Chris Strasser at Mountain Hardwear
Chris: Roberta hired me…that was like back in ’97.
Yeah. But it was really funny because my interview for it I was actually on my way back to Wyoming and I interviewed, then drove back to Wyoming. But they wanted to interview me a second time, and I literally had to borrow one of my best friend’s girlfriend’s car that we basically kind of stole, and drove back for the interview and literally drove overnight. I went to work because I had to be back for that for two hours, and then went to the interview and then went back to work. That same night we drove back to Wyoming a second time. And then Roberta called me a couple of days later and said, “You got the job.”
Doug: Great. I want to hear more about what you’re doing here and the kinds of things you’ve done, but first, [turning to Ted], how about you? How did you get connected?
Ted Ganio [1:08 mark]: So in 1994 I became a retail buyer for Adventure 16, and upon being hired as the buyer for outerwear and equipment, my boss told me, “By the way, we’re buying these new brands products because they’re friends of ours.” So I was one of the first charter buyers for Mountain Hardwear. One of the first 12 retail buyers of the brand in 1994. Now, part of the reason for that was because the actual chair I was sitting in at that moment was the same chair that Mike Wallenfels sat in as a retail buyer, two people before me.
Doug: Sounds like some mojo to that chair.
Ted: So it turned out I’d been following Mike for most of my career because I went to Sierra Designs after Mike left Sierra Designs to go to Mountain Hardwear, and then I left Sierra Designs to go to Mountain Hardwear, so yeah. That’s how it all started.
Doug: A great circuit. And I hear, Chris, you did a lot of work with getting athletes involved. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Chris: That was my primary function in Mountain Hardwear. I actually was at Mountain Hardwear for like 13 years, started in customer service, jumped into marketing, and kind of became the promotions manager where I developed the athlete marketing grassroots events program. So it’s kind of where it was, and I left Hardwear I think it was 3 years ago, now.
Doug: How did this evolve?
Chris: I kind of took it over from the program that it was, and I just loved it. It was a lot of fun, there was a lot of opportunity there and I kind of saw it as a huge value to the company. I kind of just grew attached to it and took it.
Doug: And do you feel like that athletes were more welcoming and gung ho about Mountain Hardwear than possibly other brands?
Chris: Possibly. We like to hire people that we can work, with and there was a lot of athletes that we liked that were doing amazing things out there. There are certain personalities that click, that click with your organization, that fit the company and it worked for all other brands as well. Like people who are very – they’re environmentally mission-driven and like to go to [inaudible] and we’ve had people who were pretty – what’s the word? Like kind of scrappy athletes I would say and people who kind of liked the brand itself. Those were the kind of people that actually I think we were attracted to them.
Doug: So do you guys keep up or is this reunion a special occasion?
Ted: It’s the first time I’ve seen Chris in a long time.
Chris: And now you’re the man over at Camelback.
Ted: No, I just clean the bathrooms.
Chris: But well, that’s a job.
Doug: It’s an important job.
Chris: That is a very important job, because at my work right now that happens only once a week; it’s kind of terrible sometimes.
Ted: Yeah, well I keep it cleaner than that.
Doug: Excellent. Okay, well thank you.
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