July 1st, 2010

Calvin Johnston Replaces Fruechtel as Leupold President/CEO

Leupold & StevensReplacing retiring Leupold executive Tom Fruechtel, Calvin Johnston has been appointed as Leupold & Stevens’ President and CEO effective July 19, 2010. Johnston has very limited, if any, experience in the optics industry or in hunting/shooting-related businesses. Johnston’s primary expertise is in the apparel sector. Since 2007, Johnston has served as President of Aramark’s Galls Division. Galls specializes in direct sales of police and public safety uniforms and gear. Presumably, Leupold’s Board of Directors hopes that if Johnston can sell uniforms and gear to law enforcement buyers, he can expand Leupold’s LEO optics business.

Prior to running Galls, Johnston served from 2005-2007 as group president/CEO of Russell Athletic, which manufacturers sports clothing. Before that, Johnston, who earned a Marketing MBA from Northwestern Univ., held a series of sales and marketing positions, including a two-year stint as Director of International Marketing for Rollerblade.

What Does the Future Hold for Leupold & Stevens?
Johnston succeeds Tom Fruechtel, who will retire from Leupold at the end of 2010. Fruechtel served as CEO of Leupold & Stevens for 12 years. During that period Leupold sales and profits grew considerably. However, Leupold’s reputation in the market for high-end premium optics has suffered in the past decade. Companies such as Nightforce Optics, Schmidt & Bender, and Zeiss are well-established in the top end of the market, while, in the medium-priced scope segment, smaller optics companies such as Sightron and Vortex have taken market share from Leupold by offering more bang for the buck. In the laser-rangefinder market, Leupold needs to make major improvements in order to compete with the latest products from Leica, Swarovski, and Zeiss.

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