177: Keith Bornholtz, CEO of Gathr Outdoors conveys acquisitions, name change, and unique market position

“I think with retail partners when you have the ability to solve problems or bring innovation in a multitude of categories versus one, I think you become an easier partner to work with. I think you become a partner that can solve problems across categories versus within categories. And I hope that that allows us to have a higher level strategic conversation with retailers that are looking to figure out how do I continue to compete in this dynamic and ever-changing environment”


  • Hear how Gathr Outdoors rebranded and expanded its offerings with numerous acquisitions  
  • CEO, Keith Bornholtz does a deep dive into his leadership theory, a new role with Gathr, and the importance of devotion in a passion-driven outdoor industry 
  • And I think, at least for this business, it’s just essential that that entrepreneurial passion and the spirit of each and every one of the brands continues to survive and thrive.
  • As Gathr creates a larger community of brands, Bornholtz sees vital importance in bringing each brand’s individualism into the greater vision of Gathr Outdoors.


In this episode of the Channel Mastery Podcast, I sit down with Keith Bornholtz, the CEO of the recently rebranded Gathr Outdoors. Bornholtz has worked for years in passion-based industries with his work in the pet space and brings a fresh leadership style to the former MacNeill Pride Group. He speaks to the brand’s recent acquisitions, CPG business model, three H leadership styles, outdoor industry growth, and much more.



Bornholtz, who has over 30 years of experience in branded consumer products, joins Gathr Outdoors from Central Garden & Pet, where he was President of the pet distribution business unit and led a five-year strategic transformation of their national multi-channel platform. Bornholtz previously held senior leadership positions at Yes To Inc., Big Heart Pet Brands, Clorox, and Procter & Gamble. Bornholtz is an executive leader with a progressive history of improved operating performance and increased enterprise value in multiple environments.


Three H leadership styles, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), passion-based businesses, passion-based industries, corporate conglomerate, MacNeill Pride Group, acquisitions, COVID, bicycling, outdoor, endurance sports, RV, industry growth, outdoor industry, pro, and the enthusiast in the outdoor industry, 


“I think, at least for this business, it’s just essential that that entrepreneurial passion and the spirit of each and every one of the brands continues to survive and thrive. And to me, a platform signifies bringing those companies together in a supportive way, where they can all thrive and be healthy and share best practices and build upon each other’s successes, and that one company can benefit the next. And so to me, this notion of a platform or a family of brands is just a better fit for, I think, who the brands are independently, but even more so who we are together as Gathr Outdoors.”

“Well, you hit on something I think is really important, and the more time I spend in the industry, is ringing true, and that’s this idea of passion, and it’s at the consumer level, it’s with our retail partners. People absolutely love their pets and they’re highly committed to them. They’re part of their family. It’s something that they identify with as individuals. And I think the participation in outdoor activities and the passion that comes with that is consistent or carries over. And those are industries I like to be a part of. I think they’re exciting. I think that you can get into them. I think they’re emotional. And so from that standpoint, there are definite similarities in the pet industry and the outdoors industry. And for me, that’s really exciting. There’s a lot of boring businesses that you can spend your time and your life understanding and trying to change or improve. But when you have the benefit of participants being passionate, it’s a lot more fun.”

“There’s a benefit in structured thinking. And you mentioned that I use models at times, and I do. I read a lot. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I gather ideas and models and processes from different approaches. And I try to think through whether they make sense and can be reapplied. And you mentioned this three H concept. It’s certainly not mine. But as we were looking at this significant pivot, this transformation that was taking place, I wanted to think through how do I do this in a way that is reasonable, that’s fair, and that’s considerate because while I have a high tolerance for change, and in fact I enjoy it, I also recognize that change can be scary for most people. And I had to think through that because the audiences across these different companies, whether they’ve been part of the platform for some time or are new, have a very different perception of that than I might, and a very different approach.”




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