Furniture industry veteran Derek Ritzel to head Pride Family Brands
January 31, 2017,
Veteran furniture industry executive Derek Ritzel has joined Pride Family Brands, a leading manufacturer and distributor of outdoor furniture in North America, as chief executive officer, succeeding Steve Lowsky. The change in leadership is the culmination of a long-term transition plan put into place when private equity firm New Water Capital acquired family-owned Pride Family Brands in July 2015.
“The Lowsky family started this company in 1978 with just the family, working seven days per week,” said Steve Lowsky, part of the founding family and former CEO. “In 2015, with the change in ownership, my role has been to help transition the company from a family business to a portfolio company of New Water Capital. I have spent the last 20 months with this goal in mind.
See Related Article: Pride Family Brands partners with New Water Capital
Pride Chairman John Disa said Lowsky will be available to the company on an as-needed basis, and his brother, Jamie, will continue on the board of directors.
Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Pride designs, manufactures and distributes hand-forged, artisan-quality aluminum outdoor furniture under the Castelle
“With more than 20 years of experience at all levels of the furniture industry, Derek is a phenomenal choice to lead Pride Family Brands,” Disa said. “He is a dynamic and innovative leader with demonstrated expertise in the areas of team-building, business development and leveraging new technologies.”
Ritzel’s high energy, people skills and strong leadership capabilities put him ahead of the pack. “This is a seamless transition,” Disa stressed. “Everyone is in place, and it’s business as usual. We had to find the right fit, and we think Derek will be an amazing addition to the team.”
Ritzel most recently served as president and COO of Tempur Sealy Canada, where he was instrumental in integrating the Tempur and Sealy Canadian operations and in driving significant profitable growth. He began his career in 1992 with Sealy Corporation, where he advanced steadily through a wide range of sales, marketing, and operations executive positions, finally serving as East Region Division Vice President from 2011 to 2013.
“Derek’s background is in bedding, and that’s akin to the outdoor segment,” Disa said. “He’s not from outside the industry. He knows all the major players, and he understands the importance of customer relationships.”
Further, he pointed out that the change in leadership did not happen quickly. “We thought this through with Steve, and the core team is in place. Rory Rehmert is still at the forefront and he has extremely strong relationships with retailers.
“We’ll execute our transition plan, and we’ll get stronger over time. We have a lot of new initiatives and we’ll continue to drive business and our service to customers.”
Pride was founded more than 30 years ago by Bernie Lowsky and his sons, Jamie and Steve. From its beginnings as a retailer and then manufacturer of PVC pipe furniture, the company has grown significantly with products and collections designed and crafted to meet every outdoor lifestyle.
In 1983, when Pride required greater manufacturing capacity, the solution was found in Costa Rica. A partnership was undertaken with the country and its citizens that has continued for over 35 years.
Always conscious of consumer tastes and preferences, in 1998 Pride shifted its manufacturing focus to extruded aluminum furniture. From artisan-inspired designs to hand-applied finishes and from fashion-forward fabrics to ultra-comfort and durability, the details are evident in its line of luxury, cast aluminum furniture.
Today, as an international designer, manufacturer and distributor of outdoor furniture, Pride services over 1,000 retail locations across the U.S.
“I am greatly honored at the opportunity to be part of this highly regarded and industry-leading company,” Ritzel said. “The company’s heritage is one of innovation and expansion, and I look forward to continuing and building upon its success.”
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