Roark Names Jason Steris CEO
Industry veteran Jason Steris is the new CEO of Roark, bringing his deep experience leading companies such as Volcom and Troy Lee Designs to the growing surf, outdoor, and active industry player.
Founder and current CEO Ryan Hitzel will now focus on brand, creative, marketing, and product design as chief brand officer.
Steris and Hitzel have deep ties, having worked together in their youth at Laguna Surf & Sport in their hometown of Laguna Beach, California. Steris has also served on Roark’s board of directors for several years.
“Simply put, there’s no one I would trust more than Jason as our CEO,” Hitzel said. “I’ve known him since he was my boss at the surf shop 30 years ago and have had the opportunity to watch him achieve great things in his career through hard work, intuition, intelligence, consistent values, and authenticity. I’ve always admired these qualities and can’t wait to see him apply them to Roark, along with his extensive knowledge base.”
Adding Steris to the Roark team comes at an opportune time for the brand as the industry faces an uncertain landscape after the sale of Boardriders to Authentic Brands Group. Many retailers are looking for other brands to grow in their stores, and Roark is one of the brands in a prime position to take advantage of the disruption.
Steris joined Volcom in its early days and spent 23 years at the brand, holding various positions including national sales manager, chief operating officer, president, and CEO, including when the company was publicly traded. During his time at Volcom, the company went from being a small startup to having over $300 million in sales, and Steris previously told SES that he learned a lot of lessons along the way.
After leaving Volcom, he became CEO of motocross and mountain bike gear brand Troy Lee Designs from 2018 until August 2023.
“I am thrilled to be joining forces with the talented Roark team that has built a premium brand with a solid foundation,” Steris said. “While the industry continues to evolve, the attraction of the surf and adventure lifestyle is undeniable, and I am privileged to return to my roots and reconnect with this community of specialty retailers and creative brands.”
“There are so many reasons to be excited about Jason joining the team,” Hitzel added. “The partnership will allow me to focus on what I love – leading the brand, design, marketing, and creative, while he leads the business and operations. Jason’s experience running mid-size and large omni-channel companies gives him a great vantage point to help Roark continue to develop its wholesale, e-commerce, and company-owned retail while enhancing the premium product offering across divisions.”
Steris starts on December 4th and will report to the board of directors alongside Hitzel.
Founded in 2010, Roark describes itself as an adventure lifestyle brand that tells authentic stories born of travel and discovery, and offers products in men’s, women’s, and active/running.
Roark received an investment from strategic partner the Archipelago Companies in 2017. Archipelago’s portfolio includes OluKai, Melin, Roark and Kaenon.