Marintroducing: Matt Vanenkevort
Introducing Marin's CEO, Matt Vanenkevort.
- Name: Matt Vanenkevort
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- Location: Novato, California
- Riding with Marin since: 2012
How would you describe yourself to a visitor from another planet?Normal human, male of the species, slightly more than halfway through his lifespan.
What’s your background in cycling?I grew up racing XC skiing in interior Alaska. I started road racing as “dryland training” in 1976 or so on a third-hand Fausto Coppi frame, which I broke in short order. I got my first MTB in 1983, and started racing and exploring old mining trails and glacier riding in the Alaska Range. I fell in love with mountain biking, and also raced road, track, and cyclocross until I retired in 1995. I was a pretty good MTB racer, and was national champion in CX (Masters class, 1995).
How did you get involved with Marin?I was recruited to join the company in 2012 after it was purchased from Bob Buckley, the founder. I was Managing Director of FSA at the time, but was attracted to both the brand, due to its history, and the chance to work with bikes as opposed to components.
What do you do at Marin?Pretty much everything. Help unload bikes, clean the kitchen, build workbenches, answer customer emails, forecast production, oversee the health of the company and the brand, etc. As CEO, my job is a bit of every aspect of the company. I try to ensure we have a great workplace for the team, find and support good people, and chart the course for the company. We’re a small company, and I hate ivory towers, so it’s a good role for me.
What's the best thing about your job?Making bikes obviously, because they are fun to ride, and can change peoples lives in so many ways. Other than that, building up a brand with such rich history back into a leader.
What was the best day at Marin you’ve had so far?Wow, that’s tough. There have been many. I don’t think there was any one particular day, but probably the time when Marin went from slumber to fully awake. Marin was idling along for some time, and we managed to shoot some Nitro into the carburettor, and got it to rev. We’ve grown Marin substantially in the past 10 years.
What inspires you to do your job at Marin?The team here at Marin. I have two basic rules for new staff, no primadonnas and no a**holes. No one person here is responsible for all good things, and no one should be able to make the workplace difficult for the others. We have awesome people in the company, and they bring so much to the brand. I am in awe of what they can do together.
What bikes do you own and which is your go-to bike?I am pretty lean right now. I have a Wolf Ridge with XTR, a tandem that my friend Glen Erickson built for Lisa (wife) and I when we got married (very old school – canti brakes, 1” steerer, quill stem, bar end shifters, etc), and a Nicasio RC frame with full Dura Ace Di2. The Nicasio is my go-to. I love riding steel road bikes, and can usually be found riding at 5:00AM with lights, before work.
Describe your riding style with a movie titleCool Hand Luke. It’s like I just keep trying to get out and be free. Also, Prison break.
Favorite post-ride meal and beverage?Burger and a beer. When I was racing MTBs back in the day, I had to have a big greasy burger after every race. Perhaps it was the salt? I eat a lot less meat these days.
Tell us something unusual about yourself that people might not know?I was a white water river guide back in Alaska, in the late 70s. I got the job when I was 17, with zero rafting experience, and was rowing people down class 4 rapids on my first day. I was a good kayaker, so I knew the river, but come on, I was just a kid. I remember this 40 something passenger looked me over and asked “how long have you been doing this?”. I looked at my watch and said, “uh, about 40 minutes now”! He looked ill after that! Never lost a passenger, although several did take a swim. The stretch we were rowing was only about 30 miles off the glacier, so it was very cold.
What’s on your desk?Bike magazines, sunglasses (I live in California after all!), water bottle, coffee cup, reading glasses and Ibuprofen (I turned 60 last year!), hand sanitizer, and a “People for Bikes” face mask.
What was the last book or magazine that you read?I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but the last book I read was “Path Between the Seas”, about the building of the Panama Canal and John W Stevens, the engineer that finally got it done.
What have you learned from your time at Marin that you’d share with the world?The power of people can make or break a company. Hire good people, challenge them, give them as much responsibility as they can handle, and listen to them. No one knows everything, and we should all be open to feedback.
If you could put an announcement on a billboard for every cyclist to see - what would it say?Ride Bikes, have fun!
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