Leadership Changes: New Presidents at Cotopaxi and Grassroots
A former Eddie Bauer executive, Damian Huang, will serve as Cotopaxi's first president; at Grassroots, former VP Gabe Maier will step in to lead.
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Cotopaxi and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance both announced the appointment of new presidents this week. At Cotopaxi, Damian Huang, the former CEO of Eddie Bauer (EB), will ascend to the post. At Grassroots, it’s Gabe Maier, formerly the organization’s VP, who will take on the role.
Both Huang and Maier have significant experience in the outdoor space. Before Huang’s time as chief executive of EB, he spent several years at Patagonia as VP of design and merchandising and nearly a decade at The North Face in product-focused roles.
According to a release from Cotopaxi, Huang’s accomplishments at EB included honing the company’s focus on accessibility in the outdoors, establishing a sustainability roadmap, and helping the brand win more than 50 industry awards. Perhaps most significantly, he was instrumental in “guiding [EB’s] transition from a catalog retailer to a digitally-driven business with deep omni-channel integration.”
The appointment—a newly created position at Cotopaxi—was made possible by $45 million in funding from Bain Capital Double Impact, which the company secured in September 2021. Part of that investment is being used to expand the executive team as the brand continues to grow at an impressive clip, having nearly doubled revenue every year since 2014. The company’s founder, Davis Smith, will remain CEO.
“To say I’m excited to join Cotopaxi would be an understatement,” said Huang. “Every once in a while a company comes along that is not only new and different, but has an energy, a soul, and a purpose that makes an organization remarkable. I’m deeply inspired by what Davis and the team have built, impressed by the leaders at Bain Capital Double Impact, and honored to help push the company forward.”
Said Smith, “We are elated to name Damien to our team. He’s an incredibly talented individual with an authentic passion for our mission to fight extreme poverty. His position as President is integral to the next stage of growth for Cotopaxi.”
Huang will work out of Seattle, the company said, making frequent trips to the brand’s headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
At Grassroots, Maier brings more than half a decade of direct experience to the role, having worked with the group for two years as business analyst and four more as vice president. Since 2021, he’s served as the director of business development for BrandKeep, a SAAS company focused on helping independent retailers organize digital assets.
“It’s heartening to see that retailers are having a bit of a moment right now, as both brands and investors are recognizing the enduring importance of specialty retail as commerce continues to evolve,” said Maier. “I’m very excited to be coming back at this moment, and to have the opportunity to be a steward for independent specialty and all of the amazing individuals that form this community.”
Maier will replace former president Rich Hill, who ran the group from 2016 to 2022 and stepped down in March.