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Saris names Frehner president; co-founder Fortune shifts to CEO role

Published December 20, 2018

MADISON, Wis. — Almost three decades after acquiring Graber Products and renaming it Saris, co-founder Chris Fortune is stepping down as president and handing the reins to COO Jeff Frehner. Fortune becomes Saris’ CEO effective Jan. 1, 2019.

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“Jeff will run the day-to-day side of the business. My role will be CEO, and I’ll be involved in other aspects of strategic planning and acquisitions while still being connected with the customer side,” Fortune said.

Frehner joined Saris in 2009 as vice president of business and product development after serving as president of Cannondale Sports Group (now Cycling Sports Group). He was named Saris’ COO in June 2018 and has worked in various roles at the company over the years, including leading the CycleOps and PowerTap side of Saris’ business and, more recently, serving as global sales director. He continues as Saris’ COO.

At BRAIN’s press time, Frehner was traveling and was not available for comment.

Frehner’s appointment comes as Saris reorganizes the consumer and commercial sides of its business, Fortune noted.

Jesse Bartholomew, who worked for Saris from 1999 to 2014, is returning to lead the consumer side, while company veteran Mike Basarich will lead the commercial side, which includes the company’s outdoor and indoor bike parking business as well as the Bike Fixation brand of outdoor pumps, work stands and other cycling infrastructure products. Saris acquired Bike Fixation (called Bike Fixtation at the time) in 2016.

The company is also bringing in additional new leadership to support Frehner, Fortune said.

We have total confidence that Jeff will be able to navigate the changing marketplace dynamics and is the ideal leader to do so,” he said. “When we look at who we are as a company he checks all the boxes: He’s smart, he’s highly motivated and he’s a humble guy. And if you look at the core fundamentals of our business, it’s about doing the right thing and being responsible to the internal and external stakeholders.”

And although Fortune is stepping down as president, he will be around to assist Frehner as well.

“I’ll still be here at the office. Maybe I’ll spend a little more time on the nonprofit side, but there’s not a lack of things to do, for sure,” he said.

 

Jeff Frehner

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