Peter Orthwein
Peter Orthwein

Peter Orthwein to Step Down as Executive Chairman July 31

Thor Industries has announced that as part of the board of directors’ strategic succession plan, Peter Orthwein, Thor Industries’ co-founder and executive chairman, has informed the board of directors that he will step down as executive chairman effective at the company’s fiscal year end, July 31.

As part of the transition, the board of directors has named Orthwein chairman emeritus effective as of the date of his transition from executive chairman. Orthwein will remain an active member of the board. The company will announce its new chairman before the end of its fiscal year.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to be part of Thor’s growth and to deliver results for our shareholders over the course of the last 39 years,” said Peter Orthwein, executive chairman of Thor. “I am thankful to my colleagues at Thor and to the many people I have encountered in our great industry. As I transition [into my new role as chairman emeritus], I have great confidence in the future of Thor and our industry.”

Orthwein and Wade Thompson created Thor in 1980 with the acquisition of the then struggling and unprofitable company, Airstream. Driven by its strong record of performance, and its founders’ passionate appetite for growth, the company went public in 1984. Since the company’s inception, Orthwein has acted as the primary architect of Thor’s strategic growth strategy. From its meager beginnings owning Airstream, a company that ultimately became the iconic brand in the RV industry, Thor and its shareholders have benefitted greatly from Orthwein’s guidance. Thor is one of a select few publicly traded companies that has been in existence for nearly forty years and can boast profitability in each of its years.

Orthwein has served the company in various roles including CEO and chairman. The strategy employed by him and co-founder Thompson revolutionized an inefficient, fragmented industry. 

In a unified statement, Thor’s executive management team consisting of Thor CEO Bob Martin, Senior VP and CFO Colleen Zuhl, Senior VP and GC Todd Woelfer, and Senior VP and HR Ken Julian recognized Orthwein: “Peter has been the heart and soul and architect of Thor’s growth strategy since its inception. He was the central figure in establishing our team in 2012 when our sales were $3.3 billion and net before tax earnings were $180 million. Today, Thor is a Fortune 500 company with revenue of $8.3 billion and net before tax earnings of $633 million in fiscal 2018, its most recently completed fiscal year. Since that fiscal year end, Thor has acquired one of Europe’s largest RV manufacturers, the Erwin Hymer Group in another acquisition in which Mr. Orthwein was instrumental. Today, Thor’s family of companies employs nearly 25,000 employee-partners across the U.S. and Europe.”

“Peter’s skillful mentorship, notable financial experience, and industry knowledge have been a guiding force behind Thor’s successful run,” they continued, “including our growth since we took over as a team in 2012 through our last ended fiscal year (2018), a period during which we have averaged 23 percent annual growth in both revenue and net income before tax. As executive chairman, he listened to and provided consistent invaluable guidance to our team. Importantly, anyone who knows Peter recognizes that in addition to his business acumen, he is an incredible person who is as modest and thoughtful of others as he is talented. There should be no misunderstanding of the value that Peter has driven to our company for our shareholders as it has, to this date, been immense. His continued role as a board member is incredibly important to us. He brings an industry experience driven point of view to our board that no one else can, which will provide essential context as we move forward. We look forward to the next chapter with Peter playing an integral part of our continued success.”

Got a news tip? Contact Tony Kindelspire