Northwood RV veteran, Ward King to retire

LA GRANDE, Ore. — Northwood Manufacturing and Outdoors RV (ORV) have announced RV industry veteran Ward King is retiring. King is winding up his almost 49 year career as the Chief Operations Officer of Northwood Investments, the parent company of both Northwood and ORV.

As Chief Operations Officer over the past eight years, King oversaw all the production facilities and daily operations at both the Northwood and ORV manufacturing complexes in La Grande. King had a very critical role in guiding both companies in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

King began his career with a 31 year run at Fleetwood starting in 1970. King’s attention to detail and insightful decision-making abilities allowed him to rise quickly through the ranks, holding many high-level positions on both the plant and corporate level.

King is quick to give thanks and credit to those along the way who were key in his training and supported him, including (in chronological order of work history): Steve Reeder (1977-1980); Bruce Boylen, whom King views as his chief mentor (1979); Ron Nash (1980-1988) and; Frank Subasic (1988-1992).

King stated, “Without question I would never have had the opportunities presented to me nor garnered near the success I have been blessed by without the influence and support of these great men and dear friends.”

In 2001, Ron Nash reached out to his long-time friend, King to take on the role of director of manufacturing at Northwood Manufacturing. Ward served in this role until 2010 when he was offered and accepted the position of chief operations officer of Northwood Investments, overseeing both Northwood and Outdoors RV Manufacturing. Over the next 8 years, King guided both companies to tremendous growth and prosperity.

Ron and Sherry Nash, owners of both Northwood Mfg. and Outdoors RV stated, “Ward is and always has been a tremendous asset to both companies. Not only will we miss his tremendous experience and incredible eye and for what a highly functional, quality RV can and should be but even more importantly we will miss a great friend to us all and a genuinely good person. We wish him all the best in retirement.”

A succession plan has been in place for over a year, since in October of 2017 when then Northwood Chief Financial Officer, Craig Orton was promoted to chief executive officer and long-time corporate controller, Cerise Smallwood was promoted to the CFO position. Orton is also now the acting general manager at the Northwood facility while Smallwood is filling the GM role at Outdoors RV.

In addition, in August of this year, Northwood Director of Sales Donald Cochran was promoted to chief sales officer to oversee the sales departments of both companies. Together, the three have over 45 years of combined service at Northwood.

Northwood Investments CEO, Craig Orton went on to say, “We truly wish to thank Ward for his dedication and commitment to always getting it right. He is a true professional and we will certainly miss his energy and leadership. We wish Ward well in this next chapter of his life.”

King himself concluded, “I want to personally thank every member of the Northwood and ORV teams for their dedication to providing our dealers and customers with the best quality RV available in the industry – it has been a real pleasure to be a part of what truly is a wonderful work family. I want to especially thank Ron and Sherry Nash for their vision as well as their unwavering loyalty and confidence in entrusting me with so many of the responsibilities in running both Northwood and ORV.”

He added,  “This is a fun industry and it has been very good to me. I have always said and believed that if you take care of the people you work with, the people will take care of you – and they’ve never let me down. That’s what I will miss the most, all the truly good people I’ve had the great fortune to work for and with – I thank you all.”

King’s last day will be Friday, January 25th. You can contact Ward via email at

SOURCE: Northwood Manufacturing and Outdoors RV press release

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt

Ronnie Wendt has been a writer/editor for more than 25 years, working in law enforcement, aviation, supply chain and the RV industry. She's not a stranger to RVs, however. She grew up camping, and still camps as many weekends as she can every year. She is the owner of In Good Company Communications and can be reached at

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