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Maine Outdoor Brands News

Maine Outdoor Brands forms Workforce Advisory Board

By April 12, 2022No Comments

PORTLAND, Maine (April 12, 2022) – Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) announced the formation of a Workforce Advisory Board to help strengthen the outdoor industry’s efforts to attract, retain, and build an inclusive workforce.

The board is made up of representatives from MOB member businesses and organizations and co-chaired by Devin McNeill, CEO of Flowfold, and Ponch Membreño, who sits on MOB’s board of directors and works with emerging outdoor product and retail companies.

“To further strengthen Maine’s outdoor economy and stay competitive with other states, we see a need to collectively work together to attract and develop talent,” said McNeill. “Our hope is to support the workforce needs of Maine Outdoor Brand members and build connections with anyone interested in working in the outdoor industry.”

A MOB member survey, conducted in early 2021 by the Survey Research Center at the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, in partnership with the Maine Office of Outdoor Recreation, found that while employers in Maine’s outdoor industry are attracting a younger workforce, it remains difficult to fill open positions.  Other key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Half of new hires reported by outdoor industry employers are under the age of 35.
  • 71% of respondents reported difficulty finding qualified applicants for open positions.
  • The types of positions most in demand in the next five years by outdoor industry companies include roles in marketing, customer service/hospitality, and guiding.

In an effort to help MOB members attract, retain, and build an inclusive workforce, the workforce advisory board will develop an employment guide with resources and best practices, increase the reach of MOB’s job board, host briefings for members, and increase career exposure opportunities for students and others interested in working in the outdoor industry in Maine. One of the advisory board’s first initiatives was a panel discussion it hosted at the University of Maine’s careers in outdoor recreation job fair on March 1st with representatives from Garmin, She Summits Co., Hyperlite Mountain Gear, and L.L.Bean.

“We see passion for outdoor recreation driving professional pursuits, and those pursuits further propelling that passion,” said Jenny Kordick, Executive Director of Maine Outdoor Brands. “The work this advisory board will tackle is important not only for our industry, but also the entire state, as we look to attract and retain a younger workforce.”

Members include:

  • Devin McNeill, CEO, Flowfold (co-chair)
  • Ponch Membreño (co-chair)
  • Phil Shettig, VP Product + Marketing, Sterling Rope
  • Maureen Lafferty, VP of Talent, Development and H.R. Business Teams, L.L.Bean
  • Libbi Cinti, Senior Director of Human Resources, Appalachian Mountain Club
  • Alicia Heyburn, Executive Director, Teens to Trails
  • Willard Morgan, President, Chewonki
  • Will White, Co-Founder, Summit Achievement
  • Stacey Keefer, Executive Director, Maine Marine Trades Association
  • Alvah Maloney, Owner, Maine Kayak

About Maine Outdoor Brands:

Formed in 2017, Maine Outdoor Brands (MOB) works to unite and provide a voice for Maine’s outdoor industry in order to strengthen Maine’s outdoor recreation brand and economy. MOB is committed to seeing Maine-based outdoor product, service, and retail brands thrive. To learn more and see brands involved visit maineoutdoorbrands.com.