Craig Gertenbach has been an influential name in the windsurfing industry, from pro sailor to brand manager his skill on and off the water has taken Craig far in the windsurfing world.
Check out the previous Industry Masters article with Matt Pritchard.
As well as the successful ‘Industry Kids’ series with:
Adam Lewis The centre manager and sail designer,
Sam Ross The Pro Coach,
Paul Zeper The Intern,
Jay Haysey The Photographer,
Name: Craig Gertenbach
Role: Brand Manager. Main areas product development, team management, some marketing activities, sales management, complete brand management.
First job in windsurfing: 1986 testing first F2 Sunset in Cape Town/working in local surfshops
How did you make it into the role you have today: I progressed from winning local championships in Cape Town, to National Champion, then moved onto the PWA Tour from 1992-1997. But at the same time to finance my career, was also very active in R&D for various companies, testing for F2, Arrows, Neil Pryde and finally my “last” sponsor Fanatic/ART from 1995 to today. Worked with many of the top designers like Monty Spindler, Robert Stroj, Barry Spanier, Nils Rosenblad, Marco Copello etc etc… from 1995-1997 I was involved with mainly R&D and marketing as well as a full time Pro career on the PWA Tour. Rose to best ranking of 6th in Waves in 1995, finally finished 11th in waves, 18th overall. After bad injuries in 1996/97 seasons, I took up the offer to test full time and manage the complete R&D programme for Fanatic/ART based in Tarifa, from 1998-2000. 2000 I got the chance to work as a product manager for Fanatic in Germany, with my wife also being in the same company, it made sense and I was looking for a new challenge. From then onwards I worked my way up the company ladder, learning each of the different roles required step by step, in marketing, product, sales and overall management, to Brand Manager since 2004. Recently with SUP and surfboards added to our line, the days did not get shorter, but again the new challenge is great and you never stop learning or improving I find…
When I’m in the office, which is probably 60-70% of the time, I am away about 3 months a year for testing, events, meetings (PWA Management Board), trade shows, photoshoots, supplier visits etc, about 12-15 weekends a year which is tough.
Mostly my day starts at 7:30-7:45, I try to get in early and burn through the first e-mails, I get up to or over 200 a day which mostly need to be answered. I like the first part of the day when it’s more quiet and you can reduce the mail box without meetings, phone calls etc…
The Board Meeting
Then there&lrquo;s more e-mails, some calls to our HQ in Austria to arrange various sales and disposition topics, talks with product engineer or shaper/testers on upcoming projects, various marketing stuff, team riders mails, importers, area sales management as I manage all sales for most European countries and Australia, on top of the importers…
Sometimes a I get a quick lunch, sometimes it gets cancelled, but I do like to try and get a break in as it clear the brain a little for the next hours.
I mostly work till about 5:30-6:00, in busy times till 7:00, but I like to be home to eat with family, play a little soccer with my son or try and fit in a bike ride or run in the evenings. I prefer to then work later after kids are in bed, but I‘m trying to cut down on that too!
The late evening is filler with what else, e-mails! Here I also try to use the time to surf the web a little to stay on top of what my riders are doing PR wise, checking what the other brands are up to etc.
R & D
The office days are actually easier than test trips or photoshoots, as there it looks something like:
6am start, especially with jetlag is tough. Checking forecasts, answering mails, quick breakfast and off to beach till 6:00-8:00pm, then home, dinner in front of laptop and mails, mails, mails, or sorting pics, writing reports to shaper etc….but these days are the best ones, because we are out on the water a lot, totally into the products either for testing or for photoshoots.
With the little ones
So the emailing just flows a bit easier and you don’t mind it as much, the motivation is a lot higher than when sitting too long in the office! Routine is a killer for me! So I try to travel at least every few weeks, even if it’s harder than just sitting in the office, as you still need to do all the daily work, plus the new activity of shooting or testing, but that is what the sport is about and what makes us tick…:-)