Mark DeYoung, CEO of Vista Outdoor, suddenly retired from his executive position as well as the Board of Directors yesterday. The report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (see below) notes that he won’t be staying on in any role with the company. DeYoung was CEO of ATK (formerly Alliant Technologies) when it split into two companies after merging with Orbital Sciences. He made the decision to go with the sporting and outdoor portion of the company rather than the aerospace and defense related portion.
Vista Outdoor is the parent holding company for Savage Arms, Stevens, Federal ammunition, Speer, RCBS, Weaver and Redfield scopes, and a large number of other well-known brands.
On July 10, 2017, the Board of Directors of Vista Outdoor Inc. (“Vista Outdoor” or the “Company”) announced that it has elected Michael Callahan, the Company’s current Lead Independent Director, to serve as interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer effective July 11, 2017, replacing Mark W. DeYoung. Mr. DeYoung has elected to retire from the Company’s Board of Directors and role as Chief Executive Officer, effective July 11, 2017 (the “Retirement Date”).
Mr. Callahan, age 67, has more than 40 years of experience in the sporting goods industry, and has served as Lead Independent Director of Vista Outdoor since the Company spun off from ATK in February 2015. He has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Aspen Partners, a Utah-based consultant to the outdoor sporting industry, since 2008. From 1990 until his retirement in 2008, Mr. Callahan served in various merchandising, marketing, management and senior executive positions with Cabela’s, Inc., most recently as Senior Vice President Business Development & International Operations where he was responsible for M&A and spearheaded Cabela’s expansion into Canada. Mr. Callahan is a member of the Board of the Midway USA Foundation and formerly served as a member of the Board of Bushnell Outdoor Products, Chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and Vice Chairman of the Outdoor Business Council of the US Sportsmen’s Alliance.
In connection with Mr. DeYoung’s retirement, the Company has entered into a Waiver and General Release Agreement with Mr. DeYoung (the “Agreement”). In exchange for his waiver of claims against the Company, the Agreement provides Mr. DeYoung a lump-sum cash payment in an amount equal to his current base salary ($1,081,500); a pro-rata portion of his annual bonus (based on the Company’s actual performance for the entire fiscal year); accelerated vesting of his outstanding time-based restricted stock, restricted stock unit and stock option awards that would have vested had he remained employed by the Company for 12 months following his Retirement Date; a pro rata portion of his performance-based long-term incentive awards that would have vested on the next vesting date based on actual performance; company-paid COBRA premiums under Vista Outdoor’s health and welfare plans until 18 months following the Retirement Date; and the ability for Mr. DeYoung to participate in the Company’s Employee Purchase Program as if he remained an employee of the Company. The Employee Purchase Program allows all employees of the Company to purchase Company products at a discount. The foregoing description of the Agreement does not purport to be complete and is qualified in its entirety by reference to the Agreement filed as exhibit 10.1 hereto and incorporated by reference herein.
At the time of filing, the Company has not finalized a compensatory arrangement with Mr. Callahan in connection with his appointment to the position of interim Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The entry of the Company of any such material compensatory or other arrangements with Mr. Callahan will be filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
I’m not sure why Mr. DeYoung suddenly retired as he was slated to stand for election to the Board of Directors in August. However, Vista Outdoor’s stock price is now about half what it was merely one year ago. According to the conference call today, the Board and Mr. DeYoung decided to “accelerate his retirement”. Mr. Callahan has said he will not be a candidate for the permanent CEO position. They are denying that there is anything to read into the fact that the announcement of his retirement was very sudden. At least that is what they are saying.