Outside Business Journal

New Ibex Head Honcho Talks Short- And Long-Term Goals

Ted Manning tells OBJ his plans for Ibex, where he recently took the post of CEO

Ana Trujillo

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Late last week Ibex announced that Ted Manning was taking over as CEO of White River Junction, Vermont-based Ibex.

Manning is making the move from Eastern Mountain Sports, where he spent 18 years. He first started as a sales associate and most recently served as the company’s executive vice president.

“This is a great hire for us,” Keith Anderson, vice president of marketing at Ibex said in a news release. “Ted’s experience and industry perspective is a great addition to our team. His background and leadership will help strengthen the business on all fronts, in particular the wholesale channel and our commitment to specialty outdoor retailers.”

Manning, a native New Englander, recently located his family—his wife and three children—to the Upper Valley of Vermont for the job.

Manning replaces John Fernsell, who recently stepped down.

Outside Business Journal interviewed Manning about what he’s looking forward to about his new position, challenges the industry is facing, and what he’s looking to accomplish at Outdoor Retailer.

How has your experience at EMS prepared you for this position?

Eighteen years at EMS certainly has given me a great perspective and insight into our industry. It will help me understand the landscape and opportunities in front of Ibex.

Eighteen years as a retailer also helps me really understand what our wholesale partners are dealing with, the good and the bad. I hope to use this experience to continue to grow outstanding wholesale relationships.

But in my first four days what has been most helpful is that like EMS, Ibex is a group of talented people who believe in creating great product, developing great relationships, growing their business, and getting outside as much as they can. The time I spent living and leading the EMS culture has helped me feel at home within the Ibex team.

What are some of your plans for Ibex, short-term?

One of the things I am excited about is the opportunity to work with the Ibex crew, they are a talented and fun group of people. Continuing to drive talent in this organization and strengthening our commitment to product and process is high on my short-term list. Outside of that, I am eager to learn the ins and outs of this business, prepare to maximize our fourth quarter opportunities, and dig in with our product team on the 2015 assortments.

What about in the next five years?

We are going to look for opportunities to grow our wholesale business, it’s an area where Ibex has plenty of runway. We are going to strengthen our commitment to innovation in product and excellence in relationships, that’s the sort of work I really enjoy. We can continue to strengthen the ‘back end’ of this business, and in that way really enhance our service and production capabilities as we position ourselves for growth.

One of the five-year goals I have is to help move this company into the list of best companies to work for in the outdoor industry. As we continue to focus on great product across all our channels, and create an environment where everyone here is challenged and growing, I believe we can become one of the brands and teams that everyone wishes they could be a part of.

Tell us what you think are some of the bigger issues facing the industry and how you plan to address them via Ibex? Or what Ibex is doing in general to help alleviate those problems?

As this industry has matured, the issues facing it have grown up and gotten more complex, and I’m not going to tell you that Ibex is hard at work solving all of them. But, there are three issues that I feel we are well positioned to play a role in.

As the consumer and brand landscape have shifted, we have seen some new brand leaders emerging, brands committed to great product and committed to doing things in perhaps a new way. Ibex will be a part of this change. I’m not talking about old guard/new guard brands as much as am I talking about brands willing to have a fresh and relevant perspective on this business and our customers.

Ibex is really well connected with a youthful, digitally-savvy consumer. As this is still a challenge for some of our partners, I believe we can play a role in helping them.

Lastly, there will always be an opportunity for all of us to lead our businesses with as much consciousness as we can, a consciousness of our impacts on our planet and a consciousness about the role we play in our communities. I am strongly committed to the belief that all our businesses have an obligation to create positive change in our world. Ibex intends to do that.

What is your favorite thing about working in the outdoor industry?

My favorite part of this industry is the people. I love connecting, making a difference, and getting outside with the folks that make up this industry.

What are your goals at Outdoor Retailer?

I’ve got three: introduce myself to our sales team, suppliers, and wholesale partners. I’d like to continue to get perspective on the opportunities Ibex faces, and I am always looking forward to seeing a bunch of great, old friends.