The chief executive and president of Recreational Equipment, Inc., Jerry Stritzke, abruptly resigned Tuesday, REI announced in a statement. The company’s board accepted Stritzke’s resignation “following an investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding a personal and consensual relationship between the REI CEO and the leader of another organization in the outdoor industry.” The investigation, which found no evidence of financial misconduct, was conducted by an external law firm and overseen by REI’s board of directors.
The company announced that Eric Artz, REI’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, will take on the role of interim CEO effective immediately. In an open letter to REI employees, REI board chair Steve Hooper praised Stritzke’s drive and innovative contributions to the company since taking over as president in October 2013. “Jerry has been an excellent CEO for REI and together, all of you have delivered outstanding results for the co-op during remarkably challenging times in retail,” Hooper wrote, adding, “The co-op is stronger today than when Jerry joined.”
Kent, Wash.-based REI was founded in 1938, an early pioneer in outdoor retail that now has 147 stores in 36 states. The company has been repeatedly ranked by Fortune as a best place to work, and measures such as REI’s Black Friday closures and million-dollar investments in initiatives that demonstrate the relationship between being outdoors and good health are often cited as evidence of its progressive workplace culture at the member-owned cooperative.