Honey Stinger CEO announces plans to leave
Mike Keown to leave role at the end of the year
Chief Executive Officer Mike Keown is leaving Steamboat Springs-based Honey Stinger after more than two years at the helm, and he’s pleased with his and his teams’ efforts to grow the company while staying connected to the community where it was born.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished, what the team has accomplished and how we’ve built on the legacy Bill Gamber, Rich Hager and Len Zanni and all of those folks who laid such a wonderful foundation,” Keown said after announcing that he would be leaving Honey Stinger at the end of the year.
Keown was hired as CEO in 2019, bringing more than 30 years of experience to the honey-based energy-food company founded in 2002 by Bill Gamber Sr., Bill Gamber Jr., Bob Stahl and Jim Miller.
In his time in Steamboat, Keown led the company to its new home at the Steamboat Springs Airport, and he played a critical role as the company continued to expand its reach.
“As we have built the business up, Mike has just done a first-class job helping us, Factory-LLC, transition to this new location and bringing on new team members,” said Rich Thompson, managing partner at Factory-LLC.
Thompson also credited Keown with playing a key role in the company’s success.
“We want to thank Mike for his leadership and dedication to a growing and thriving company in Steamboat,” Thompson continued. “His efforts have built an even stronger foundation for growth for a company we believe has incredible potential.”
Keown has helped Honey Stinger become a Top 20 Brand while implementing social change initiatives at both the national and company level through the creation of the Athlete Advisory Committee — a collection of athletes and community leaders dedicated to diverse representation in sport.
In addition, he deepened the company’s roots in Steamboat through partnerships with Colorado Mountain College and Alterra Mountain Co., making Honey Stinger products available again on mountain at Steamboat Resort.
“After thoughtful consideration with my wife, and in discussions with the Factory and the board, I feel it’s the right time for me transfer the leadership of the organization to new hands,” said Keown. “I’m proud of the work the team and I have done to grow the business and look forward to continuing to be involved as a board adviser and champion for all that is happening at this great brand.”
Thompson said Keown’s leadership was pivotal for the company during a transitional time. Through it all, the soon-to-be former CEO said he has treasured being a part of Honey Stinger and the Steamboat community.
“I know that the ownership of the company is committed to Steamboat, and we continue to support Steamboat in any way we can — whether it’s from an athletic point of view or from a food security point of view or partnering with Colorado Mountain College. I don’t think our roots have ever been deeper in Steamboat, and that’s saying quite a lot from what Bill, Rich, Len and the founders had put together,” Keown said. “As for me, it really gets back to my wife and I and some of the things going on in our lives.”
Thompson will step in as interim CEO while Honey Stinger begins its search for a new leader.
“Mike did a terrific job on helping us transition from the Big Agnes and Honey Stinger as kind of one company to the separation of the two companies and then finding new headquarters and doing all this during COVID,” Thompson said. “I’m in Steamboat this week doing the transition with Mike, and everything’s going really well.”
Thompson said that “everything is going to stay here,” and there will be no changes, aside from hiring a few more people and continuing to move the business forward.
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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