After 10 years as chief executive officer of family-owned Downlite, James Lape is retiring and passing his torch to Josh Werthaiser, former Downlite CFO. While this executive shift takes effect immediately, Lape will remain on the board and continue to be a company advocate.

Lape joined Downlite in 2007 after 25 years with Levi Strauss, where he held several senior executive positions. Under his leadership at Downlite, the company has achieved consecutive double-digit growth. Lape also played a role as mentor to Downlite’s second generation, guiding them through the ranks of succession.

“Even after 25 years at Levi Strauss both domestically and internationally, my leadership role at Downlite has been the most rewarding,” said Lape. “Downlite is an incredible family business with great employees, and strength in distribution and product. I am grateful for the opportunity.”

On Werthaiser’s promotion, Lape added, “I’ve worked closely with Josh in his CFO role for eight years and his intellect and energy are contagious. He is fully prepared to lead this company as CEO and I have the utmost confidence that he will bring fresh leadership, continued growth and prosperity for the company.”

Werthaiser joined Downlite in 2001 as the first Gen2 to enter the company. During his tenure, he has worked in nearly every department within the company ranging from sales and marketing, pricing, feather and down sourcing and trend analysis/inventory management. In 2008, Werthaiser transitioned into his role as CFO, overseeing the financial affairs and initiating the sustainability initiatives of the company. He not only has a deep understanding of the inner workings of Downlite, but also its customers and the complex challenges in the retail marketplace.

“I am honored to be filling Jim’s shoes as Downlite CEO,” said Werthaiser. “He has been a mentor and respected leader to not only me, but also to many in the Downlite family. Jim’s paved an excellent path, and I’m excited about the future of Downlite and the strategic plans we have moving forward.”
Taking a hard look at the retail environment, Downlite has put its first strategic plan in motion under the new leadership. The company has developed a new organizational structure that better aligns with its customer needs – offering improved communication and customer service for its retail partners.

The following organizational structure takes place immediately:

  • Josh Werthaiser moves to CEO in charge of Downlite business
  • Marvin Werthaiser remains as an active owner and COO with focus on Sales/Marketing and Down and Feather strategies and execution
  • Dave Lueder becomes Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) responsible for all home and hospitality sales reporting to CEO
  • Stefan Hunter becomes VP of e-commerce reporting to CRO
  • Brian Parnes becomes CIO/CMO as leader of all IT and Marketing reporting to CEO
  • Jyl Davis becomes VP of Marketing & Product Management reporting to CIO/CMO
  • Chad Altbaier remains VP of Outdoor reporting to CEO
  • Frank Carella becomes VP of Operations reporting to CEO
  • Chuck Northcutt remains VP of QA reporting to VP of Operations
  • Zach Zellner remains VP of Sourcing reporting to CEO
  • Sandy Coleman remains Director of HR reporting to CEO
  • Jim Donaghy becomes VP of Finance & Accounting reporting to CEO
  • Larry Werthaiser, owner, and Bob Altbaier, owner, remain active and on the board

“Our organizational change underscores and reflects the changes taking place at retail,” said Werthaiser. “Many of the business realities of yesterday are no longer applicable today, and while we like where we’ve been, we certainly like where we are going.”