Founder / CEO
When I was five years old, our family was going to visit Yellowstone National Park. My father informed me that there would be bears there, and he asked me what I’d do if I saw one. I replied, “I’d kick ’em in the butt!” The attitude I displayed at that tender age has continued to manifest itself in my quest for adventure and the audacity to start a company, which is not for the faint of heart. I guess you could say that “kicking butt” has become a life-long habit.
I graduated from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where I studied film, theater, music and audio engineering. After graduation, I realized that having completed my education, but not yet having started a career, that I was free in a way that is rare in life. After some reflection (and working and saving money) I bicycled from London to Athens, then worked on a Kibbutz in the Negev desert of Israel for a few months. Following that, I spent 11 months in East Africa where the highlights included sailing the Nile, climbing Mt. Kenya, bicycling into the Great Rift Valley and up into the Chalbi desert, climbing in the Mountains of the Moon, going on game safaris and sailing to Zanzibar in a Dhow. During that two year sojourn, I pondered how I could live my life in a way that would allow me to continue to pursue my passions. My answer was to start a company to make backpacks and adventure gear. Today, in addition to running the company, I am the lead product designer. I also develop the trademarks, branding, and write and file our numerous patents.
I started out with a sewing machine from Goodwill and an idea for a new type of pack based on my outdoor experience. While working fulltime as a carpenter, I spent six months teaching myself pack design, patterning and prototyping on nights and weekends. I did this by taking apart some of my packs and reverse-engineering the design and construction process. Eventually, I was able to design and sew my own designs. It took many years to grow True North from a single person working alone in a garage to the global business that we are today, but we wouldn’t be here without the incredible team that’s grown with me.
I believe in being honest, fair and treating others as you would like to be treated. I like to create clear expectations, and then give people the ownership and support to achieve those goals. If you treat people like adults they tend to act like adults. Above all, I believe process is more important than product: Learn from what didn’t work, apply what you learned and try again. It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn anything. And, of course, I think we should all work hard and play harder.
My favorite moments outside of work are those spent in the great outdoors. Nature is my cathedral, where I go to feed my spirit and rejuvenate. Hiking, biking and skiing are the sports that inspired me to create tools like our first pack, which allow me and others to get more joy from the experience of the wilderness. In addition to outdoor adventure, my passions are creating music and audio engineering.