SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- To connect more people to life outdoors, REI Co-op has appointed its first chief customer officer and first chief digital officer. Both roles are focused on enhancing the experience of the co-op's members and customers no matter how people first encounter REI.
"We're now seeing people discover the outdoors in new ways and at a pace that we've never seen before. While we often go outside to disconnect, we have also seen that technology can be a powerful enabler in helping people fall in love with the outdoors," says REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. "These new roles reflect our belief that we can inspire outdoor adventures through all touchpoints: in stores, through guided outdoor experiences, in local communities and via thoughtful use of technology."
Chief Customer Officer REI Chief Creative Officer Ben Steele has been promoted to an expanded role and will serve as executive vice president and the co-op's first chief customer officer. In his new role, Steele will lead REI'sdigital, marketing, brand, stewardship and customer insights capabilities.
"I am incredibly lucky to work for an organization with such a clear purpose. We believe that REI can reach more people and help them get outside to enjoy the outdoors on an even broader scale," says Steele. "That's good for the co-op, our customers and our communities."
Steele served as REI's chief creative officer for four years, leading brand engagement efforts including #OptOutside and Force of Nature. He has a deep brand and agency background and has previously served in creative and leadership roles at a variety of leading advertising and design agencies. He also serves on the board of NatureBridge.
"This appointment reflects Ben's outstanding contributions to REI during his time as the co-op's chief creative officer. His teams continue to bring REI's brand and storytelling to new levels," says Stritzke. "In this new role, in partnership with our excellent retail leadership team, Ben can help us present a seamless co-op experience to all of our audiences in an increasingly digital world."
Chief Digital Officer Curtis Kopf is REI's first chief digital officer and will report to Ben Steele. He joins REI from Premera Blue Cross, having worked previously in senior roles at Alaska Airlines, Microsoft and Amazon. He has a track record of leading transformation and a passion for building great digital teams and products.
"I have always considered REI one of the iconic, mission-driven companies that sets the bar for everyone else," says Kopf. "I love REI, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to ensure the co-op's incredible culture shines through all of our digital platforms."
Kopf will be responsible for all of REI's digital efforts, including REI.com and the REI app.
"Curtis is a great addition to our leadership team. He will build from the strong foundation and performance we have in digital today," says Stritzke. "Curtis' reputation as an inspiring leader precedes him, and I couldn't be happier to welcome him to the co-op."
Join the REI team Candidates interested in joining the co-op are encouraged to browse open positions at REI.com/jobs. New employees will receive a variety of benefits, including generous product and service discounts, competitive pay and retirement contributions. For 21 consecutive years, REI has been recognized as one of Fortune magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For."
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 17 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 153 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. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs more than 170 custom-designed itineraries worldwide. The REI Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner-to advanced-level courses 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.