations; and Paul Zikopoulos, named one of the “50 Big Data Twitter Influencers” by SAP, a consultant for “60 Minutes” and multiple universities. The speakers at the annual meeting were consistent in their message: inescapable changes are coming that will impact everyone, no matter who you are.

The OPEI board of directors also met in conjunction with the annual meeting, and mapped out strategic plans for the coming changes in business. 

“In addition to what’s occurring with the economy and technological shifts, the industry is facing a number of pressing issues with the emissions changes in California, impact of tariffs on trade, and ongoing threats to the managed landscape,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “The board discussed these issues at length and mapped out a game plan.

 “We also discussed the continued mega-growth of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s signature trade show held annually in Louisville, KY, which continues to break records. New this year is a partnership with Louisville Tourism on a ‘Land in Louisville’ campaign designed to educate the fly-in audience that coming to the show is easy and affordable when planned in advance.”

The OPEI board in recognition of the extraordinary success of the association’s TurfMutt education platform, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, also moved to create the TurfMutt Education Foundation, which will take the program to the next level.

At the meeting, the board also elected two new members: Brian Melka, president, Kohler Engines; and Will Walton, III, vice president, Honda Power Equipment.

Left to right: Bob Byrne, vice president and client development officer, Sheffield Financial; Kris Kiser, president and CEO, OPEI; Ed Cohen, retiring OPEI board member from Honda; Jeff McKay, president and CEO, Sheffield Financial

Ed Cohen, retiring OPEI board member from Honda, was thanked for his decade of service.

The OPEI board of directors is chaired by Bjoern Fischer, president, STIHL. The vice chair is Rick Olson, chairman, president and CEO, The Toro Company. The secretary/treasurer is Tom Duncan, president and CEO, Positec USA, Inc. The immediate past chair is Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO, Ariens Company.

Rounding out the board are:

Earl Bennett, president, Husqvarna North America, Husqvarna Professional Products

Tim Dorsey, president, Echo Incorporated

Peter Hampton, president and CEO, Active Exhaust Corporation

Tim Merrett, vice president, global platform turf & utility, Deere and Company

Rob Moll, CEO, MTD

Lee Sowell, president, outdoor products, Techtronic Industries Power Equipment

Todd Teske, Chairman, president and CEO, Briggs and Stratton Corporation

Joe Wright, president and CEO, Excel Industries

 The winning golf team, who along with the other golfers, enjoyed a no-humidity, 70-degree day on the mountainside course (Left to right: Matt Van Dam, account manager-power generation, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies; John Vanek, director of sales, Gates Corporation; and Tom Duncan, president/CEO, Positec USA, Inc.).

At the Park City annual meeting, attendees also got in some outdoor business time. Many members spent a spectacular afternoon on the mountainside golf course of the annual OPEI Propane Golf Classic.

Kiser urged all industry members to prepare for the next big meeting of the industry at GIE+EXPO, October 16 to 18, 2019 in Louisville, Ky. “We anticipate again, as we’ve seen the last few years, that this show will be larger, more diverse, offer more training, education sessions, and showcase more new products than ever before. With the addition of in-tree training, Hardscape House, a special area for the hardscape industry members, along with a second Mutt Madness pet adoption event, as some of the new features at GIE+EXPO. We should have record attendance – again.” The next board meeting also will be held October 16, 2019 in Louisville, Ky., during GIE+EXPO.

Next year’s annual meeting for members will be held at the El San Juan Hotel, June 16-18, 2020 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. OPEI has secured an extraordinary “hurricane-rate” for attendees as the hotel is now reopening after a major renovation following Hurricane Maria.

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