• Jennifer Bringle

Ritzel relishes opportunity with Pride

New CEO looks forward to building relationships with new and existing dealers

When the news hit late last month that Derek Ritzel had been named CEO of Pride Family Brands, many in the casual industry wondered how this change in leadership  would affect one of the outdoor category’s biggest companies.

But Ritzel says the differences at Pride, and particularly Castelle, are more of a long-term evolution than an abrupt shift.

“They may begin to notice changes that were already in place that are continuing,” he says. “We’ve had a very traditional approach to the outdoor space with classic designs. But what the company set out to do was add more contemporary, as well as traditional designs, to that classic stable to meet a much broader audience. It’s not so much a change but continuing that journey of adding contemporary collections and being a strong supplier for customer needs.”

See Related Article: Furniture industry veteran Derek Ritzel to head Pride Family Brands

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 growth.

His furniture industry experience helped him get the job at Pride, where he says things will be business as usual. Ritzel pointed to a long-term plan created by parent company New Water Capital and the Lowsky family to refresh the brand, giving it a more contemporary edge—some of which has already been rolled out in the past year.

Ritzel says that as part of this plan, he will strengthen relationships with dealers and help them increase profits by reaching a wider audience of consumers.

"We need to become the retailer’s best partner to generate profit dollars in the outdoor space,” he says. “We’re in the business to service our customer, and we

DerekDerek Ritzel
need to equip them to access markets we haven’t developed—like the transitional and contemporary markets—because there’s great opportunity there.”

See Related Article: Pride Family Brands partners with New Water Capital

Ritzel admits that some may be uncomfortable with the leadership change at Pride because they don’t know him or his intentions. But the 24-year veteran of the furniture industry who has served on the boards of the Home Furnishings Association and City of Hope aims to quell those fears as he builds relationships with dealers—something he’s done many times in the past.

“I am truly a furniture person—this is the space that I have chosen to make my career,” Ritzel says. “I understand the benefit of relationships because it’s a very finite universe that we work in. The relationships I have with retailers across the country have been forged by me doing my best to help them achieve their objectives. I am very happily a part of the furniture community, and I understand the challenges in the furniture retail space. I understand it’s all about helping our customers.”

Image of Jennifer BringleJennifer Bringle | Features Editor, Casual Living

Jennifer Bringle is the features editor of Casual Living. She previously served as an editor and reporter at a number of publications, including Kids Today, AAA Living Magazine, The News & Observer of Raleigh and Carolina Parent. Her work also has appeared in The Washington Post, Southern Living, Our State and The News & Record of Greensboro, and she is the author of several non-fiction books for middle and high school-aged children.  Contact her at jbringle@casualliving.com

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