Breda / Warmond July 1st 2011 – Willem Haitink has been appointed CEO of the O’Neill group.
O’Neill, founded in Santa Cruz, California in 1952, is known throughout the world as the original Surf, Snow and Lifestyle brand. Willem Haitink will start in his new role on September 1st 2011.
Willem is 48 years old and is a Dutch national. During the past 16 years he has been working for Nike where he successfully built up and ran international businesses in the USA, Canada, Mexico and China.
He joins O’Neill from Converse where he has been General Manager of Converse Europe, Middle East and Africa.
“Ï am thrilled to be working for a brand with such a rich history,” said Willem Haitink. “I look forward to spearheading the growth of O’Neill globally and bringing the brand closer to consumers around the world in a manner which fits the authenticity of the brand,” he said.
Willem Haitink succeeds former O’Neill CEO Jan Valdmaa, who successfully led the brand to growth over the past two years.
Ronald de Waal of WE international said: “Willem is well respected in the industry and we are confident that he will fit in with O’Neill very quickly. With his quality and experi-ence he is the right fit to propel O’Neill growth on a global scale, where we aim to become the preferred international brand in our industry over the coming years.”
O’Neill, the original California surf, snow and lifestyle brand, was founded in 1952 when a young man named Jack O’Neill took his unstoppable passion for surfing and used it to beat Mother Nature at her own game. Pioneering the world’s first neoprene surf wetsuit, Jack had successfully found a way to extend his surf sessions in the bone-chilling breaks of Northern California. He opened up the garage doors to his first surf shop soon after.
While many things have changed since those humble beginnings, Jack’s initial vision of producing functional and innovative board riding products continues to lie at the core of everything the company does. O’Neill’s set of core values – innovation in style and technology – has seen the brand devote itself wholeheartedly to the evolution of action sports. From the first neoprene surf wetsuit and board leash, to the world’s first stitchless board shorts and range of groundbreaking wearable electronics, O’Neill’s spirit of innovation will always drive the company forwards.
Today, O’Neill can be found the world over. In touch with its rich heritage and the universal appeal of board riding culture, O’Neill will always be committed to growing its reputation as one of the world’s leading youth lifestyle brands based on a unique half-century of history as the First Name in the Water.