Not too long ago, we told you about Scott Wine stepping down as Polaris’ CEO. Well, it didn’t take the company long to find an interim replacement. Polaris’ Board of Directors is elevating Executive Vice President and CFO Michael Speetzen to serve as interim CEO.
Along with the appointment of Speetzen to the interim CEO slot, Polaris is making other management changes. John Wiehoff, the company’s lead director, is now the Chair of the Board. Bob Mack, Polaris’ Senior Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy and President of Global Adjacent Markets and Boats, is now the interim CFO. Each of these appointments is effective on January 1, 2021.
New Board Chair Weihoff said:
“We appreciate Mike and Bob taking on these expanded roles while we progress our CEO search. Mike and Bob have made significant contributions to Polaris’ success during their respective tenures. In addition to leading the Company’s finance organization and expertly managing the liquidity of Polaris during this global pandemic, Mike has helped shape and drive key growth initiatives, including Polaris’ digital transformation and productivity enhancements. Bob’s operational accomplishments and financial experience leading Polaris’ M&A and corporate development strategy are well-suited to advance Polaris’ strong financial foundation. We are confident that Mike and Bob, and the deep understanding they bring of both the business and the industry, will enable a seamless transition during this interim period.”
In its press release, Polaris offers the following background information on each of the new appointments:
About Michael Speetzen
Speetzen joined Polaris in August 2015 as executive vice president, Finance, and Chief Financial Officer. Before joining Polaris, Speetzen was senior vice president and CFO of Xylem, Inc. since 2011, when the Company was formed from the spinoff of the water businesses of ITT Corporation. He joined ITT in 2009. Speetzen was responsible for the financial planning, accounting, controls, treasury, M&A activity, investor relations, and strategy of Xylem Inc. Before joining ITT, he served as executive vice president and CFO for the StandardAero Company owned by the private equity firm Dubai Aerospace Enterprise. Previously, he held positions of increasing responsibility in the finance functions at Honeywell and General Electric. Speetzen currently serves on the Board of Directors of Pentair. Speetzen earned his Master of Business Administration from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University and his bachelor’s degree in management from Purdue.
About Bob Mack
Mack joined Polaris in April 2016 as senior vice president of Corporate Development and Strategy and president of Adjacent Markets. Prior to joining Polaris, Mack was vice president, Corporate Development for Ingersoll Rand. In that role, he had global responsibility for its acquisition and divestiture activities. With Ingersoll Rand for 20 years, Mack held various sales, financial, M&A, and operational positions with the Company. Mack currently serves on the Board of Directors of West Marine and is chairman of the Audit Committee. He received his Master of Business Administration from Duke University and his Bachelor of Business Administration from Siena College and is a certified public accountant (inactive).
About John Wiehoff
Wiehoff has served as a member of the Polaris Board of Directors since 2007 and as Lead Independent Director since 2013. He serves as the Chair of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee. Wiehoff served as Chairman of the Board and CEO for C.H. Robinson, retiring in May 2020 and May 2019, respectively. Previous positions with C.H. Robinson include president, senior vice president, CFO, treasurer, and corporate controller. Before joining C.H. Robinson in 1992, he was employed by Arthur Andersen LLP. Wiehoff also serves on the Board of Directors of Donaldson Company, Inc and U.S. Bancorp.
It will be interesting to see whether Speetzen or Mack retain their interim roles. None of the new appointees seem to have much in the line of moto experience. But that didn’t stop Scott Wine from making Polaris into a corporate powerhouse that resurrected the dead Indian motorcycle brand.
Under Wine’s leadership, Indian had embarked on a journey to resurrect the Indian brand. It also built new non-heritage machines like the Indian FTR flat track replica motorcycle as well as the new powerful Indian Challenger Bagger.
Just a few years later, Indian is making its way in the motorcycle industry. Few thought that the newly resurrected brand could win such a resurgence in such a short time. Now, Indian is seen by many as challenging the 800-pound gorilla in this motorcycle sector.
Even in the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, Indian grew sales and took a bite out of Harley-Davidson’s market share. Now, Harley is under new management, and the MoCo is preparing to launch a new bike of its own, the Pan America adventure touring machine.
It can only be a good thing to have both companies fighting to build their brands. More and improved models benefit all of us. Good luck to both companies.