In his first interview since signing on as the new Osprey president, Layne Rigney shares his aspirations for the company with SNEWS. “One mandate you get when you have a company with a large market share, like Osprey: If you want to grow the business you have to grow participation.”

new Osprey president

Photo: Courtesy

Industry veteran Layne Rigney is the new president at Osprey Packs beginning Nov. 28, 2016. Rigney is replacing Tom Barney who, after 15 years at the helm, decided to move on to other opportunities.

Rigney most recently served a short stint as president of CamelBak after Sally McCoy announced her resignation in January 2016. During his 11-year tenure at CamelBak, he held key leadership roles and played a major role in CamelBak’s successful sale in August 2015. But he got his start in specialty retail. As a teenager, he worked in his uncle’s bike shop in California’s central valley, sweeping floors and fixing flats.

Rigney also serves on the board of both the Outdoor Industry Association and Camber Outdoors.

“This is an exciting time for Osprey,” said Mike Pfotenhauer, Founder and Innovation Director of Osprey Packs. “Customer demand for Osprey packs is at an all-time high. Layne is highly respected as an effective, strategic leader and brings extensive experience in building global consumer brands. He is the right person to lead Osprey through its next phase of growth.”

“I have always admired the genius design of Osprey Packs and the authenticity of the Osprey brand,” Rigney said. “With industry-leading product design, manufacturing and customer service, it is our challenge to take the company to the next level in terms of distribution and sales. Every person who loves the outdoors and appreciates intuitive design should own at least one Osprey Pack. I’m excited to deliver on that goal.”

Rigney sat down with SNEWS for his first interview as Osprey president.

SNEWS: Why are you excited about working at Osprey?

Layne Rigney: I’ve learned over time that I really enjoy smaller entrepreneurial environments. I love being able to see the tangible impact you have on products, customers, communities, and being in a position to effect change and see it cascade through the marketplace.

In the span of my career, I’ve worked in every capital structure there is. RockShox was owned by two married couples and we took it public on NASDAQ. PowerBar was owned by two founders then acquired by Nestle. And CamelBak was owned by private investment and, until recently, run very independently. I’ve seen the good and the bad in all these structures. I like to get in there with great people, take some risks, move the chess pieces on the board, and watch our labor of love translate itself out there into the market.

SNEWS: Osprey is in a pretty good place in terms of market share. What are your challenges and goals with Osprey?

LR: There’s a place in hell for the leader who walks in and thinks they see everything clearly. I have a lot of listening to do. I will have big ears and a little mouth for the first 100 days. I don’t have an opinion yet on any major pivots.

But there’s one mandate you get when you have a company with a large market share, like Osprey. If you want to grow the business, you have to grow participation. Leaders have to lead, and Osprey is a leader. We’ve got to focus on big things, like participation and inclusion in outdoors, approachability of the brand, and a generational pivot. We don’t have to worry about a market share fight. Some days I envy the challenger brands, but in general I like tackling the big, overarching goals of needing to grow participation. We can be more aspirational.

SNEWS: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing our industry moving into 2017?

LR: This tectonic shift in how consumers are shopping. For several years we’ve all been talking about retail 2.0 but this is so clearly the year it has arrived at our doorsteps. At the same time, Millennials are rising as consumers. How they look at the outdoors and acquire those goods…it’s forcing a lot of change on us.

I’m excited by it because you have to be. This is a massive shift in our world and it creates opportunity, needs for new kinds of leaders. It forces a redefinition of what the outdoors is. Now, more than ever, you have consumers rewarding brands that innovate and [they're] really punishing those that don’t. While we’re sailing into uncharted water, there are some guiding stars out there: redefining what the outdoors is for the next generation, and redefining what retail is. It’s exciting stuff.

Read the full news release here, which also includes more announcements regarding Osprey’s leadership team.