Meet Team WOODCHUCK
FOUNDER + CEO,
Ben is an entrepreneur, designer, speaker, and extreme adventure enthusiast. Like most good entrepreneurial stories- Ben came up with the idea for WOODCHUCK while working on a late night college finals project. One night, while drinking a beer and building a model for his college architecture class, then-22-year-old Ben thought it might be interesting to stick a wooden adhesive to his iPhone. This little experiment sparked an idea that would change his life forever. Ben is a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities graduate with highest honors in Architecture and Landscape Architecture; US Oil scholarship winner three years in a row. (and a CO-ED Cheerleader. That's normal right?) Ben is the Visionary Designer of the WOODCHUCK brand, handles national and international distribution, and Big Box relationships. Ben see's a much bigger vision not only for WOODCHUCK, but nature's integration into everyday life, and American Manufacturing. Between the energy of this team, and the Made in the USA commitment, the company has caught the eye of worldwide media. It has been featured on Tech blogs from Australia to America, articles in the Wall Street Journal, Business Upstart Journal, and fashion blogs such as Refinery 29. On top of simply making products, Ben saw economic opportunity and freedom diminishing and decided to do something about it. To bring self-sustaining, skilled manufacturing jobs back to America, and reintroduce authenticity into people’s daily lives. He created his company, Woodchuck, to give oxygen to this American Made mission. If you’re looking to go fly planes, jump off cliffs, camp, and then talk business strategy; this is your guy.
John graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Finance and Supply Chain Management, and was brought onto the team to bring this expertise to the team. When he's not busy crunching the numbers, John likes to spend his free time golfing, spelunking, and hiking. He also dabbles with competitive eating, and can put down three foot-long subs in less than 30 minutes.
Ross J. Gebauer
VP of OPERATIONS, Internship Coordinator, customer service, everything else.
Ross graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and global studies. Instead of pursuing a career in international affairs, he was drawn to the entrepreneurial spirit of small business and was brought to Woodchuck in October 2013. When he isn’t monitoring the business operations department, you can find him biking through the cities, climbing rock walls, or perfecting his slack-lining abilities. He also enjoys tasting the rich food that the Twin Cities has to offer as well as the sampling of different types of craft beer and wines.
LEAD DESIGN AND PRODUCTION MANAGER
Charlie Kirihara is entering his final year at the University of Minnesota with a major in Graphic Design. He grew up playing soccer and exploring the forest behind his house and quickly found the importance of comfortable and durable footwear. Charlie has had a passion for sneakers from a young age, as a fan and a collector. Aside from Woodchuck, he works at a retail footwear store, experiments with a monochromatic designed clothing line, and customizes sneakers. He is also a freelance photographer and graphic designer. Charlie's goal as a designer is to take the beauty of nature as inspiration and link it to unnatural forms. Charlie hopes to work in the footwear industry and push innovation towards its infinite limits while also reducing waste and materials.
VISUAL BRANDING, Web Design
Ben graduated from Minneapolis College of Art & Design with a degree in Graphic Design, and was absorbed onto the team in 2011 to help develop the WOODCHUCK brand. When he's not busy in Photoshop or Illustrator, Ben loves to spend free time with his wife and son. He loves all board-sports: snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, longboarding, paddle boarding, the list goes on...
EVENT MARKETING INTERN
They say you are shaped by your environment and Kaitlin would have to agree. Growing up in Minnesota, her family spent a lot of time outdoors; camping, hiking and general adventuring. Most of her favorite memories were made outdoors, like pioneering the great frontier of her grandma's woods with her sister or practicing her BB gun shooting skills on an apple tree with her brother. As a graduating (fifth-year) senior at the University of Minnesota, she looks forward to using her degree in strategic communications - advertising and minor in design to pioneer a different frontier as an event marketing intern. When she's not WOODCHUCKing, Kaitlin is probably out for a run with some of her teammates from the U of M cross country and track teams. She can also be found posted up at a local coffee shop, (Bordertown is a favorite) simultaneously drinking in a good book and cup of coffee. Other things that make her happy include baked goods, TED talks, graffiti, photography, being out on the lake, exploring Minneapolis via bike, outdoor concerts/festivals and art museums. Special skills include chugging a whole water bottle in the airport security line.
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY INTERN
Mariah recently joined Team WOODCHUCK in May, 2014. Currently working as a Social Media Strategy Intern, she functions as a voice for WOODCHUCK and finds the right words to help spread the WOODCHUCK mission.
Mariah is currently a student at the University of Minnesota, working towards a Bachelor Degree in Marketing through the Carlson School of Management. She is also pursuing a minor degree in Spanish language studies. When not casually taking photos, she also enjoys traveling to new places and taking in the sunshine when possible.
Tsana Allen is a Senior at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a major in Marketing, Branding, and Public Relations (not art or design….). Born and raised in Minnesota, Tsana grew up on the lake, doing anything and everything outdoors. To this day, she will never pass up a pick-up game on the hardwood or a chance to hit the slopes in the winter. Staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle are a passion of Tsana’s and she hopes to showcase that ideal through her work someday. Not to mention she has a pretty solid collection of sneakers.
Drew joined the Woodchuck team in May and is a Junior at the University of Minnesota. He is majoring in Management Information Systems as well as Supply Chain Operations Management, which he has used to help make the company more efficient and cost-effective. He has a passion for adventure and physical activity. When you can't find Drew playing sports or exploring he is probably up at the cabin spending time with his family.