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Newton Running Tabs Joe O’Neil as New CEO

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Newton Running announced today it has hired athletic footwear industry veteran Joe O’Neil as its new CEO.

The Boulder, Colo.-based company said in a release O’Neil, who replaces Newton co-founder Jerry Lee as CEO, will lead operations, product development, sales, marketing, merchandising and finance. Lee will remain as the company’s chairman, but he will shift his focus to visionary and strategic leadership as he steps away from his day-to-day responsibilities.

O’Neil has more than 30 years of experience in the athletic footwear industry, most recently as senior vice president of Quiksilver Inc.-owned footwear brand DC Shoes. He has previously worked in leadership roles for Puma, adidas, Reebok and Nike.

“I am very excited to have someone of Joe’s capabilities and experience taking on the operational leadership of Newton Running as we prepare for the next chapter of the company,” Lee said in the press release. “Joe earned his stripes at the giants of our industry. He’s a lifelong runner who believes in the Newton Running brand and shares my desire to build a socially responsible company that makes the best damn running shoe in the world.”

Newton is a privately held company and Lee and Boston-based Fireman Capital Partners are the principal stakeholders. Craig Heisner remains as Newton’s president, a role he has held since coming to the brand in March 2013. Both Heisner and O’Neil were brought to Newton by Fireman Capital Partners, the investment firm led by former Reebok chairman, president and CEO Paul Fireman that made a $20 million minority share investment in Newton Running in 2013.

Under Lee’s leadership, Newton Running burst on the scene in 2007 when he and footwear and running form guru Danny Abshire unveiled the brand’s initial shoes based on a unique forefoot lug technology aimed at putting more energy return into a runner’s stride. Since its inception, Newton has made one of its primary objectives to help runners run more efficiently with better form.

While at the helm, Lee helped Newton get off the ground and grow and also insisted the company made a commitment to sustainability and philanthropy. Abshire, who started tinkering with athletic footwear designs more than a decade before co-launching the brand, remains with the company.

Newton Running is the official footwear and run-course sponsor for the U.S. Ironman series and is presenting sponsor of the Destination Races Wine Country Half Marathon Series.

“It is an honor to be working with Jerry Lee and Danny Abshire,” O’Neil said. “The combination of Danny’s creativity and Jerry’s vision and commitment to social responsibility are inspiring. I’m very excited about the product and the opportunities ahead.”