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.
EXECUTIVE ACCOUNTS + SALES
A long-time student of travel and style, this lonely little petunia graces the men of WOODCHUCK USA with an element of class-to-go. She combines her years working as an executive assistant with a successful career in luxury retail merchandising and management to take the best care of our corporate and wholesale accounts. When she's not striking new partnerships or attending events, you can find her biking, kayaking, reading, travelling the world, or happy around home in Saint Paul where she lives with a plant named Bernadette and her bike, Camille.
Charlie Kirihara attended the University of Minnesota with a major in Graphic Design. He grew up playing soccer and exploring the woods 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 couple shoe stores, does freelance design, and customizes sneakers. He is also a freelance photographer. 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.
LEAD DESIGN + PRODUCTION
Trent recently graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a Graphic Design degree. He spends much of his time designing and making art to push himself to the next level. Trent grew up spending days in the woods with his family and friends climbing trees, building forts and exploring. Whether it's camping, hiking or spending a day outside, Trent tries to keep his spirit young. He also has a passion for music branching from his dream as a kid to be the next John Bonham. Now, Trent would rather live down south in the woods with Outkast. Until then, Trent enjoys spending time with his friends, family, his girlfriend and his insane dog.
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...
Lucia is a Senior studying Graphic Design at the University of Minnesota. She can usually be found hanging around Minneapolis with friends or hiking the Bluffs of Eden Prairie. Her passions include travel, live music and Jimmy Johns. She loves creating a statement with her design and feels that there is always an opportunity to make ordinary objects beautiful.
INDUSTRIAL DESIGN INTERN
Sammy is a senior in the Industrial Design program at Iowa State University, where she strives to create simple yet thoughtful products. She is fascinated in human-product interaction and is inspired by the beauty of nature. To cure her wanderlust bug, she will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy so she can immerse herself around the design hub, as well as eat lots of pizza. Besides traveling, she spends her free time outdoors such as hiking, camping, biking, and listening to live music.
PRODUCTION AND OPERATIONS
Jackson E. Bartlett
HEAD OF PRODUCTION + SOCCER COACH
Having grown up in the Northeast and New England areas of the United States, Jackson was always close to nature. Whether it was traveling to the coast of Maine, or hunting with his father in upstate New York, he always found himself outside. Jackson joined the Woodchuck Team last year and is currently a sophomore at the University of Minnesota majoring in both Physics and Quantitative Economics. From his modest start as an intern, where he was primarily assembling products, Jackson has been able to learn the company from the ground-up. Jackson now oversees much of the production process and has recently begun designing as well. Today, Jackson enjoys running, archery and spending time with friends and family.
What else is there to say?
SHIPPING AND PRODUCTION MANAGER
Derrick is currently pursuing a degree in Computer Support and Network Administration at MCTC. He grew up in central Minnesota near the Mississippi river where he spent most of his summer days with friends. Having a cabin in northern Minnesota, Derrick spent a lot of times outdoors boating, fishing, and hunting with his friends and family. He loves sports and good beer at the end of the day. Enjoys long walks on the beach...
ASSEMBLY + PRODUCTION
Science. Nature. Animals. Vikings. Rum. Caving. Tom Petty. Urban Explorer. MN Nice. Pine Tree. Earth. Green Heart. Peace Sign. Sapling. Recycling. An idea transcended into life...
MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
SOCIAL MEDIA CURATOR + MARKETING
Drew is currently finishing up his Marketing and Communication major. Growing up in Tennessee as a kid, he developed a love for being outside, playing sports, and being active. After breaking out of his everlasting "awkward stage" he found a new passion, fashion. His days include working at Nike doing visual merchandising, going to the gym, and heavy on the Instagram. He hopes one day to start a clothing line of his own and bring style to men everywhere.
Woof woof. Bark bark.