SAN JOSE -- The CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware is leaving the 82-year-old company to run the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as home-improvement competitor Lowe's moves ahead with its plans to take OSH out of bankruptcy.
The Maryland-based pilots association, which calls itself "the largest, most influential aviation association in the world" with 400,000 pilot-members, announced that it hired Orchard's CEO Mark Baker as its president on Tuesday. The same day OSH announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware had approved Lowe's acquisition of the majority of OSH's assets.
Baker, as OSH's CEO, was quoted in a company press release saying, "The management team and I are confident that Orchard has a very bright future ahead."
Baker will assume his new job on Sept. 6, according to an announcement on the pilot association's website.
The announcement said that Baker has more than 7,500 hours of flight time and his favorite airplane is his Piper Super Club. "His love of flying is infectious: Not only did Mark encourage his father to learn to fly, but two of his sons-in-law have earned their pilot's certificates and his own son will become a pilot soon as well," the announcement said.
Representatives for OSH did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday from this newspaper.
OSH has been a Bay Area fixture since it was founded in 1931 in San Jose as a farmers co-op. Faced with growing competition from big-box retailers, Orchard was bought by Sears in 1996, but then was spun off as an independent, publicly traded operation at the end of 2011. As part of Lowe's, Orchard said it will operate as a separate stand alone business with its own brand.
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.