Vista Outdoor CEO heads into early retirement

Vista Outdoor CEO Mark DeYoung announced an early retirement this week from the company he helped shape after its split from Alliant Techsystems two years ago.

Anxious for “the next phase of life,” DeYoung expressed his pride in Vista Outdoor in a statement released Monday.

“Vista Outdoor is the culmination of a vision focused on creating a world-leading outdoor recreation company,” he said. “It has been a rewarding experience to have led this great company and seen the organization evolve and succeed. I am proud of Vista Outdoor’s people, brands, portfolio and products, and I am confident in Vista Outdoor’s future. I wish the Company’s valued employees and customers all the best.”

Vista owns more than three dozen firearms, ammunition and shooting accessory companies, including Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal Premium, Speer and American Eagle.

DeYoung said in May fourth quarter sales for the company dropped nearly 12 percent as inventory levels industry-wide balance out — a side effect of President Donald Trump’s unexpected win last year.

“I don’t have any real concerns about the long-term health or strength in outdoor recreation or shooting sports,” he said during a May 8 conference call with investors. “I think we are going to see that return.”

While DeYoung won’t be around to watch the market rebound as he predicts, Vista’s Lead Independent Director Michael Callahan will fill-in as interim CEO while the board of directors searches for a permanent replacement.

“Given the opportunities and challenges that come with significant change in our industry, and the likelihood that Mark would elect to retire at the end of his employment agreement, the Board and Mark mutually determined that now is the time for a new leader to guide Vista Outdoor in its next phase of growth,” he said. “I look forward to working with the company’s excellent team as we remain committed to providing our customers with innovative and high-quality products.”

Callahan teased the company’s first quarter results — not reported until Aug. 10 — describing the quarter as “strong” and “positions us well to deliver on our full-year financial guidance.”

“Vista Outdoor is well positioned to capitalize on the significant growth opportunities in the outdoor recreation industry, and the Board and I are excited about our future,” he said.