July 07, 2021
It has been said that change in life is inevitable, as well as change brings forth opportunity and is often good.
All are apparently true on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains as earlier this week, Hoyt Archery found itself in a rare season of change with the announcement that Zak Kurtzhals will become the company’s new president on July 19, 2021.
Kurtzhals, currently the Vice President of Operations for the longtime Salt Lake City based bowmaking company, will succeed retiring company leader Randy Walk, who announced his retirement back in May.
The promotion was announced by Greg Easton, President of Jas. D. Easton and owner of Hoyt Archery, who noted that Kurtzhals brings to the table plenty of strong qualifications, along with great leadership skills and a passion for bowhunting and archery.
“Zak has a proven history with the company and a strong vision for Hoyt’s future,” Easton said in a company news release. “I am excited about this new opportunity for Zak and for Hoyt.”
Kurtzhals, a Nebraska native who has held several key positions with Hoyt over the years, knows he has his work cut out in succeeding an archery industry legend.
“I have big shoes to fill taking over for Randy,” said Kurtzhals. “He has been an amazing mentor and friend, and I’m grateful for all that I learned from him during the 18-years we worked together.”
Walk, who has been Hoyt’s president for 26 years, has little doubt that he is leaving the company in good hands.
“Zak is a very talented leader who has contributed greatly to Hoyt’s success over the years,” said Walk, a longtime Bowhunters Hall of Fame member. “He will do an amazing job as president and I couldn’t ask for a better successor.”
While Walk’s retirement — which comes after three and a half decades of service and eight different positions with Hoyt — was originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 1, 2021, the in-house promotion apparently sped up the succession process. Now Walk will have even more time to spend with family and chase elk, mule deer, and whitetails this fall with his Hoyt bow in hand.
As this rare season of change commences, much has changed since the days when Earl Hoyt, Sr. founded the company. Far removed from the original small bow shop in St. Louis where recurves and longbows were carved from wooden billets, the company today makes thousands of bows annually in its state-of-the-art 150,000-square foot facility in Salt Lake City.
But from the draw knives of the 1930s to the high-tech machinery of the 21st Century, the goal remains the same.
And that’s to make a variety of world class bows, archery products, and accessories that include compound hunting bows, compound target bows, traditional hunting bows, and Olympic recurve bows that will be used by some competitors later this month during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
Today, Hoyt has more than nine decades of bowmaking experience, and fuels the annual dreams of competitors seeking gold medals and trophies as well as whitetail and western big game hunting enthusiasts who simply want a freezer full of wild meat and antlers for the wall each autumn season.
Despite the rare change in leadership for the Utah bowmaker, company officials remain confident that as the world starts to move away from the worst of the pandemic, Hoyt is strongly positioned to remain one of the bowhunting world’s top bowmakers and iconic brands.
That confidence is built on year after year of strong sales, ongoing innovation and product design, and an ability to cater to the wants and needs of the thousands of archers who put on a Hoyt Archery cap every time they head afield.
It’s also due to the fact that Hoyt retains a strong and talented executive team who bring a combined 85+ years of company experience to the table. That experience includes Todd Erickson, VP of Finance, who joined Hoyt in 1998; Tom Driffill, VP of Sales, who joined the company in 2001; Gideon Jolley, Director of R&D and Intellectual Property, who joined Hoyt in 1996; and Jeremy Eldredge, Hoyt’s Director of Marketing, who joined the company in 2004.
That leadership team encapsulates the things that have always been synonymous with Hoyt Archery since its founder began his bowmaking dreams not quite a century ago: great workers who are enthusiastic bowhunters and archers who never quit pushing the edge of the proverbial envelope in the sport.
With such stability and commitment remaining in place with the succession of Walk by Kurtzhals, there’s little doubt that Earl Hoyt, Sr.—who along with Fred Bear, Saxton Pope, Art Young, and 23 others was voted in as a charter member of the National Bowhunters Hall of Fame—would be all smiles today.
Because the mission continues without interruption at Hoyt Archery, a mission that the company describes with this statement on its website:
“The same principles and philosophies that the Hoyt Archery Company were founded on in 1931 flow stronger than ever through the company today. Hoyt’s nearly nine decades of industry-leading products and long-term stability is a testament to the commitment, dedication and passion of its employees. And as we look to the future, we’ll remain 100% committed to building the most innovative and technically advanced equipment for the most serious archers and bowhunters across the globe. We know who you are because we are one of you. Get Serious. Get Hoyt.”
And in the case of the latter part of that statement, the more things change, the more they remain the same.